Friday, 19 January 2007

Worldviews again

It's always a good time to be learning about worldviews - the ones we hold, sometimes unconsciously, and those of other people.

(I've written on this subject before here and here. Seth Godin's also mentioned it a lot too!)

Russell Brown's latest post talks in scathing terms about Dinesh D'Souza's latest book,The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.

D'Souza is accusing the "cultural left" of creating a godless culture that offends "traditional societies" around the world. I suspect he's partly right. 50 Facts that Should Change the World tells me that America spends as much on porn as it does on foreign aid. (Although I guess that's calculated through different channels; I'm not aware of a US Government porn fund.)

I haven't read D'Souza's book, but if Russell Brown has interpreted it correctly, he's suggesting that if we all got a little more godly, the likes of Osama bin Laden would leave us alone.

I really suspect that's not an accurate summary of the book; the so-called Christian right has some of its strongest voices advocating a zero-tolerance approach to Muslim terrorists. Maybe D'Souza is talking about other muslims who are not terrorists, but still take their faith literally and seriously.

There's a lot of fear and ignorance out there on both sides. All three sides.
  • Muslims in the middle east fear the imperialist crusaders, come to impose Christianity, Coca Cola and porn on them.
  • "Blue-state" Americans fear the conservative Christians, come to impose Pat Robertson and Benny Hinn on them, and (mostly) to take away their freedom of thought and expression.
  • "Red-state" Americans fear the liberal establishment, come to take away their freedom of expressing their faith in the public square.
I don't think many liberals understand this last point. This article by Rabbi Daniel Lapin comes across just a little alarmist (!) but he does make this interesting point:

Phase one in this war is to make Christianity, well, sort of socially unacceptable. Something only foolish, poor and ugly people could turn to.

That's probably the one thing I'd definitely agree with in his article. Normally I'd give my liberal fellow human beings the benefit of the doubt - after all, liberal means 'generous', doesn't it? - but just as I've come across Christians who have unthought-through stereotypes about other people, so I have come across educated, liberal people who have the same kind of stereotypes about Christians.

Because I'm trying to learn the art of being genuinely open-minded until I really know a thing, I'll end this on a series of questions:
  • Why is it so hard to stay open-minded?
  • Why do I find myself so tempted towards polarising language (on both sides, by the way) when writing about these issues?
  • Why does literature place so much emphasis on Freudian and Marxist philosophy when the fields of psychology, economics and philosophy have so many other thinkers?
  • Is Freudian/Marxist/liberal thought influential because it's all that's taught, or because it's the best reflector of reality?

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