Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Culture breaks apart; is that so bad?

posted by Rod Dreher

Megan McArdle says there is no such thing as mass culture anymore, and she’s right. She notes that the final episode of “Lost” drew what is today considered a large viewership — over 13 million — but that compared to the final episode of “M*A*S*H”, which was seen by 106 million Americans, that’s nothing. Says Megan:

We live in a different world, one where there’s something for almost everyone –but not the same thing.

That really came home to me when my 17-year-old niece Hannah was here last week. We didn’t talk much about pop culture, but she seemed a lot more open to musical experimentation than my generation was at her age. And we were far more open to it than people 10 years older were, because the rise of MTV, college radio and “alternative” record labels made it possible to expand our listening choices. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a teenager today, to try to make her way through a seemingly infinite number of musical choices. Believe me, I’m not complaining about this. I played some classical French pop for Hannah — Piaf, Brel, Chevalier, et alia — and she loved it. A friend dropped by the new Rolling Stones reissue of “Exile on Main Street” on Sunday afternoon, and I played a couple of cuts for Hannah. She wanted her own copy. I think of a friend, in her early 50s, who played her own music for her kids, and got them interested in it, but who was also eager to keep up with the music her kids listened to as teenagers, and who genuinely shared some artists in common. Again, this is all to the good. When I think about how relatively monotonous the culture of pop music was in the 1970s, when so much was driven by radio play, I think kids today must be living in a kind of paradise.
That goes for TV too. And, thanks to Amazon.com and similar retailers, books as well. A Catholic priest friend gets tired of Catholic laymen bellyaching about how the local parish is not teaching the faith adequately. He keeps pointing out that any Catholic with a credit card and Internet access has open to him the possibility of putting together a library of Catholic theology, philosophy and literature that Aquinas could only have dreamed of in his time. This is a great blessing of our time.
That said, culture is more fundamental to a people’s sense of itself than politics. It’s interesting to think about what the spectacular diversity of choice a cultural consumer has in this society does to forming one’s sense of belonging, and solidarity with others. That many more Americans watched the same TV shows, listened to the same music, got our news from the same sources, in the past did create a sense of blandness and monotony that is not to be missed; but it also created a sense of belonging and shared experience that is to be missed, I think. How do you unify a nation or a people when their cultural experiences and passions diverge so greatly? Is the diminishment of the possibility of unity something to be mourned, or celebrated? Why or why not?
I would say your answer depends on the degree to which you believe in the importance of the individual, and individual choice. Does a culture represent anything more in time than the aggregate of the choices made by individuals who live within it, and identify with it? Or is there something transcendent about a culture? A few years ago, I was talking with an agnostic colleague who is an Islamophile, and who ventured the opinion that it would be fine with him if Europe went Muslim. So what? he opined, if their choice is free? I was shocked by this statement, and frankly, appalled by it — and not because I am a Christian, but because I am a man of the West. The idea that all that accumulated cultural history — architectural, artistic, and so forth — could be said farewell to with a shrug, because it had ceased to matter to people, was to my mind, monstrous. I could far more easily understand a Muslim who expressed a wish that Europe would convert, because at least he would grasp the stakes of such an epochal event. But for this colleague, an easygoing agnostic, to see 2,000 years of Christian European culture — which also entails the Enlightenment, whose values are unthinkable apart from the Christianity to which they were a reaction — as something the loss of which is neither to be mourned nor celebrated? Well, it really was a kind of barbarism, insofar as barbarism implies a lack of historical consciousness or appreciation. Cultivating and inculcating that insouciant, deracinated attitude is, I think, the great danger in the cultural diversity we celebrate today.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s far more pleasant to live amid the beautiful fragments provided by technology in postmodernity. But there is a down side to this, one that we, conditioned by a consumer culture of choice, are strongly disinclined to see, or to contemplate.



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CatherineNY

posted May 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm


Is your priest friend a parish priest? If so, I am rather stunned that he does not see a role for the parish in teaching the faith. Sure, I’ve put together a terrific library of books on Catholicism, but I’d also like to be part of a vibrant parish, and I’d like to think that our priests are trying to evangelize the people.



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Francesca

posted May 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm


My first thought, in order to have a vast “library of Catholic theology, philosophy and literature” available to you via the internet, you have to have some idea what what you are looking for. IE, you already have to have a good deal of the kind of knowledge often not made available by parishes. And then I thought, that’s probably true of music, films, and so on. Someone who doesn’t know what they are looking for won’t be living in a cultural paradise: their culture will be as monotonous or more so than that of someone back in the days when Radio or a few TV channels or print newspapers were their only access.



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Franklin Evans

posted May 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm


You’re on a roll, Rod. ;-)
How do you unify a nation or a people when their cultural experiences and passions diverge so greatly? Is the diminishment of the possibility of unity something to be mourned, or celebrated? Why or why not?
I would say your answer depends on the degree to which you believe in the importance of the individual, and individual choice. Does a culture represent anything more in time than the aggregate of the choices made by individuals who live within it, and identify with it? Or is there something transcendent about a culture?
This is a complex question, which is why I quoted Rod as much as I did. However, the answer, though seemingly glib, is short and simple.
What is the difference between culture and common ground?
To echo Rod, your answer depends strongly on the importance you ascribe to group identity and how that conflicts with or informs your view of the cultural outsider. If culture is all, then your common ground is strictly bounded by your culture, and all others are outsiders, never mind that you live in the same country and speak the same language. If common ground is important — something I submit is critical the entire Great American Experiment our founders started — then culture becomes your home, your starting point, but it’s in that common ground where you form relationships with those outside your culture.
If one agrees that common ground was the founders’ intention, then freedom of religion, the anti-establishment clause in particular, freedom of speech and freedom of association take on critical importance. No one owns the common ground, but everyone bears responsibility for creating and maintaining it. It’s label is “American”, it’s price of admission is citizenship (and the later variations on that), and the moment people insist on calling it “culture” it stops being common ground and q.e.d. becomes a battle ground.
Rod, if your (general) unifying precedent is not the Constitution of the United States, then you (general) are not an American.



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kenneth

posted May 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm


It’s a glass half-full/empty issue for Christians and traditionalists. Christianity, remember, got its start and flourished in conditions where there was no effective mass-culture. It might be your time to shine and revive some sort of real, practiced on the ground faith rather than that of the institutional church, which has all the moral relevancy of Caligula’s palace these days.



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Chris

posted May 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm


Maybe there is more to the story than we’re being told, but, as it stands, am I missing something, or doesn’t it cry out that your Catholic priest friend isn’t very catholic in his comments about how to learn the faith? As the story is told here, we’re asked to imagine every Catholic with the internet and a credit card, reading at home alone as an individual. We could even expand the story, and imagine self-selected self-composed book groups of lay people, choosing their own books. Neither is the same thing as an ekklesia, the gathered Body, reading together and under the authority of and with accountability to the Ekklesia. It’s great to read good books at home and with friends, don’t get me wrong, but it is just different from what happens when you have parish catechesis. In other words, the priest’s comment (again, unless there is further elaboration beyond what we’re given) doesn’t so much clarify and illuminate the question so much as give an unCatholic answer to it. His comments remind me of something you once linked to from the Ochlophobist, about how ironic it is to read your way into Orthodoxy all the while espousing a living tradition that can’t be captured in books; you can’t read as a loner with a credit card and call it the same thing as Sobornost, can you?
Think of it this way, with apologies for the limitations of all analogies: if you go to one of your Soviet Philadelphia wine stores, good wine is in theory on the shelves. Every oenophile in Philadelphia with a credit card has access to good wine. But Rod with a credit card in Philly isn’t the same as Rod with a Moore Brothers mentor being handed notes about terroir.
My captcha phrase is “lockean near.” I guess the Lockean society and theory of property is indeed nearer to daily life than the Catholic one, given Catholic priests are offering atomized theories of pedagogy.



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Joseph

posted May 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm


Just want to second what you’re saying here about young people today living in a kind of paradise, not only because so much music is available to them, but because so many of their peers are ready to explore the riches at their disposal. When I was in high school in the early 90s I got into Led Zeppelin because of a friend who was a Zep-head and a bit of a misfit. None of our classmates were into that stuff, so it was like I was being sucked into his weird little world. These days I’m always surprised at how many of my students know pop music from the 60s and 70s, better than any of us did.
But what you’re describing here, Rod, is the loss of a coherently unified mass pop culture. Surely that could be distinguished from other kinds of cultural loss, right? I would like to think that the fragmentation of pop music as an institution could proceed apace, alongside some kind of recovery of a common core of other cultural experience, at least for those of us who want such a thing for our kids. Let their pop playlists be eclectic and their “serious” playlists be canonical. Best of all worlds!



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Boz

posted May 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm


Wow. Lot in this post. I think Rod overstates the historical existence of a common culture in the US. It might have been there in the late 1950s but it was a lot briefer than most people think. The US has always had a lot of different cultures–think of the days (first half of the 20c) when the Catholic-Protestant divide was really strong in the US, or, even more obviously, the days of Jim Crow in the South. What does seem to have vanished, however, are the institutions and habits that facilitated the resolution of differences. City bosses in the first half of the 20c accomplished a lot of things with really fractious populations.
I’ll also second what some of the earlier commenters said about the vast resources available on the internet. Since Rod has spoken quite eloquently about the problems of trying to read your way to holiness, I assume he doesn’t agree either.



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Yr Name

posted May 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm


but because I am a man of the West
Don’t be so sure about that. It would be interesting to see how various people reacted to a set of questions meant to get at cultural affiliation. By any traditional definition of “the West,” the shared values of the broader West with blue areas and the North in the US. I don’t think that’s much debated. I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that the red areas and the South shared more with more traditional, less urban societies found elsewhere. I think Dinesh D’Souza was trying to make a similar point.
I don’t know if that sort of “values mapping” is considered possible, or has been done, or what has showed up. And perhaps the actual results would be very different from those I’d expect to see. But it would be interesting.
In any case, I’m not sure what justifies “man of the West” beyond the sort of individual self-identification that you’ve just decried.



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Chuck Anziulewicz

posted May 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm


When the final episode of “M*A*S*H” aired, how many TV channels did the average American household have access to? I’m not sure, but I’m sure it was a fraction of the number today.
Me, I’m no longer part of that valuble 18-35 year old demographic that TV programmers fight so viciously over. I lost interest in “Lost” after six or seven episodes, after suspecting (correctly, it seems) that it was going to amount to a wild, wild goose chase with no logical end, and I stopped watching “American Idol” after Season 4, so I can’t gab about those shows with my co-workers. Not too much on network television interests me. I much prefer the programming on the Discovery, History, Science, Travel, and Learning Channels. I subscribe to NetFlix, and I watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert religiously.
Back in the 1960s, the average household had maybe six or seven channels, max … including the Big Three Networks and PBS. It may not have amounted to much in the way of competition, but people could generally gather around the water cooler the next day and talk about the big shows the night before.



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Heather

posted May 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm


Rod say….”Christian European culture — which also entails the Enlightenment, whose values are unthinkable apart from the Christianity to which they were a reaction”
Thats an interesting and nuanced thought, that even the “nonchristian” influences on western culture were still unintended byproducts of christianity (if I’m understanding you correctly).
I have been trying to decide how to describe Chritianity’s influence on Western Culture- one side (the right) wants to explain it in very simplistic terms that leave out other secular influences and then secularist try to minimize Christianity’s influence. Neither of these seem right to me. Your thought is one I will explore….



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John E - Agn Stoic

posted May 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm


“Lost” is this decade’s “Twin Peaks”.
How do you unify a nation or a people when their cultural experiences and passions diverge so greatly?
As per Franklin above, solemnly swear to protect and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Everything else is merely detail.



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Jaybird

posted May 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm


Pivoting off Rod’s conversation with his “Islamophile” freind, I don’t think it’s likely that Europe will ever “go Islamic” or that it would be something to celebrate, but if it did… so what? History moves on, cultures and empires rise and fall and are assimilated by others, and have done so throughout all of history, and will do so as long as their are human beings who create those cultures and empires. I don’t think it implies any sort of “barbarism” to accept the basic historical reality that no culture lasts forever.
That said, I would also note that even though no cultures last forever as discrete and singular entities, their influence can certainly endure for millenia, even when the original nation/state/people that gives birth to that culture has passed on. The “Western” culuture and civilization we have now is the result of Pagan Greek and Roman sources, Judeo-Christian sources, and even a smattering of Islam – see the Arabic manuscripts that preserved the work of classical antiquity and were the source behind much of the energy of the Renaissance. Even ifEurpoe were to “go Islamic” at some point in the future, that hypothetical Islamo-European civilization would still carry with it the considerable weight of all the Judeo-Christian-Pagan influences it has accumulated over the last several thousand years.



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Peter

posted May 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm


If you don’t have a TV, don’t get the local newspaper, and homeschool your kids, I’m not sure how you can complain we’ve lost a common culture. You’ve officially become the problem when you reject attempts to build one.



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Charles Cosimano

posted May 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm


Whether or not Europe goes Muslim really only matters if Europe matters. To those to whom Europe is nothing more than a falling down museum that has contributed nothing of much interest besides finding new excuses to kill each other, for the last hundred years, the Muslims are welcome to it and the agnostic is right in not caring one way or the other.



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Roland de Chanson

posted May 26, 2010 at 3:15 pm


I agree with Franklin about the unifying factor’s being the Constitution. The idea that there is something unifying about Christian European history is, to my mind, absurd. Christian European history has been a tale of balkanization on an increasingly larger and more bloody scale until quite recently. And that recent history has nothing to do with Christianity, as the pope found out when he tried to get a nod from the writers of the euro-articles of confederation.
Further, Enlightenment values are not “unthinkable” except as an antithesis to the Christian thesis, but are rather an echo of ideas that suffused Greece and the Roman republic. Modern notions of the rights of man, democracy, individualism owe nothing to Christianity, except insofar as Christianity is the synthesis of Hebraic morality and Hellenistic philosophy. Paul had the right of appeal not because he was a Jew, let alone a Christian, but because he was a Roman citizen.
Rod’s Mohammed-fawning friend is a cultural cipher, not because of his ignorant and obsequious Obama-like proskynesis before a pernicious and malevolent foreign ideology, but because he doesn’t have the historical understanding to recognize whence his liberties arose, or the courage to defend them as did the men of Plataea and Salamis.
He will be most welcome dhimmi at the Incarnadined Mosque at Ground Zero.



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Connie Connie in Wisconsin

posted May 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm


Peter at 2:29: touche.



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JS

posted May 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm


There is a difference between “choices” and choices. Yes there is an infinite number of musical “choices” out there, but most people still have their taste and limit their actually choices to the styles they are familiar with and know they like. Then, most people associate with people who have similar backgrounds, values, history, emotional connections, political views, and tastes. It is this need for interpersonal coordination and cooperation that keeps cultural conventions alive.



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Rod Dreher

posted May 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm


Peter: If you don’t have a TV, don’t get the local newspaper, and homeschool your kids, I’m not sure how you can complain we’ve lost a common culture. You’ve officially become the problem when you reject attempts to build one.
Who’s complaining, exactly? Did I not say that in many cultural respects (“cultural” in the sense of the availability of a wider range of cultural expressions for consumption), a young person growing up today is much better off than they were in my time? Yet there is a trade-off here — that should be recognized. I know that I’m as compromised by this dynamic as anybody else. Look, I profess an exotic form of Christianity, the paper I subscribe to is published in New York City (and I get it because it tells me a lot more about the world I’m interested in than my bare-bones hometown paper does), I don’t care about sports, and most aspects of popular culture are foreign to me, by choice. I’m pleased with this arrangement — yet the fact that I have so much liberty of choice has real cultural consequences, and we should recognize that. I keep going back to Alan Ehrenhalt’s book “The Lost City,” in which he says that people today want the past, but the edited version. They want the cultural cohesion, safety and sense of belonging of the 1950s, but they don’t want to accept the loss of freedom of choice and opportunity that existed then, and which helped make for more cohesive local cultures.



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R Hampton

posted May 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm


Culture has always been “broken.” The true oddity in human history was this small moment, just passed, when broadcasting and the proliferation of franchises, malls, etc. provide a singular culture across a continent. Prior to that, regional cultural differences were much stronger. If anything, the future will be less balkanized then the past because individuals belonging to so many different culture will live side by side (as is already the case in California, for example)
captcha: columbus his



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Peter

posted May 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm


They want the cultural cohesion, safety and sense of belonging of the 1950s, but they don’t want to accept the loss of freedom of choice and opportunity that existed then, and which helped make for more cohesive local cultures.
This makes good sense.



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Jon

posted May 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm


Re: Even ifEurpoe were to “go Islamic” at some point in the future, that hypothetical Islamo-European civilization would still carry with it the considerable weight of all the Judeo-Christian-Pagan influences it has accumulated over the last several thousand years.
As indeed we already see in Bosnia and Albania, two parts of Europe where native European Islam dominates.



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Indy

posted May 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm


Yes, it is true that from the 1950s through the 1980s, we shared more of a common popular culture (using a broad span, the fragmentation seems to have started a little earlier in some areas of it than others). Yes, before movies, radio, and tv, we didn’t have so much a case of huge numbers of people enjoying the same thing. And have now moved more to niche media. The big difference, due to the Internet, is seeing how people react, intellectually or viscerally or both, to differences between them and others.
I think its just the nature of web commentary, but an awful lot of it is negative, as if the person writing defines himself or herself primarily by what he or she dislikes, hates, or opposes. To me, much of it sounds insecure rather than affirming. Rarely do I see relaxed, serene sounding expressions of what someone simply likes, enjoys, or believes in — although I do see more of it here in the comboxes than at other sites — without it being framed oppositionally to something.
Some of that is corrosive, as I’ve mentioned previously. It becomes difficult to keep saying, “we’re all Americans, we’re all in this together,” when so many people keep signalling in so many ways that they disdain or dislike their fellow citizens because of what they listen to, read or watch, consume, and how they vote. That just wasn’t visible in the old days. People expressed geographic rivalries or pointed to religious differences and ethnic origins, but the granular level of separation from one’s fellows in so many areas of life just wasn’t on constant display the way it is in many comboxes.



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Andrea

posted May 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm


I think culture evolves. I don’t think there was any such thing as a shared culture as early as a century ago. Immigrants have always come from abroad, settled in groups with other people from their religions or languages, and been fairly isolated until their second or third generation go on to intermarry or change faiths or whatever. I think there is probably a good question to be asked about whether immigration is happening too quickly for society to adapt. That may be happening in Europe and I think it is certainly happening in parts of America. We may need better control over HOW culture breaks apart and reforms to become something new.



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Indy

posted May 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm


My biggest concern actually is what lies behind the seeming self-isolation or separation of Americans whose families have been here a long time from other Americans who also have been here for a long time. What author Billl Bishop calls The Big Sort. Makes me wonder how we ever can pull together in the face of big national challenges again. We fleetingly felt united after 9/11 but that fell apart quickly. I’m thinking of the seeming desire to be Balkanized within the U.S. based on how we vote, where we go to church (or if we do for those who don’t), what music we like, what movies we like, what cable channels we watch, where we get our news, etc. Taking pride in what separates us more so than what unites us. The increasing sense of internal tribalism. I’m not convinced it is as pervasive as it seems on web message boards. But it sure comes across in a lot of comboxes.



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Franklin Evans

posted May 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm


Indy, I share your concern, but it always (since the year I became eligible to vote, 1974) puzzled me that Americans can be so generous but don’t seem to want to show it except in the aftermath of a catastrophe. I would also submit, rather cynically, that America has always been “balkanized” to some extent. States’ rights would seem to be rather definitive in that direction, the difference between us and other places more of degree than nature.



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YrName

posted May 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm


but the granular level of separation from one’s fellows in so many areas of life just wasn’t on constant display the way it is in many comboxes.
I don’t know. Different drinking fountains for different sets of people seems pretty granular to me.



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Indy

posted May 26, 2010 at 9:02 pm


Franklin Evans, I totally agree that we’ve been balkanized to some extent in the areas of state v. federal laws, localism and rights, etc. My big concern is why so much bonding seems negative these days. And why there’s what seems to me to be an increase in oppositional framing of so, so many things that one would think people could shrug off as normal and acceptable and, you know, good, in a country that values choice and individualism. It’s as if people don’t actually view individualism except for themselves. I don’t mean putting down people because of major things. I mean what you drink, what music you listen to (I actually agree with Rod that greater choices in music is good), where you shop, etc. Why people find it so hard to say, I like this, you like that, cool, we’re still both Americans and we both have equal value. Way too many zero sum games, at least in comboxes.



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stefanie

posted May 26, 2010 at 9:04 pm


What is this mythical “mass culture” of which you speak? Historically, Europe was fragmented into many languages, regions, even religions (like the dissident pre-Reformation Christians of Eastern Europe in the 11th-15th centuries, until they were swallowed by the Ottomans.) Even a country like France was until quite recently mostly a melange of competing or indifferent local cultures and languages (see The Discovery of France by Graham Robb.)
OK, this has got to be the funniest Captcha ever: “disrobed coordinator”



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Indy

posted May 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm


I mean, “people don’t actually value individualism” not view individualism. And greater choices in music are, not is, good. There just seem to be a lot of mixed signals, so much bluster and boasting that seems to mask insecurity, or something. It’s as if few people are at ease with themselves or the concept of a unified America. Maybe some of that always was there but a more monolithic popular culture (top 40 radio, fewer tv channels) masked some of it. It think a lot of it has to do with politics, however, and the increasing reliance on divisive messaging.



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Franklin Evans

posted May 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm


Indy, I forget if you’ve divulged your age, so please have the usual grains of salt handy. ;-) The neon IMO sign is lit.
We have always been a society of parts. The “melting pot” meme, while satisfying in some ways and even accurate just a little, does not reflect reality very well. I grew up in the “transition band” between the urban and suburban, the place the racist pi… families went when “those damn n*****s chased us out of our homes” meaning a nouveau black middle class who were no longer being redlined by banks because, bluntly, they had money and the old blue-collar raci… whites were in decline (many other factors there, but unnecessary to my point).
I also grew up with a clear view of that divide. My parents were immigrants and naturalized citizens, and spoke with noticeable accents their entire lives (if better grammatical English than many native born speakers, ahem).
The thing was, though, that no community was completely isolated, and sometimes (often, I like to think) they found themselves integrated is some way without realizing it, their new neighbors moving easily from “other” to “us”. All it took was some effort to think of the community as a common ground more, and less “ours”.
I remember one house (I promise, end of post coming) we lived in for over 5 years. It sat right on the boundary between two RC parishes, one almost entirely ethnic-Irish members, the other ditto ethnic-Italian. The small playground on the other side of our backyard fence was the scene of (really, wannabe rather than actual) gang fights. One from each side were close friends of mine, and one day I just grabbed them both and demanded for an explanation. Why fight? They couldn’t answer, not even with the lamest excuse. They, at least, stopped showing up to fight, and I wish in my adult 20-20 hindsight that I could have repeated that question a few more times back then and there.



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Indy

posted May 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm


Thanks, Franklin Evans. I see what you’re saying. I’m looking at this from another angle. My point is not that there haven’t been local rivalries in the past. It is that division is “on display” and all around us, all over the Internet, whereas it may have felt more localized in the past. I don’t remember it being as bad ten or fifteen years ago as if feels to me now. But it could be that I moved in a circle of friends and associates who didn’t display much animosity towards others. Reading some of that on the web just is dispiriting sometimes. For me, it’s like, “come on, live and let live, man.”



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Bakehouse

posted May 26, 2010 at 9:53 pm


Rod, I’m surprised that you haven’t been a big fan of “Lost.” It concerns so many of the topics that are discussed on this blog: faith vs. science, destiny vs. free will, guilt vs. redemption. It covered religion, philosophy, myth, great literature, and music. There was a lot of discussion about friendship, self-sacrifice, and community. In addition, the show had great adventure, action, and love stories. Even though many of the questions were not answered (just as in real life), the end made logical sense to most of us who had watched every episode from the beginning. It was a very emotional and satisfying conclusion for me.



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Hector

posted May 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm


Re: (like the dissident pre-Reformation Christians of Eastern Europe in the 11th-15th centuries, until they were swallowed by the Ottomans.)
Stefanie,
I remember reading somewhere an explanation for why the Bosnians were one of the few European cultures to convert enthusiastically to Islam. Essentially the guy was arguing that many Bosnians had embraced the Bogomil heresy during the late Middle Ages (like the Albigensians of southern France, the Bogomils believed that the world had been created by the devil). The Bogomils of Bosnia were crushed by force and the region forcibly returned to the Catholic fold, but the Bosnians were somewhat resentful about this, to say the least, and were happy to embrace the Muslim faith following the Turkish conquest, as a means of distancing themselves from those who had persecuted their ancestors.
I’m not sure where I read that, but I’d be interested in knowing to what degree it’s historically accurate.



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Chuck Bloom

posted May 26, 2010 at 10:33 pm


Rod, what, no Johnny Halladay?
BTW, my 22 year old daughter calls and asks, “Can you send me a CD burn of some Journey and Foreinger?” I almost fell off my Lay-Z-Boy. She also told me she LOVES 80s hair bands. Uh, Rodster, what was your ‘do in the land of the 80s???? Visual evidence please!
(Confession: I wore 4-inch platforms in the late 60s-70s and I am 6-6).



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elizabeth

posted May 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm


“… people today want the past, but the edited version. They want the cultural cohesion, safety and sense of belonging of the 1950s, but they don’t want to accept the loss of freedom of choice and opportunity that existed then, and which helped make for more cohesive local cultures.”
The idea that the 1950s consisted of a broadly cohesive, safe society with a strong sense of belonging is a heavily edited version of the 50s.
The way we never were…



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Indy

posted May 27, 2010 at 7:18 am


Some of us are talking about different things here I think. Do people really believe that the 1950s was a cohesive period where people felt safe? I don’t think so. At least not the ones who have read good books about the period. And know about the Montgomery bus boycott, the civil rights era, McCarthyism, the intra-party splits among isolationists and interentionists. Or thought about the extreme anxiety about man and mankind that underlay some episodes of shows such from the late 1950s and early 1960s, as The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. (Ever see any of them on DVD?)



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