Three encounters in the past month have opened my eyes to a ‘kind’ of conservatism that I am suspicious I was not hip to previously. In the heated spectrum-thinking cultural climate that exists today, it is easy to get distracted by the exaggerated and inflammatory. What is more difficult to perceive is a kinder, gentler conservative mentality.
Here are 3 places it showed up recently:
- In fielding some criticism about our interview with the Cambridge Intelligent Design guest.
- In my tussle with the Aquinas crew (and their follow up blog posts)
- In conversations with two different pastors that I have known for decades – both inquiring as to my new progressive/emergent take on two thing quite ‘foundational’ to them (creation & evangelism).
The sentences are subtle – but once you pick up a pattern you begin to hear them more clearly.
“Since God is not a ‘he’ or a ‘she’, we gain nothing by using feminine pronouns for God … so let’s just stick with the tradition we have and the way it is in the Bible.”
That was the one that caught my attention. Then I started hearing that same formulation in other places.
“No one has ever provided iron-clad proof of macro-evolution … in the lack of definitive conclusion,Biblical creation is just as valid as any other ‘belief’ since we can’t prove it either way”
“You might be right about these cultural changes and the future of the church … but who is to say that your fancy new way will be any better than what we have now? We might as well not tinker with anything since there is no guarantee it will fix the problem – and might possibly create different or bigger problems.”
This is a subtle type of conserving. It is not the blatant ideological animosity that gets all the press and dominates the airwaves. It is a more quiet concern that we not move too far too fast.
Here is my fear: it seems to me that this tactic is employed by – and born out of – a status quo that seeks to protect / preserve itself. It is neither aggressive or egregious but is potentially just as harmful as it’s venomous counterpart.
“I get what you are saying Bo … but what’s not to say that 10 or 20 years from now your new-fangled ideas don’t look just as dated and flawed as those you are criticizing today?”
See how it works? Since my innovation today might seemed cliché to the next generation … let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and think that we have it all figured out. In fact, why change anything?
This ‘kind’ of conservatism doesn’t necessarily have a radical agenda. It doesn’t need one. It would be just fine if things stayed mostly as they are. It is perfectly suited to the current conditions. Stasis and a romantic reflection on the past is a perfect incubator for its ongoing preservation and, consequently, promulgation.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.