Strange New World
eBook - ePub

Strange New World

How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution

Carl R. Trueman

Partager le livre
  1. 208 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (adapté aux mobiles)
  4. Disponible sur iOS et Android
eBook - ePub

Strange New World

How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution

Carl R. Trueman

DĂ©tails du livre
Aperçu du livre
Table des matiĂšres
Citations

À propos de ce livre

From Philosophy to Technology, Tracing the Origin of Identity Politics

How did the world arrive at its current, disorienting state of identity politics, and how should the church respond? Historian Carl R. Truemanshows how influences ranging from traditional institutions to technology and pornography moved modern culture toward an era of "expressive individualism." Investigating philosophies from the Romantics, Nietzsche, Marx, Wilde, Freud, and the New Left, he outlines the history of Western thought to the distinctly sexual direction of present-day identity politics and explains the modern implications of these ideas on religion, free speech, and personal identity.

For fans of Trueman's The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, this ebookoffers a more concise presentation and application of some of the most critical topics of our day. Individuals and groups can work through the book together with the Strange New World Study Guide and Strange New World Video Study, sold separately.

  • Cultural Analysis from a Christian Perspective: Explores the history of the sexual revolution and its influence today
  • A Concise Version of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Offers an approachable presentation of the points in Trueman's popular book
  • A Great Resource for Individual and Small-Group Study: Each chapter ends with thought-provoking application questions
  • Part of the Strange New World Suite: Can be used with the Strange New World Video Study and Strange New World Study Guide

Foire aux questions

Comment puis-je résilier mon abonnement ?
Il vous suffit de vous rendre dans la section compte dans paramĂštres et de cliquer sur « RĂ©silier l’abonnement ». C’est aussi simple que cela ! Une fois que vous aurez rĂ©siliĂ© votre abonnement, il restera actif pour le reste de la pĂ©riode pour laquelle vous avez payĂ©. DĂ©couvrez-en plus ici.
Puis-je / comment puis-je télécharger des livres ?
Pour le moment, tous nos livres en format ePub adaptĂ©s aux mobiles peuvent ĂȘtre tĂ©lĂ©chargĂ©s via l’application. La plupart de nos PDF sont Ă©galement disponibles en tĂ©lĂ©chargement et les autres seront tĂ©lĂ©chargeables trĂšs prochainement. DĂ©couvrez-en plus ici.
Quelle est la différence entre les formules tarifaires ?
Les deux abonnements vous donnent un accĂšs complet Ă  la bibliothĂšque et Ă  toutes les fonctionnalitĂ©s de Perlego. Les seules diffĂ©rences sont les tarifs ainsi que la pĂ©riode d’abonnement : avec l’abonnement annuel, vous Ă©conomiserez environ 30 % par rapport Ă  12 mois d’abonnement mensuel.
Qu’est-ce que Perlego ?
Nous sommes un service d’abonnement Ă  des ouvrages universitaires en ligne, oĂč vous pouvez accĂ©der Ă  toute une bibliothĂšque pour un prix infĂ©rieur Ă  celui d’un seul livre par mois. Avec plus d’un million de livres sur plus de 1 000 sujets, nous avons ce qu’il vous faut ! DĂ©couvrez-en plus ici.
Prenez-vous en charge la synthÚse vocale ?
Recherchez le symbole Écouter sur votre prochain livre pour voir si vous pouvez l’écouter. L’outil Écouter lit le texte Ă  haute voix pour vous, en surlignant le passage qui est en cours de lecture. Vous pouvez le mettre sur pause, l’accĂ©lĂ©rer ou le ralentir. DĂ©couvrez-en plus ici.
Est-ce que Strange New World est un PDF/ePUB en ligne ?
Oui, vous pouvez accĂ©der Ă  Strange New World par Carl R. Trueman en format PDF et/ou ePUB ainsi qu’à d’autres livres populaires dans Theology & Religion et Religion. Nous disposons de plus d’un million d’ouvrages Ă  dĂ©couvrir dans notre catalogue.

Informations

Éditeur
Crossway
Année
2022
ISBN
9781433579332
1
Welcome to This Strange New World
Introduction
Many of us are familiar with books and movies whose plots revolve around central characters finding themselves trapped in a world where nothing behaves in quite the way they expect. Perhaps Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass might be the classic examples of this in children’s literature. But this is a standard plotline in many other works. From Franz Kafka’s The Trial to The Matrix series of movies, dystopian confusion is a hardy perennial of our culture.
Yet this phenomenon is no longer confined to the fictional products of our day. For many people, the Western world in which we now live has a profoundly confusing, and often disturbing, quality to it. Things once regarded as obvious and unassailable virtues have in recent years been subject to vigorous criticism and even in some cases come to be seen by many as more akin to vices. Indeed, it can seem as if things that almost everybody believed as unquestioned orthodoxy the day before yesterday—that marriage is to be between one man and one woman, for example—are now regarded as heresies advocated only by the dangerous, lunatic fringe.
Nor are the problems confined to the world “out there.” Often, they manifest themselves most acutely and most painfully within families. Parents teaching their family traditional views of sex find themselves met with incomprehension by their children who have absorbed far different views from the culture around them. What a parent considers to be a loving response to a child struggling with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria might be regarded by the child as hateful and bigoted. And this is as true within the church as it is within wider society. The generation gap today is reflected not simply in fashion and music but in attitudes and beliefs about some of the most basic aspects of human existence. The result is often confusion and sometimes even heartbreak as many of the most brutal engagements in the culture war are played out around the dinner table and at family gatherings.
Welcome to this strange new world. You may not like it. But it is where you live, and therefore it is important that you try to understand it.
Of course, all this cultural flux and instability is profoundly disorienting, especially for those of the older generation but even for those who are younger, as the gulf between what their peers think and what their parents believe can now seem vaster than ever. And even the more self-aware of the older generation can often be left wondering whether opinions they have held since childhood are really true or whether they are simply the result of their upbringing. Did not generations of otherwise normal people believe that slavery was acceptable? Did society not once consider the death penalty for even comparatively trivial criminal offences to be appropriate and just? Does this not mean that traditional views on sex, marriage, and gender might also have been seriously misplaced or perhaps have outlived their usefulness in our modern, globalized, technological society? Such questions are appropriate, given the errors of the past with regard to significant moral questions.
The challenge, of course, is how to begin to engage in this type of reflection. Part of the confusion is caused by the fact that so many areas of our lives and world seem to be in flux that there seems very little that is solid or constant by which we can navigate the apparent chaos around us. Yet it is my conviction that there is something that helps to unify the changes we are witnessing and to make them, if not entirely explicable, at least less random than we might be tempted to think. This is the notion of the self. And the self connects to three other concepts of relevance to my narrative: expressive individualism, the sexual revolution, and the social imaginary. So, before we begin the story proper, it is important to define exactly how I shall be using these terms.
What Is the Self?
The term self needs some explanation. There is a commonsensical way in which we use the idea of being a self to refer to our basic consciousness of ourselves as individual people. I know that I am Carl Trueman, an Englishman living in America, not Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon, or Donald Trump, who was president of the United States. Those two are different individuals, different selves because they are different self-conscious beings with different bodies, minds, and life-stories from me.
When I use the term self in this book, I am referring not to this commonsense way of using the term but rather to the deeper notion of where the “real me” is to be found, how that shapes my view of life, and in what the fulfillment or happiness of that “real me” consists. Perhaps this is best expressed by a series of questions. Am I, for example, to be understood primarily in terms of my obligations toward, and dependence upon, others? Does education consist in training me in the demands and expectations of the wider culture and forming me, shaping me into that which will serve the community at large? Is “growing up” a process by which I learn to control my feelings, to act with restraint, and sacrifice my desires to those of the community around me? Or am I to understand myself as born free and able to create my own identity? Does education consist in enabling me to express outwardly that which I feel inwardly? Is growing up a process not of learning restraint but rather of capitalizing on opportunities to perform? My conviction is that the normative self of today—the typical way in which we each think of our identity—is one who answers those last three questions in the affirmative. The modern self assumes the authority of inner feelings and sees authenticity as defined by the ability to give social expression to the same. The modern self also assumes that society at large will recognize and affirm this behavior. Such a self is defined by what is called expressive individualism.
What Is Expressive Individualism?
The term “expressive individualism” was coined by the American scholar Robert Bellah, who defines it as follows:
Expressive individualism holds that each person has a unique core of feeling and intuition that should unfold or be expressed if individuality is to be realized.1
Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, too, sees this expressive individualism as the normative modern notion of selfhood in the West. He specifically connects it to what he dubs “the culture of ‘authenticity,’” which he describes as follows:
[The culture of authenticity is one where] each one of us has his/her own way of realizing our humanity, and that it is important to find and live out one’s own, as against surrendering to conformity with a model imposed on us from outside, by society, or the previous generation, or religious or political authority.2
In short, the modern self is one where authenticity is achieved by acting outwardly in accordance with one’s inward feelings. As we shall see in subsequent chapters, this notion is now very deep in modern culture and helps to explain a host of interesting phenomena. For example, the increasing social sensitivity to criticizing anyone for their personal lifestyle choice reflects a view of the world where each person is free to perform life in whatever way they choose; and any attempt to express disapproval is therefore a blow not simply against particular ways of behaving but against the right of that person to be whoever they wish to be. Indeed, we might even say that the very notion of “personal lifestyle choice” is a symptom of a society where expressive individualism is the normative way of thinking about self and its place in the world.
It is worth noting at this point that I am not here arguing that expressive individualism is an unmitigated bad thing. Human beings do have an inner life. We do feel things. We are emotional creatures. Those who are not to some degree demonstrative and emotional so often strike us as somehow less than human or as cold and indifferent. In this book, I do not wish to deny that expressive individualism has aspects that are good and commendable. I am concerned, however, with how its triumph as the normative self has led to some of the strangest and, to many, most disturbing aspects of our modern world.
Many of us are indeed particularly disturbed by the radical changes in society’s sexual norms over recent decades, and even more so by the rise of the transgender movement. It is my belief, however, that these elements of what we call the sexual revolution are actually symptoms of this wider turn to expressive individualism in the West. The priority that the LGBTQ+ movement places on sexual desire and inner feelings relative to personal identity is part of this broader accent on the inner, psychological life of Western people that shapes us all. It is my contention in this book that expressive individualism provides the broad backdrop to these aspects of what is commonly called the sexual revolution.
What Is the Sexual Revolution?
When we hear the term sexual revolution, many of us are tempted to think of the ways in which sexual morality has been transformed since the 1960s. Often, we tend to assume that these changes involve the expansion of the range of socially acceptable sexual behavior. That certainly captures something of what I mean by the term. For example, we now live in an age where homosexuality no longer carries the social stigma, let alone the criminal penalties, that it once did. Further, sex outside of marriage—indeed, outside of any framework of personal commitment—is now commonplace. Our sexual world is simply not that of our Victorian ancestors.
Yet it would be a mistake to see the sexual revolution merely in terms of a loosening of moral boundaries to include more forms of sexual expression. What marks the modern sexual revolution out as distinctive is the way it has normalized sexual phenomena such as homosexuality and promiscuity and even come to celebrate them. It is not therefore the fact that, for example, modern people engage in gay sex or look at sexually explicit material, while earlier generations did not, that constitutes the sexual revolution. It is that gay sex and the use of pornography no longer involve the shame and social stigma they once did. Indeed, they have even come to be regarded as a normal part of mainstream culture.
In short, the sexual revolution does not simply represent a growth in the routine transgression of traditional sexual codes or even a modest expansion of the boundaries of what is and is not acceptable sexual behavior. Not at all. Rather, it is the repudiation of the very idea of such codes in their entirety. More than that, it has come in certain areas, such as that of homosexuality and transgenderism, to require the positive repudiation of traditional sexual mores to the point where belief in, or maintenance of, such views has come to be seen as ridiculous and even a sign of serious mental or moral deficiency. And to understand this, we need to see the sexual revolution as a particularly sharp manifestation of the characteristics of expressive individualism. If the individual’s inner identity is defined by sexual desire, then he or she must be allowed to act out on that des...

Table des matiĂšres