Sunday, February 21, 2021

Cancel everybody

'Cancel culture' is everywhere. The "holier-than-thou" types that I grew up knowing about, and who had a certain amount of social clout back then and in previous generations, have been displaced by a new generation of "woker-than-thou" types who are super-connected institutionally and technologically, and whose standards appear to change weekly.

Both of them are moralism on steroids. Both the old version and this new 2.0 edition demonstrate and enhance the social power of the devoted crusader, each 'victory' is simultaneously a 'show of strength' that provides validation for the true believer.  The superiority complex of each is almost identical. The new 'woke' version is secular, but it's just as zealous and self-righteous as the religious version ever was, yet with none of the grace that the religious version forgot that it was meant to proclaim. All "law" no "gospel". All "behave" and precious little "believe". 

So where will 'cancel culture' end? Who's going to do the judging? Maybe those who can assemble the loudest online mob? And to what standard will they operate? And what makes them uniquely qualified for that role? And how do we know that they will wield their power fairly? What will the sentences be? Should anyone even have such power? 

Orthodox Christianity expects people to be flawed – in word, in thought, in deed, in motivation, in inclination. In the New Testament, Romans 3v23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Fallen very far short of the standard required. We all fall short, yet we appear to spend our time comparing distances. Pointing the finger elsewhere instead of looking in the mirror. Pulling down 'the system' rather than radically and honestly examining 'the self'.

Everybody has a very dark side. Everybody is Jekyll and Hyde (Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the story as a theological allegory for how he had come to understand his 'self' – but it looks like in San Francisco he has been cancelled too). So everybody should be cancelled.

But, if you keep on reading Romans 3, it continues with hope beyond hope –

"and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

You can't 'fix' yourself. We are all born this way. In fact, Psalm 51v5 goes further and says that we are conceived this way. No religious ceremony will paper over the cracks, no public apology will ever be enough. But maybe someone else has the CV that we so desperately need, and is willing to swap his with ours.

Forgiveness is the only adequate currency.

If only there was a transcendent, universal, belief which had forgiveness as its central attribute...