A blog post by Rod Dreher brought my attention yesterday to a new critique of Patrick Deneen’s hard-hitting Why Liberalism Failed. I didn’t think that critique, by Deneen’s colleague Vincent Philip Muñoz, delivered anything like a decisive blow. It’s a strong essay, no doubt, but seems to me more a matter of pleading than dispassionate analysis of where we are at. Leaning on the Founders’ good intentions, it describes a ship that has already sailed, one replaced by a new ship built by new shipwrights who have fudged the original blueprints to match their new priorities. And I suspect that possibility of fudging was too much there in the original Founders’ blueprints. As I also suspect the sleek new ship presently leaving harbor is not seaworthy.
I fully agree with Rod and others here (cf. @pjnelson) that what we are witnessing is not a conflict between religion and secularism, but rather a conflict between different religions. On the one hand, orthodox Christianity; on the other, a new religion of the Perversely Desiring Self. I can honestly say that what troubles me most in recent years is the fact that our elites and our courts are not secular enough. They are showing themselves adherents of a new religious vision, the Rainbow Cult, one with its own martyrology, its own rituals, its own sense of the divine. That divine is located not in any old desiring self, such as most of us, but rather in, let’s say, a teen drag queen who takes the moniker Divine, and who comes out “bravely” as intersex and gay at the same time. And if ze was ever rejected by ze’s parents or “backward” elements in ze’s community, all the better. Ze is already in this new cult a St. Sebastian on digital canvas, pierced by the arrows of normie evil.
One might not agree with me that Obergefell and what followed represents the rise of a new religion. But I’d ask: Would any other group besides our now worshipped LGBTQwerty tribe have been given the right to redefine an institution as fundamental as marriage? Because, in my view, they did not in fact “expand marriage rights”. What they did is redefined marriage itself. Would any other tribe have been able to do this, out of the blue as it were, after little more than a decade of rallying? I highly doubt it. It could only happen because of a certain something the LGBT cause had picked up in the meantime. That something is a kind of religious aura, a Kool-Aid charisma that had already infected our culture on coast and coast (rather than from coast to coast, as the latter included a Middle America then still mostly unflooded by said Kool-Aid).
And this is why I wish our elites had stuck more to their secularism. That they had not become proselytes of a bizarre new cult ….