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"There's only one way to change that and it's to address the real sickness at the heart of American culture. That sickness is our newfound reluctance to address the moral health of our society." I don't deny that there are real problems with American culture, but the ones Hawkins listed are not among them. He's being way too vague here, essentially taking on the role of a cantankerous preacher condemning everybody around him as being flawed. And the solution appears to be, "Do and believe as John Hawkins says." That's not a very valid solution to any of these issues he raised. It also ignores what has been observed in reality. As I said before, research has shown that crime and deviance is declining. Society today is generally better today than it was 50 years ago. There are still problems, but they're not the kind of problems that can be solved by obsessing over the perceived shortcomings of a culture. I don't claim to know the answers, but it's pretty clear that Mr. Hawkins doesn't either.
"We've allowed pornography to become so accessible that it's practically universally viewed, even among teenagers." Pornography has always been present in every society in some form or another. Nobody "allows" it. Like human sexuality in general, it's a product of being human. History has shown time and again that censoring it doesn't work. Research has shown that it does not cause significant harm. I think Mr. Hawkins is misunderstanding what freedom means. Censorship is not consistent with freedom, especially when it comes to sexuality. And it doesn't matter whether teenagers view pornography or not. They're going to have sexual thoughts and feelings. That makes men like Mr. Hawkins very uncomfortable for some reason. The idea that this is part of the other legitimate problems he mentioned only undermines his point.
"Marriage is falling apart and we’re encouraging that by pushing gay marriage." This is simply inaccurate. Marriage is not falling apart because of same-sex marriage. In fact, divorce rates have not gone up. They've never gone higher than they went in the early 1980s. For the past 25 years, they've stabilized at around 40 percent. And less people are getting married overall because 1) more and more young people are shackled by debt that spouses would've taken on, 2) the laws are horribly unreasonable for men, and 3) too many people have unreasonable expectations about marriage. There are more reasons, but same-sex marriage isn't one of them. Hawkins has to know this on some levels. Same-sex marriage is fairly new. Bad divorce laws emerged in the 70s and the research on that is much clearer. Marriage as a concept isn't falling apart, but legally speaking it lacks incentives to say the least.
"We are also morally inferior to Americans from fifty years ago in almost every other way that matters." Mr. Hawkins, I know you're nostalgic for an era that never existed outside of 50s TV sitcoms, but you're simply wrong here. Americans were not morally superior in the 50s. Racism, sexism, and discrimination were far more prevalent back then. Jim Crow laws reigned supreme. People could still get away with lynching and hate crimes. Women were not treated as equals in the workplace. The only people this time period was good for were white male Christians and coincidently, that's exactly what Mr. Hawkins is. Doesn't he find that just a little bit telling? Mr. Hawkins doesn't back up anything he says with real research. According to most legitimate research, crime and deviance is down across the board. People are more tolerant today than they were 50 years ago. Violence and theft are down. Teen pregnancy is down. Overall sexual activity is down. The divorce rate has stabilized and has never gotten higher than it was in the early 80s. The world is actually getting better, regardless of whether Mr. Hawkins believes it or not. If he wishes to live in a fantasy world of 50s sitcoms, that's his business. But it is not a valid standard with which to judge the culture of today.
ISIS thrives the same way internet trolls thrive. They do what they must to provoke a response. Then they use that response to attract others to their cause. They WANT others to fight back. They understand that they can use that to paint others as aggressors. Ever notice how ISIS is only attacking those from countries showing a military presence in the Middle East? They aren't attacking the Dutch, Swedes, or the Swiss. They're seeking to provoke those they know will strike back. And I think it's a mistake to play into their hands.
Why do you say I denigrate others for expressing hatred and intolerance to their fellow man? That makes no sense. The people who show hatred to Muslims are no better than those who espouse hatred of homosexuals. They're still going against a pretty important Christian tenant. If you adhere to a strict interpretation of the bible (which I don't, by the way), even it says clearly in Matthew 5:44 that we should love our enemies. Fighting hatred with hatred only fosters more hatred. Christ understood that. Gandhi understood that. Dr. King understood that. Why can't we understand it too?
I think most social conservatives would agree with you. The problem is that the positions of social conservatism are not polling well with young people. More and more people today are supporting same-sex marriage, gender equality, and drug reforms than ever before. Social conservatives simply cannot win that issue. And it'll prove detrimental in the long run because the younger generation is simply not going to vote for these issues.
I think it would be a big mistake for Republicans to back Huckabee. He might poll well with his fellow conservatives, but for the nation as a whole he would not fare well against somebody like Hillary Clinton. His conservative Christian positions, as well as some statements he's made in the past about women, do not resonate with younger voters. He will lose the social issues and the traditional core republicans will not be enough to get him in office. I think Republicans are much better off with someone like Rand Paul or Paul Ryan.
I don't see how denigrating an entire group of people based on a few inflammatory tweets solves anything. Lumping ISIS with all Muslims is like lumping all Christians with the Westboro Baptist Church. It accomplishes nothing. Hating and denigrating Muslims only makes groups like ISIS stronger. That's why it's a core Christian value to love and tolerate even your enemies. Don't give them more reasons to hate. They're human beings. Let them be the aggressors and let them deal with the consequences.
I honestly believe that books like this that try to proove Christianity as if it were a scientific theory or a legal doctrine do far more harm than good. This book is only inviting backlash from the aggressive New Atheist front and expect that to only further distract Christians from actually focusing on the tenants of their faith. And therein lies the most important aspect of Christianity and any major religion for that matter. It's a matter of faith. Trying to prove it in a scientific, legal sense completely defeats the purpose. I get the intent. People want to prove that THEIR faith is somehow more legitimate than others so they can bask in the glory of being vindicated. But there's a big problem with that and again, it has to do with faith. Faith, by definition, is not a legal or scientific concept. It's a deeply held personal conviction. It can't be falsified or proven and pretending it can only demeans its value. I think this is a big reason why Christianity is losing so much credibility. It's not because the faith is being persecuted. It's because Christians are coming off as holier-than-thou bullies, carrying on as though they're special and they're better than those of different faiths. That doesn't just turn people off. It's incredibly inconsistent with the Christian notion of humility. The best way to avoid conflicts with atheists and those of other faiths is to simply be good Christians. That means not playing the victim and getting into useless arguments that have no end. I don't think that was God's intent and books like this are nothing more than an expensive distraction.
You're right, it doesn't excuse the behavior. And I'm not trying denigrate the victim here. My concern is that people like James Brown and the rest of the media are getting tunnel-vision with this issue, focusing so hard on it that they don't see the bigger picture. There is room for context in these difficult issues. And that in no way denigrates the suffering of the victim.
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