The politics of identity continue to haunt. Are you gay? Straight? Muslim? Man? Man trapped in a female body? Evangelical? Reformed Protestant? How’s a nation supposed to handle so many personal identities yearning to breathe free?
Ra’fat Aldajani offers this advice for Muslims:
The first objective is embracing being American. Too often we confuse being American with an erosion or rejection of our native culture and mores. It is quite the contrary. America is the land of immigrants, a melting pot of many diverse cultures and peoples, all contributing to what makes this country unique and strong.
Assimilation means developing a hybrid of what is good from our mother countries (family values, importance of education, respect for elders) and our adopted home (democracy, justice, rule of law) and engaging in every aspect of American life as Muslim Americans, rather than retreating defensively into our own culturally fenced-off communities.
Of course, the problem with assimilation is that it leads to liberal Protestantism where the nation’s social crises matter more than biblical teaching (also think PCA). If the nation tips toward equal rights for women, who are we mainline Presbyterians to deny the office of elder to women?
So the question for reconciling personal and national identity is where you put the qualifier.
If you are an American Christian, then national identity trumps religious loyalty.
If you are a Christian American, then your religious identity trumps patriotism.
And if you are simply present as Christian (or LBGT), and leave out any reference to the government whose laws you follow at least when you check out at the grocery store or drive a car, then you are a different order of person.
The difficulty we now face is that personal identity absorbs nationality. The nation must be or reflect my identity — it must be Christian, gay, or black. What we need in the era of transgenderism is to recognize that we (citizens of the U.S.) are all personal identities trapped in an American body.
11 thoughts on “Every Square Inch of MmmmeeeeEEEEEEE”
“Many of us do fast during Ramadan and are very proud of being Muslim, yet we remain moderate and open-minded in our thinking and way of life. Among our friends, mates and wives/husbands are Christians and Jews, homosexual and heterosexual. We don’t judge or discriminate, we just live and let live.”
“Instead, they have grotesquely distorted religion and Scripture, ignorantly cherry-picking verses from the Quran to justify the unjustifiable.”
“we should encourage critical thinking in Islam that makes us think rather than fall back on feel-good narratives that create comfort bubbles and inhibit thought. This is not to say that we should doubt the words of the Quran, which to Muslims is the literal word of God as passed on by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad.”
“Instead it is to follow in the steps of Muslim philosophers engage in healthy debate about women’s rights, sectarian divisions, diversity, violence conducted in our name, and, yes, even homosexuality.”
Interesting, and sounds familiar? BLT (be less theo-logic) , more anthrópos-logic?
DGH, don’t disagree with your larger point, but I think we might have seen the peak of identity politics. Think Brexit, Trump, Sanders. Maybe politics starts being about “real” issues again. The enthusiastic Trump supporters I know don’t care one iota about LGBT issues (except maybe bathrooms). Still not much free time until next week, sorry for the drive by nature of this comment.
Trapped in America but only as a sojourner and unsure if I’m a Christian American or American Christian. Being that America is the most pluralistic country ever, how about I call myself a Christian living in America? God bless the US and/or A.
Dan, I think you’re right if you mean that Brexit and Trump represent a reassertion of nationalism against the cosmopolitan-we-are-the-world outlook that goes hand in glove with sexual orientation mattering more than ANYthing. We do need something in between the abstraction and the oh so personal. Doesn’t mean I’m voting for Donald.
DJR, or why don’t you call yourself Greg, or St. Greg, or Rubin, or MPS?
Are you confused?
DGH, I am still struggling with what I am going to do re: The Donald. Nationalism for sure can override pelvic politics, but I think the inequality meme has more legs than I would have said as recently as, say, a year ago. Maybe identity politics are an unaffordable luxury item, at least right now?
I don’t remember being Greg or St. Greg but schizophrenia is there.
DJR, so you’re trans.
Dan, I don’t get inequality at all since Trump is part of the 1%. But he doesn’t talk like a Wall Streeter.
DGH, Thomas Piketty, meet Daniel Boorstin
Of course, we could put being made in the image of God ahead of being American.