But We Don’t Want to Live in Lena Dunham’s World

We only want to watch it (sometimes).

That’s one thought that came to me when reading this (thanks to another of our southern correspondents):

During the eight years of the Obama administration, white evangelical Christians, who make up one-quarter of the U.S. population, felt that culture moving away from them. They watched gay marriage become the law of the land and Christians come under fire for saying they didn’t want to provide pizzas or cakes or photographs for those weddings. They heard college students demand “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings”; they heard “Black Lives Matter” and didn’t understand when they were demonized for responding “All Lives Matter.” Their president disparaged people like them who “cling to guns or religion,” and then said that religious employers should subsidize their workers’ birth control and anyone should use any bathroom they like.

But if evangelical Christians are like me, they watch a lot of television and should know that the rest of America doesn’t live as evangelical Christians do.

Even so, television is one thing, society is another.

And let’s think about what drove that whitelash. This kind of thing often happens when groups and identities feel under threat. We know this from history. And it mirrors developments in Europe, especially in the face of globalization and an influx of culturally-distinct immigrants.

Evangelicals and other Americans may have sensed that television shows were becoming the reality. When the President approves of rainbow lights on the White House after SCOTUS legalizes gay marriage, and then he sends letters that micromanage states’ bathroom policies, you begin to worry that you have entered Girls — get this — without your consent.

28 thoughts on “But We Don’t Want to Live in Lena Dunham’s World

  1. but things now have changed, or will change at least before Jesus can come

    John Frame–“The historia salutis expresses …integration between law and gospel …The gospel, the good news, is “Your God reigns” (Isa. 52:7). It is “the time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). This is gospel, because it is good news. But it is also law, because it is the coming of a king, the imposition of his rule.”


    John Frame– “The historia salutis method is that it sees salvation less in individual terms, more in corporate terms. The covenants are made, not only with the covenant mediators like Noah and Abraham, but through them with their families. By the time of Moses, the family of God had become a nation; and with the institution of the New Covenant, it became a nation made of many nations. The corporate emphasis in the historia salutis leads to a focus on the public and visible aspects of salvation. The events described in the ordo are invisible, inward. They occur in the individual heart. The historia salutis occurs in public events. The covenants are publicly witnessed. God attests his covenant mediators by signs and wonders. The history includes deliverances from oppressors, victories in war, dramatic displays of divine power and grace….. These are holy wars, and God promises Victory to Israel when she is faithful to him. John the Baptist, and later Jesus, preached “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The apostolic church preached “Jesus is Lord,” Kyrios Iesous, a phrase with a deeply political meaning. The Roman emperors proclaimed their own Lordship; the Christians proclaim the Lordship of Jesus. The Romans crucified Jesus, and later persecuted the church, because they thought Jesus presented himself as a rival Caesar…. The mission of the church was nothing less than to establish a NEW WORLD ORDER.”


  2. Romanists may still have Jesus still dying on the cross, but they are not immune to being triumphalist in denouncing Calvinist triumphalism—–“Certainly in American evangelicalism, with its roots in Calvinism, there is a strong but perverted prosperity gospel tradition, which sees wealth and worldly success as a sign of divine blessing. It is no surprise that this tradition so easily embraced the libertarian ideology that became Republican orthodoxy. Catholics don’t have this excuse, of course,”

    Does that mean that Franklin Graham is a “Calvinist”?



  3. The idea of the Black Lives Matter label is not to imply that other lives do not, but to emphasize that Black lives tend to be more at risk than the lives of those from other groups. It is like saying all houses matter but the house that needs attention is the one that is on fire.

    As I talk to people and some of them include my friends, there is resistance to the idea that Black lives tend to face a more precarious situation especially from how law enforcement treats them than Whites do. There is this resistance to the idea that we still have systemic racism.

    One way to determine whether systemic racism still exists would be to take an inductive approach by interviewing or reading about an adequately sized sample space of Blacks to examine what their experiences have been. But many of the white Christians I converse with are too myopic in this matter to use a large enough sample size.

    Usually myopia is not a fatal condition. But when it affects the leaders and public policies we vote for and support, myopia can contribute to the self-destruction of any community.


  4. Curt, please explain the difference between systemic racism circa 1950 when the U.S. had no black mayors, police chiefs, or presidents, and systemic racism in 2015. Guys like you don’t seem capable of noticing that some things changed. Those changes haven’t done much for folks at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder, blacks in Chicago’s South Side and whites in Hillsdale.


  5. D.G.,
    Are you saying that because racism today is not identical to that which existed before, there is no systemic racism today? Better than answering your question, why expand your horizons and talk to a variety of Blacks about today’s racism. I’m sure you will get a variety of answers. But you will get a better understanding from hem than you will from me. And doing so would be consistent with what I wrote.


  6. Curt, another anecdotal approach would be too listen to some white reasoning for voting Trump, which includes some variation on “we’re becoming the minority,” which whatever else that suggests it also seems to imply that there is indeed some sort of white privilege, contra what white Know-Nothings tend to say about WP. IOW, why worry about a reversal of fortune if as you say there is no fortune to begin with?

    Not that I’m egalitarian; human societies naturally work in uneven ways. What is interesting is how the Know-Nothings give themselves away in some of their Trump-a-teering.


  7. Tough times for people who believe and say 50 times a day that a Tweet (or a line on a late night monologue) can TOTALLY DESTROY someone.


  8. Peter Berger—“The immediate political effect of the Reformation was that Protestantism became the state religion in many parts of modern Europe—Lutheranism in Germany and Scandinavia, parts of Switzerland, England, and Scotland. The full impact of Protestantism only made itself felt in churches that were not established by the state—so-called “free churches” (such as Methodists and Baptists), some of them Evangelical or Pietist conventicles within state churches (such as the “low church” in England or the “wee kirk” in Scotland). Weber saw the importance of these groups (he misleadingly called them “sects”). It was in this environment that emerged the powerful combination of two phenomena—religious pluralism and religious freedom, particularly in the Netherlands, in Britain (the “Nonformists”), and most explosively in the United States. The American church historian Richard Niebuhr proposed that this development produced a new social form of religion—the “denomination,” http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/11/10/is-the-world-becoming-protestant/


  9. Those on the left always point to how much racism there was pre-1960s. And yet the black family in some very significant ways was doing much better than today after decades of the Left’s policy solutions and Democrat governance in most major cities. Implicit racism? Institutionalized racism? These are put forth as unassailable critiques. I think they are mostly empty if not useful vessels into which some pour subjective content in order to generally assign blame and demonize rather than diagnose the problems.

    Economics professor Walter E. Williams (a black man) writes: “According to the 1938 Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children and 3 percent of white children were born to unwed mothers.” In mid-1960s America, the nation’s out-of-wedlock birth rate (which stood at 7.7 percent at the time) began a rapid and relentless climb across all demographic lines, a climb that would continue unabated until 1994, when the Welfare Reform Act helped put the brakes on that trend. Today the overall American illegitimacy rate is about 40.7 percent (29.1 percent for non-Hispanic whites). For blacks, it is about 72 percent—approximately three times the level of black illegitimacy that existed when the War on Poverty began in 1964.

    And two parent families for whites has dropped a lot while out of wedlock births for whites has gone way up. Studies have shown that one of the main if not the number one determinant leading to poverty is single parent homes and out of wedlock births. If white racism was they main problem then why are the same ailments found in both communities?


  10. Dr. Hart — do McWhorter and Lowry bear the Anthony Bradley seal of approval? I admire Sowell and Walter E. Williams but A.B. told me that they couldn’t teach white people about the black experience??? Yet, like bro. Leon, they too have been black all their lives. So confusing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. D.G.,
    I could add them to my list if that would make you happy. I actually like reading people from Martin Luther King to Joseph Lowery to Bill Fletcher to Bobby Seale. But I also read politically conservative Blacks whose writings I happen upon on the internet

    But my feeling is that one must include in their sample space an adequate number of Blacks from all sorts economic classes and vocations. I vividly remember the stories a former colleague of mine told from the experiences of his adopted Black son and how he was constantly the target of racial profiling. And then there were the stories of those I protested with when we protested Stop and Frisk in NY City or the stories of those Blacks I’ve conversed while traveling.

    So how big is your sample space? Because the validity of anyone’s findings depends on the randomness and size of the sample space they are using.


  12. D.G.,
    Again, an adequate sample size usually includes a random sampling from public figures and groups to private individuals and the sampling includes those who have varying perspectives. So go out into your neighborhood and listen to the stories of your Black neighbors as well as the read the commentaries and stories of the people you have mentioned.


  13. Curt, that’ll be hard:

    The racial makeup of the city was 96.53% White, 0.60% African American, 0.50% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.49% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.53% of the population.


  14. D.G.,
    Difficult does not equal impossible. It’s great to read well-known people and experts. But nothing gives a complete picture like adding to that conversations with everyday people. BTW, I get some of my info from talking to people while I travel.


  15. Anthony Bourdain confesses:

    The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good. Nothing nauseates me more than preaching to the converted. The self-congratulatory tone of the privileged left—just repeating and repeating and repeating the outrages of the opposition.

    Problem is, it’s not their humanity. It’s the citizenship. Are they part of the country and as such do they have a say, or are they simply tax payers to be governed by graduates of the Kennedy School of Government?


  16. Damon Linker offers perspective for which anti-Trump historians can only long:

    If Obama’s mistake in responding to the financial crisis was understandable, his decision to provoke a backlash in the culture war was an unforced error. Obama ran for president as an opponent of gay marriage, showing that he understood the need to act with restraint when it came to hot-button social issues. Four years later he famously “evolved” on the issue while running for re-election, surprising no one. But what was surprising was how quickly and severely he (and Hillary Clinton, who underwent the same transformation) flipped not just to support gay marriage but to treating with contempt those whose sensibilities were merely a little slower to evolve.

    And not just when it came to gay rights. From micromanaging sexual behavior on college campuses to policing public bathrooms in the name of transgender civil liberties, moral busy-bodies in the Obama administration, from the professor-in-chief on down, have been eager to expand the scope of federal regulations into broad new areas of American life — an agenda that plenty of voters have found bossy, intrusive, condescending, and contemptuous of ways of life that diverge from the secular progressivism that is so often the default presumption among the country’s intellectual elite.


  17. Before “Girls,” “Friends.” See?

    And next time you’re watching “Friends” reruns — yes, cuddly innocent “Friends” — go ahead and count the references to pornography, and think about how much cooler and more mainstream porn became with the “Friends” generation, and the perpetual gift that keeps on giving to their kids in syndication. It’s not an exaggeration today to say that the average teenager thinks not recycling is more immoral than pornography.

    But to discredit President Trump, we turn Victorian.


  18. Imagine if Donald Trump is doing to White House what Lena Dunham did to television:

    As creator, writer, and star of Girls, Dunham has represented the unique challenges of millennial women—from reconciling high hopes in a crappy economy to understanding one’s relationship status in a hook-up culture.

    Over the life of the show, Dunham has exploited HBO’s reliance on nudity for her own ends and in so doing served up a feminist critique of unrealistic images of women’s bodies. In a recent interview, Dunham recalled how her insistence on frequent nudity almost spoiled her effort to recruit series regular Allison Williams: “She said, ‘I don’t want to do nudity.’ I was like, ‘We have to get back to you. I’m gonna be naked, people are gonna be naked—that’s a big part of what this show is.’” The sexually explicit encounters on the show, however, strike me more as gritty renderings of broken dating culture than the refreshingly realistic explorations of sexuality that Dunham no doubt intended.

    For all Dunham’s boundary-pushing on pay cable, it is unlikely that her show’s confrontational aesthetic will become the norm. Girls attempts to move culture like a tug boat pulls along a ship. The vanguard series has won tons of praise from the cultural elite but can only claim between less than one million and five million viewers an episode. Girls has influenced the influencers, but its niche popularity suggests that it’s no barometer for whether Americans are ready to recalibrate gender norms.

    Imagine thinking about Donald Trump.


  19. Alt-right is scary, but alt-left is silly:

    political correctness is silly, nothing more. It starts with a humane instinct, not to offend, and takes it too far. The response is to educate. For example, unless all lives matter, at any given time, any particular group’s lives are in danger of not mattering. Put differently, unless all lives matter, black lives do not matter, and unless black lives matter, all lives do not matter. The response is not to create a political movement whose principal object is to be offensive.

    Here, let me make a correction to the left. If you do not call out silliness in constructive ways, others, like those who subscribe to the alt-right, will find pernicious ways to call out that silliness. One of the prices of any fruitful dialogue is the willingness to call out your own side, and the left must be persistent in distancing itself from its own extremes if it does not want to be tagged as extreme.

    Meryl Streep’s speech was silly. Did anyone at WaPo, NYTimes, or New Yorker say so?

    Gate keepers none.


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