I have written several times on the cognitive dissonance of the evangelicals. But a New Yorker article of May 3 addresses a new dimension of the issue. It turns out that the evangelicals watch as much porn as other people, but they feel really badly about it. Not only that:
In terms of the cultural consequences, an entire subculture has built up around preventing young men and women from accessing pornography. There are a large portion of what we would consider men’s Bible studies or men’s groups, where they get together and they talk in gender-specific terms about the things that they deal with as men. A lot of that is dedicated toward, “Hey, did you look at pornography this week?” Or, “Did you masturbate this week?” There is, in fact, a cottage industry of software companies selling and marketing what we would call accountability software to conservative Christians. If the software detects that you searched for something shady online, it will send an e-mail to your “accountability partners,” and you’re basically tagging your friends, who will get an e-mail that says, “Hey, Sam or Isaac looked at whatever pornographic Web site.” So they could circle back with you and ask you about it. And that is something that people are paying money to put on their computers, to try to prevent themselves from viewing pornography. I call it the Purity Industrial Complex, of books and small groups and materials, and even software companies, who are basically rising to the challenge of trying to prevent Christians from looking at pornography.
Should you want to learn more, feel free to read the whole post, or, better yet, consult Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Christians, available on Amazon.
My Cousin the Geologist
Pornographic cognitive dissonance complements the anomaly of living in the 21stcentury and not accepting science as a reliable source of information about reality. I have a cousin who majored in geology, worked as a geologist for forty years, and believes the earth is six thousand years old. If they ever dissect his brain, they will find his brain cells twisted into pretzels.
They Buried Uncle Ralph Yesterday
And then there is cognitive dissonance over racism versus the radical love taught by Rabbi Jesus. I have spoken before of Uncle Ralph, who spent his career as minister of a small Baptist church, out in the country. When my uncle first heard some people speaking Spanish down at the Piggly Wiggly, he knew exactly what his religion commanded him to do: make the immigrants welcome, see whether they needed any help, and even try to learn their language.
I don’t know how far Uncle Ralph’s language studies progressed. Did he ever master the pluperfect subjunctive? But I am pretty sure that, as he lay dying, Uncle Ralph heard a voice saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Who’s Left in the Tribe?
Uncle Ralph’s tribe forgot Jesus’s teachings about how to treat strangers. They forgot lots of things. Three kinds of people are left: (1) people who are just not very smart, (2) people like my geologist cousin who are smart but use their intelligence to contort their own thinking, and (3) people who just pretend to believe what the tribe says it believes. Everybody else has left, is leaving, or is being pushed out.
And we are left with people who think Donald Trump is King Cyrus.