Traces of Religion

I just read an article in National Review that made it clear to me why I’m finding the SJW rhetoric so outlandish and incomprehensible. That’s because it follows in the Christian tradition. Speech crimes (first there was word; don’t pervert the language of the gospel), the centrality of suffering, the narratives of gleeful victimhood, the chants, the expulsion and the hounding of the unfaithful, “you are murdering me [destroying my eternal soul] by exposing me to heresy,” etc. I wasn’t raised in this tradition, so I’m not getting it.

9 thoughts on “Traces of Religion”

  1. To be fair, even a lot of the people raised in that tradition wouldn’t get it either. They see left-wing social justice as rejecting the oppressive sex and gender norms of Christianity.

    Could you post a link to the article?


  2. You can stomp out religion in one place and it’ll just show up somewhere else. Something like religious belief and/or observance seems to be hard wired into people. I have no capacity for religious faith at all so I don’t get it, but most people seem to need it whether they say they do or not (me the more they say they don’t need it the more likely they are to build up some elaborate ersatz religion).


    1. And there seem to be two similarly powerful but quite different needs: A need for belief in things beyond our comprehension, and a need for morally-rooted tribalism. Different people often need one of them more than the other. On the nominal left, there are some people who don’t need moral tribalism for punishing unbelievers, but do need their crystal healing and special diets and other forms of supernatural belief sans deities. Other people are not terribly into crystals and special diets but desperately need to punish moral offenses.

      Honestly, mainline Christianity, with a benevolent moral code and a belief in a distant deity, is far more intellectually defensible than modern social justice and wacky alternative diets.


  3. Yes, this is so true. I believe that linguist John McWhorter of Columbia U has made a similar point in his conversations with Glenn Loury of Brown U. on the video podcast the “Glenn Show” on

    On a very related note, have you seen this? Link:

    The above post made me really angry….but not because of what the writers might assume about me (e.g., that I’m a white man upset that someone’s accusing me of “white privilege” and of being racist). No, that’s not it. I’m upset when self-professed radicals on social media (in this case, a group of professors) criticize the (1) demand for their “emotional labor” to recount their experiences of racism, etc., in academia and the (2) demand that BIPOC teach white people about racism. When people protest having to do emotional labor (but do it anyway–hence the Medium post), they’re not activists; they’re simply lazy (yes, I’m aware that this word is often used as a racist stereotype, but it does seem to be the appropriate word here) and therefore, one could argue, they’re supporting the systems of oppression they intend to denounce. Regarding the second demand above, anyone should be able to talk and teach about race. But imagine the complaints if white people start to do this, even from the perspective of self-identifying allies. The claims of excluding POC from discussions of race and the accusations of whitesplaining would be widespread.

    Also, I scanned quickly the list of signatories–not a lot of R1 professors, but they appear to all be tenured or tenure-track professors. There wasn’t a mention of adjuncts or independent scholars (the unemployed) in the post, and these are the most vulnerable people in higher ed, and they are probably disproportionately women and/or POC. So in other words, the problems they address in the post aren’t simply First World problems; they are problems of First World elites.

    I could go on and on–the idea that the survey from the Chronicle of Higher Ed (about BIPOC’s experiences) was “more than a microaggression”–WTF?!

    This is NOT how you begin to seriously tackle the very real problem of racism, sexism, etc., in the United States.


    1. I am too tired right now to talk about the manifesto in detail and I am of two minds because while I am tired of so much virtue and suffering signaling I am also observing massive discrimination at my place right now, in crude ways that should not take place, like not calling on students of color with their hands up due to lack of time, yet letting white ones interrupt and hog the floor. And that is just a small example. And/but I don’t like this idea of allyship, either. There is something just so creepy and neoliberal and mealy-mouthed about all of this discussion at the moment. And I wish we would actually do things instead of just write to the CHE and say we’ve been wronged.

      I’m going to Angola tomorrow to visit a friend who was a pretty bad child abuse victim and committed some pretty bad crimes later on as a result of it, e.g. killed the perps. Now awaiting execution. It isn’t much, a visit, but I’d rather do that than go through some pious allyship training.


        1. Y sí!!! This guy is a rapist too, first conviction was for that, although sentence was light because turned self in before the report was even made. Then gets out and kills his perps in the end. All this worthy of a Dostoievski story or more. But what we talk about are blues lyrics, popular poems, and my crazy family.


  4. I’m also interested in the article because this really is a true problem. There’s a HUGE difference in mentality between people raised this way and people not. I am SO glad not to have been raised Christian, most people who have been seem permanently maimed by it (there are a few exceptions, but I think mainly it does very great psychological harm).


  5. Well, according to Yuri Slezkine, Communism is also a form of religion that shares some of Christianity’s central attributes, so you may find some things quite familiar! And I believe you’ve written about them in the past.


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