NOSHA Notes..






Secular Sketches features shorter articles and reviews with some relevance to our community. The information used is corralled from books, the internet, other types of media, and sometimes even the imagination of the author. References are usually omitted for brevity’s sake, but available on request. 



What Does Culture Have to Do With War? Religion, Almost Always

You have probably noticed that many issues that are pulled from the grab bag we call culture wars seem to have at least some religious undertones with them, or some moral message or controversy that rips and exudes religious doctrine. 

James Davison Hunter coined the term culture wars and titled his 1991 book Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. The divisions at the center of culture war, he says, is what he calls “the impulse toward orthodoxy and the impulse toward progressivism,” the terms he says are “formal properties of a belief system or world view.” What makes orthodoxy a formal property is “the commitment on the part of adherents to an external, definable, and transcendent authority” on all questions of morality. Conversely, for the progressivist, moral authority tends to be defined by “the spirit of the modern age, a spirit of rationalism and subjectivism, and that Truth tends to be viewed as a process, as a reality that is ever unfolding.”

We see spinoffs of these two moral monoliths manifested daily in all phases of human social activity: in education, in the law and courts, in media and the arts, in politics, and interpretations of all aspects of family, sex, and identity.

The conflicts between these worldviews wax and wane, but too often the romanticist wars of culture become the hot wars of mayhem and misery. 

“Typical,” Hugo Grotius would likely have replied to the above . He is known for his social theories in the early 17th century that humans are prone to controversy and conflict; and that humans have a desire to live together in society. His idea of morality was whatever principles could best balance these antagonistic foundations, and that these principles are discoverable and they would be true even if there were no god. He was one the first early modern thinkers to claim that ethics could be grounded in something other than God.


 James Davison Hunter, Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory, Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, publisher of the Hedgehog Review, and author. 


January 6, 2023

Marty Bankson