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Stephen Baskerville, "Politicizing Potiphar's Wife"

Stephen Baskerville, "Politicizing Potiphar's Wife"



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Published by David Sessions
Full text of the Faith and Reason lecture presented at Patrick Henry College on September 13, 2013, by Stephen Baskerville, professor of government.

Full title: "Politicizing Potiphar's Wife: Today's New Ideology."
Full text of the Faith and Reason lecture presented at Patrick Henry College on September 13, 2013, by Stephen Baskerville, professor of government.

Full title: "Politicizing Potiphar's Wife: Today's New Ideology."

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Published by: David Sessions on Sep 14, 2013
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Politicizing Potiphar’s Wife:Today’s New Ideology
Stephen BaskervilleFaith & Reason LecturePatrick Henry CollegeSeptember 13, 2013
In recent years, we have heard much about the “culture wars,” and it has become popular to emphasize the battle for “culture” in preference to politics. “Culture is upstream from politics,” it is said. (And faith, one might add, is upstream from that.)As a Christian institution of learning, we can certainly all connect with this view.Our calling is obviously cultural in a deeper sense than many others, even here in the politicized environs of Washington.Though a student of politics, I believe some things that are not – and shouldnever be – political. This College in fact represents several such institutions of criticalimportance: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, most importantly. The academy itself is another.By the nature of our mission and our constituency here at PHC, we also hold dear a thirdinstitution, which also should not be politicized: the family.In all these cases, I think, we as a society do have a broad consensus (at least in principle, and often for diverse reasons) that these are not political matters and should not be politicized. And yet today all three are highly contentious politically, and in ways thatdirectly involve us all here at PHC.Ironically, it is precisely the accusation against Christians who resist the politicization of all these institutions is that it is
who are politicizing them. Andwhile some may indeed be guilty of this sin, other Christians seem so alarmed that theyadvocate withdrawal from civic life altogether. So I think it is worth confronting thisquestion directly.This paradox, I want to suggest, is in fact an optical illusion. It demonstrates theexisting saturation of our culture with pervasive political ideology – ideology so subtle
that it does indeed manifest itself in popular and civic culture among many people whoare not conscious of acting out political motives at all.For it is clear that, at bottom, the “culture wars” are often proxy wars of ideas that justify political agendas. They involve a clash of “ideologies.”Studying ideologies had a vogue in the 1950’s and 60’s, following the Naziand Stalinist experiences, among such scholars as Hannah Arendt, Eric Voegelin, CarlFriedrich, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The post-war scholarship was too quickly eclipsed,I think, by foolish declarations of the “end of ideology,” which we still hear today,though the focus returned somewhat with the collapse of Communism.What do I mean by “ideologies”? Emphatically I do
mean any belief aboutcivic affairs. A feature of the ideological mind itself is that it seeks to make everythingideological (just as it seeks to make everything political) and to portray all of public lifeas a clash of ideologies, which enjoy a status of rough moral equivalence. My argumentis not that we must win the ideological wars but that we should be endeavouring to putthe ideological genie back into the bottle.This is not necessarily futile. For ideologies are not universal. They arehistorically specific, and what has a historical beginning can have an end.Ideologies are a defining feature of modernity. There were no ideologies in theancient and early medieval worlds. There were political ideas, schools of philosophy andthought, but no ideologies. Likewise, there were none outside the West until they wereexported relatively recently.Ideologies created
 politics, a kind of politics without precedent. Withoutideologies, there were no revolutions, another modern phenomenon. There were
,uprisings, revolts. But nothing like the French or Russian Revolutions occurred before

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CatHoffman reviewed this
Rated 1/5
I completely agree with Cazz Allen's review.

Poorly written, poorly argued. If I could give this zero stars I would. But, as I'm a woman, I'm sure the author and those who agree with him will write this off as some kind of 'feminist rant.'
Cazz Allen reviewed this
Rated 1/5
Since I have not the time to write a reasoned argument in debate against this essay, I will only say that it takes great liberties with history, it completely ignores modern statistics as a whole (such as welfare statistics and rape charges) and stands only to reenforce its own political agenda. The concept of Mr David Sessions thinking that he and his religion are above ideology and politics is beyond laughable. It is frightening to me that a man with such misguided views can call himself an academic.
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