Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thursday Thinking - Shame Culture

Last week, New York Times op-ed columnist, David Brooks, commented on the proposition that a new sort of shame culture is taking root in American society. He drew upon a recent and much longer article on the same subject by Andy Crouch in Christianity Today. Below is an excerpt and link for Brooks' column, and an excerpt and link for Andy Crouch's piece in CT. You can get a quick overview from Brooks, or read the longer piece by Crouch. For best results, read both!

The Shame Culture
by David Brooks, New York Times, March 15
If we’re going to avoid a constant state of anxiety, people’s identities have to be based on standards of justice and virtue that are deeper and more permanent than the shifting fancy of the crowd. In an era of omnipresent social media, it’s probably doubly important to discover and name your own personal True North, vision of an ultimate good, which is worth defending even at the cost of unpopularity and exclusion.

The Return of Shame
by Andy Crouch, Christianity Today, March 10
Everyone who studies honor–shame cultures today is quick to point out that both shame and guilt are universal human experiences. So is the desire for their opposites: honor and innocence, where honor is a public affirmation of worth and innocence is a sense of conformity to an internalized moral ideal.
Further, both Westerners and Easterners experience both private and public forms of shame. But there is little doubt that some cultures pay far more attention to dynamics of honor and shame than Westerners do—or at least, than Westerners used to.

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