White Christian Nationalism is the new rightwing counterculture.
“The chattering class has a new fixation: polyamory. What began as a trickle of discourse a few years ago—as shows including Succession and Scenes From a Marriage streamed open relationships into our living rooms—has become a veritable flood. The past weeks and months have seen stories ranging from wide-eyed to prurient in The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Financial Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal.
At the center of the recent discussions is More: A Memoir of an Open Marriage, by Molly Roden Winter, an unsparing account of a polyamorous life—at least, a polyamorous life as lived by a white, wealthy, heterosexual Brooklynite.
More—and the present interest in polyamory more broadly—is the result of a long-gestating obsession with authenticity and individual self-fulfillment. That obsession is evident today in Instagram affirmations, Goop, and the (often toxic) sex positivity of an app-dominated dating scene, but its roots go back decades. As the historian Christopher Lasch wrote in 1977, this worldview “assumes that psychic health and personal liberation are synonymous with an absence of inner restraints, inhibitions, and ‘hangups.’” And what could offer more liberation than throwing off the constraints of one of humanity’s oldest institutions, monogamous marriage? Indeed, the desire to discover her true self is Molly’s stated reason for engaging in “ethical non-monogamy.” When she prepares to go on one of her first extramarital dates, she thinks, “Who is my ‘self’ if not a mother and a wife? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps it’s time to find out.” …
In this way, More is a near-perfect time capsule of the banal pleasure-seeking of wealthy, elite culture in the 2020s, and a neat encapsulation of its flaws. This culture would have us believe that interminable self-improvement projects, navel-gazing, and sexual peccadilloes are the new face of progress. …”
Suppose you reject our liberal elites and their neverending pursuit of fads and trends like gay marriage, transgenderism and polyamory and decide you want to storm off in the opposite direction. Maybe you want to fervently embrace precisely what is being rejected by our wealthy, woke and modernist upper middle class elites like White identity and a culture centered on Christian norms?
“Divorce has become a major life milestone replete with specialized parties, large support networks and a whole industry ready to capitalize on the big change — just like weddings.
Why it matters: Cultural attitudes toward ending a marriage have become far less negative, and in the process divorce has gotten more commodified, from services marking the transition to digital culture that lightens the mood. …”
“The book is based on Renn’s megaviral First Things essay, “The Three Worlds Of Evangelicalism”. In that piece, Renn put forward his theory of Positive World, Neutral World, and Negative World. Quote:
Within the story of American secularization, there have been three distinct stages:
Positive World (Pre-1994): Society at large retains a mostly positive view of Christianity. To be known as a good, churchgoing man remains part of being an upstanding citizen. Publicly being a Christian is a status-enhancer. Christian moral norms are the basic moral norms of society and violating them can bring negative consequences.
Neutral World (1994–2014): Society takes a neutral stance toward Christianity. Christianity no longer has privileged status but is not disfavored. Being publicly known as a Christian has neither a positive nor a negative impact on one’s social status. Christianity is a valid option within a pluralistic public square. Christian moral norms retain some residual effect.
Negative World (2014–Present): Society has come to have a negative view of Christianity. Being known as a Christian is a social negative, particularly in the elite domains of society. Christian morality is expressly repudiated and seen as a threat to the public good and the new public moral order. Subscribing to Christian moral views or violating the secular moral order brings negative consequences. …”
I often hear the refrain online that “Christian nationalism is an op.”
I see it as an organic reaction to what Aaron Renn has labeled “Negative World.” Christianity is no longer the mainstream culture. It is no longer even viewed positively or even neutrally by our elites. Instead, there is a major push from above to challenge, repudiate and rollback Christian norms, as can be seen in recent years in the major culture war battles over transgenderism and now polyamory.
Some Christian conservatives resent this loss of status. They can feel the ground has shifted under their feet. They have been radicalized by the attempt to push transgenderism onto kids. This has produced a backlash in which some Christian conservatives are beginning to question right liberalism. This is where the explosion of Christian Nationalism has come from over the past five years.
Note: I have spent years tracking the radicalization of White evangelicals in public opinion polls. The symptoms of it are everywhere these days, but some people are still unable to wrap their minds around the idea that there has been a big shift in this demographic since around 2019.