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Awake, Not Woke (Part 2)

While the “woke” movement claims to be putting an end to discrimination and oppression, the truth is actually the opposite. The woke agenda often directly harms those vulnerable groups it claims to be protecting, such as women and ethnic minorities, and it oppresses anyone who dares to disagree with its ideology

So argues Noelle Mering, author of Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology. Mering continues her conversation with Traci DeVette Griggs on this week’s episode of Family Policy Matters, in Part 2 of a 2-part show.

One of the three “dogmas” of the woke movement, according to Mering, is the sexual revolution, and its effort to get rid of “oppressive” sexual norms. Because of this rigid belief, unborn children in particular have been “lesser” beings in the eyes of the woke movement. “Children are a direct victim of all of this adult irresponsibility,” Mering argues. “They have become something that [can] be disposed of if a pregnancy comes about,” because sexuality has been twisted into “something that should be without any ties or responsibility or duty.”

But what makes the woke movement truly cult-like, says Mering, is its demand for unquestioning loyalty to the ideology, and its tendency to turn on its own people when that loyalty is not absolute. “In the woke movement, you really establish and maintain your status by uncovering and unmasking the ‘evil’ in the other, whether he be on your side, on the other side, or somewhere in the middle.”

“It’s really the opposite of what the Christian message is, which is to excuse the fault of the other, and find what you’re responsible for, your mea cupla.”

Tune in to Family Policy Matters this week to hear Noelle Mering unpack the dangers of the woke movement, and how Christians should respond, in Part 2 of a 2-part show.

Family Policy Matters
Transcript: Awake, Not Woke (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: You’ve said in some of your writing and in this book that you believe some of the woke agenda is causing more injustice against women and children. So why is that?

NOELLE MERING: The most obvious place to start, I guess, would be the sexual revolution, right? I think that there was this misguided or malevolent (depending on who you’re talking about) effort to utterly do away with any sort of sexual norms, which would be considered oppressive. This was a really key element, and one of the three, what I call the three dogmas of the woke movement. It created this desire to elevate the idea of total sexual autonomy to being an avenue of our liberation. The problem is that you cannot have that sort of freedom without having, as a consequence, grave injustice. Because if you have a person who is not disciplined, without virtue, and engaging in the serial gratification of his will as a sign of his liberation, then inevitably his will is going to come up against the will of another. So this is why we have such an emphasis on consent, right? Because we think, “Well, the one thing we can do is establish consent, that your will cannot trump my will.” But that is a very thin hinge to establish sort of healthy dynamics between men and women. So what we’ve done is we’ve created a virtue out of becoming vicious, and then that viciousness inevitably burns to the point where it’s going to railroad the will of another, regardless of how much we give a corporate sermon on consent and talk about it at a Golden Globes show or something.

And then, of course, for children! Children are a direct victim of all of this adult irresponsibility. They have to become something that has to be disposed of if a pregnancy comes about, because now we have this understanding of sexuality that it should be without any ties or responsibility or duty. It’s a very different vision of looking at what a human person is than what we traditionally would claim. I think the vision that we would want to establish instead, and that has been throughout Christianity, is that we are people who have responsibilities to one another. We have duties; we have to limit ourselves out of deference to another person. That autonomy, far from being our highest virtue, is simply just a fact, a reality that we can do certain things; that doesn’t mean we ought to do them. It’s in finding that sort of moral nuance that we actually learn to become people who can live in harmony with one another, with regard to one another. That understanding of living with regard to the other is actually essential to our human freedom, not a hindrance. So, I think that that’s more or less I guess the case I would make. There are other things to be said too, but I think that’s the most basic case of how I think we’ve harmed so greatly.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: I was reading a report this morning—and I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina, and this is a safe city in general—and it said gun crimes were up 22% this year versus last year, aggravated assaults up 39% over last year. People will blame it on COVID or other things. Do you think some of this, though, can be attributed to this new woke culture?

NOELLE MERING: Yeah, I do. I think that obviously there’s running the risk of coming up with too simplistic of a cause for such a complex issue. But fundamentally, I think what the woke movement has done is eradicated any sense of meaning: purpose in our life; meaning in our bodies; meaning in our human interconnections. It’s created this world where we have tried create no limits for ourselves. In so doing, we’ve limited ourselves to this sort of void of meaning, and that’s far more of a violent and despairing place to be because people start to feel hopeless, I think at some point. A lot of the people who lived through communist regimes have written about how in times of suffering people found great meaning. It’s the irony of finding this depth of meaning—Solzhenitsyn and all these figures—found this great freedom because they found an interior freedom; they found that they had a purpose beyond this life and that it was a purpose that circumstances of oppression could not eradicate from them.

In contrast, they would write about how in abundance, oftentimes, and with all the options available to you—all licensed and a diminution of the moral law—you see people become very suicidal. Obviously I don’t want to have a simplistic answer for that—suicide is complicated—but the idea being that it is in deep meaning that we find our joy and our freedom, and this idea that we can have every option open to us is actually going to lead to a lot of despair and to violence. These social pathologies are hard to heal because these are communities oftentimes where they are raised in ways that have deeply hurt them, and there are real harms there and wounds. But the ideology is actually exacerbating those wounds. It’s not meant to heal them; it’s meant to exacerbate them. That’s the point of the ideology: rage. That is what they write about time and again, is that we need people who are enraged.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: And we see this rage turning on even their own. We see examples of people within this more woke culture that don’t completely toe the party line, and people will turn on them viciously as well. Their rage is not just for those that are conservative or on the other side of the party aisle.

NOELLE MERING: That’s right, and in that way, it really does mimic a very fundamentalist sort of cult, because it demands such a purity of the ideology where you see they will turn on themselves or turn on one another. And this happened in Stalinist Russia too, that people were quick to turn on the other because you kind of defend your status by finding the guilt in others. It’s really the opposite of what the Christian message is, which is to excuse the fault of the other, and find what you’re responsible for, your mea cupla. In the woke movement, you really establish and maintain your status by uncovering and unmasking the evil in the other, whether he be on your side, on the other side, somewhere in the middle; that’s how you maintain your status. So that creates a very perverse incentive of rupture and toxicity, I think, in the culture.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: It’s hard to know what comes first, but this either could lead to, or has been a result of the disrespect for institutions. I hear people say horrible things about the President of the United States, and I’m like, “He’s still our president. Can we not have respect for the institution?” The police is another institution that I feel like has really taken a horrible rap. Is there any way of knowing which came first or is it just part of the whole devolution?

NOELLE MERING: I think they probably feed into another, but in the book, I really talk about the collapsing of the concept of authority into the concept of power, and that’s really always been a key part of the ideology. Every time this sort of thing is implemented, it always is a rejection of authority. You saw this in Maoist China also. The idea being that authority is something that’s grounded in something higher; it’s something that reverences something. Power is just human power, just a fact of power. There’s an effort to attack authority, so as you say, the institutions—the police, the presidency, the office, also even in such things as fatherhood. But also in such things as the objective truth; for example, two plus two equals four, it was famously questioned by the woke movement because any sort of objective measure points to something higher points, points to something to reverence. That takes away from the power, which is the only filter through which they can see the world.

So, yeah, I think that’s certainly connected, the rejection of the concept of authority, and it’s easy to do because authority can be abused, and so you can point to real instances of abuse of authority and say, “Well look, this is clearly bad.” And I think that that narrative carries the day a lot and persuades a lot of people. So, I think we have to have real clarity about making those distinctions. Yes, the abuse of authority is an evil, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no such thing as authority and actually look at the world without a concept of authority; it’s a world that’s utterly irreverent; it cannot reverence anything, and that’s a dangerous place to go.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: How do we tackle some of these injustices without going to the extreme of feeling like we have to either partner with or adopt some of the strategies that this woke culture are espousing?

NOELLE MERING: Yeah that’s such an important question, because I think there can be a real temptation to just react and to meet ideology with ideology of another stripe, sort of meet the tribalism with another unhealthy tribalism, and that’s not going to be the answer. The answer is also not simple because we can have the right answers; we can say, “Well, we have to give importance to the family,” and “Well, we have to reestablish a sense of authority,” or whatever. But this can’t be fought just on the level of a proposition either. I think we actually have to embody what is truth. So it’s maybe the most basic answer, it may be a boring one, but it’s fundamentally a spiritual battle, and I think we have to wage it on that level. So we have to draw so closely to Christ that He is what we are able to reflect in our own imperfect, faulty ways, because it really is the attraction of what is good, beautiful, true, and holy that I think can pull someone out of this sort of ideological possession. It’s not just going to be an argument, although arguments are important; it’s not just going to be beauty, although beauty is important. I think it has to be the whole scope of all of those things, because it’s confusing and it’s compelling. So it takes a lot to change the narrative.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: We’re just about out of time for this week, but before we go, Noelle Mering, author of the new book Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology, where can our listeners go to follow up with you, learn more about getting your book, and possibly follow your work?

NOELLE MERING: Sure, I’ve got a website. It’s just my name, You can subscribe there, and I try to update it when I write something new. I also edit the website, and we have a subscription there, as well as an Instagram and a Facebook. And I’m on Twitter @NoelleM.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Well, I’ll give you a chance to give us a quick plug on your Theology of Home website, just because that’s such a provocative name. What is that all about?

NOELLE MERING: So my coauthor, Carrie Gress, and I, we’ve written a couple of Theology of Home books, and we started the website. It’s a free service; we wanted to create daily content, mostly for women, although we actually have a lot of men that subscribed to our website too. And we send eight links a day just in one email, of anything from the faith to spiritual food to something in the news to organization of the home to a recipe. We also have a shop there where we have all domestically made, beautifully crafted products, trying to reestablish a sense of beauty and craftsmanship in our homes, and it also helps support our ministry. Then we have a blog and we bring original content to that website as well.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: I feel like you are a true Proverbs 31 woman. I mean just listening to the wide range of the kinds of things you do and how intelligently you speak on this very important and complicated issue, I just wonder if there’s anything you cannot do. Is there anything that you’re bad at?

NOELLE MERING: I am not good at cooking. I love decorating my home, but I can be disorganized. I struggle with order. Sometimes I stay up too late, and then I’m looking around in my bedroom right now, and it’s quite a mess. So there are so many things I’m not great at.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Noelle Mering, thank you so much for being with us today on Family Policy Matters.



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