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Awake, Not Woke (Part 1)

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
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October 25, 2021 10:57 am

Awake, Not Woke (Part 1)

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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October 25, 2021 10:57 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes author Noelle Mering to discuss her newest book, Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology, in Part 1 of a 2-part show.

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Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Hi, this is John Rustin, president of NC Family, and we're grateful to have you with us for this week's program. It's our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on Family Policy Matters. And that you will feel better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation. And now here is our host of Family Policy Matters, Tracy Devitt-Griggs. Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. Many of us look around our society today and become discouraged by the far-reaching tentacles of radical progressive ideologies that are so pervasive in everything from schools to legends. So how should Christians respond? Well, Noelle Mehring, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, editor of the Theology of Home website, and wife and mother of six children, joins us today to discuss that and her newest book. And that book is entitled Awake, Not Woke, a Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology. Noelle Mehring, welcome to Family Policy Matters. Thank you so much.

Great to be here. Okay, so first of all, you call this a cult. So that's pretty strong language. Why do you think that's the case? You know, we picked the word cult because I do think that this is more than a political movement. I think that it really is aiming to ultimately replace Christianity, not necessarily in the minds of its adherents, who are oftentimes motivated by goodwill and justice and compassion, and rightfully so. But the ideology itself, takes those good motivations and introduces all sorts of conclusions that are really contradictory to the faith. And it really sort of mimics the faith, though, in that it's being ritualistic, but more closely mimics a more fundamentalist kind of almost extreme cult type of religion, where there is silencing, shaming, very dogmatic, unreasonable, which is very different, obviously, from what Christianity is meant to be, which is united with reason, open to the truth, open to other people, you know, not not censorious. So it mimics a cult in that in those ways.

And I go into it more deeply in the book. But that was that's sort of the outline of the reason for that word. So just to back up and talk about the fact that you're not trying to say that there aren't injustices in the world that need to be fixed, right? It's just the manner by which these people are going about trying to fix the injustices.

Yeah, that's exactly right. So I think it really operates on Christian precepts initially. And that's in part why it is so confusing and why I wanted to write the book. It's kind of to sift through what's actually happening, because we are called as Christians to walk with the marginalized, walk with the oppressed and walk with the suffering.

Those are true and right precepts. But it takes those good premises and then inserts ideological conclusions that ultimately kind of in a very dogmatic way, interpret what love looks like, and how we help the oppressed, how we help the suffering in a way that is antithetical to the Christian method of doing that, and ultimately doesn't even help the people that it fundamentally claims to help. And so I think it does far more harm than good in that way.

And that was really my motivation for writing this. So speaking of doing harm, do you think that some Christians even may shy away from some of these very important issues, because of the way that it's being presented by this woke crowd? Yeah, I think that's true. I think that there's a tendency to be reactionary, especially in today's world where things are so polarized and so divided. And so I think as Christians, we have to be really careful that we are not dismissing issues of injustice because we see it being the territory of the woke. That's actually completely untrue and historically inaccurate. You know, the church has always advocated against injustice and walked with the suffering.

So I don't think that we can have that response. But we do have to be very careful because so much that's done in the name of justice these days is actually social justice. You know, it's this woke ideology that fundamentally kind of reduces people's down to being totems of a group, and also rejects, you know, natural law and embodied reality in ways that are very harmful to our culture. So we've mentioned this word woke.

Do you know where that came from? And is it as radical as we often hear? Yeah, so the word woke initially arose in reference to racial injustice, and the idea just being awake and attuned to the layers of oppression in society. But it's it's since expanded to include areas of, you know, all the sort of hot button injustice issues. So feminism, gender issues, sexuality, transgender issues, and it really has become an umbrella for what I go into the book is sort of a neo Marxist and neo Freudian and postmodern kind of stew that all combined creates this sort of woke movement, which is really aiming to destabilize us from bodied nature and also from one another, I think it's fundamentally is movement of rupture, it grows through creating this right consciousness where we become aware of how much we're hated, or how much hatred we have in our hearts, and then try to agitate for a revolution for social change. But it's not a social change that's built on a common humanity or common narratives or shared brotherhood and sisterhood, as we would want as Christians, but rather, it's a revolution that's based on division. So what do you think the ultimate goal is of this revolution, then? What's your conclusion on that?

Or do you have one? Well, I think it probably depends on who you're talking about. I kind of intimated earlier that I think, you know, you might have a friend who is woke or neighbor and Aunt Susan, and they generally just want truly to alleviate the injustice in the world. But if you read the literature, the goal really is far more radical. It's oftentimes equity, you know, equity of outcome, you know, which is more or less a Marxist principle that we can engineer society so that we have certain results without any reference to human freedom or human agency. And in order to do that, you really have to kind of break down what a human person is. You know, this was in Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, the idea that human nature can be fundamentally deconstructed, and then rebuilt according to this utopian vision. And that's what I see happening with a woke movement and why this is why gender ideology is so big, because the most the best most effective tool for breaking down a person's understanding of what he or she is, is to confuse them about what they are so fundamentally in their embodied reality to distance themselves even from their body.

And that ultimately means their body is meaningless, which we know as embodied people that that means then therefore we are meaningless. And it's really underneath it, a very despairing, nihilistic ideology. I'm sure we have some young people who are listening and I'm often surprised when I talk about Marxism or socialism that they don't necessarily see what the problem is with that. So can you talk just very briefly about why you think that's a danger if we're going in that direction?

Yeah, I think I see that that problem too. And truly, other people have said this before, you know, communism should be understood to be as much of a pejorative as Nazism, that there's no reason to think that communism is any better. In fact, the body count is higher. And, you know, I think it's dangerous because we see every time it's been implemented the same pattern, it because it's an ideology that's based on heart totalizing one filter, the way we see each other, and in this case the lens of power that we're supposed to see all human relationships, all human dynamics to the lens of power. It creates this opportunity for this endless power struggle where people are suspicious of each other, where they are gain virtue and being hurt by someone else and so yours, it prompts you to look more harmed and to find virtue and moral stature in that it creates a culture of accusation. And every time it's been implemented, it's the same thing because it is built on so many fundamental lies, it has to maintain power by coercion, silencing propaganda, because it's not fundamentally oriented towards the truth.

And the truth is the thing that frees us to pursue, we're free to pursue the truth, if we have truth as our goal, if we have power as our goal, then it becomes far more coercive far more quickly. Well, let's talk you've been talking about the harm that this ideology can do. Are there certain areas of our culture and society that you find have been the most hurt so far because of this? Oh, gosh, I mean, so many, you know, I think that one of the things I see that's been the most harmful is that it creates a whole host of social pathology.

So in the literature over and over again, what you see from Marxism to the woke is that the enemy to social justice is the faith and the family. And you see that there's been a real goal to break down society by through the avenue breaking down the family. And what that does is it creates a whole host of wounds, creates a whole population of wounded people. Because you know, you encourage licentiousness and men, that creates a lot of distrust and hardening callousing and women, and then children who are rebellious, you know, it hurts every person in society to reduce the family in this way for the sake of revolution. So I think the people are most hurt by it are probably the most vulnerable children, you know, children, not having that fundamental stability, that can equip them to walk into the world with the confidence and the safety knowing that they are known and loved at the first fundamental most fundamental level as children.

And those are wounds that don't heal easily. But they also further the cause of the ideology, because it's far easier to radicalize someone who is deeply wounded, because you play into those wounds. And it's much easier to see the world as being this oppressive place when you have been deeply hurt.

And so then you lock into your, you know, you become like this reed blowing in the wind, you're not rooted, you're not grounded. And it's very easy to get swept up into these things. But it's not, it's, it's not helpful. And it's not, it doesn't lead to happiness. And so, you know, I think that we have to as Christians find some way to speak into those worlds with love, but also a truth.

And I think people are hungry for the true truth and for purpose. And that's what we have to offer. So you have six children, right?

I do. What is the oldest of your children? 22, our oldest daughter, our daughter's 22 down to nine. So you're dealing with this, I'm sure every day. I mean, your children aren't immune from this.

No. So how do you suggest as parents, what do we do? What are some strategies that we could employ?

That's a great question. We were very fortunate by having a great school where they've been kind of buffered from a lot of the stuff, but it's impossible to be totally buffered. You know, I think that social media should be severely restricted. I don't let my kids do any social media until they're 18.

Then at that point, you know, they're adults, they can. But, you know, I think the one thing, the most important things we have to do is we have to be presenting a positive vision. So we cannot be a family, families that are, you know, constantly defensive or afraid of the world or sort of a crouch, you know, a fear. We need to be confident in what we have to offer and teach our kids a really positive message, even just through the way we lead our daily lives, which should be one that's cheerful and positive and bright and encouraging a family culture where we do fun things together. We have interesting conversations. We're honest with each other.

You know, we talk about these types of things. We've always talked with our kids about all sorts of cultural issues from the time it was age appropriate. But I think that that sort of positive understanding, where it's a lived understanding of the beauty of family life, carries far more weight than just a propositional understanding of what the importance of family is, you know, that we have to actually live it, embody it in our own families. You mentioned presenting a positive vision, and then you also said you talked a lot about a cultural issue.

So how do you do that? How do you present difficult and ugly parts of our history and our country while also showing, say, the brilliance of our founding fathers? How do we go about finding that balance, do you think? Yeah, it's a great question. You know, a lot of it would just be prompted by something they're reading at school or something that was happening at the news. So just sort of natural conversations as they came up, we would try to pay attention to those, what they were kind of thinking about and interested in, and then see how we could have a productive conversation about that. You know, my husband loves reading American history, and so he would talk with the kids a lot about just how the formation of the country, founding fathers, and their school was great about that, too. But yeah, I just think organically, naturally, as things are, they might come across something, you know, just floating around the ether in our society about whatever is happening in politics, or just things, inquiring about what they're reading at school.

You know, that prompts a lot of great discussion. Right. You've mentioned education in your children's school several times. I know that my kids were in public schools when they were coming up.

I'm a grandmother now, and I start to look at her parents sending her to public schools, and I don't even want her in elementary schools now, public elementary schools. Is that overstating the case? Is it seeping down to even the levels of kindergarten and first grade, do you think? I do think so, and I don't think that's overstating the case. And it's hard in a way to have the conversation because it feels reactionary, you know, even hearing myself speak about it. But I do feel like it's gotten to a point where it's escalated so quickly. I grew up going to public schools, too.

I think it's very, very different now. And so I think that we have to be really not complacent and really aware and involved. If we are sending our kids to a public school, there's going to have to be a lot of parental involvement as far as they'll let that happen.

And if not, I would pull my kids. If it seems to be a school where the parent involvement is not welcomed, then I think we have to look for alternatives because it has become so agendized so often in schools, not in all schools. And there's great teachers in different places. And so there's all sorts of nuances and qualifiers there.

But if I'm going to speak about it generally, I would say that, yeah, I would be pretty wary at this point. You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. This has been part one of a two-part program with author Noel Mehring. Be sure to tune in next week for part two. To learn more about the North Carolina Family Policy Council and to listen to additional episodes of Family Policy Matters, visit our website at That's Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-31 11:18:07 / 2023-07-31 11:24:20 / 6

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