Here’s the excellent blog ARTERY BLOCKAGE. The author is clearly one of the 22 Americans who has read and understood my Modern and American Dignity. And he’s added quite thoughtfully and provocatively to what I wrote:
As the family, the church, and the social state weaken, colleges ought to be filling in the gap. My time in college ministry showed me that many students don’t know who they are or what they should be doing. They have been raised on 90s pop-psychology of self-esteem. Since “everyone’s a winner” and “you can be whatever you want to be”, the immediate questions to arise in each student are: “Then who am I?” “And what should I be?” Parents, pastors, educators, and community leaders who drank deeply of the feel-good Kool Aid have no answer. So many will distract them with money and material needs or will resort to empowering them against the ills of society. But who are they?
Proud Southerners, with our tribal mentality and our sometimes-irrational devotion to our region and culture, find better grounding than the Atlanta-style sophisticates or the Yankees because Southern is part of the identity. Our devotion to God, guns, and glory (or college football, fried chicken, and “Bless Your Heart”s if you prefer) is finally impossible to explain. It is a part of being Southern and it something greater than any individual Southerner. It’s part of a larger realization of our natural roles given to us by the God of the Bible or the philosophers’ God of nature. It is a part we are given as a part of our tribe, just as we are all sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, citizens of our nation, servants of Jesus Christ. Call them roles, call them labels, call them duties, whatever you want; they give us our identity. As Walker Percy says in Lost in the Cosmos, we just don’t have the words for ourselves. We ultimately can’t define ourselves because there’s no words we can formulate to fully encapsulate who we are as individuals. To do so is futile. We must ground ourselves from the outside with the roles we have been given.
When we recognize the futility of self-definition, will we finally cry out for help from beyond?