One of my favorite movies growing up was the 1951 science fiction classic “When Worlds Collide.” Scientists discover that a star named Bellus is on a collision course with Earth and that the end of the world is little more than eight months away. Wealthy humanitarians and a self-serving industrialist pony up and a spaceship is constructed as a kind of Noah’s ark to save humanity from extinction.
Worldview watchers and thinkers have known for some time that a different kind of collision was coming in American culture. It’s actually been happening for decades. Certainly, the Robertson family saga unfolding before our eyes is no isolated occurrence.
You probably know the details about the controversy surrounding Duck Dynasty, the highest-rated reality show on television. The family patriarch, Phil Robertson, gave an anatomically-correct description of his preference for heterosexual relationships over homosexual ones in an interview with GQ. He went on to paraphrase 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, saying: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
I’m not offering any excuses for his coarse language, nor can I defend his racial views that gloss over the inequities and cruelty of the Jim Crow south. But I can say that opposing worldviews account for most of the outrage over Phil Robertson’s comments.
The Robertson family represents something otherworldly for establishment media types and secularists. It’s disagreeable for anyone to disagree with their PC opinions about what we should say, how we should act and what has value in 21st century, post-Christian American life.
West Monroe, Louisiana is another world for them, and not just in obvious ways. Senator Ted Cruz says it this way: “It represents the America usually ignored or mocked by liberal elites: a family that loves and cares for each other, believes in God, and speaks openly about their faith.”
Not surprisingly, The Atlantic says Robertson’s comments may be “ignorant, offensive, or ineloquent.” Duck Dynasty’s home network, A&E, owned in equal parts by the Hearst Corporation and Disney-ABC Television Group, distanced itself from Robertson’s remarks. Their statement reads: “His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been supporters and champions of the LGBT community.” Most other establishment press outlets called Robertson “homophobic” and labeled his comments “hateful.”
That says a lot about why A&E and the Robertsons are on such different worlds. And it says more than we want to know about the eroding tolerance elites have for people they classify as backward, uninformed, ignorant and intolerant. They look at people of faith with a sneer and self-righteous indignation. They know better and rednecks don’t know much.
When worldviews collide, it’s now disagreeable to disagree.