America’s Hermeneutical Crisis

IMG_0691.JPGIs it proper to say that Western Culture is in the midst of a hermeneutical crisis? Allow me to enumerate the several symptoms that I observe in order then to determine whether the list constitutes what I have prematurely labeled it.

The chief struggle in the current cultural difficulty is best described as an inability to find common ground of agreement in order to move forward with what is best for the American people as a whole rather than its partisan interest groups. That inability is anchored in an unwillingness to compromise on any level for the sake of finding such common ground. That unwillingness is defended through the exercise of intellectual dishonesty in many cases, while in other cases, there seems to be a genuine inability to distinguish truth from falsehood, good from bad.

An example of *unwillingness* working in tandem with *inability* can be seen in the current crisis having to do with what might be called gender confusion or gender fluidity. Here we observe souls (at least some of which are sincere) who are genuinely confused about their gender (i.e., a woman identifying internally as man, etc). Helping these sincere souls along are those people (many of whom I am convinced have no genuine sympathy) not plagued with such gender trauma and yet, because of the pressure (or the prizing) of political correctness, are willing to placate the gender confused by agreeing to call them Bill instead of Betty, or vice versa.

The hermeneutical crisis I am imagining manifests itself in people who are unable to discern or interpret their own lives within the context of normalcy and therefore create new categories for themselves, while on the other hand, are enablers who are willing to rewrite the cultural “text,” if you will, to include the gender-confused because by doing so they feel they can further their own cultural cause, get some extra votes (if they are politicians), vindicate a family member, or perhaps even garner the acceptance for their own sins in some way.

To put the matter in cruder terms, more and more, people are deciding to interpret cultural/political/social events in a way that supports their agenda rather than to interpret them factually, based on a commitment to truth, regardless of how it affects their agenda.

So, in the same way that some scholars are willing to twist a text in order to make it support their beliefs, people in Western Culture are proving that they have little to no commitment to rightly discerning the daily events and circumstances which make up the average American life.

It’s not my intent to discuss the problem of gender confusion though some will not be able to get past that example. My purpose instead is to examine the hermeneutical approach to the events of daily life taken by the average person in Western culture, particularly the average American.

The word *hermeneutics* is of course a terribly uninteresting word to the uninitiated, but expounding it and explaining how it applies to the average person is the best way forward.

In a counseling appointment with a man who is unruly in the church I observed again how distinctly from the norm some people arrive at truth. Such a distinct approach is almost impenetrable. The difficulty is bound up in the discussion of authority. One of the heritages from the enlightenment, as harmful as it may be at times, is the admonition to appeal to your own reason to arrive at truth and not depend on a book, an organization, etc.

So, yes  America—the West—has chosen to “rewrite” the cultural text so that it says what they want to to say. That’s a hermeneutical crisis.


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