Culture Wars, Hamas and The Inquest

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

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Good Morning and Welcome to this week’s Gospel and Culture update, by Alan Vink
Culture Wars, Hamas and The Inquest

Tuesday 31st October 2023

Culture Wars

It’s a very big topic but here we go. Let’s begin with a definition.

A culture war is a cultural conflict between different social groups struggle to impose their own virtues, beliefs, and practices over society.(Wikipedia)

Culture wars are disagreements about cultural and social beliefs between groups, especially between people with more conservative opinions (= generally against social change) and people with more progressive opinions (= generally supporting social change). (Cambridge Dictionary)

It derives from the German kulturkampf which was originally used to describe a clash in 19th century Germany between a head of government and the head of the church.

So it started as a struggle between church and state, with all the moral implications that brought with it, and has now come to be used to describe – in the words of the European Centre for Populism Studies – a “cultural conflict between social groups and the struggle for dominance of their values, beliefs, and practices”.

James Davis Hunter, the sociologist credited with making the term “culture wars” popular, gave examples of some areas in which they rage in the subtitle to his 1991 book Culture Wars: The Struggle To Control The Family, Art, Education, Law, And Politics.

Here is a typical list of issues (topics) that have been caught up in the so called culture wars:-

  1. Religion: Disputes over the role of religion in public life, education, and government policies.
  2. Morality: Debates about ethical and moral standards, such as those related to abortion, same-sex marriage, gay conversion therapy, transgenderism and other social issues.
  3. Multiculturalism: Tensions around diversity, inclusion, and the accommodation of different cultural practices and beliefs.
  4. Education: Disputes over curriculum content, teaching methods, and the role of education in shaping societal values and beliefs.

POV. There is no doubt that here in NZ we are in the midst of a growing divide between people who hold a conservative position/worldview on the issues noted above and those who hold to a more liberal position/worldview. Further, I was hoping that as a result of my background reading for this article that I could conclude that using the word ‘war’ in this context was far too extreme. But sadly I can’t. If war means a battle, a sustained conflict, division and winners and losers then it is in fact an appropriate term. It feels to me that the battle has intensified since C-19.

Most older Christians (baby boomers) hold to a more conservative position on social issues. I’m one of those. In fact, being honest here I am deeply troubled at how extreme some people including academics have become. That said, a growing group of millennials and Gen X who are also Christians are looking at these ‘wars’ and are calling for a better way of dealing with these hot button issues. In fact they often ‘see’ the issues differently. As a result there is quite a bit of tension in many an ‘evangelical’ church in NZ. In many cases it may not be obvious but scratch just a little and it will emerge quite quickly. Christians are not seeing ‘eye to eye’ on many a social and moral issue.

It’s hard to know where this will end. There probably is no end. And then again not all tensions are bad. Some things need to be ‘in tension’ to get the best outcomes. Perhaps these social issues that we all care about deeply are a case in point.


Mark Durie has written 8 articles titled ‘A Q&A Primer on Hamas’. Mark writes “Many people have questions about the deeply distressing events taking place in Israel and the Palestinian territories. So, each day for the next week I will posting answers to questions, attempting to help people understand the times in which we live.

Dr Mark Durie is an academic, Anglican pastor, Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Senior Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

The Mosque shooting Coronial Inquest

This much awaited inquest started last week. It is the largest coronial inquest in NZ’s history. “This inquiry is intended to establish the “truth” of what occurred on March 15, 2019. That doesn’t mean in any criminal sense – that part of the investigation is over and the terrorist will remain behind bars, without parole, for life. Coroner Brigitte Windley explicitly stated that this is “not an inquiry into the life of the man responsible for the 51 deaths”. As Coronial Services’ website says, “A coronial inquiry is a process to find out the facts of a death. A coronial inquiry does not decide who is guilty of causing a death. If a coroner believes they need more evidence to find out the facts of a death, they can hold a hearing in court. This is called a coronial inquest. At a coronial inquest, a coroner will hear from witnesses and consider evidence.”

This article is a very helpful explainer and notes the 10 key issues being examined. What you need to know about the March 15 coronial inquest | The Spinoff

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