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I completed my last two years of high school in a small Christian boarding school on the Canadian prairies. The school was affiliated with a larger Bible college, and every day, we students trudged out of our dorms for 45 minutes of chapel, along with three hours of church services and at least one Bible class each semester.
In short, it was a great place to learn spiritual orthodoxy, but not a great place for intellectual curiosity.
One semester in particular, the leaders of the school decided to start the semester off with a fire-and-brimstone revival meeting, or at least as fiery and brimstone-y as a bunch of Canadian evangelicals can get. The guest speaker for the evening stood up and exhorted all of us to reject worldly culture. It was rock music that was keeping us from God, he said. If we wanted to be truly happy in Christ, he said, we need to reject every innovation in music that had come along since V-E Day.
He was persuasive, and we were persuaded. Oh boy, were we persuaded. My friends and I vowed to toss out our Supertramp and Foreigner cassettes and get right with God by listening only to Evie and 2nd Chapter of Acts. All of us tossed our secular music into the trash and walked away from all that devil music.
Well almost all of us, that is. One of my more secular-minded friends rummaged through the trash and started picking out some of the music we had tossed away. It was then I watched one of my friends literally slap a cassette tape out his hands, saying that he shouldn’t listen to that sort of music anymore.
Sadly, I didn’t step in. The anti-rock ‘n’ roll fervor soon passed, and I went back to listening to the same music that my friends outside of my school were listening to.
Decades later, I still can feel the echoes of that certainty I felt. I was 100% convinced that everyone, not just me, should obey my choices in what was right and wrong in popular culture. It felt good to be a part of a group that was enforcing our beliefs on our classmates. And it scared me.
That was the last time I joined the mob. However, I still remember the thrill of (self-)righteousness I felt as I made sure that others were up to my standards of what was right and what was wrong. Now, as I watch the invasive species of the cancel culture mob spread across Twitter and the right of America, like the moral equivalent of kudzu, I feel a twinge of pain about my old actions.
Here’s hoping that the mob understands that they and their cause are not as righteous as they believe it to be.Published in