These days we can’t go almost anywhere without encountering wokeism. Entertainment, education, and even shopping aren’t immune. Everywhere we go we are confronted with lectures about race and gender, with messages often aimed at kids.
Wokeness seeks to destroy everything that is great about America and aims to remake this nation in a way that upends capitalism, individual freedom, the family, and Judeo-Christian values. The woke movement seeks to replace absolute truth with an ever-changing concept of “truth” that changes with the whims and moods of every individual.
We never see someone who is just “a little bit woke.” Wokeness is something one must devote all of oneself to — all or nothing. It becomes an identity and a lifestyle for the person who commits himself or herself to wokeness, much like a new convert to a religion.
Wokeness itself is a religion. It replaces God with political and cultural crusades, but unlike our Judeo-Christian heritage, this new religion of wokeness is missing one key thing: grace.
A little note here: I’m not saying that all leftists are wokes. I do know people of faith whose various political positions fall on the left. They’re still faithful people, even if I disagree with them and think that their ideas are misguided. In this article, I’m referring to people who have fallen whole hog for the woke ideology.
Let’s talk a little bit about grace (bear with me as we do some Bible study). The concept of grace is key to both Judaism and Christianity. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word chesed means “grace, mercy, steadfast love, compassion.” In Exodus 34:6-7, God explained His grace to Moses:
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
God’s grace brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and rescued them from the exile that their unfaithfulness to Him had caused.
In the New Testament, God’s grace means that we’re saved by our faith in Jesus rather than by any good works or merit on our part (and I realize that this is an oversimplification). The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
In addition to God’s grace, there’s the grace that we’re supposed to show each other. Putting others first, treating them better than ourselves, and giving people the benefit of the doubt are human examples of grace.
Okay, now that we’ve established (somewhat rudimentarily) what grace looks like from a Judeo-Christan perspective, let’s explore how wokeness exhibits none of the grace that a Judeo-Christian America has always sought to display.
It stands to reason that wokeness would take on the trappings of a religion. Psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt has pointed out that passionate movements of all kinds take on religious symbolism and ritual to unite and fire up members.
And as America has become increasingly secular, many nonreligious people feel a need to replace their faith in God with — something. For many of those on the left, wokeness fits the bill.
On the left, the “woke” take religious notions such as original sin, atonement, ritual, and excommunication and repurpose them for secular ends. Adherents of wokeism see themselves as challenging the long-dominant narrative that emphasized the exceptionalism of the nation’s founding. Whereas religion sees the promised land as being above, in God’s kingdom, the utopian left sees it as being ahead, in the realization of a just society here on Earth.
People of faith, especially Jews and Christians, see their ultimate hope in the hereafter. We’re citizens of God’s kingdom, so, to borrow from the old gospel tune, this world is not our home and we’re just passing through.
It’s different for the woke. For them, there is nothing beyond this life on earth, so they must create a paradise in the here and now. Everything that they see as wrong must be made right with ultimate urgency. That’s why the wokes want to enact such sweeping, fast change to American society.
Where does the lack of grace come in? For starters, there’s the matter of sin. In Judaism and Christianity, believers hold that sin is ingrained in our nature — call it Original Sin or Total Depravity or whatever you will — but sins are actions. We believe that humanity is steeped in sin, but we also believe that sins are the things that people do (or sometimes don’t do).
The left used to base their philosophies on an idea that people were generally good and would stay that way if government guided them properly and gave them the right amount of material comfort. Nowadays, the graceless woke believe that some people are sinners by nature, but the difference is that woke sin is the result of what you are, not the actions you commit or omit.
For example, if you’re white, you’re a sinner based on your white privilege. If you’re straight and don’t identify as some other gender — what the wokes call “cis-gendered” — you’re a sinner for your narrow sexual practice. In the woke catechism, what you are is far more important than who you are, which flies in the face of how generation after generation of non-woke parents and teachers taught their children to treat others.
Joseph McCarthy has been the butt of jokes for decades for claiming to find a communist under every rock, but the wokes see a racist or some other type of bigot under every rock. And they treat those bigots mercilessly.
There’s no grace for you in wokeism unless you’re willing to commit 100% to the woke agenda. It’s all or nothing. If you’re an ally of “people of color” but you’re not down with the transgender ideology, you’ve committed a grievous sin. If you’re willing to accept the LGBTetc narrative but aren’t willing to atone for racist attitudes (that you don’t actually harbor) in your own life, you’re guaranteed not to receive grace among the wokes. Just ask mega-bestseller J.K. Rowling what happens when you run afoul of the woke mob in spite of other liberal bona fides.
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The gracelessness of wokeism isn’t just about your life right here and right now. You can be subject to vilification and vengeance based on the actions of your ancestors.
Those men whose ancestors built the historical systems of oppression—racism and slavery, female abuse and indenture, and Queer Inquisition—must long atone for their sin, and the lardered hoard of their patrilineal ancestors—before expiating the “ponderous chain!” of original sin. For “Cis-white” men, orthodox archons are obdurately postmillennialist. Before Judgment Day, the penitant man will not pass.
If you want to make your way among the woke, you will atone for the sins of those who came before you. Your atonement may come in paying big bucks to hear Ibrahim X. Kendi lecture you — it’s fascinating how often paying for your sins against wokeism involves literally paying — or you can engage in actual self-flagellation.
Your actions from a few weeks, months, or even years ago can constitute a sin against wokeism, for which there is no grace. Cancel culture and public shaming are the norm among the woke. They will dig up years-old tweets in order to condemn you for your sins, or they may de-platform you or otherize you for failing to meet their graceless and near-impossible standards.
Because wokeism lacks grace, it’s a works-based religion. Therefore, to atone, you must perform.
The worse my past the more performative I need to be. The bigger my sin, the bigger the sacrifice that is needed. Though, not me, of course — other people. This is not only meant to demonstrate my devotion to my new religion despite my past but to help atone.
Part of that performance is to demonstrate a lack of grace toward those who aren’t woke or who aren’t sufficiently woke. Call them out. Shame them. Cancel them if you have to.
It’s like evangelism, in a way. You create more wokes by shaming them into embracing wokeism with tepid apologies and commitments to “inclusivity.” They can begin to atone in many ways. They can pay money, they can read White Fragility, they can mourn the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or they can yell at someone for not masking up. But the end goal is to create more wokes. Wokeness begets wokeness by refusing to exhibit grace.
We must fight graceless wokeism. We fight it with the truth, by continuing to stand firm for what we know is right. We must demonstrate why Judeo-Christian and American values are the ideal — even though we fall short of them from time to time. We have to show why liberty and grace are the best qualities for everyone to exhibit in their lives.
And we must not rest until wokeism is a thing of the past.
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