A Lockdown Read

The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray

Anyone who spends time on Twitter will be familiar with Twitter wars. It is a forum perfectly designed to ignore nuance and polarise views. Political debate on Twitter is rarely helpful, and identity politics play out in staccato sentences with ugly accusations and counter-accusations. When these same arguments spill out in the flesh, peoples lives are upturned. Douglas Murray's book the Madness of Crowds' examines how these culture wars have been playing out in our workplaces, universities, schools and the media. Some of the consequences of holding different views have been chilling. 

Murray himself is subjected to criticism although this piece was a satire: (https://unherd.com/2019/09/why-ive-reported-douglas-murray-to-the-police/)

Murray's premise is that in the absence of the grand narratives of the past, i.e. religious faith, identity politics has emerged to replace it. Everyone needs something to believe in and fight for. This new religion interprets the world through the lens of social justice issues and wages war against all of those who seem to be on the wrong side of the question. Equality and justice are the claims of this movement, but Murray argues they have been lost in what he calls tripwire issues. Tripwires are regularly laid, and unwitting people stumble into them, such as 72-year-old Nobel Prize-winning Professor Tim Hunt whose career was destroyed by a lame joke about women in the workplace. The power and madness of the mob is far from just. Murray (himself a gay man) discusses how this plays out in the area of gay rights, women's rights, race and transgender issues. Our culture is one of the most accepting in history, but despite this, some people seem to be getting angrier. 

Murray's book shines a spotlight on the hypocrisy and cruelty of our age. He doesn't hold back in his analysis. Christians should consider reading this book for a couple of reasons:

•   It is helpful to understand the dynamics of our culture so we can communicate the gospel effectively.

 •  We are very likely to get caught by one of the 'tripwires' that Murray describes. This doesn't mean we can necessarily avoid them, but we can be more aware.

Recently raw grief, angry frustration and the pain of years of racism have exploded on the streets. Sometimes this rage leads to destruction. Anger at injustice can blind us. Justice is essential. God's justice is at the heart of the gospel. Justice matters to Christians. But Christians need to take care not to join in with the crowd but to view everything through the lens of the gospel. We need to scrutinize these things not through arguments on Twitter, in the media, or even academia. We need to read scripture and pray that we will learn God's heart on these issues. If we do that we will land in a strange place which will not be comfortable. We will find that we are aliens and strangers and not easily at home in any camp on these issues. 

© 2023 Karen Soole