Thursday, November 18, 2004


I need to begin where I left off on my last blog. Yesterday I ended with the words, "Until I read Lakoff's books last week, I did not realize that the patriarchal family was so foundational for conservative politics."

Actually, that's overstating the case a bit. I did have some level of awareness that the patriarchal family was "foundational" to conservative thought and by logical extension to conservative politics. What Lakoff really made clear to me was how the metaphors they use to frame issues resonate down to this foundation. Now that this resonance is in the forefront of my mind, some observations I've made over the years are coming to focus from a new perspective.

Over the past twenty-five years Fundamentalists have taken over and radically redirected every institution and agency of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). From the beginning their goal was to focus the substantial resources of the SBC toward influencing the secular political life of our country. They were using the language (metaphoricity) of "revivalism" in a different context to create a new frame of reference. Here's a link to an article I wrote that talks about these changes:

Identifying the Mainstream of Baptist Life

As the results of the 2004 elections have shown, that objective has been accomplished. My problem, and now -- by extension -- the nation's problem, is that the average Baptist sitting on a pew in his Southern Baptist church is still operating under an old frame of reference. They think a "revival" is a "spiritual" movement when the metaphor and the reality has been reframed to refer to a "political" movement.

Lakoff makes it clear that reporting the facts is insufficient to change most minds. "Frames trump facts," he says. I can vouch for that. I've been reporting the facts to Baptists for more than six years with little effect among Baptists -- though the factual information I share has been well received by Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and others who are facing well organized and amply funded challenges from Fundamentalists within their own denominations.

Now that Lakoff is helping me see to these issues from a new perspective, it is time to start thinking about how we can reframe the issues.

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