“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”
—From Aldous Huxley’s Foreword to the
1946 edition of his Brave New World (1931)
There’s a scene in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) where “Andy,” played by Anne Hathaway, observes the “Devil” in action as she takes notes at her first fashion run through. She is told to “stand, watch, and listen” by Art Director Nigel. It’s at this point in the film that we get an understanding of how all-inclusive and intrusive worldviews are. Andy is the co-assistant to a powerful and demanding fashion legend who is feared, envied, and loathed as she presides over Runway magazine—the bible of the fashion industry—that can make or break a career or a business. A single disapproving look, the simple pursing of the lips from Miranda Priestly can doom a proposed fashion line and send its designer back to the drawing board even though it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce. She is demanding, unreasonable, and seemingly unfeeling. If you are not a part of her world, then you are not part of the real world.
Andy comes to the job cynical and critical of what she perceives to be an industry overblown with its own sense of importance. She retains her frumpy look in the midst of a world defined by fashion. Her bargain-basement “style” is her way of remaining objective and above it all. It doesn’t take too long before she gets the desire to succeed at what seems to be an impossible job, making Miranda happy. With the help of Nigel she is transformed into a fashion rival around the office. She becomes what she initially ridiculed. At first, working for Runway was only a job, a stepping stone to a more important and meaningful journalism career. Now it’s a challenge to prove herself, especially to Miranda who still doesn’t know her name. Andy likes the new look and the perks that come with the job, but she soon realizes that she is in danger of becoming like Miranda. It’s a Darth Vader moment. Reality hits her when Miranda tells her that she sees some of herself in her.
Andy should have seen it coming when she was told to “stand, watch, and listen” at her first fashion run through. She learned quickly that there is no neutrality and no compromises, excuses, or half-efforts. It’s all or nothing, and for Miranda, it’s all. Worldviews and their consequences are real, and there is no escaping their effects. We can never say that we are not affected by a foreign worldview no matter how far we distance ourselves from it. Miranda makes these points crystal clear when she dresses down Andy for scoffing when one of the designers holds up two nearly identical belts and asserts that they are “so different.” Andy makes the mistake of referring to the work at Runway as “this stuff.” Then Miranda makes this important statement that every Christian needs to hear and understand:
“You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet, and you select that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cyrillian. An you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002 Oscar de La Renta did a collection of cyrillian gowns. And then I think it was Yves saint Laurent who showed cyrillian military jackets . . . and then cyrillian quickly showed up in the collection of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down to some tragic casual corner where you no doubt fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think you made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when in fact you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of “stuff.”
There is no escaping the decisions of the fashion industry, even for those indifferent to it. Pick any industry, profession, ideology, or movement, and the results are the same. What’s true for the clothes on your back is equally true of the ideas that make their way to the courts that end up ruling our lives. How did it become possible that a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court—seven judges in all—sanctioned homosexual marriage? This wasn’t San Francisco or Vermont. This was our nation’s heartland.
If any of these judges had been raised in the church, I suspect that they were told that law and grace don’t mix. They might have also been taught that religion and politics don’t mix either. The unanimous 69-page decision does note that a church has a right to decide who can be married within its narrow ecclesiastical jurisdiction. We should expect such a ruling from judges who have been indoctrinated with a worldview—taught by the church and the world—that the things of God relate to the world to come and the things of man relate to the here and now. If most Iowans believe marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman, as surveys confirm, then how did these Iowans get these less than magnificent seven to say otherwise? We can gain a glimpse of the duality of modern-day religion in the opinion of Justice Mark Cady:
Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring that government avoids them. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all.
Given this statement, then why uphold marriage of any kind? Marriage is not found in nature. Multiple partners and rape are natural. If homosexual marriage is based on the evolving nature of the institution and the free-will consent of adults, then what arguments will be used against bigamy, polygamy, or any other type of “marital” relationship? It was nearly 120 years ago that polygamy was dealt with by the Supreme Court in Davis v. Beason (1890). Notice that marriage is given a biblical definition by the court:
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Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries. They are crimes by the laws of the United States, and they are crimes by the laws of Idaho. They tend to destroy the purity of the marriage relation, to disturb the peace of families, to degrade woman, and to debase man. Few crimes are more pernicious to the best interests of society, and receive more general or more deserved punishment. To extend exemption from punishment for such crimes would be to shock the moral judgment of the community. To call their . . . advocacy a tenet of religion is to offend the common sense of mankind. If they are crimes, then to teach, advise, and counsel their practice is to aid in their commission, and such teaching and counseling are themselves criminal, and proper subjects of punishment, as aiding and abetting crime are in all other cases.
It’s a shame that so many Christian theologians today have adopted the very dualism that was argued by the Iowan court. The salt has lost its savor.
Long before the fictional Miranda Priestly, there was Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937). Like the revolutionary Marxists before him, Gramsci considered Christianity to be the “force binding all the classes—peasants and workers and princes, priests and popes and all the rest besides, into a single, homogeneous culture. It was specifically Christian culture, in which individual men and women understood that the most important things about human life transcend the material conditions in which they lived out their mortal lives.” To change the culture, Christianity would have to be questioned and rejected, but not by force. Gramsci argued that such a disestablishment “would require a ‘long march through the institutions’—the arts, cinema, theater, schools, colleges, seminaries, newspapers, magazines, and the new electronic medium [of the time], radio.” Gramsci would be proud to see how well his disciples have carried out his strategy.
1 Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood: The Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John II, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Capitalist West (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 245.
2 Buchanan, Death of the West, 77.