There's a headline hard to ignore! Knowing your keen interest in mismatched pairings, I decided to drop the Emperor of Malapropisms (Yogi Berra) into the royal court of the Emperor Without Clothes (or more accurately, The Emperor's New Clothes). Read on for a cultural analysis even Hans Christian Andersen might find confounding ...
Yogi's Fork in the Road
Yogi Berra was a Hall of Fame catcher for the NY Yankees in the 1950's. But even better than his baseball skill was his penchant for one-liners. He's famous for these originals:
- "It ain't over til it's over."
- "It’s like déjà vu all over again."
- "Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours."
Yogi once quipped, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." At first blush, such advice seems inadequate. "Yogi, what I really want to know is, should I go left or right at the fork?" I'm afraid his answer might be, "Exactly!"
Regardless, Yogi's advice is actually somewhat helpful in 2022 – it reminds us their are actual boundaries in life. There are forks. Up ahead in the road is a binary constraint: left or right. This or that. But our postmodern culture resists anyone telling them there are only two paths (left or right). Instead of attempting to discover objective reality, they navigate life by subjective feelings: "What fork in the road? I don't see a fork. I won't constrain myself to left or right. I'll forge my own path with infinite options."
The Rake in the Road
Where Yogi (and every generation before him) saw a fork, today's map more closely resembles a rake, with infinite tines (options). Today's traveler on the road of life refuses the imposition of external rules from an Unseen Authority (God) – and instead lives by a different formula:
The raw materials of life + my feelings + modern medical technology = forging my own reality and identity.
Facts are usurped by feelings. In fact, feelings have become today's real 'facts.' So, for example, young men and women create a gender de jour, a carousel of identity options to explore, refashion, and change like costume jewelry.
According to ABC News, FaceBook allows its members to choose from among 58 different 'genders' for their personal profile. 58. A simple Google search for "number of genders" will reveal numerous websites claiming as many as 72 genders. If that were not enough ... the repeated assertion is that regardless of which gender you currently claim, gender identity is fluid (i.e. can change over time). This is quite the gender smorgasbord. And all of this is based on ... the subjective, internal intuition of one's gender. In other words, a feeling.
Recently in the news, we've watched the objective fork (biological sexes/male and female) be replaced by the subjective rake (feelings lead me to identify as 1 of 72), especially in the category of T (transgender) in LGBTQ. A 22-year-old biological male swimmer at UPenn named William Thomas competed for two years on the men's swimming team. After receiving hormone treatments for over a year, William now identifies as Lia (letters 4 through 6 in the name, WilLiam) and competes on the women's swimming team at UPenn ... and has crushed many women's records in the pool.
William thinks he is Lia. Why? Feelings. An intuitive sense. Nevermind XY chromosomes. Forget about male anatomy. Just give me the medical technologies necessary to help me be who I feel I am on the inside.
Carl Trueman, in his bestselling book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, tees up this issue better than anyone I've read. His beginning words are:
"The origins of this book lie in my curiosity about how and why a particular statement has come to be regarded as coherent and meaningful: 'I am a woman trapped in a man's body.'"
What are we to make of all this? I could go on and on, but the important point I want to emphasize is this: formerly, mankind believed an external authority (God, nature, science – take your pick) determined the sex/gender of an individual. But not today. Today, internal feelings are ascendent, and we think we're God.
As a Christian, I'm convinced all humans are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, we are created from without, by a good Creator – not from within, by our own selves. We are creature, not Creator.
Where once we accepted reality: two biological sexes and therefore two actual genders (male and female) – hence, a binary fork in the road of identity – today we have replaced the fork with a rake of options.
The Emperor Has No Clothes
The rake is lunacy. And nearly everyone knows it. But no one is saying anything. Why? Try to tell the Emperor he hasn't got a stitch of clothing on his body. Go ahead, I'll wait. Off will come your head.
The Emperor is buck-naked.
It's a fork, not a rake.