In To Change the World sociologist James Davison Hunter describes an increasing politicization of our culture and the relationship of that development to the quest for power. In a quote that could describe some transformationalists who have misplaced and/or exaggerated the antithesis, Hunter explains:
When politicization is oriented toward furthering the specific interests of a group without an appeal to the common weal, when its means of mobilizing the uncommitted is through fear, and when the pursuit of agendas depends more on the vilification of opponents than on the affirmation of higher ideals…Even democratic justifications are not more than a veneer over a will to power. (p. 106)
Anyone who has seen the Christian right – including transformationalists – enact the first sentence, raise your hand. It does indeed appear that Christians are not being successful in transforming the world through politics but, instead, have become captive to the psychology and tactics of politics.
On a different note, a two kingdom advocate reading this section can point to broader and more varied avenues of cooperation with others to advance the common weal than his detractors can.
Hunter continues by applying Nietzsche’s idea of “ressentiment” which includes our idea of resentment but also includes “anger, envy, hate, rage, and revenge as the motive of political action.” It is, he says, “a form of political psychology.” (p.107) Key to ressentiment is a narrative of injury; “[c]ultivating the fear of further injury becomes a strategy for generating solidarity within the group and mobilizing the group to action.” (p. 108)
A casual reading of Christian Right news sources will tend to verify use of the narrative of injury. If there seems to be injury to something that is or can be stretched into a Christian cause – be it denial of prayer at certain events, zoning conflicts, or other restrictions on arguably Christian behavior – it becomes a story that does indeed become a source of antipathy toward the perceived oppressor and a rallying point for “us.”
To wrap it up:
in the name of resisting the internal deterioration of faith and corruption of the world around them, many Christians – and Christian conservatives most significantly – unwittingly embrace some of the most corrosive aspects of cultural disintegration they decry. By nurturing its resentments, sustaining them through a discourse of negation toward outsiders, and in cases, pursuing their will to power, they become functional Nietzscheans, participating in the very cultural breakdown they so ardently strive to resist. (p. 175)