N. S. Lyons has written a masterful essay that lays out all the reasons why the Woke Revolution isn't over, in spite of many claims to the contrary. If you read nothing else this week, dig into his essay. Highly recommended.
Basically, his argument boils down to this: the woke are seriously committed people. They believe what they believe for very good reasons. They've thought this through, and they're totally onboard. Political setbacks and the occasional backlash from some opinion-writer isn't going to stop them.
Being woke is first and foremost a religious belief. That has many implications, but chief among them is this:
"One does not simply walk away from religious beliefs. What is called “Wokeness” – or the “Successor Ideology,” or the “New Faith,” rests on a series of what are ultimately metaphysical beliefs, such as:"
"The world is divided into a dualistic struggle between oppressed and oppressors (good and evil); language fundamentally defines reality; therefore language (and more broadly “the word” – thought, logic, logos) is raw power, and is used by oppressors to control the oppressed; this has created power hierarchies enforced by the creation of false boundaries and authorities; no oppression existed in the mythic past, the utopian pre-hierarchical State of Nature, in which all were free and equal; the stain of injustice only entered the world through the original sin of (Western) civilizational hierarchy; all disparities visible today are de facto proof of the influence of hierarchical oppression (discrimination); to redeem the world from sin, i.e. to end oppression and achieve Social Justice (to return to the kingdom of heaven on earth), all false authorities and boundaries must be torn down (deconstructed), and power redistributed from the oppressors to the oppressed; all injustice anywhere is interlinked (intersectional), so the battle against injustice is necessarily total; ultimate victory is cosmically ordained by history, though the arc of progress may be long; moral virtue and true right to rule is determined by collective status within the oppression-oppressed dialectic; morally neutral political liberalism is a lie constructed by the powerful to maintain status quo structures of oppression; the first step to liberation can be achieved through acquisition of the hidden knowledge of the truth of this dialectic; a select awoken vanguard must therefore guide a revolution in popular consciousness; all imposed limits on the individual can ultimately be transcended by virtue of a will to power…"
My first thought upon reading this way of framing the beliefs of the woke was what a golden opportunity for the Church! After all, who better understands the nature of making a fundamental religious commitment than Christians? We understand this intimately. We've experienced a change of heart so complete that it's like being "born again". We attend weekly re-education sessions (we call them "worship services") where we go through rituals, repeat sacred texts, and listen to lectures by zealous teachers. We devote personal daily time to studying and contemplating our faith and applying its precepts to daily life. We tithe a portion of our incomes to help pay for it all. And we diligently train up our children in the way of faith.
No one is better suited to understand where the woke are coming from!
The woke are like Paul on the road to Damascus, not the church of Laodicea whose "deeds are neither cold nor hot". We could take any of their fundamental beliefs as the starting point for a witnessing opportunity:
"The world is divided into a dualistic struggle between oppressed and oppressors (good and evil);"
Yes, there is a dualistic struggle, but it's not between oppressed and oppressors, it's between the righteousness of God and the corruption of sin. The result of sin is, indeed, an oppression, but it's a self-oppression first and foremost, because it comes from within the heart of every person.
There's probably no better opening to engaging the woke than to talk about good and evil, especially where evil comes from. Imagine a world of perfect equity, where all structural injustice was finally eradicated and you have everything set exactly the way you wished. Would there still be racists in that world? Why or why not?
"...language fundamentally defines reality; therefore language (and more broadly “the word” – thought, logic, logos) is raw power, and is used by oppressors to control the oppressed;"
The "raw power" of the universe is God, and it is He who defines reality. Power can only be wielded by persons, and the "First Person", so to speak, is God Himself. His word certainly has power, that's how He brought all things into existence. But those words aren't used by oppressors to control the oppressed, they're used to set prisoners free from the shackles of their sin and to redeem the lost.
An entree to this topic could be a discussion on the nature of language. Can words alone effect change? What about lip service – just saying the right words without regard to whether you believe them or not? Something more is surely needed, something authentic, something personal. Ultimately, power is rooted in personhood, not in language. Language is just a tool of human agency.
"...no oppression existed in the mythic past, the utopian pre-hierarchical State of Nature, in which all were free and equal; the stain of injustice only entered the world through the original sin of (Western) civilizational hierarchy;"
The stain of injustice wasn't forced on mankind by some external hierarchy, it came from within the heart of each and every person. Any corrupt civilizational hierarchy is the collective result of that in-dwelling sin, not its cause. Yes, there was a Utopian state of Godliness. God made mankind in His own image, He made us "very good", and He placed us in a perfect Garden. Since we are made like Him, we have free will, as He does. We can choose to obey His commands or to not obey, and in the Garden, we choose to not obey. We cast ourselves away from His presence, and that's where we find ourselves to this day.
The presumption that no oppression existed in some mythic past can be easily challenged. Were there racists in ancient China? A thousand years from now, will there still be racists? The insight that original sin exists is a very good instinct, however. There's definitely something wrong with the world, we all feel it; the question is, what is it, where does it come from? Laying the blame for the existence of sin at the feet of Western civilization seems rather lame. More like an excuse than an actual theory with explanatory power.
"...all disparities visible today are de facto proof of the influence of hierarchical oppression (discrimination); to redeem the world from sin, i.e. to end oppression and achieve Social Justice (to return to the kingdom of heaven on earth), all false authorities and boundaries must be torn down (deconstructed), and power redistributed from the oppressors to the oppressed;"
The justice we ought to seek isn't something as trivial as mere "social" justice, we ought to seek ultimate justice, eternal justice, righteous justice – that is, God's justice. God is the one and only truly righteous judge. The false authorities and boundaries that exist are those which separate us from Him. We must absolutely remove all those hindrances, we must do the hard, daily work of walking closer to Him every day, crucifying our own sin and dying to our own self-worship. But heaven can never exist on earth. Here, sin and goodness are tangled together, like weeds entwined around the wheat. It's only at harvest time that God will be able to safely separate us. That separation could only take place in the New Jerusalem, not here on this world.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to see justice reign, so there is a lot to agree with the woke on general principle here. But the source justice shouldn't be objectified: justice implies a judge. It implies a standard of fairness. The question then is who decides? Whose standard? Is justice universal? All of these questions will eventually point back to God.
"...all injustice anywhere is interlinked (intersectional), so the battle against injustice is necessarily total; ultimate victory is cosmically ordained by history, though the arc of progress may be long;"
Yes, there will be an ultimate victory, and it is an ordained one – but not ordained by "history". The idea that the history of mankind's acts are somehow oriented by default towards the good is very easy to disprove; any mildly competent review of man's inhumanity to man through the ages will put that quickly to rest. No, the ultimate victory must be God's alone, because only He can bring it to pass. There are none before Him, and none will come after Him. His is the ultimate power, and that is the source of the ultimate victory over injustice. And He has already guaranteed that we can share in that victory by offering His only Son to stand in our place and pay the ultimate price for our many disobediences. Our future is absolutely set, whether we place our souls in His hands, or continue to choose to disobey, as in the Garden, and cast ourselves out of His presence permanently.
A conversation might begin with a reading of Dr. King Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech together. The belief that history "bends towards justice" is a common misconception. Progress isn't at all inevitable, things can devolve into warfare just like they can progress into peace. It takes work and action to move in a positive direction. Christianity above all deals with "hard" realities such as the true nature of sin and what it takes to defeat it. Social injustice pales in comparison to the larger themes of eternal injustice, but the instinct to want things to be set to rights is a good one.
"...moral virtue and true right to rule is determined by collective status within the oppression-oppressed dialectic;"
The true source of moral virtue is God Himself, not ourselves. But we have chosen to follow our own way, to be separated from Him. The only way we can obtain true moral virtue now is through God's grace, it is literally a gift of forgiveness straight from heaven above. The proper frame of heart for the believer is humbly kneeling at the cross praying, "God have mercy on me, a miserable sinner." This grace is a source of great joy and relief to the Christian.
By contrast, the woke are in constant competition with one another over who can claim the high ground of moral virtue. The entree to this topic is to simply to ask the question, "Are you at peace?" Are you angry all the time? Do your beliefs drain you emotionally, or fill you up?
"...the first step to liberation can be achieved through acquisition of the hidden knowledge of the truth of this dialectic; a select awoken vanguard must therefore guide a revolution in popular consciousness;"
Christianity certainly has had its share of heresies, many of them centered around supposedly "hidden" knowledge of the truth. Fortunately, however, we not only have excellent translations of God's written Word, but we also have the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us and watches over us. Each of us is God's "personal project", so to speak. There is no need for a select awoken vanguard, every Christian is of the Elect.
This is likely a very difficult topic to broach with the woke, because it cuts to the ego. Who wouldn't be especially proud of being among the vanguard, awoken, a possessor of hidden knowledge, a guide to the lost? The New Testament's descriptions of the Pharisees and Scribes are remarkably similar.