When I was a girl I was a Monkees fan. I remember a scene in an episode in which Davy Jones, dressed as Paul Revere, held up his lantern and shouted “The British are coming! The British are coming!”
To which Micky Dolenz replied, “Davy, you are the British.”
I was thinking about that the other night when I saw a clip on The Daily Show, which featured a bunch of back to back clips of Fox News hosts complaining about “the mainstream media.”
Fox consistently receives the highest ratings of any news network in America.
I have an interest in how language is used. This confuses me.
They have to be using a different definition of “mainstream” than most of us do. As the MacMillian Dictionary defines it: “considered ordinary or normal and accepted or used by most people.”
To be clear, I am not talking about “conservatives” here or “Republicans.” What I am talking about is a particular odd stance in which a person or organization that, in fact, is mainstream–in the majority– claims outsider status, even to the point of believing themselves to be a persecuted minority. Although many who adopt this posture also call themselves conservatives, it doesn’t follow that conservatives as a group are of this mindset.
I came across another example of mainstream confusion about a month ago when a friend posted a video of an interview with the pop star and activist Bono. In it, Bono talked about his Christian faith. He said that he believed Jesus was divine. His reasoning was that in the Bible Jesus claims to be the son of God. Thus there were only two options, either he was a madman or he was telling the truth and Bono, as a Christian, could not believe that people for hundreds of years would be moved by a madman. There is nothing that I see in this that is remotely controversial. Stating that Jesus was the son of God is nothing more than a definition of Christianity. His reasoning takes a page right out of C.S. Lewis.
Yet my friend’s comment on the post called him brave for his bold stance. She wrote something to the effect that it was great to hear someone speaking about his faith without fear.
Why should he be afraid? There was a time when Christians were thrown to the lions, but this is certainly not the case today.
According to the Pew Research Center, 2.2 billion people– 32% of the world’s population– call themselves Christians. It is the largest religious group in the world. Most Christians (87%) live in countries where Christians are in the majority. In North America, 77% of the population is Christian. It is hard to imagine anyone taking a serious run for the U.S. presidency without affirming that he or she is Christian. In Europe 75% of the population is Christian. So for someone from Europe, as Bono is, to state that he thinks Jesus was divine, seems anything but dangerous. It is, in a word, mainstream.
This is not the first time that I have encountered a post in my Facebook stream from a friend who felt that Christians were somehow outsiders. Why is that?
“Davy, you are the British.”