Unlike a Mighty Army

  07/02/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

It’s been a hard month for Evangelicals. 

To begin with they were told they were dying, and they retorted by saying, “Hey, man, we’re dying slower than other religious nutjobs, so there! Thpthpthpthpthp”

It was not a moment they’ll want to share with Mom.

The culture surrounding them—which they see as their high calling to redeem—has been taking repeated and vicious blows to the septal cartilage, and this has goaded the more beloved chatterboxes to put forward a series of thought pieces which all boil down to My Advice on How to Hunker Down.

Back at the ranch, the most famous grandson of the most famous Evangelical was caught cavorting with a woman not his wife, and by way of explanation he informed the watching world that his wife had cavorted with someone not him.

Again, not a best moment; not a lot of nobility in that.

I wonder if Evangelicals will now consider that the rôle they play in the grand drama of human flourishing contains lines that are too difficult for them to deliver in any meaningful way.

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Quacks "R" Us

  06/24/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

If you are a feeble-minded person, or if you know someone who is feeble-minded, or if you attend an Evangelical church, you will want to remember this URL:

And remember it is not just, it is

The Gospel Coalition is a most helpful resource for people with feeble minds.

And on this site Jeremy Pierre does an excellent job of careening through the dangerous intersection of theology, religion, entertainment, psychology, and feeble-mindedness so dear to the grand tradition of Evangelicalism. You will recall, if you’ve ever driven through this intersection, that it is completely uncontrolled, there are no speed limits, no warning signs, driver’s license and insurance are not required, and police avoid it like they avoid sensitivity training classes. It is a kind of county-maintained demolition derby.

Years ago Evangelicals avoided the theater for several reasons none of which they understood. Today they should avoid the theater because it goes right over their heads, and it excites them like candy excites children. It makes them totally unmanageable.

You would have better chances at giving a child a shopping bag full of jelly beans and getting him to bed than you would showing Pierre a Disney movie and getting him to talk sense about God, man, and emotions.

Here Pierre took the opportunity to platitudinize:

While Inside Out overstates the primacy of emotion in human motivation, the movie nevertheless helpfully forces the audience to acknowledge that emotions make up a major part of why we do what we do. For Christians, acknowledging this is vital to discipleship, which requires that we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

And again:

 Here’s what I mean: emotions are the dynamic gauges of what we value. When we feel an emotion regarding something, we are making a statement of its value.

Read and think.


A Good Book

  06/13/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

I should like to read a history of Fundamentalism written for non-fundamentalists.

There are plenty of books about Fundamentalism written for anti-fundamentalists. They are typically filled with anecdotes and biographies that illustrate everything that is contemptible in man.

There are quite enough books about Fundamentalism written for pro-fundamentalists. They are typically filled with anecdotes and hagiographies that catalogue everything that the angels love about them.

But there is, I think, a middle ground remaining to be explored. There really should be a history of Fundamentalism that explains a) why Fundamentalists behaved contemptibly, b) how it was that contemptible behavior was tolerated—that is, what provocations justified the outrages they now apologize for, and c) what principles guided, and will continue to guide, the movement through, if you don’t mind my being ironical, its golden years.

I have often thought a book like this would be useful; there are at least a dozen things that bear scrutiny and explanation: the moral debacles, the mismanagement of assets, the shabby treatment of the brethren, the intimidation of political opponents, the reversal of Fundamentalist verities on things like sex, race, school accreditation, endowments….

My interest came up again after watching, not just that another school folded, but how yet another school folded.

The movement has gone from days of bluster and imprecations to days of apology and self-incriminating jargon. In its early years one might have thought that Satan actually feared for his life; in recent years it is now making apologies, offering retractions, and back-pedaling like the Olympics are around the corner.

There is a tradition within Fundamentalism that critics of the movement are either outright apostates, in which case their criticism is worthless and can be ignored, or they are “bitter”, they are “haters”, or they are “disaffected”, and again, there is no obligation to consider the thoughts of people you have labeled bitter, hateful, and disaffected.

Unless you understand what history is for.

If you think history books are a place to savage your enemies for the sins they have committed (which sins are invariably debilitating and corrupting) and a place to exonerate your own sins—well not sins really, harmless oversights, let’s call them, and never ever corrupting or debilitating—then you don’t need history books at all. It is only when you see in history a design, a purpose, a divine telos that you might want to read an honest history.

(That and a hope that past mistakes might not be repeated.)

But even if there are only twenty people like that, I think it would still be nice for them to have good reading material available to them.


How Unfortunate

  06/05/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

“Unfortunately the related due diligence process did not yield a resourced solution to the operational stress points of the college which could ensure completion of another academic school year.”

You might wonder who talks like this. Well in this case, someone on the board at Clearwater Christian College with a deep appreciation for beautiful language.

After much prayer, heaviness of heart—and, dare we hope a love of the English language?—this institution of higher learning will be, as they say, “working to help both current and prospective students move to their new transition of life”.

Which is to say, they are closing up shop.

The board covets your prayers apparently, what with all those new transitions of life and all.


A Post-Christian Prayer Meeting

  05/27/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture


For the well-heeled and heavy-hearted, starting at $3,198.00 per person you can pray for thirty minutes a day that God will give us the leaders we want, the schools we want, the courts we want, and the homes we want.

What’s not to like, people? One could, if one wished, devote a total of four hours of prayer in a floating, scenic lap of luxury. Sweet hours of prayer indeed!

As my wife asked me, “Can’t they see how this looks?”

If your heart is heavy that America has turned her back on the Lord, is post-Christian, and in need of revival, you are invited to join with other like-minded Christian families for an Alaska cruise that is more than just a cruise. Enjoy the unparalleled beauty of Alaska during the day—and on a voluntary basis each evening we will come together for 30 minutes to humble ourselves in prayer for our leaders, our schools, our courts and our homes.

Sometimes I wonder if God has blessed America or cursed America.


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