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Tasty Boogies

  03/03/16 , by Dissidens, Categories: Bearings

Ok, we left the link to McLaren’s atrocity up long enough for interested people to find it, read it, make a desperate dash to the toilet, and get back to their seats.

We have learned at least two things about Brian McLaren. First, he is nobody’s Dean’s List student. Brian will not be memorialized in the South Transept of Westminster Abbey. Anybody trying however feebly to write a pacifist anthem would know better than to set it to martial music. Some comparably feckless stab at a text set to bucolic or pastoral music would have been for Mr. McLaren a stroke of profound genius.

Second, we learned that Mr. McLaren has no friends: friends don’t let friends expose their incompetence this way. A friend would have taken Brian to a deserted corner of the premises, ponderously rubbed his temples in the way that portends bad news, and said in respectfully hushed tones, “You know, Bry, the next time the muse strikes you, put your inspiration down on a piece of paper and put the piece of paper directly into a shredder. People who don’t know the quality of your other work will suspect this was a pastiche. They could well think you are spoofing pacificism by celebrating it with some sort of congregational tattoo”.

And yet, odd as this sounds, Brian can teach us something! Brian can teach us that wanting to make an existing thing more to one’s liking is not as easy as it looks. And here is where Evangelicals ought to be taking notes feverishly.

To reform a thing requires more than a-will-to-reform. Reforms come from people with more than disagreements, disappointments, resentments, and ambition. The Fundamentalists spent a lot of time and went to a lot of effort to teach us this. Let us not despise their efforts!

Brian’s failure was not just ridiculous in its execution, it was misguided in its conception. We see how ineffective he was in the childish exchange he had with Russell Moore. Reading that conversation was like listening to two children arguing about who has the tastiest boogies.

To “engage culture” involves a lot more than making statements and counter-statements. It involves more than offering contradictions to your opponents’ beliefs. That is what Evangelicals are currently engaged in. And this is why they will fail. Engaging culture is not a matter of making counter-statements on issues being debated in the public square.

That is not “the common pursuit of true judgment”, that is just political squabbling.

In my previous post I quoted from P. B. Shelley; I think you ought to read A Defence of Poetry.


But poetry defeats the curse which binds us to be subjected to the accident of surrounding impressions. And whether it spreads its own figured curtain, or withdraws life’s dark veil from before the scene of things, it equally creates for us a being within our being. It makes us the inhabitants of a world to which the familiar world is a chaos. It reproduces the common universe of which we are portions and percipients, and it purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being. It compels us to feel that which we perceive, and to imagine that which we know.


I’m not asking you to accept or embrace Shelley’s entire system, I’m saying that if you are going to engage culture, know what you are doing. Know how it has been done.

Don’t go on believing that engaging culture is just a question of asserting a preference for these boogies over those boogies.

How do you help people feel what it is they perceive and imagine what it is they know?

If you cannot do that, then be prepared to refute Schaff’s contention that the feelings and the imaginations are as redeemable and sanctifiable as the reason and the will.

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