I thought we’d achieved the American Dream with the Double Down & Zac Efron, but those were mere pit stops on the way. Now we finally know why millions of people over hundreds of years left everything they’ve ever known, crossed dangerous oceans and melted themselves into this giant pot. All along they must’ve seen on that distant horizon a future where fresh undergarments are routinely delivered to a person’s home thereby saving everyone from the tyranny of shopping for and replacing dirty underwear. That is the American Dream. That is Manpacks!
Jennifer Knapp, Glenn Beck, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, and a whole bunch of professors from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary walk into a bar. Or, onto a web page. Or, into my head.
These are the figures that represent the events and ideas that have been swirling around in my mind for the last couple of months. It all started back in early March when I got the heads up that Glenn Beck told his radio listeners to leave their church if it espouses social justice. I blogged about it here, and in the days that followed that post became one of our most read items.
Then, a few weeks later, my brother in law pointed me to a video of R. Albert Mohler Jr. and his fellow Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professors taking author and activist Brian McLaren to the cleaners over his latest book, A New Kind of Christianity. My commentary on this was another popular post here and a story that garnered widespread media attention.
Finally, just last week Contemporary Christian Music star Jennifer Knapp came out of the closet in, of all media venues, Christianity Today. This news obviously elicited a wide range of reactions from callings for her to repent to thanking her for offering solidarity. But mostly, calling for her to repent.
The relevancy and perceived truth of the Bible among Christians and non-Christians through time has always been changing. But the general trend has long been towards complete repudiation by the non-religious, and reinterpretation among the faithful. McLaren is calling for a much quicker change, a larger, conscious adaptation of the religion’s text and therefore the religion itself. This manifests as a firm repudiation of the most odious passages (e.g., how to enslave, when to stone, and so forth are to be disregarded).
Why should these changes be made now? Is there such a dire need here in the United States? In short, yes. The Pew Forum has a rather revealing recent poll that outlines a quick collapse of American religion. Quick, that is, in a historical context. Given that we have long been a majority-Christian nation, the Pew numbers of aggregate religion are a fair look at how Christianity is surviving in the States. What can we see? Of people born from 1981 on, some 26 percent claim no religious affiliation. Among people born between 1965 and 1980, the percentage of non-believers is a lower 20 percent. Heading farther back, those born from 1946 to 1964 are only 13-percent non-religious.
Continued after the jump.
“In the email exchanges between Fabrice Tourre and his girlfriend, Marine Serres, Tourre comes off as a young, hotshot trader who foresaw the subprime meltdown while still selling shoddy subprime-backed products so prolifically he could peddle them to ‘widows and orphans.’” – Reuters, April 25, 2010
Insane Clown Posse, pioneers of the horrorcore genre, has sold 6.5 million albums over their 15+ years as a rap duo. But with their latest tune, “Miracles”, ICP demonstrates a marked turn in lyrical direction from earlier works such as “F*ck the World”, “Murder Go Round”, and “My Axe.” In it they catalog at length the miraculous revelations they have witnessed over the years with simplistic and annoyingly catchy rhymes.
Or so says this guy.
For those that don’t know, Professor Bruce Waltke, a lion of conservative evangelical scholarship, recently gave some comments for a brief video for the BioLogos Forum. BioLogos is the brain child of Francis Collins, the geneticist, current head of the National Institute of Health, and committed Christian. The Forum is a collective of like-minded scientists and Christians who believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and God created the world by the process of evolution. (For more on this view, see Brad Kramer’s Patrol essay on the subject.) For those that struggle with this topic, BioLogos’ “The Questions” section offers very helpful articles on most every possible question you can think of concerning this discussion and gives thoughtful perspectives on it all.
Long story short (the best summary of all this can be found here), Waltke made some comments in line with this idea and the Christian blogosphere erupted with the ignorant, the passionate, and (only rarely) the thoughtful responders to this. Within a three week span, Waltke had made these comments, they were posted online, they were taken off-line, they were clarified by Waltke, he resigned his position at Reformed Theological Seminary, and was hired at Know Theological Seminary. In short, this man’s life, career, reputation, and family were completely exposed, turned upside down, and severely damaged because he said he didn’t think Adam had to be a historical figure for the Bible to still be true and authoritative.
And Rick Phillips, of Reformation21, appears to love this.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Earth. It’s the only home we have… or so we’re told. But I wonder if wishing it Happy Earth Day is like to taking a birthday cake to the Grim Reaper’s house.
Forgive me if that sounds rude, but HELLO!!! THE EARTH DOESN’T LIKE US VERY MUCH.
Have you not yet realized the Earth is trying to kill us? Like, literally, like right now, this second, trying to extinguish us.
Where’s the evidence you ask? Here it is: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, mudslides, tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes, snakes, forest fires, blizzards, ice ages, polarity reversal, tar pits, quicksand, spiders, deserts, mountains, hailstorms, lighting, salt water, geysers, cacti, gila monsters, plagues, scorpions, sandstorms, and Big Macs (oh wait, that last one’s on us).
So, don’t be surprised if I’m hesitant to send Mother Earth a green greeting card on her special day.
Here’s an interesting piece for those of us who identify with the term “post-evangelical.” In U.S. Catholic, Heather Grennan Gary writes about what Catholics can learn from evangelicals. It says Catholics should take three lessons from evangelicals: “building relationships, creating a culture of conversion and discipleship, and teaching young people how to tell their faith stories.” It is replete with language I consider evangelicalese: “encountering Christ,” “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” and “experiencing God.”
Here is a quote from Father William J. O’Malley, about Catholic catechism:
They’ve substituted formulas and catechism answers for an experience of God. … No one is converted at the end of a catechism.
Much of the article seems to come down to “Catholics should feel more.”
As long as we’re on the topic of conversion, the funny thing, of course, is that a lot of evangelicals drawn to Catholicism think “Evangelicals should feel less. They should think more, like Catholics do.” That emotional “experience of God” is impossible for many of them to sustain without the thinking and the catechism and the long, dry tradition of scholarship. It’s what they find lacking in evangelicalism. It’s ironic: Catholics think Catholics should be more evangelical, and evangelicals think evangelicals should be more Catholic.
Tags2012 Election Andrew Sullivan Arts Atheism Barack Obama Bible Books Capitalism Catholic Church Charles Taylor Christian Christianity Christianity Today Church Conservatism Conservatives Evangelicalism Evangelicals Facebook Feminism Gay Marriage God Gospel Coalition History Jacques Derrida Jesus Journalism Mark Driscoll Marriage Martin Heidegger Marvin Olasky Marxism Media New Sincerity New York Times Patheos Philosophy Politics Religion Religion and Spirituality Ross Douthat Same-sex marriage United States Women Young Evangelicals