My opinion of Brett McCracken’s Hipster Christianity is no secret, but I must say his Christianity Today cover story is more suited to the limited task he set out to accomplish: to provide a surface overview of the “Christian hipster.” One needs only the length of a magazine feature to tell the Christian hipster trend story, and McCracken’s CT piece does it just fine. Christian hipsters add up to a bunch of evangelical twenty-somethings reacting to the last couple of decades in evangelical history. On the surface, that’s it. As I argued in my review, one would have expected a book on the subject to place this in a larger historical and political context, and explain the even deeper shifts afoot in some corners of this demographic. But you just want an overview of where these people go to church, what they believe and how they act—and a dash of requisite worry about them being too wordly—then the CT essay is all you need.
I missed this appearance by evangelical titans Tim and Beverly LaHaye on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show, but thanks to Andrew for flagging it. It’s a dismaying reminder that the religious right has not gone anywhere; in fact, its mixture of theological gibberish and hysterical politics get substantial airtime on the most watched cable news network in the country.
One couldn’t find a more succinct encapsulation of the politics I grew up immersed in — not so much by my parents as by the Christian media we consumed — than this five-minute chit-chat. The impending apocalypse was reinforced everywhere, from hosts on Christian talk radio programs to entire sections of books in Family Christian stores. The United Nations would grow to become a one-world government, which would lead to the rise of the Beast (probably somewhere like Iraq) who would impose worldwide totalitarianism and brutally persecute Christians. This was why, they said, we have to stand against liberalism: because it was inside job by militant secularists who wanted America to hand over its sovereignty when their moment of atheistic utopia arrived. Entire organizations were devoted to monitoring this process by connecting world events with biblical prophecy and, usually, articulating a Zionism-inflected conservative politics. These delusions reached their zenith in Tim LaHaye’s bestselling Left Behind series, which fictionalized a global future many evangelicals actually believe to be in progress as you read this.
From Slate‘s Explainer today:
Pope Benedict XVI announced Sunday that he would pray for the 19 revelers trampled to death at a techno musical festival in Duisburg, Germany. Do Christians think praying can help a dead person get into heaven?
Not exactly. All Christians believe that only God can determine whether a person belongs in heaven or in hell.
If only all Christians believed that!
In a Memorial Day special on WORLD‘s web site, Lee Wishing jumps off Russell Kirk’s The American Cause to do some typical musing that results in a typical insinuation: the American cause and the Christian cause are all but the same thing.
Kirk cautions that we not make an idol of the USA, and become jingoistic and the self-appointed “keepers of the world’s conscience.” But it’s clear he thought we should work to preserve, protect, and promote the Christian ideals that make American society thrive, such as belief in an unchanging God who made people in His image and entitled to life, liberty, and the protection of their property; punishing actions that violate these inalienable rights; an understanding that mankind and societies are not perfectible through government tinkering and revolution; recognizing that leaders who think otherwise are dangerous ideologues; tolerating other religious faiths and valuing liberty of conscience; and cultivating free and orderly markets to improve the human condition.
Defending America begins with understanding her Christian foundation and that America, its faults notwithstanding, is the greatest society the world has known for upholding human dignity. As America battles foreign enemies and domestic ideologues this Memorial Day, understand, Christian, that you and I bear a great responsibility for defending this nation and we owe a great debt of gratitude to those whose graves are decorated today.
First, I’ve no objection to recognizing the ways that Christian ideas, even though they were filtered through a kind of theistic rationalism, shaped America’s political and legal infrastructure. But that admitting that fact is different than the embracing the kind of seamless blend of 20th-century evangelical Christianity, conservative economics, and national ideology on display in Mr. Wishing’s post. I feel obligated to call attention to that particular intellectual cocktail wherever I see it because it does neither Christians nor Americans any good. If anything, it prevents some evangelicals from letting their faith critique their national ideology by helping them make-believe that God and Country are one and the same.
Now that Lost is over, there are still many questions: was the island drawing Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, Sun and Locke in, or was it all just coincidence? What will become of the island now? What’s up with the polar bear? Is there anything duct tape can’t fix? What will I do on Tuesday nights?
If you were expecting answers about science and the supernatural or free-will and pre-determinism in last night’s finale, you were probably disappointed. Jack volunteered to carry on Jacob’s role, but then tells Hurley he was only supposed to have that job for a little while. In the alternate Los Angeles reality, the passengers of Oceanic flight #815 keep crossing one another’s paths unexpectedly, however it’s not until Desmond gets a flash of “not Penny’s boat” written on Charlie’s hand that he begins devising an elaborate plan to help the survivors find one another. Chance or fate—it’s still a coin toss.
Back when Christian media conglomerate Salem Communications announced it was purchashing CMCentral.com, a Christian music website, back in 2007, I wrote:
In addition to the poetic tragedy of bringing another well-established, distinctive site into their ruinous orbit, Salem is, with the purchase of CMCentral, dashing any small hope some might have had for Christian music reporting. For Christian music, having one company own every major publication that covers it—as well as all the radio stations where it is played—is a terrible idea. Christian music needs nothing if not open debate, fresh ideas, exposure to the outside culture, and more than a little prodding. When its journalism is contained with in a single corporate giant, it will become an even more insulated world of cross-promotion and self-congratulation. As Crosswalk, CCM, and now CMC all print each other’s content and a unified media front is erected, so dies the hope that Christian music reporting might ever become more insightful or Christian music criticism more productive. And Salem wants it that way.
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.
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.
A week has passed since Jennifer Knapp came out. I’ve been following the story obsessively. As a teenager who was only allowed to listen to Christian music, I recognized that Jennifer Knapp’s honest style was unusual in the Christian community. She was my favorite artist back in high school, and I still enjoy her music now that my musical tastes have expanded.
To come out to Christianity Today is not only honest, but incredibly brave. While her Facebook fan page has been flooded with messages of support – “You’re an inspiration to me, both as a Christian and as a member of the GLBT community” – many others have failed to recognize the sensitivities surrounding Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer identity and the complex viewpoints within the Christian community.
More and more gay Christians find they cannot deny their faith nor their sexual identity.
Here is a recent video of one of my personal heroes, Peter Rollins, as he discusses his recent Insurrection Tour. I recently read his book, The Fidelity of Betrayal, and it really did give words to most all that I have been wrestling with and through for the past year or so.
Rollins is a philosopher by trade, and his work has become the philosophical foundation for many of the more “Emergent” guys around today. And that’s what’s so interesting about him. He is good friends with Rob Bell and many of the Emergent Church folks quote Rollins to support many of their ideas. He is even talked about in the book Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, who definitely think Rollins is fundamentally flawed.
But, if you watch this video–by far the most succinct and comprehensive summary I’ve found of his thought–it seems like he really does stand in the middle between the fundamentalists and the liberals.
Is the political evangelical a mythical creature? It’s become a truism and a source of angst that non-Christians see the evangelical church as too political. But Mark Chaves points to a survey that says white mainline Protestants, black Protestants and Roman Catholic are overall more politically active than white evangelicals.
Odd, given the image. Andrew Sullivan weighs in, quoting Joe Carter, who says “the typical reaction at the grassroots level to almost every political initiative in the ‘religious right’ is “lot’s of talk; little to no action.”
Let’s aside the eternally tedious “young evangelical” and look at the old evangelical. It’s true. When I really think about it, not a lot of the white conservative evangelicals I know are all that politically involved. They vote Republican, of course. They get CitizenLink emails but don’t call the Congressmen like it tells them to. I don’t know anyone who went and rallied against health care. They sympathize with Tea Partiers but have never rallied there, either. They’re pro-life, but that basically means voting Republican.
However, when I look at my own parents and their friends, the nature of their political involvement has changed.
- No public Twitter messages.
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