Tasty Tidbits 9/16/11

  1. Pat Robertson, clownish heretic.
  2. Abolish the Department of Education, British edition.
  3. The Loathsome Party.
  4. So: Do You Believe in Evolution?
  5. Imam Ali.
  6. A More Nuanced Political Survey.


“Pat Robertson Repudiates the Gospel,” says the headline of a Christianity Today editorial by Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville – not, I insist, within the historic Church. But he’s right, and for some of the right reasons.

The occasion is Robertson’s notorious green light earlier this week to divorcing a spouse who gets Alzheimers, but Moore sees that Robertson’s problem runs much, much deeper than his latest pandering pronouncement. He’s been pandering to mammon for years:

Pat Robertson’s cruel marriage statement is no anomaly. He and his cohorts have given us for years a prosperity gospel with more in common with an Asherah pole than a cross. They have given us a politicized Christianity that uses churches to “mobilize” voters rather than to stand prophetically outside the power structures as a witness for the gospel.
But Jesus didn’t die for a Christian Coalition; he died for a church. And the church, across the ages, isn’t significant because of her size or influence. She is weak, helpless, and spattered in blood. He is faithful to us anyway.
If our churches are to survive, we must repudiate this Canaanite mammonocracy that so often speaks for us …
Sadly, many of our neighbors assume that when they hear the parade of cartoon characters we allow to speak for us, that they are hearing the gospel. They assume that when they see the giggling evangelist on the television screen, that they see Jesus. They assume that when they see the stadium political rallies to “take back America for Christ,” that they see Jesus. But Jesus isn’t there.
Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.
But the gospel is there. Jesus is there.

(HT Lindsey Nelson on Facebook, who had the exquisite good taste to pull that penultimate paragraph for her comment.)

But I really agonize over the preceding paragraph, too – the one that begins “Sadly, many of our neighbors assume ….” It’s not just Robertson’s relativism and propensity for provocation that’s wrong. It’s the whole notion that the medium and the message are separable.

I’m not just talking about the toxicity of a medium like television. I oppose praise bands in Church, and opposed them even “in my former delusion” as a Calvinist. I oppose the whole worship-as-entertainment industry.

The ancients had a maxim: Lex orandi, lex credendi. “The law of prayer is the law of belief,” more or less. Show me how you worship Jesus, and I may conclude that we’re not worshipping the same Jesus. Your religion may be more Krustian than Christian. Your big box may be a Cherch instead of a Church.

And I worry because there are spiritually sensitive people out there who reject Krustianity, thinking they’ve rejected Christianity. They’ll never again darken the door of Cherch or Church, unaware of the difference.

There’s a lot to commend in their rejection of a beggarly fraud.


Tom Crowe at CatholicVote.org introduces an Ohio education anecdote with bit of very apt British humor:

For the rest, read Crowe on Seeking a Good Education Should Not Be a Felony.


I tend to forget there’s one notable difference between the parties.  National Democrats are loathsome on abortion.

But Rick Perry seems intent on giving them a race to the bottom in his insouciance about the Texas death penalty. Here’s some late-arriving commentary on that.


Some of the Republican hopefuls need a little coaching on questions about evolution. Their first response to “Do you believe in evolution?” should be “My answer depends on what you mean by evolution. I’ll try to answer if you’ll try to define it.”

That’s not a dodge. The term is notoriously equivocal.

By the next debate, the interlocutors will have overcome their stupefied silence, and will be able to offer a definition. At that point, I’m outta here because I haven’t got a clue what the hopefuls actually believe about a definition like, say, “change over time.”


We all have a terrible tendency to be credulous when someone says or writes something that fits our worldview. That may be why gossip is deemed a kind of bearing false witness. Poor Madeline Murray O’Hare was petitioning the FCC to ban religious broadcasting for decades after her death, for instance. I read it in a Church bulletin, so it must be true.

I got a shocking e-mail yesterday. It reported that a Muslim-owned store in Houston closed 9/11/09, having the defiance to post in the window that they were closing “to commemorate the Martyrdom of Imam Ali,” one of the 9/11 hijackers 8 years earlier. The e-mail concluded by telling me, in effect, that I was stupid if I didn’t recognize that we were in a religious war.

I didn’t take that implied insult personally, since the e-mail bore the telltale marks of having been forwarded about six times. So, off to Snopes.

It’s not true. Oh, the store’s real, and the sign was real. But Imam Ali was not a 9/11 hijacker. He was a 7th century religious figure, beloved especially by Shi’a, who died of assassination wounds on the 21st day of Ramadan, which fell on 9/11/09.

There: I’ve lighted my candle for the day. But maybe the part about religious war was true, sort of. Krustians are waging it.


The Pew Center has published Beyond Red & Blue: The Political Typology, and Rod Dreher has commended it. If nothing in it surprises you … Oh, never mind. Plenty in it surprises me. There are even glimmers of hope.

There: Another candle. Now will ya let me cuss at the dark a little?

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Bon appetit!

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