Reading the sorts of things gay internet sites are saying about Fred Phelps being on his deathbed (f’rinstance), I’m wondering if they don’t sometimes regret using up all their worst epithets on Ross Douthat and Brandon Ambrosino?
I am a bastard. A complete shit. And so too are you. Calvinists call it the doctrine of total depravity. And it is the existential driver of Lent.
(Giles Fraser, Secular Lent is a pale imitation of the real thing. I’ll have nothing to do with it: What’s more self-deluded than the idea humans can achieve a state of moral superiority? Give me Puritans over prigs any day)
Fraser reminds me of the late Will “Brother to a Dragonfly” Campbell. A friend repeatedly taunted him that if the Gospel was so goll-durn (or something) simple, why couldn’t he boil it down to ten words or less? Finally, Campbell shot back “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.”
Well, at least Fraser’s not sugar-coating it, but I’m not convinced that the T of TULIP is the existential driver of Lent for those who, unlike modern Calvinists, actually observe it, and began doing so more than a millennium before John Calvin was a gleam in his father’s eye.
Mike Huckabee is such a waste. He has the raw political talent to reach out to the median conservative voter and to working-class swing voters. In the 1980s, it was observed that Jesse Jackson seemed to be running not for the real job of president of the United States, but for the mythical job of president of black America. As Jonathan Coppage pointed out on twitter, Huckabee’s CPAC speech was not of someone running for the real job of president of the United States. It was half monologue from some right-wing version of the Tonight Show, and half job application for the mythical job of president of white evangelical America. And he is still for the FairTax. That is suicidal for a serious presidential candidate. Shouldn’t be a problem for Huckabee.
(Pete Spiliakos, Quick CPAC Thoughts; emphasis – Ouch! – added)
Yesterday, I expressed hope at the prevalence of prophetic voices. Here’s a contrasting voice of accommodation:
Bishop Rimbo will conduct his first same-sex union in June, although his “conversion” on the issue occurred long ago in the 1980s. The ELCA voted in 2009 to permit same-sex rites, and although the article doesn’t mention it, ELCA membership losses thereafter accelerated. “The younger demographic wants a religion that won’t divide,” he explains, apparently believing that same-sex unions have been broadly unifying.
“The younger demographic wants” is the give-away. When you’re market-testing your message, you’re probably one of those latter day teachers hired to scratch itching ears.
Unfortunately, Mark Tooley, the teller of the anecdote, proceeds to answer Bishop Rimbo with his own set of market data:
Tim Keller of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is famous for his Redeemer Church in Manhattan, which with its various church plants has attracted thousands of members. He remains conservative on theology and sex while admitting that many of his urban church attenders are socially liberal.
I have noticed this phenomenon in the vibrant churches of Washington, DC that attract young people. The churches, most of them founded over the last decade or so, are conservative, typically Anglican, PCA, Assemblies of God, or Reformed. Many of their young congregants, mostly new to the city and living in hip, newly gentrified neighborhoods, are socially liberal. Yet these young social liberals are not attending the dozens of theologically liberal old line Protestant churches in DC whose beautiful sanctuaries are typically half or more empty with disproportionately old congregants on Sunday morning. These churches tout their openness to same-sex marriage as the supposed siren call for youngsters, largely without effect.
Why? I conjecture that even young social liberals desiring to worship prefer churches with spiritual vitality that profess a transcendent message challenging their own worldly preferences. In other words, these young people aren’t that much different from other spiritual seekers almost everywhere who, consciously or not, cleave to a faith that demands rather than accommodates.
Superficially bracing, this, too, is an incitement to message-tailoring.
I say this not to condemn Tooley, Barna and their kin, but to call attention to some limitations of their approach – limitations I haven’t really worked my way through.
[P]eople today are lost because they do not know who they are, where they are going, or where they have been. Percy saw them as nomads of science. These rootless beings have given up their personalities and souls to “experts” who daily broadcast new information from pseudo-scientific studies that purport to inform them who they are and what they should be.
People from real places who cultivate traditions and strong families know who they are. The South had always been a bastion in this regard.Identification with a place is important for the development of the family and person. This is why there is a strong political movement afoot to destroy fundamentals like marriage and family and even to reconstruct language so as to recreate reality.
How do I get me one of them real places and a tradition to cultivate? Do they carry them at Costco?
Much of [Willa Cather’s] New York fiction is about opera singers (“Coming, Aphrodite,” “The Gold Slipper,” “The Diamond Mine,” “Scandal,” the latter two touched by anti-Semitism, the first mildly, the second more seriously). In these stories she examines how the life of culture, refinement, and idealistic aspiration fares amidst the bustling commercialism and all-encompassing publicity of the age (magnified a thousand times in our day), as well as against the false, the meretricious, and the sensational that constantly impinge upon the world of the artist. Speaking of another, inferior singer who has attained great popularity and praise, Thea Kronborg lashes out fiercely, saying,
“If they like her, then they ought to hiss me off the stage. We stand for things that are irreconcilable, absolutely. You can’t try to do things right and not despise the people who do them wrong. How can I be indifferent? If that doesn’t matter, then nothing matters.”
It is hard even to imagine such fierce artistic integrity today, in a world leveled by false “tolerance,” full of misconceived ideas of democracy, disdainful of “elitism,” yet worshipful of empty celebrity.
(Carol Iannone, Willa Cather’s New York)
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)