Friday, 8/14/15

  1. Christians: Even nicer than you
  2. Trivial fundaments
  3. Supporting Trump: the 1-finger salute to the GOP
  4. Block that simile!
  5. Transparent dissembling
  6. Vulgar error

1

Fr. Stephen Freeman tells A Parable of A Kingdom followed by reflections on secularization – a topic related to the parable.

I think he’s up to something. First, he writes at some length on the ramifications that Christ didn’t come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live. Now he suggests that the Church does not exist in order to make the world a better place.

Folks, this is not your Protestant father’s Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, essentially indistinguishable from the Lodge or the Breakfast Optimists. It’s distinctly Christian.

And that ole MTD is really hard to shake. Frederica Mathewes-Green on Facebook offers a reason:

My two cents is that I think the church falls into the habit of aiming to be “helpers” because that is the only thing we do that the world values. It hurts to be ridiculed and rejected by the world. We shouldn’t understate how much that hurts, and how much we want to be accepted. We want the misrepresentation of Christian faith and Christian people to stop.

And the only time it stops is when the church is doing something the world values–cleaning things up, making life tidy, giving things to the poor, talking about the environment, “working for justice,” and so on. The world wants us to do things that help the world. Our faith, though, is about something the world can’t grasp. We have to aim directly at that, at Christ’s breaking into this realm and defeating the evil one, or we misrepresent our faith. We’re going to have to get used to being rejected; it comes with the territory.

Russell Moore, by and large a really different kind of Southern Baptist, seems susceptible to the trap:

“The loudest voices against the hounding and intimidation of gay and lesbian persons around the world should be from the wing of the church most committed to a biblical Christian sexual ethic,” he writes. This means working to end homelessness among gays and lesbians, he says, and caring for teens who have been rejected by their parents.

The “trap” is not being nice to LGBT folk but trying to prove that Christians are nice by being helpful in pursuit of a secular agenda, which is what I get the feeling he’s talking about – perhaps my view being tainted by how safe it is to be helpful to LGBT folks these days.

If you want to be prophetic – as an espouser of unpopular “unpopular causes” versus popular “unpopular causes” – reach out publicly to meth users and dealers. There’s no cachet there. Or go expose yourself to Ebola as a medical missionary, and then listen to your countrymen say you should not be brought back stateside, even in quarantine, because you’re a menace.

2

A recovering Evangelical, I don’t find a website with the name “The Gospel Coalition” very promising as a source of good reading. But Sex Is More and Less Important Than You Think is  pretty good.

A few hours later, over lunch, I encountered We’re All Sadists Now, a First Things blog from the more ecclesial Carl Trueman. The themes of the two articles are, without a hint of plagiarism by either author, surprisingly parallel:

DeSade’s specific sexual predilections assumed the notion of sex simply as one more consumer commodity in the marketplace and upon the idea of other people as merely instrumental to the achievement of personal sexual pleasure. DeSade … was truly a prophet born out of time and, like all such, doomed to be decried in his own day as a madman.

Yet there is another force at play today which seems to be in conflict with the above: The belief that our sexual desires determine who we are at the deepest level.  This is somewhat ironic: The age which denies any real significance to sex also wants to argue that sexual desires are of paramount importance to personal identity and fulfillment.  Squaring that particular circle will no doubt generate a whole textbook full of neuroses in the coming years.

Does any defender of the sexual revolution care to step forward and explain how sexuality is to vital as to be constitutive of one’s identity yet every sexual encounter is a trifle?

3

Of The Donald:

Every time a radio host asks me, usually incredulously, if I could ever in a million years possibly explain how people are signing on to his candidacy, I eagerly respond “yes!” Because I kind of get it. In my less charitable moments, I also want to extend a giant middle finger to the Grand Old Party, which has defecated on its illustrious record from Lincoln to Reagan of rhetorical persuasion, kicking butt and getting stuff done, and become a party of officials who are in absolutely no way responding adequately to the size and scope of problems the country faces.

(Mollie Hemingway, who just keeps getting better and better)

4

Aware that some of my kindred Twitter spirits concure, I demur. I don’t think that’s a remotely convincing simile.

The problem arises in what you mean by “anti-same-sex marriage.” I’ll let intelligent readers ponder the various reasons people are opposed.

Shapiro interacted with responses by claiming that moral objection was implicit in his tweet and that it said nothing about government involvement. I find his afterthought glosses as unconvincing as the original tweet. What has the “marriage” battle been about if not government involvement? I’ve never given a rat’s ass what kind of purely religious trumpery the Unitarian Universalists and Metropolitan Community cherches want to don. And my objections to government involvement are multi-faceted, moral objection being at most a trivial facet.

I don’t imagine I’ll soon, if ever, get an invitation to a same-sex wedding, but I’m already thinking about “when might I go?” and “when would I definitely not go?” I cannot, based on my reasons for opposing same-sex marriage, yet give a categorical “hell no, I won’t go!” to any and every same-sex marriage.

5

I think I heard a political spokesman on All Things Considered say, in form, that if A, then “we definitely would probably consider” B.

I just love transparent dissembling.

6

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.