June 21, 2018

Quotes that have my attention recently

Pining for Spring (2018)

Quotes that have my attention recently

His attitude was that Christian is the greatest of all nouns—and the lamest of all adjectives.

Gregory Alan Thornbury

• • •

“Everything we tried is not working,” said Michael Emerson, the author of “Divided by Faith,” a seminal work on race relations within the evangelical church. “The election itself was the single most harmful event to the whole movement of reconciliation in at least the past 30 years,” he said. “It’s about to completely break apart.”

Campbell Robertson

• • •

What would it mean for Christians to give up that little piece of the American dream that says, “You are limitless”? Everything is not possible. The mighty kingdom of God is not yet here. What if rich did not have to mean wealthy, and whole did not have to mean healed? What if being people of “the gospel” meant that we are simple people with good news? God is here. We are loved. It is enough.

Kate Bowler

• • •

• • •

Savage seems to see what he did to Jules as being the same as two unmarried adults having consensual sex: a common indiscretion that requires repentance but not jail time. The view that all sins are equivalent is called sin-leveling. It’s a problematic perspective because it only considers God’s moral law, not the damage on another person nor the breaking of civil laws. Applied to sex, sin-leveling sees rape as no different from premarital fooling around. The sin is between the person and God, God is the only one who needs to give a response, and if the sinner repents to God, he is forgiven, and the sin is forgotten.

But there are more possible wrongs to sex acts than just immorality. There are also sex acts that are unethical and sex acts that are illegal. The consequences for each are different.

Savage’s reflections on the incident, and the responses of all the other pastors over the years who knew about it and did not call the police or remove him from ministry, show how Christian leaders do not understand sex crimes and sexual ethic violations.

Becky Castle Miller

• • •

Our knee jerk assumption is that holiness is the opposite of love.

That’s the working assumption I grew up with. Holiness was all about piety, discipline, and purity. Holiness separated you from people. It didn’t draw you closer to them.

In fact, holiness tempted you to be judgmental….

Holiness, we think, will make us into worse people. Because we think holiness is the opposite of love.

But is it?

Richard Beck

• • •

Thomas Merton, on one of his less restless days wrote: “It is enough to be, in an ordinary human mode, with one’s hunger and sleep, one’s cold and warmth, rising and going to bed. Putting on blankets and taking them off, making coffee and then drinking it. Defrosting the refrigerator, reading, meditating, working, praying. I live as my Fathers have lived on this earth, until eventually I die. Amen. There is no need to make an assertion of my life, especially so about it as mine, though doubtless it is not somebody else’s. I must learn to live so as to gradually forget program and artifice.”

Ordinary life is enough. There isn’t any need to make an assertion with our lives. Our preciousness and meaning lie within the preciousness and meaning of life itself, not in having to accomplish something special.

Ron Rolheiser

Comments

  1. Christiane says:

    ” . . . Holiness was all about piety, discipline, and purity. Holiness separated you from people. It didn’t draw you closer to them.
    In fact, holiness tempted you to be judgmental….
    Holiness, we think, will make us into worse people. Because we think holiness is the opposite of love.
    But is it?”

    (Richard Beck)

    “When one loves, one does not calculate.”
    (St. Therese of Lisieux)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “Ordinary life is enough. There isn’t any need to make an assertion with our lives. Our preciousness and meaning lie within the preciousness and meaning of life itself, not in having to accomplish something special.”

      • Ron Rolheiser

      This also echoes The Little Way of St Therese.

  2. “Ordinary life is enough. There isn’t any need to make an assertion with our lives. Our preciousness and meaning lie within the preciousness and meaning of life itself, not in having to accomplish something special.”

    I don’t think Mr. Rolheiser has read his Francis Chan. Doesn’t he understand you need to do more, more, moremoremoreMOREMOREMORE…….???!!!!!

    (And yes, I know it was cheesy (fishy?) but I really liked that fish fry sign.)

  3. Rick Ro. says:

    Holiness isn’t the opposite of love, but self-righteousness sure is, and maybe the “danger” with holiness is how a focus on it–and obsession over it–can lead to self-righteousness. (See the Pharisees and Jesus’ reaction to them.)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      “Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.” – C.S. Lewis

      True holiness is to be covered in blood, and to know darkness. That is the mental image I use to try to purge myself of the myth of Holy Tidyness.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And those other than God’s Special Pets (the Over-Saved Uber-Christians) have a LOT of experience with the Darkness. Including Darkness at the hands of the Over-Saved.

  4. “The view that all sins are equivalent is called sin-leveling. It’s a problematic perspective because it only considers God’s moral law,”

    The author of this post actually gets this part wrong. It is not problematic because it only considers God’s moral law, it is problematic because it is just wrong. It takes the assertion that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and twists it to mean that all sins are equal. But that is not what Scripture teaches anywhere. Perhaps the biggest example of this is in the Mosaic Law itself where not every offense carried the same punishment. But whoever thinks that telling a white lie is just as bad as abusing a person is not just wrong about ethics and civil law, they are also a terrible reader of Scripture.

    • Amen!

      And my guess is that fundamentalists, who tend to be literalists, are the worst offenders. Which is odd, because you’d think if you were a literalist, you’d have a better understanding of the difference, not a lesser understanding. I mean, it’s right there in print!

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > fundamentalists, who tend to be literalists

        It is an interesting aspect of all this: the people I encounter who most fit this description are not particularly religious. They think of themselves as religious, but most are not “practicing” in the traditional/orthodox sense of the term.

        It feels more like they are certain they know *what* the Scriptures say, than they *know* the Scriptures. That makes it difficult to approach.

        Just the other day I heard, in the midst of a banal right-wing screed, the phrase “pearly gates, like we read about in the New Testament”. Uhm…

        There are Literalists in “literal interpretation” (whatever that means) and Literalist as in what-I-literally-believe. I would rather have to face the former than the later.

      • Robert F says:

        But if your interpretation of Scripture is skewed by your inherited theological bias that it must prove your traditional doctrine of Original Sin, you will read selectively to provide proof that all sin reveals equal guilt before God. You call yourself a literalist, but really you are deceiving yourself and others, since you come to Scripture with an operating hermeneutic in hand that is not found in Scripture. Interpretation is everything, as I believe Dana would say.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It takes the assertion that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and twists it to mean that all sins are equal.

      Activating a Christianese “Everybody’s Doing It!” excuse machine.

  5. The quote regarding Savage is actually Becky Castle Miller’s, writing as a guest blogger on Scot’s blog “Jesus Creed”. But you probably know that.

  6. The Kate Bowler quote convicted me this morning. It reminded me that contentment isn’t something to strive for, but is something that happens now. God gives us enough now. If we need more he will give us more, if we need less he will take away. But we aren’t passive in this. Through it all, we trust God. We watch where Jesus leads us. We listen to the Holy Spirit whispering “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

  7. “Meow.”
    – cat

  8. Burro (Mule) says:

    When I read Becky Miller’s quote on Savage and Jules, I thought it referred to homosexual men’s rights activist Dan Savage who last year was taken to court by a consensual sex partner for sexual abuse. I thought “How refreshing! If you believe the media emporium you’d think all homosexual pairings conduct their sex lives like Nick and Nora Charles. Finally someone is showing that they are as tawdry and exploitative as everyone else.”

    When I clicked on the link it turned out to be an evangelical pastor and an underaged parishoner. Well, OK, back to your regularly scheduled portrayal of evangelical Protestants as armed insurrectionists with little girl issues. Funny thing is that Dan Savage admitted the illegality of his actions and submitted to the legal process. Ms. Miller’s parsing of the pastor’s case was spot-on.

    Common sense. So rare it’s like a super power.

    • Mule, your last sentence would have made my quote list if I’d had it last night!

      • And I would say the portrayal rings really true to me, as one who spent most of my adulthood in evangelicalism. Though I would change your description to “naive people who believe that because they are in a sanctified, protective evangelical bubble they are immune to real-world consequences of their actions.”

        In fact, it made me do quite a bit of self-examination. Where did we ever get the idea that being “in Jesus” somehow means walking two feet off the ground above our fellow human beings and never having to get our shoes dirty?

    • “(B)ack to your regularly scheduled portrayal of evangelical Protestants as armed insurrectionists with little girl issues.”

      If the shoe fits, WEAR IT.

      • I’m sick of the “we’re being unfairly stereotyped!” whining. Its our neighbors, our pewmates, our churches, our pastors, who perpetuate these things. Its us. We need to own it, and repent.

        • Burro (Mule) says:

          I have probably met tens of thousands of evangelical Protestants in my lifetime. Only about a dozen of them fit the stereotype above.

          MAYBE I will concede to you the idea that there is something about evangelical theology with its emphasis on the New Birth and the Radical Transformation that tends to produce double lives and hypocrisy. That’s above my pay grade, though. I am still getting used to the Cathodox emphasis of “ain’t no one here but us sinners”, but really and truly, when was the last time you remember a born-again type given a sympathetic portrayal in a mainstream film or tv series? I’m racking my brains and can’t think of one. They’ve been depicted as armed paramilitary compound dwellers since at least the mid seventies it seems to me.

          • I’ve met thousands in my time, and I can only say you must live in a better part of the country than I.

            And I don’t care that we’re portrayed as ***holes – especially when so many actively engage in what we’re being criticized for. We’re not here to win popularity contests, we’re here to model Christ. And we’re flubbing that.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              > I’ve met thousands in my time,

              Anyone who hasn’t is not paying attention, needs to get out more, or willfully does not want to see it. Unless their corner of America is dramatically different – at least much more polite – than my corner.

              • Burro (Mule) says:

                Maybe I need to get out more.

                The only contact I have with evangelicals is with a racially-mixed Assemblies of God congregation in a formerly black now gentrifying neighborhood. The pastor has six racially-mixed grandkids (out of nineteen) and openly calls out structural racism and mistaken views of Islam from the pulpit. They are so far from what gets vilified here at IMonk that it causes me some consternation.

                My daughter, who graduated from a culture-wars-style evangelical high school, tells me that her classmates have gotten noticeably more xenophobic and insulting towards her (she’s half Hispanic and fluent in her mother’s language) since the election, so maybe there is something to the 2016 being racially divisive.

                • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                  > racially-mixed Assemblies of God congregation

                  Well – you have those where you live! 🙂 I am in the midwest.

                  The history of places matters so much. I am aware of one rural school district here where the board is openly racist to the extent of trying to pilfer dedicated funding . . . right next door the a rural school district which is the very picture of classically liberal ideals, diligently trying to help everyone as much as they can. All the eddies, currents, and echos of history seem to be running through an amplified at the current moment.

            • Burro (Mule) says:

              A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a genuine racist at the gym. Not a “voted for Trump so he must be racist” or “he thought George Zimmerman’s verdict was understandable, so he must be racist”. This guy was unapologetic about his views of blacks being genetically disposed to violence, laziness, theft, lying and related mayhem. Everything that was wrong with Atlanta could be directly traced to black dominance. I was surprised he was so open about airing his grievances given that the half of the guys in the gym were black and well within earshot.

              He told me about how his neighborhood was ‘going to hell’ because of the blacks, and painted it terms that made it sound like Mogadishu. I told him I had some of the same concerns about my neighborhood, especially about the recent influx of foreign born residents who were not assimilating, but in all I felt safe. My neighbors were all American-born black and we got along tolerably well. I told him I didn’t own a gun, saw no need to purchase one, and often left my door unlocked. He was astounded and told me no way would I be able t that in ‘his’ neighborhood. The dark and murderous denizens of that lunar landscape would strip me of all my possessions, rape me and my family, and toss my violated body out on the front lawn.

              Suitably impressed by the challenges he faces on a daily basis, I asked him where he lived. It turned out to be three blocks away from me.

              ‘You must know different black folks’ I told him.

              • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                Yeah, I have had pretty much that exact same experience.

                It is a dark positive of the current times – people feel emboldened to be much more honest about how they feel.

                • Burro (Mule) says:

                  Not my point, but you’re probably right.

                • “It is a dark positive of the current times – people feel emboldened to be much more honest about how they feel.”

                  Hmm… Not how I see it. I’ve seen people more emboldened to be a-holes. So is it good for people to be more honest about how they feel when it means being arrogant, self-righteous pricks?

                  • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                    I did use the term “dark positive”.

                    In a way it is easier than trying to delicately tease through all the dog whistles and deflections.

                    But yes, it also sucks.

                  • john barry says:

                    Rick Ro. Re your 12.19 pm post, I do not think it is fair to bring my brother in law in the comments but you must know him to describe him so well. I told him A hole means alpha hole , you forgot to put small in your last sentence description. thanks for not using his real name, I have to see him Thanksgiving.


              • A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a genuine racist at the gym. Not a “voted for Trump so he must be racist” or “he thought George Zimmerman’s verdict was understandable, so he must be racist”. This guy was unapologetic about his views of blacks being genetically disposed to violence, laziness, theft, lying and related mayhem. Everything that was wrong with Atlanta could be directly traced to black dominance. I was surprised he was so open about airing his grievances given that the half of the guys in the gym were black and well within earshot.

                I know many like this. But they won’t claim the label. My latest favorite is how they all have no interest in seeing Black Panther, not because it’s full of black people, but because of the reaction and praise it’s receiving from the black community, they think they are expected to love it and people who don’t love it are “racists”, therefore have no interest in seeing it.

                Case study in how to be racist without actually being racist? idk.

                • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                  > Case study in how to be racist without actually being racist?

                  It gets very complicated! 🙂 The rhetorical knots required can be stupendous.

                  • john barry says:

                    Adam , it is simple it seems according to many, you are racist if you are not the minority even if you are the minority in a majority minority area such as most big cities because you are part of the problem and you do not even realize you are racist but if you move to let the minority govern totally you are racist for moving but if you stay you should try to understand you are still in the majority as your historic racism is still working in your favor and if you do not think you are racist that is because you do not understand. Why else would you not go see Black Panther? simple to me, but Simple Simon was my role model.

                • john barry says:

                  StuartB. There is no better way to judge the heart and minds of people than surmising why they are not going to see a movie. From what I have read on the far right lunatic fringe, Black Panther is very popular as he in Trump like, strong nationalist, protect the borders, wants what best for his people and ethnocentric . I of course speak for all people who chose not to see the movie. I think those who did not see Selma are all racist but cannot prove it yet, but working on it.

                • That Other Jean says:

                  Case study in how to be a racist without actually being called a racist.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  they think they are expected to love it and people who don’t love it are “racists”

                  Denunciation as “RACIST!!!!” has been a major weapon of Righteous Activists for several years. Cue Backlash.

                  As for Black Panther itself, I’ve heard a lot of good about it. Marvel has a good track record with its superhero movies (my favorite being Captain America, done as a period piece), and all the buzz is BP is no exception.

          • Ned Flanders is portrayed very sympathetically. You get the good and the bad.

            The depiction of fundamentalists as armed paramilitary compound dwellers is not without merit.

          • Hmm… I’d say about half the Christians I know are not the stereotype, but I’d say about half are. For the most part, I’m okay with them, but I know there are certain branches of humanity, certain areas in our society, and elements of our culture where they perpetuate the stereotype. These are good people, but at times not great image bearers of our Lord and Savior.

            • john barry says:

              StuartB, It is true , look at the epidemic of evangelical Christians going into public areas and killing those of a different religion.
              The “backlash” toward Muslims by all Americans especially Christians has been terrible especially the dreaded evangelicals. The riots, the burning, the mayhem at the mosque and the call to ban Korans was overwhelming.
              . You know their would be the acceptance and calm understanding in an Islamic nation if a evangelical Christians flew air plane into a Islamic country building, ran over people, killed publishers for insulting the prophet and cut the head off a religious leader.
              So some of my fundamentalist friends only think half of the Catholics they “know” worship Mary, will do whatever the Pope says blindly and are obsessed with saints. Jews own everything and only care about Israel . 80% of African American children are born out of wedlock and raised in a single provider family on welfare and selling drugs. Nothing wrong with a little stereotyping to prove your point.
              I know when I go into a large city and travel through the “inner city” I feel no apprehension or concern as heavy crime areas are mostly stereotypes. My biggest fear in America when I venture out is an attach by a fanatical Christians.
              “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” though written for Pearl Harbor is now in most evangelical hymn books nest to Amazing Grace.
              If you voted for Trump you are not a racist for sure but probably according to many in the mainstream media. Why else would you vote for Trump?
              68% of non religious affiliated voters in 2016 election voted for HRC but they were all voting on the issues instead of self interest or beliefs plus they were probably unarmed.

              • “My biggest fear in America when I venture out is an attack by fanatical Christians.”

                In certain areas of the country, if you voice the wrong opinions or have the wrong skin tone, that *would* be a rational fear.

                • john Barry says:

                  Eeyore, any recent examples?

                  • The bombs in Austin. Can’t get much more recent than that.

                    • Robert F says:

                      Has it been established what the motive behind those bombings was? I haven’t read anything so far to suggest that the authorities are attributing them to the causes that you are.

                    • Robert F says:

                      Of course, it’s possible. But shouldn’t we wait for some evidence to come in before we jump to any conclusions?

                    • Burro (Mule) says:

                      Every time something like this happens, you can almost hear the Left praying “Please, Lord, let it be white nationalists”, and the Right praying, “Please let it be Muslims”.

                    • The victims are two black people and a Hispanic, no connections between them AFAIK. Logically speaking, yes, we don’t know who did it yet. Practically speaking, based on the MO, victims, and location, I’d bet real money that it was a white man acting on racist impulses. If anyone wants to take up that bet, let me know.

                • john barry says:

                  Eeyore, I think it would be factually speaking not logically speaking, the fact is we do not know anything about motive or intent about the Austin bombing. Your preconceived opinion of what happened in Austin is just that.
                  So until we know , what are some other examples of the dreaded , fanatical evangelicals harming of anyone. Thanks for the reply.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                To me, the 2016 election was between a Queen Cersei and a Benito Mussolini.

                What a choice…

                • Bingo.

                • john barry says:

                  Sophia Loren sister married Benito Mussolini son, I remember from when I was a kid in the early 60’s and oddly I found Sophia Loren attractive and I did not speak Italian. El Cid is a good movie with some insight into todays world with the beautiful Sophia.

          • Actually there are a lot more examples of genuinely nuanced portrayals of evangelicals and other religious types in the media these days, from the little church in season 1 of House of Cards to the pastor in The Americans. Duvall’s The Apostle was remarkable, as was Chariots of Fire many years ago. Scorcese’s The Silence is a more recent exemplary film, and Billy Graham even got a sympathetic portrayal in The Crown. I think evangelicalism’s rise in cultural awareness has led to more serious and complex portrayals of them in serious television and films.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              Agree.

            • The current series of Father Brown is very sympathetic to ALL of Father Brown’s abilities and calling. Surprisingly cliché free.

            • Robert F says:

              Uh, Scorcese’s Silence has nothing to do with evangelicals, CM.

              • Yes, of course you’re right. I was compiling examples of Christian religion in general being portrayed in a more complex way. As for Catholics, there’s certainly been no shortage of piling on because of the sexual scandals, but in general I don’t hear them hollering “persecution!” like evangelicals whose naivete gets shattered now and again.

                • True. Generally speaking, Catholics seem to be much less whiny than evangelicals.

                  • jhn barry says:

                    So you guys never heard of Bill Donohue of the Catholic League who defends attacks on the RCC and to me is quite effective? I know of no evangelical counter part of his statue or the Catholic League. Actually I think Mr. Donohue does a good job of sticking up for his faith and is less and less on the main stream networks.

                    • Donohue is an outlier in American Catholicism, but defensive posturing like his is pervasively common in much of the public face of American evangelicalism.

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                    Institutional Memory & historical experience.

                    • john barry says:

                      Robert F. and who would the evangelical counter part be with an active paid membership of over 250,000 thousand people?

                    • The theme of being the persecuted church comes up so much in evangelical media and its mouthpieces that it is a commonplace. The drumbeat of “Circle the wagons!! Secular oppression!!” is sounded by the likes of Focus on the Family, Jerry Falwell Jr./Liberty University, Franklin Graham, and a countless host of others, ad infinitum. It doesn’t have a counterpart to Donohue because it doesn’t need one, since it is one of the most constantly sounded notes throughout evangelicalism. You can hardly escape hearing it if you tune into evangelical radio or TV.

                    • john barry says:

                      Robert F. I guess the question is why would you tune into evangelical radio or TV if u do not want to hear it. I watch EWTN as I like some of their shows but I expect , I do not know why, they will have a Catholic viewpoint. the majority of Americans would not know Bill Donahue , Jerry Falwell , maybe a little F. Graham compared to Joel Osteen for instance and he just tells it like it is.

                    • Robert F says:

                      I occasionally sample to see if the tune has changed since days of yore, but it hasn’t. You don’t need to spend much time listening or watching to see it raise its whiny head. It is also pervasive in the news media. Evangelicals usually complain about their own victimization in the news items that come across about them. I went with my wife to a music conference last year held in a regionally prominent Baptist church by a major sacred music publisher, and one of the “celebrity” evangelical musical presenters there sounded the same note of persecution in some of the comments she introduced her music with. It’s everywhere in the evangelical world, and you see it even if you just get your toes wet in those waters.

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                    Generally speaking, Catholics seem to be much less whiny than evangelicals.

                    With some LOUD exceptions.
                    Eagle recently tipped me off to a group of Loud Crazies who call themselves “Church Militant”. Think of Fundy Dominionist Culture Warriors with Rosaries trying to build their own Breitbart with Rosaries.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            How Trump is Remaking Evagelicalism This appeared today in The Atlantic. Timely?

            • john barry says:

              Clay, Timely for the Atlantic, this came out today in my mind:

              Total Protestant/other Christian Obama (2012) 42% Romney 57% (2016) Clinton 39% Trump 58% Clinton lost 3% vs Obama

              Catholic (2012) Obama 50% Romney 48% (2016) Clinton 45% Trump 52% Clinton lost 5% vs Obama

              Hispanic Catholic (2012) Obama 75% Romney 21% (2016) Clinton 67% Trump 26% Again Clinton lost 8% vs Obama

              Jewish (2012) Obama 69% Romney 30% (2016) Clinton 71% Trump 24% Clinton gained 2% vs Obama

              Other faiths (2012) Obama 74% Romeny 26% (2016) Clinton 62% Trump 29% Clinton lost 12% vs Obama

              Religious Unaffiliated (212) Obama 70% Romney 23% (2016) Clinton 68% Trump 26 % Clinton lost 2% vs Obama

              White , born again /evangelical Christian (2012) Obama 21% Romney 78% (2016() Clinton 16% Trump 81% Clinton lost 5% vs Obama

              Mormon (2012) Obama 21% Romney 78% (2016) Clinton 25% Trump 61% Clinton gained 4%

              So Trump got 3% more of the crazy, dreaded evangelical vote than Mormon Romney and Clinton lost 5% compared to Obama.

              the kicker is Clinton got 68% of the non religious vote compared to Obama 70% which is big as they say Trump stayed at 26% which Romney got also.

              Clinton lost 8% of the Hispanic vote Obama got.

              So maybe the Trump won on the issues which is what elections are all about and maybe Clinton was a terrible campaigner with no clear message other than I am Not Trump.

              And most of the people who id themselves are self identified so they are of course “Christians” which means that is what they kinda know about .

              The dreaded evangelicals everyone is now trying to figure now voted for Trump but Clinton lost the election due to more than the born agains , actually it was the voting agiains that came out for Trump that usually do not vote and the non religious not showing up for Clinton.

              I am waiting for The Pacific to come out with their article on the election.

              My info is from the Pew Research Center dated Nov 9 2016 Presidential vote by religion.

              It is just not possible that some of the ignorant Trump voters voted on the issues even if the Atlantic does not agree with them?

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              Yeah. Eagle just emailed me a link today.

    • The next Avenger:

      Common Sense Man!

  9. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > “It’s about to completely break apart.” – Campbell Robertson”

    I have become a skeptic of the predicted Evangelical Collapse. It seems to be holding strong as a power block.

    But these days, maybe? There has been a fair amount of flim-flam reconciliation in my corner of the world; and it does all seem to be breaking apart. Essentially all the Christian book stores are gone; faced with demographic shifts, if Evangelicalism completely looses the revenue of urban centers… it is hard to believe the institutions won’t be financially starved. I’ve heard disgust expressed by people I never expected to recognize the rot; if they stop writing checks…

    • Burro (Mule) says:

      …and you live in Grand Rapids.

      That’s pretty dire. If you can’t find a Family Bookstore in Drang Pardis, there ain’t any.

      Is Baker Book House still around? They catered to the more astringent Calvinist crowd, and may be benefiting from the current boomlet in that theological strain.

      I remember Os Guinness saying back in the eighties ‘Save your Jesus junk. Fifty years from now it’ll have the same cultural curiosity value as a Jack Armstrong Wheaties decoder ring does today’.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Family Christian Bookstores

        They filed for bankruptcy in 2015 after failing to secure terms with debtors or find a bail-out buyer.

        Zondervan has closed their warehouse & logistics operations; and outsourced their printing. Standard “streamlining operations” rhetoric.

        > Is Baker Book House still around?

        One left. They’ve been having some “up to 50% off” sales recently, so….

        > Save your Jesus junk.

        He might not have been wrong.

        • And Rupert Murdoch is the owner of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, through his ownership of Harper Collins.

          But at least he closed News of the World…

      • I remember Os Guinness saying back in the eighties ‘Save your Jesus junk. Fifty years from now it’ll have the same cultural curiosity value as a Jack Armstrong Wheaties decoder ring does today’.

        Exactly. It’s interesting novelty of Americana. It’s also a paper trail of thought development.

        • john barry says:

          So Newsweek, Time, Life, Post, NYT , WAPO and most printed press operations are going gang busters? It is only the Christian publishers feeling the decline in people who actually read books and more importantly the new tech.
          I would imagine after the printing press was invented and spread, the monks copying the Bible had to find a real job as Christianity was on the downturn. Good analysis.
          No better trend for America and society than the loss of Christian influence in the culture. We can count on the mass media, Hollywood and Facebook to set the standard for the culture.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > most printed press operations are going gang busters

            Yes, actually. Contrary to popular narrative. Last year saw ~500 new brink-n-mortar book stores open in the United States – including two near me. Our downtown railroad era news shop just reopened; so there is again a news counter with magazine rack, etc…

            Print media is doing quite well; delivered news papers are dying, that is true. But overall print media and books are still a growing market. E-book sales are flat, at best.

            Patronage of public libraries is at an all time high.

            Don’t believe the Tech Bro narrative(s). They’ve got an agenda of their own.

            • john barry says:

              Adam, I live in a small place, library increase here is due to the free computers and the homeless camping out while they can. I am sure the bigger cities do not have this problem. People and US mags are doing great unless the K. sisters age any. Readers Digest is so condensed now , you can not find it , even at the Dr’s office.
              Remember when most families had a Bible some where in the house? I hope book stores survive but they will only if Amazon brick and mortar work out.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > No better trend for America and society than the loss of Christian influence in the culture.

            Don’t confuse Christian and Evangelical. These outlets represented solely the later.

            And, yes, good riddance to rubbish.

            • john barry says:

              Adam, I am sorry, I thought evangelicals were Christian but I guess they got kicked out of the club . No one told me .


              • Adam, I am sorry, I thought evangelicals were Christian but I guess they got kicked out of the club . No one told me .

                I think they voluntarily left on their own accord back in the 1920s.

                • john barry says:

                  Well, I’ll be a monkeys uncle. Did not know. A lot of people will go ape over the news.
                  I will have to scope it out. I guess evangelicals cannot evolve.

                  • I guess I was wrong. 1845 was the year.

                    Your mileage may vary, but I think this is a helpful read along these lines, plus the two articles linked inside. – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2018/03/12/half-never-told/

                    There is still today a Southern Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War, and decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbors, America’s most powerful evangelical denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery. …

                    What developed in the South was a theology carefully tailored to meet the needs of a slave state. Biblical emphasis on social justice was rendered miraculously invisible. A book constructed around the central metaphor of slaves finding their freedom was reinterpreted. Messages which might have questioned the inherent superiority of the white race, constrained the authority of property owners, or inspired some interest in the poor or less fortunate could not be taught from a pulpit. Any Christian suggestion of social justice was carefully and safely relegated to “the sweet by and by” where all would be made right at no cost to white worshippers. In the forge of slavery and Jim Crow, a Christian message of courage, love, compassion, and service to others was burned away.

                    Stripped of its compassion and integrity, little remained of the Christian message. What survived was a perverse emphasis on sexual purity as the sole expression of righteousness, along with a creepy obsession with the unquestionable sexual authority of white men. In a culture where race defined one’s claim to basic humanity, women took on a special religious interest. Christianity’s historic emphasis on sexual purity as a form of ascetic self-denial was transformed into an obsession with women and sex. For Southerners, righteousness had little meaning beyond sex, and sexual mores had far less importance for men than for women. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race. There was no higher moral demand.

                    • Robert F says:

                      That is a theological framework for a justification of the existence of the KKK, the implementation of Jim Crow, and the practice of lynching. Call it a theology of the Devil.

                    • Robert F says:

                      But it wasn’t just the South, as the article points out. Christianity developed in the U.S. around the institution of slavery, in North and South. And even where some Christians came out on the right side of the matter in abolitionism, they were still reacting to the pervasive givenness of slavery in America history and American Christianity. The Land of the Free my ass.

                    • Robert F says:

                      A lot of the bad stuff that we easily identify in the South’s iteration of Christianity existed in the North well before it became a signature of the South.

                    • You ever step back and think, “we’re letting this happen. we’re letting them get away with this.”

                      I wonder if anyone in late life regretted their involvement in the SBC coup, for instance.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                      Is that why Ku Kluxers and their spiritual descendants were/are so obsessed with “Protecting Our White Womanhood”?

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=493pL_Vbtnc

                      “Miscegnation” – Last century’s term for inter-racial marriage, a STRONG taboo to that crowd. Always reminded me of a pedigreed dog breeder fanatically protecting his pedigrees and purebred bloodlines. (Come to think of it, that WOULD fit right in with Purity Culture, Patriarchy, and women as breeding stock…)

              • Burro (Mule) says:

                No, they just were asked to surrender the keys to the front door, and to stop making the by-rules by themselves without including other members of the club.

                Oh yeah. They have to settle their bar tab or they’ll be put on a pay-as-you-drink basis

                • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                  +1

                  I wouldn’t buy up their bar-tab debt for ten cents on the dollar at this point.

                • Robert F says:

                  Gratuities should be automatically added to the bill. They’re not known to be great tippers….

  10. Michael Emerson’s book Divided by Faith has been around since 2001, but I just heard about it this morning when a friend recommended it. This confirms it, and it’s now on my list.

    I did read the NY Times article a few days ago by Campbell Robertson (click the link on his name, second quote above). Worth a click.

  11. “Everything we tried is not working,” said Michael Emerson, the author of “Divided by Faith,” a seminal work on race relations within the evangelical church. “The election itself was the single most harmful event to the whole movement of reconciliation in at least the past 30 years,” he said. “It’s about to completely break apart.”

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/white-evangelical-women-core-supporters-of-trump-begin-tiptoeing-away/ar-BBK6pdz

    At the time of the Iraq invasion, Bush Jr had an 80% approval rating. Now nobody can quite remember voting for him at all. I suspect it will be the same with Trump. Ten years from now if you say his name these folks will ask, “who?”

  12. john barry says:

    Stephen, no better source than MSNBC to be fair and balanced. Where is Huntley or was it Brinkley?

    Much to my dismay and wish I could get in a time machine I voted twice for G.W. Bush. He was a terrible , incompetent President who made the worst foreign policy decision in USA history. Even Gore or Kerry would have probably been one term but could not have been worse than GW Bush. Bush gave us Obama who gave us Trump.

    The only good thing about Bush was that until recently he stayed out of the news. I wish I could forget I voted for GW Bush. Bush was the very essence of the still powerful and ever present Republican establishment , that is on the verge of collapse if they cannot get rid of Trump. I voted for GW Bush and bought a used Rambler car, two terrible mistakes of my life but not the only two.

  13. “Ordinary life is enough. There isn’t any need to make an assertion with our lives. Our preciousness and meaning lie within the preciousness and meaning of life itself, not in having to accomplish something special.” Fully conscious ‘being’ will always unfold into necessary doing. Find ways to ‘be’ Christian and inevitably ways to ‘do’ Christian will present themselves.

  14. Ordinary life is enough. There isn’t any need to make an assertion with our lives. Our preciousness and meaning lie within the preciousness and meaning of life itself, not in having to accomplish something special.

    This. Just. This.

    Because it’s something you’re as unlikely to ever hear hear from a “don’t waste your life” John Piper type or a sin-sniffing John MacArthur type as you are from a “Your Best Life Now” Joel Osteen type. They have more in common than any of them would probably ever admit, at least on this score. They just try to solve the “problem” of ordinariness a little differently.

    Have we lost the ability, individually and corporately, to say to someone with our words and lives, “God loves you.” without adding a thousand qualifications? I hope not, but sometimes the evidence isn’t encouraging.

    • + 1. I think we are speaking the same language. The only thing I add is to be awake. We are different from the animals because we bring conscious awareness to the game. That is a unique contribution. To ‘know’ him (which is to grow into his likeness) and the power of his resurrection…

  15. Robert F says:

    Sometimes for some people it takes extraordinary, even quietly heroic effort to just live ordinary life.

    • Hey Robert,
      I’m not sure what type of person you’re speaking of. Are you referring to yourself or to someone you know? Without knowing that I would only say this; I was part of a cult that ran around New York City in 1979 in 1980 with big red buttons on that said JESUS SAVES in white letters. If you didn’t bring new converts into the flock your faith was questioned in a very direct and confrontational way. The pressure was on to do, do,do,do. It was a big numbers game. I followed that up with an almost equally hectic pace when I joined a small Evangelical fundamentalist storefront church. Learning to live a normal life and not accost every person I saw with the frenetic gospel was the equivalent of going through detox, you might say. It took me a long time to not feel guilty about going through a transaction at the grocery store without preaching to the cashier so living a quiet and peaceable life while remaining confident that I am fulfilling the great commission to preach the gospel has required a great deal of soul searching. Again, I’m not sure what you’re referring to but do know that I don’t take the ordinary for granted. I now treasure it as something that I worked hard to find and embrace.

      • Robert F says:

        Many commenters here at iMonk have gone through something like your experience, and I was referring to all of you. My experience has been different, though not without its own struggles with non-evangelical religious mania.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If you didn’t bring new converts into the flock your faith was questioned in a very direct and confrontational way. The pressure was on to do, do,do,do. It was a big numbers game. I followed that up with an almost equally hectic pace when I joined a small Evangelical fundamentalist storefront church. Learning to live a normal life and not accost every person I saw with the frenetic gospel was the equivalent of going through detox, you might say. It took me a long time to not feel guilty about going through a transaction at the grocery store without preaching to the cashier…

        IMonk Classic: WRETCHED URGENCY.
        http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/64264
        (With a good view of the Pittsburgh skyline…)

  16. Ronald Avra says:

    I’ve been busy doing an in-depth examination of acedia; at some point when I catch a break I might engage some of the comments.

  17. Christiane says:

    that whole thing about ‘sin leveling’ . . . . . from what I can understand, strict fundamentalists are somewhat blind to their own mess and completely tolerant of their infamous preachers and their ‘wild and crazy’ politicians, but let some poor kid with gender issues come before them and they have to be held back from stoning the kid.

    So I’d say that ‘sin leveling’ wasn’t so much the problem as prejudice, ignorance, and too much pride combined with hubris . . . you won’t see ‘humility’ among such ‘fundamentalists’, no; nor will you hear terms like ‘mercy’ and ‘forgiveness’ either, but THE POINTING OF THE FINGER is so extreme that it carries all before it.

    Sinners are more realistically dealt with in faith communities where everyone knows they are sinners and no one is pointing the finger at ‘that other guy’

    The liturgy of such faith communities resounds with ‘domine non sum dignus’ and ‘Christ be merciful to us’.

    But not so your ‘fundamentalists’ gatherings where people with gender issues especially are so judged and condemned as to make the condemned seem more like victims of a hyper-judgmental cult in the eyes of the world.

    I think this quote does it for me:

    ““This thought should keep us humble.
    We are sinners, but we do not know how great.
    He alone knows Who died for our sins.”
    (John Henry Newman)

    those who bully and point the finger are destructive people . . . their target (that other sinner) or maybe someone they have contempt for MAY these days just as soon go home and hang themselves to escape the bully . . .
    so fundamentalists who are really targeting vulnerable people (those who are very young with gender issues fall into this category) . . . those fundamentalists are bullying and feeling very self-righteous in the process . . . but the consequences of their vile negativity and judgmentalism may be that a very vulnerable soul can’t take it any more and self-harms . . . . having received an overdose of ‘Christianity’ from the ‘conservative far right’ where the talk is ‘truth in love’ but the injured young persons sees no ‘love’ in the strident hatred that falls on them unbidden and without any resemblance to grace . . . .

    • Great post, Christiane. I was just chatting with some folks today about what the church community should look like and represent to the world, and we concluded something like, “A bunch of messy, screwed-up people who love each other anyway.” I think that fits with your thoughts/comment.

      • Christiane says:

        Hey Rick Ro.

        “A bunch of messy, screwed-up people who love each other anyway.”

        oh, yes! YES!

        that describes the Newman Club at university . . . . fun, crazy, messed-up, and joyous . . . Loved them all dearly, like ‘family’. 🙂

        Today, as a ‘senior’, things are still that way only in my Church . . . only it’s us old people providing the high-jinks.
        When people don’t have to judge ‘those other sinners’, life has room for joy, the signature sign of the Presence of the Holy Spirit in a faith community. 🙂 And there is room for kindness, too. (Not so in those judgemental communities where, sadly, even ‘kindness’ is mocked.)

  18. “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.”