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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2012-06-26 05:43
Subject: [religion] Evangelical America, I feel sorry for you and your God
Security: Public
Tags:personal, religion, science
Slacktivist Fred Clark, a progressive evangelical, had an interesting post over the weekend entitled The evangelical mind must obey the moneyed enforcers of the tribe in which he talks about a frequent theme of his, that modern American evangelical Christianity has morphed into political tribalism rather than a theological movement. I was most struck by this comment:
[The younger scholar] asked his former professor, now colleague, why he was sent to graduate school with so many gaps in his learning. The answer: “Our job was to protect you from this information so as not to shipwreck your faith.”

(This is Clark in turn quoting another source, Peter Enns.)

That in turn prompted me to revisit a thought I've had for a long time. Basically, it's this: I feel sorry for evangelical Christians of a conservative bent whose faith compels them to deny reality and turn away from the richness of the world. Here's why…

  • I feel sorry for you that your faith is so weak it can be challenged by open, honest education. If I were a faith holder, I'd like to think my faith would be strong enough to be reinforced by the mysterious, miraculous complexity of the world around me rather than undermined by exposure to reality.


  • I feel sorry for you that your God is so petty that He tempts you with false evidence such as dinosaur bones embedded in the rocks of the Earth. If I were a faith holder, I'd like to think my God would love me enough not to twist the world around me with cheap tricks in an attempt to lead me astray.


  • I feel sorry for you that your God created you with all the magnificent imagination and intelligence of the human mind, only to demand that you ignore and even falsify the fruits of reason and observation. If I were a faith holder, I'd like to think my God would rejoice in the fullest use of the gifts granted me by His creation.


  • I feel sorry for you that your faith is so petty and narrow-minded that you cannot encompass the glorious complexity of evolution, astronomy and Deep Time. If I were a faith holder, I'd like to think my faith would enhance my imagination rather than impoverish it, and bring the world to me rather than shut it out.


  • I feel sorry for you that your religion compels you to act in ways and believe in ideas that are so obviously stupid, mean and hateful when viewed by everyone outside your tribe. If I were a faith holder, I'd like to think my religion would make me an example and even a leader to everyone outside my tribe.


So I say to those people I feel sorry for in Evangelical America, wake up. We live in a better world than your faith allows you to see or believe. I feel sorry for both you and your impoverished, petty God that you cannot do so. If He is as you say you believe Him to be, your God is either a bully or a liar, or both.

I will welcome you joyfully when the scales of your blinkered faith fall from your eyes and you see the beauty of the world as it truly is.

Post A Comment | 13 Comments | | Link






User: radiantlisa
Date: 2012-06-26 12:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, and yes, and yes ...
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W. Lotus
User: wlotus
Date: 2012-06-26 13:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I like how you put it. Very well done.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2012-06-26 13:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bleedingheart
Ah yes. I went to an evangelical school at the very beginning of this divide. I'm now grateful that I ended up storming out of Evangelical Protestantism as they started to wrench academia in this direction--some of my profs at Northwest Christian were aggressively, vocally liberal while others were most likely instrumental in creating the Dominionist structures now prominent in modern Evangelical thought (seriously. I do not joke about this. I wish I'd kept better notes, because I have a feeling that if I go back to my yearbooks from those two years, I'd find that I knew and argued with a number of the current Evangelical intellectual leadership that has laid the foundation for the current political movement. That's just how foundational that school was).

Feminism was the area of division for me back then. Outsiders find it extremely ironic that I find the Catholic church and its idiocy preferable to evangelical Protestantism. However, the Church is not as monolithic as it appears to outsiders as demonstrated by the current faithful rebellion of the nuns (which is entirely in keeping with Church tradition). I may not be taking Communion right now because I am not in agreement with Rome, but by God I am still a Catholic. It's those old men who are denying the Holy Spirit and the message of Vatican II.

I am still a person of faith. Such faith does not mean a denial of evolution, of science, of the great wonder and beauty of the Universe around me. It does not give me the right to behave in stupid, mean and hateful oppressive ways toward my fellow human beings. Faith does not and should not mean that I spend my life walking in fear of salvation, nor should I be smugly confident that I'm saved and the rest of the world is going to hell because I was predestined for salvation (two years with a Calvinist superior at work reinforces my hatred of predestination and sola fide concepts).

I do not think it's an accident that I can read an article about similar exclusionary and religious behavior amongst neo-classical economists just before reading this blog. The marriage of neo-classical economics and fundamentalist evangelical Christian thought is a union created in some sort of fascist heaven (which the rest of us would call hell) and is not an accident. The predestinationist precepts have infected reactionary thought to the degree that even the atheist neo-classicals use the same presuppositions as their faithful brethren.

This is turning into a rant...so I'll stop now.
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randy_smith2
User: randy_smith2
Date: 2012-06-26 14:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Peter Enns is dead on correct in what is quoted in this post. Faith is to be freeing, not stifling.
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Jay Lake: graffiti-rose
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-06-26 14:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:graffiti-rose
Faith is to be freeing, not stifling.

Precisely. I don't see the point of faith, otherwise. Just because I don't hold faith doesn't mean I can't admire or even sometimes envy faith. Only that faith which is admirable, however. As you say, freeing.
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Julie
User: quaero_verum
Date: 2012-06-26 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My true faith lies in the indisputable fact that I, in fact, really know nothing about the true nature, desires and methodology of God and therefore, I remain open to deep mystery and to whatever there is still to learn.

It is deep mystery that in turn fuels my faith. For the most part, this relationship works very well, I think. ;-)
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springfield40
User: springfield40
Date: 2012-06-26 17:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I so agree with this and there is a way to put faith in with it because faith does not have to be only what the Evangelicals dream it to be. In fact I think they get it wrong because they look at the world and dont see all it can be.
That what ever is found or imagined or dreamed up is another gift from what ever higher power you have faith in and that faith is not there to bring anyone else down.

I also believe that not beliving is a form of faith because it is how that person sees the world.

By the way this isnt perfect at least in me because being human I have bad days but using your faith to bash another is
the wrong use of faith
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2012-06-26 18:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is full of awesome.
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saveswhat
User: saveswhat
Date: 2012-06-27 04:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Like.
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ulfhirtha
User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2012-06-28 13:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I found a heavy echo of this today in a plank of the Texas GOP platform - One plank being that "they oppose the teaching of "higher order thinking skills" -- a curriculum which strives to encourage critical thinking -- arguing that it might challenge "student's fixed beliefs" and undermine "parental authority." "
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-06-28 13:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Do you have a link for that, by any chance?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-06-28 20:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Weird. I'm getting your responses as notifications in my email, but they're not showing up in the LJ thread.
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ulfhirtha
User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2012-06-28 20:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, perhaps it is the links or something. When I SUBMIT, I get told they show up as spam.
I'm glad they have gotten through in some form at any rate.
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