Jan 27 2016

Things the Apostle Paul did not say

I think my favorite kinds of sermons are those that I can riff off of. Not audibly, of course, but I tend to think tangentially anyway, so I like a sermon that raises points that I can explore while I’m sitting in church. Even better if I continue to think about them afterwards. They don’t have to be great sermons, as long as they provide food for thought. (I do not, however, enjoy a sermon that causes me to mentally analyze every bit of tortured logic and twisted scripture. It may be a great exercise in critical thinking, but it’s neither edifying nor fun.)

In the last couple of weeks I’ve heard one of each. I will talk about the good one. The topic was love, and referenced a few good quotes by Paul that got me thinking about what Paul did not say, which leads me to my topic today.

THINGS PAUL DID NOT SAY

Let holiness be your highest goal. (1 Cor. 14:3)

And above all these put on correct doctrine, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14)

Without our church I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)

Owe no one anything, except to judge each other, for the one who judges another has fulfilled the law.  (Romans 13:8)

The greatest of these is truth. (1 Cor. 13:13)

And there’s more, but I’m sure you get the idea.  Paul was undoubtedly the master of proper doctrine and logic. He bragged about winning an argument with Peter and the rest of the church leadership. However, Paul was, at heart, a softie. He was concerned about widows and orphans, the poor and the weak of faith. In Paul’s mind, everyone had value, and had gifts to share. There were no favored classes, and no one had the right to judge anyone else (even themselves).

What has happened to Paul’s message that grace is a gift, and cannot be earned?  That God loves all of us unconditionally, and we should in turn love others unconditionally?

It seems that in today’s evangelical circles, putting love first makes you a liberal. Love is conditionalized, as it seems to be a scarce and finite resource, not to be thrown around indiscriminately. Or, perhaps the definition of love has been retooled in a type of Platonic dualism; we can love in a universal, ideal sense, but we must be careful who we love in a practical, earthy sense. We love sinners Platonically, but not incarnationally. We love refugees, just only where they can’t touch us. We love the GLBT community, but not as equals.  

And that’s what happens when you start to think about what Paul (and Jesus) really said.

 


Apr 2 2015

How FoxNews is ruining conservatism

I probably shouldn’t single out FoxNews here, but they are the most well-known bastion of the uber-conservatist media.  And yes, I think the collective conservative “Fauxnews” media is destroying conservatism, resulting in incredible snafus like we are seeing in Indiana, and the fact that Hilary Clinton (who has a less than 50% approval rating) has a substantial lead in current polls over any Republican presidential hopeful.

Here’s the problem: Fauxnews is not presenting a “fair and balanced” view of anything.  They do provide one very good service, and that is to highlight stories that are typically ignored by other media outlets. However, it is a mistake to take any of these stories at face value, because what is being presented is a nice, conservative fairy tale meant to either motivate well-meaning conservatives, or to pacify them.

The conservative Fauxnews media is simply preaching to the choir, without really educating on the issues. I see a number of posts on Facebook where a conservative site has an outrageous headline about something Obama or Clinton have supposedly said, only to find that when you read the actual quote, they didn’t really say that at all.  The fauxnews retelling is more than spin; it’s misleading, and occasionally bordering on fraudulent.  But well-meaning conservatives trust many of these fauxnews sources, and don’t bother to fact-check.

Conservatives (as well as liberals), develop a kind of group-think.  It’s a form of tribalism, a subject I’ve been thinking a lot about, and which I’ll talk about in the future. There is a very strong need for many people to share the same opinions as the tribe, and will willingly adopt them without any real critical thinking (even if they think critical thinking is happening). The tribal presuppositions are such that everything becomes colored and conclusions are almost predetermined.

The danger is that conservatives will become more and more ignorant, and are in danger of becoming completely marginalized, even if they are the majority.  It’s so easy to embarrass a conservative right now that it’s – well – embarrassing.

The best way for conservatives to hold their own politically is not to create a conservative virtual reality to exist in, but to take the red pill (Matrix reference) and see what reality looks like.  Take a look at the issues the conservative media is reporting, then go to the sources, and find out what is really going on.  Analyze, and develop your own opinions. I almost never read or watch conservative news; at most, I read the bottom of the screen when I’m on the elliptical at the gym (Fox is always on).  Instead, I look at WaPo, CNN, etc., and then Google stories I’m interested in for varying opinions.

Will Rogers identified this problem years ago when he said, “All I know is what I read in the papers.”  Fauxnews isn’t helping the problem, it unfortunately is the problem, and it is ruining conservatism.

 


Jan 18 2014

I can relate—or perhaps I can’t…

You don’t have to have Asperger’s to experience an inability to relate to the Evangelical Christian culture…

 

 

 

 


Nov 28 2012

I guess I need to write more…

Or at least check the blog more often… I just deleted 2,428 spam comments. I think that’s a record, at least for me.

I will do more on the New Covenant Law series, and I’m planning more in the “This I Know” series. I’ve been thinking, just not writing.

Soon.