My wife and I wanted to watch a light film at home this past Saturday night and then go to bed early. We made the mistake of putting in the movie North Country, which came out in 2005. It was inspired by a landmark sexual harassment case that took place in a Minnesota coal mine. As I was watching the film, I was shocked by how mercilessly the protagonist Josey Aimes was treated by her co-workers, her family, and even the other women in the mine who were victims of the same sexual harassment. I said to my wife, “This seems a little bit over the top,” and she said, “Oh no, this is what women really deal with.” As I saw Josey standing up for her dignity with the whole world against her, I thought a real test of my Christian morality would be if I had the guts to stand up for her if I were working in that mine.
I have been reading Margaret Farley’s Just Love: A Framework for Christian Ethics, the book that got the Vatican in a tizzy over renegade nuns several years ago under the grand inquisitor pope. To be fair, Just Love is more a feminist critique of Christian sexual ethics than it is a Christian sexual ethics, but the critique is apt and worth listening to. While Farley doesn’t fortify herself with Biblical chapter verse citations, her perspective makes sense to me when I consider sexuality under the lens of “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”
The turning point in my Wild Goose experience happened Saturday at about 5:30 pm or so. The band in the photo above, called Ears to the Ground, was on stage at the performance cafe. I had been grumbling in my head that the schedule seemed to be a lot more flexible on Saturday than it had been on Friday when I played. But then this band started a song with the most amazing vocal harmony I have heard in a long time. And I had to close my eyes, because all my internal acrimony had been interrupted by beauty. And when I sat down with members of the band at dinner an hour later, I realized they were the ones God had brought me to Wild Goose to meet.
Wild Goose has been an interesting phenomenon so far. The theme of this years’s festival has been “re-membering the body.” To this end, there have been several random people going around passing out cards inviting us to engage in random acts of hospitality like sharing food with strangers. But it’s such a hard thing to transcend the well-trod paradigm of American culture where we sit in our lawn chairs as a crowd of individuals who aren’t making any effort to know each other and only share in common our adoration of the rock star on the stage. What would have to take place to create an environment in which strangers really could re-member the body of Christ together?
God broke me today in a really good way. You see I’m a recovering cynic who relapses at least several dozen times a day. Nothing is more insufferable to me than an overly cheerful person. Somehow I’ve been programmed to presume that cheerful people are disingenuous. But then there’s my friend Beth Anderson who smiles more than just about anyone I know and is also absolutely genuine to the core. She preached a sermon to us at our provisional retreat this morning about God’s perpetual Pentecost that melted my cynicism. I just hope that it sticks. Continue Reading
Do you think these human beings matter to God? They certainly don’t matter much to us. About a hundred prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are now engaged in a hunger strike. But don’t worry; the prison guards won’t let them die. They force-feed them through tubes in their noses. Apparently one detainee has been force-fed daily since 2005. Continue Reading
I had an outbreak of worldviewism today on my Facebook page today after I shared my post on privilege and Biblical interpretation. Worldviewism is a school of thought within the evangelical world, particularly among the homeschoolers and tribulation preppers, that divides the world into thought-systems (there are often said to be four) which are completely self-enclosed, disconnected, and incompatible with one another. Your task as a Christian is to make sure that your Christian worldview hasn’t been infiltrated by traces of other ones (except for capitalism which isn’t one of the other three worldviews since capitalism is just the way God created the world to work ). Continue Reading
People hate each other for all kinds of sinful reasons. In my life, I’ve hated people unfairly before, usually out of some sort of envy or paranoid presumption about what somebody else thought of me. It’s different when people hate out of devotion to God. Two nights ago, when I took a look at Way of the Master evangelist guru Ray Comfort’s account of his airplane evangelism, it was jaw-dropping to see the contempt he held for the people he was witnessing to. I don’t think that Comfort is an evil person; I think he genuinely believes that God wants him to hate ungodly people. His hate, like the hate of the Pharisees who crucified Jesus, is a genuine solidarity with a God he has misunderstood. The linchpin of Christian hate, insofar as it has a theological root, is the assumption that God’s holiness amounts to a nihilistic, ruthlessly unsympathetic perfectionism. This assumption is largely derived from a distorted inheritance of the medieval satisfaction atonement theory of Anselm of Canterbury and a ubiquitous misinterpretation of Romans 3.
Yesterday I talked about Christian mansplainers who operate according to 18th century principles of epistemology. You might call them “objective” Christian mansplainers. But there’s a different category of Christian mansplainers that are actually more exasperating than the first kind. They prefer late 20th century French philosophers to 18th century field preachers. They are superior to you because they’re better at irony. This species is called mansplainer emergenticus. I am an expert in their nature because I live with one; I see him every morning in the mirror. So here are the five D’s of emergent Christian mansplainmanship: dialogue, deconstruction, disingenuous use of the word “we,” difficulty with labels, and dialectic. Continue Reading
I witnessed a conversation on facebook last night where one of these young, restless, well informed Christian guys was being a mansplaining stereotype of himself. There is a particular form of Christian thought that causes people (usually men because of how we’re wired but occasionally women) to think they’re experts in the faith after maybe a couple of years of serious Bible study. Their expertise then gives them the duty to “mansplain” Christianity, e.g. do things like ask patronizing, predictable rhetorical questions of complete strangers in social media in order to help them become experts in Christianity too. This morning while taking a bath, I thought of five C’s that characterize Christian mansplanation: clarity, conclusiveness, conformity, commodity, and control. Continue Reading