Archive for November, 2010

Our Shepherd — Disappointed, But Ever Diligent

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

“You speak often of truth,” remarked Charis. “Is this god of yours so interested in truth?”

“In truth, yes, but in love as well . . . in love most of all,” answered Dafyd.

“A strange god, then, and often disappointed, I should think.”

“I do not wonder that it seems strange to you. For so it seemed to me when I first heard it. But I have studied long on it and have in time come to be convinced of it. More, I have learned the truth of it for myself and now cannot be persuaded otherwise — no matter what may befall me . . . I was myself like that once — until Jesu found me. That is how he is! He reaches out; he draws men to him. He is the Good Shepherd who searches in the wilderness for his lost sheep, never resting until he gathers them to his fold.”

(Taliesen, Stephen R. Lawhead, 1987 HarperCollins EOS)

What a marvelous story! We live only because Jesus, disappointed by our failure to love and yet driven by his love for us to diligently seek us out, is a Shepherd determined to bring his lost lambs into the fold!

In this world, you’re either one of the 99 or the single lamb lost in the desert. Let’s live, all of us, as though being found really, truly, mattered . . .

Antinomy, Or How Can They Both Be True?

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Antinomy: A contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable, or necessary. (Oxford English Dictionary)

I think it’s safe to say that every Christian with a sphere of experience larger than that of a good-sized dog crate has wrestled with the apparent contradictions of life, faith, science and doctrine — evidence for evolution vs. a literal reading of Genesis, the sovereignty of God vs. human effort in evangelism, the priesthood of the believer vs. the offices of the Church, the justice of God vs. the mercy of God, and many other areas where one thing appears to be as true as the thing that appears to be its opposite.

This isn’t some weak, insipid syncretism, nor is it the silly illogic that argues, say, that the race-based, manstealing slavery of the American South was on the one hand “Biblically justified,” while also something whose elimination ought to be greeted by Christians with a hearty “Good riddance!” Some things are simply wrong; they cannot be tempered with opposing arguments and then presented to thinking people as a marvel of equally-true but apparent contradictions. That is not antinomy, just stupidity, like saying that a lizard is both a reptile and a mammal, or a pencil both a writing instrument and a chicken casserole, or a Toyota fuel pump both a reptile and a casserole. Antinomy never argues for the legitimacy of the illegitimate, nor does it attempt to reconcile what cannot be reconciled.

But the testimony of Scripture, from which we draw theology and doctrine, often gives us that theology and those doctrines as two sides of a co-existent, balanced, and entirely correct picture of God’s revelation — even when we can’t figure out how to reconcile the two ideas. Those of us who find these things not only comfortable, but necessary, are often accused of betraying one side or the other, or of deliberately stirring up controversy, when we simply recognize — or, at least, I do — that where two seemingly contradictory truths exist, the “weak link” is not the veracity of one or the other, but my own fallible understanding and intellect.

Theologian J.I. Packer, in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, discusses the antinomy suggested in its title, acknowledging that staunch Calvinists and hardcore Arminians, for example, have differing views of the interplay of irresistible grace and the evangelist’s work in the saving of souls. One camp acknowledges the contribution of human beings in the securing of their salvation, while both fervently, and correctly, believe that salvation is found only in Christ, only by God, and only through the Holy Spirit. The other sees “coming to Christ” as having nothing at all to do with “coming” but with “being irresistably drawn” by God’s Spirit, and yet comfortably assigns fault to the one who fails to find Christ as Savior. It’s a debate that’s caused enormous division within the Church — not because of any theological error inherent in either position, but because of the tendency of humankind to seek certainty, avoid controversy, and reject contradictions that tax our limited comprehension and, perhaps, put us at risk of being thought not sufficiently loyal to doctrine.

I suspect that if we were a Body more theologically literate and epistemologically trained, rather than a Body puffed up with the false and unnecessary, and often arrogant, stubbornness of certainty, we could engage more effectively with the world around us. But rather than living comfortably among ideas both true and yet evidently inconsistent — which requires a humble acknowledgment that we bow to truth and truth doesn’t bow to us — we become polarized and more energetically opposed to “the other” than united in the common. The effect on evangelism, cultural engagement, and prophetic testimony has been neutered, no matter how potent our argument and smug our encampment on either of two sides of an argument.

Packer says it remarkably well when he writes, “What should one do, then, with an antinomy? Accept it for what it is, and learn to live with it. Refuse to regard the apparent inconsistency as real; put down the semblance of contradiction to the deficiency of your own understanding; think of the two principles as not rival alternatives but, in some way that at present you do not grasp, complementary to each other. Be careful, therefore, not to set them at loggerheads, nor to make deductions from either that would cut across the other (such deductions would, for that very reason, be certainly unsound)… Note what connections exist between the two truths and their two frames of reference, and teach yourself to think of reality in a way that provides for their peaceful coexistence, remembering that REALITY ITSELF HAS PROVED ACTUALLY TO CONTAIN THEM BOTH (emphasis mine).”

Powerful and necessary words, which, if the believer truly endeavored to embrace them when encountering ideas that seem as true as they are different from each other, would greatly enhance his or her understanding of all of God’s truth and the subsequent ability to bring that truth to a dying world. The respect of learned non-believers would be a secondary by-product of such an approach; the initial harvest would be the cultivation of a humility and gentleness that the world hasn’t consistently, at any point in the history of the Church, ever used to describe its primary, predominant interaction with Christ’s Body. I think it’s safe to say that the effect has been devastating to all concerned.

A god whose every truth — every revelation in the natural world and every revelation in his Word — is easily identified, reconciled, and mastered by me is a god not worth worshiping. I expect that in a universe of seemingly contradictory truths, I will be the weak link in harmonizing it all. I have no problem with that; in fact, it seems to be a lovely illustration of John the Baptist’s plea that “He must increase, and I must decrease.” There’s a richness in mystery, and I thank God for Packer’s contribution to helping the Body understand its implications for the salvation of those for whom Christ — criminal and King, pauper and Lord, victim and Redeemer — died.

Oh, For A Cup Of Tea Together

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

So many times, I’ve wished that Ashwin and I could meet each other personally, discussing over a cup of tea our many differences and, I’d imagine, rejoicing over the commonality we have in the One who unites us. But he is out of the country, not likely to ever visit Moscow, Idaho, and so I’ll have to engage with him through his comments and my responses, which I’m happy to do, and do with gratitude for his concerns.

In this case, his comment about my most recent post — regarding the young man whose parents brought him over the border from Mexico without papers when he was a toddler — deserves more prominent display than the “Comments” section usually attracts. I think he’s misjudged my words, and the point that I was making is important enough to me that I’ll discuss it here, starting with Ashwin’s comment from Nov. 23, 2010:

(Ashwin) You said: “The DREAM act is one of the most humane, reasonable, intelligent — I’d even say God-honoring, for any Christians reading — pieces of legislation ever conceived in the United States.”

Reasonable statement if you discount the hyperbole. I am sympathetic to Mr. Ramirez myself.

Then you said: “In fact, I think it embodies the very highest promise of this nation, and its non-passage should outrage all of us. Sadly, it won’t, which is a sad reminder of how the reactionary politics of today is fueled less by intelligent debate than by fear, hate, and cowardice.”

What was the need for this? What you COULD have done is presented the other view point. Is it really so far out to think that a person who breaks the law should not benefit from the transgression? It that what you want to say? What do you want to say? That people who disagree with you on this point are irredeemably corrupt? (Comment, Prevailing Winds, Nov. 24, 2010)

OK, clearly my brother and earnest correspondent thinks I’ve done once again what he believes I’m entirely too given to doing, and that’s blast opponents simply for disagreeing with me. I don’t, however, believe that’s the case here. What I said was in regard to the debate around the DREAM Act, which would grant automatic legal immigration status to adult women and men who, when they were children, arrived in the U.S. with their undocumented immigrant parents and who then serve in the armed forces or complete their college education in the U.S. I then said that objection to the Act was fueled by fear, hate, and cowardice rather than sober analysis and reasoned argument, and I continue to believe that.

Remember that the initial post was prompted by a young man — the student body president of his California university — who was anonymously “outed” regarding his and his family’s undocumented immigration status on the eve of his scheduled address in support of the DREAM Act. I considered outing him, and doing so anonymously, to be an act of malicious cowardice; I’m sure Ashwin would agree. The debate focuses, however, not on the overall issue of immigration policy in the U.S., nor on the unfortunate gossip directed against Pedro Ramirez. The DREAM Act was what I was speaking of; what happened to this young man simply epitomizes, in my mind, the tenor of the opposition to it.

The debate that I believe is fueled by fear, hate, and cowardice is the debate surrounding the Act, which simply recognizes that toddlers and other minors are not moral agents and not legally responsible for the actions of their parents, and that children who were brought here illegally should not suffer under criminal penalties nor be denied the opportunity, once they’ve exhibited a commitment to this country, the opportunity to live here legally. Ashwin rhetorically asks if I really believe that it’s “really so far out that a person who breaks the law should not benefit from it,” and I’d have to answer that no, on its face, that’s not unreasonable — while reminding him that Pedro Ramirez and others who would benefit from the Act didn’t break the law. Belief in original sin and humankind’s sinful nature doesn’t, after all, require us to believe that toddlers can conspire with their elementary school-aged siblings to subvert the law.

It’s reasonable to me that a young person brought here not of her own accord but who grows up in the U.S. and succeeds in college or fights for his country overseas ought to be able to live, serve, work, and prosper here without fear of deportation to a country many of them have no memory of. That it makes economic and social sense to extend citizenship to them — to benefit from their education as we’ve benefited from t heir military service — seems irrefutable; that it’s simply fair, kind, and charitable is also hard to argue against. And that, Ashwin, is my point.

However liberal my views on immigration policy, and however much personal experience with and affection for I have with scores of young people in situations just like Ramirez’, I recognize that good people can disagree on immigration policy — as long as the disagreement is free from hysteria, falsehood, and bigotry, the inclusion of which by those who decry illegal immigration and immigrants is sufficient, in my mind, to mark them as less than “good people.” And I freely confess that I believe that the United States would be best served by an immediate, merciful, and comprehensive amnesty that would grant legal residency and a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers and their families who are here now, with strong but just immigration reform working at the same time to sharply reduce the number of undocumented immigrants coming here as well as the need for them to do so. This echoes, by the way, the spirit and the letter of Ronald Reagan’s late-1980s amnesty, which was, perhaps, not brought forth for humanitarian reasons but because of the economic benefit that would result in the fair taxation of millions of workers operating in a perennial shadow economy. The conservative icon of the Right and I agreed on this one.

But this is not a debate about what to do with adults who cross the border without papers. The DREAM Act says nothing about extending residency and a path to citizenship to those who, as adults, crossed the border illegally — however much I wish this nation would do so. The Act simply, and reasonably, recognizes that little kids are often put in situations over which they have no control, and that illegal immigration scenarios involving parents and their minor children crossing the border without papers result in those children, once they become adults, being denied legal residency and, worse, being forced to live in fear of deportation to a country whose language they likely don’t speak and whose culture is foreign to them. The children of immigrant parents, particularly those who complete their education, serve in the military, and remain in this country to raise their families, are not “foreigners.” They’re our neighbors, and their skills and their loyalty to the U.S., not to mention their economic contributions, ought to be welcomed by a country struggling through a recession and deeply divided by hate.

Whatever other legitimate arguments against illegal immigration exist, it’s frankly very difficult for me to presume that opponents to the DREAM Act are motivated by anything other than a poorly-reasoned, short-sighted, and unloving desire to punish children for the actions of their parents. I’d be fascinated to hear an argument against the Act that doesn’t play to Pat Buchanan-style nativism, fears of “illegals” taking jobs that “Americans don’t want,” or Dickensian values of law and order that reflect the very best of feudal Europe in enlightened society. But I haven’t heard or read a single argument against the DREAM Act that wasn’t accompanied by hysterical claims, masquerading as sober public policy, of sweeping Brown hegemony, or by Beckian weepiness over the supposed disintegration of family values and societal law and order. Arguments against the Act have the inexorable effect of punishing kids for the crimes of their parents. I don’t, and won’t, hesitate to call those arguments what they are — appeals to the very worst of fallen humanity against the very best societal notions of what’s fair, what’s kind, and what works.

I would be wrong if I said that everyone who disagrees with me on any point of immigration policy is hateful, or cowardly, or poorly informed. In this case, though, it would be wrong to suggest that I did.

Pedro Ramirez, You Make Me Proud

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

From my earlier post on Moscow’s Vision 2020, November 18, 2010

Courtesy of today’s (November 18, 2010) Spokesman-Review.
>
> ———————————————————
>
> Student leader is illegal immigrant
> Recently upheld law permits enrollment
>
> FRESNO, Calif. – The popular student body president at California State
> University, Fresno has publicly revealed a personal detail he long sought
> to keep secret: He is an illegal immigrant.
>
> Pedro Ramirez, 22, previously told campus administrators in confidence
> that he was concerned about going public with his immigration status after
> winning the top post in student government.
>
> But that changed Tuesday when the Collegian, the newspaper at the largest
> university in California’s prolific farming region, disclosed his status
> after receiving an anonymous e-mail.
>
> “I don’t want this issue to be about me,” Ramirez told the Associated
> Press Wednesday. “This is a big, big issue that should have been addressed
> a long time ago. My goal is to bring awareness to that.”
>
> Ramirez was expected to appear Friday at a campus rally in support of the
> federal “DREAM Act,” which would create a path to citizenship for young
> people living in the country illegally who attend college or join the
> military.
>
> Ramirez, who has a dual major in political science and agricultural
> economics, came to the U.S. with his family from a small community in
> Jalisco, Mexico, when he was 3. He went on to become valedictorian of his
> high school class in nearby Tulare County, where he prepared for his “long
> road in higher education,” according to his website.
>
> He said didn’t know he lacked proper immigration papers until high school,
> when he told his parents he planned to join the military before applying
> to college and they told him he wasn’t a citizen.
>
> “It’s a relief that I was able to come out in the open because I’ve been
> holding this for several years, and hearing stories from other students
> who have gotten deported or moved because of the fear,” said Ramirez, who
> hopes to open his own business or become a civil rights attorney.
>
> Ramirez said he is paying for college through private scholarships that
> don’t ask about residency status and odd jobs such as mowing lawns.
>
> He is enrolled at Fresno State under a state law that allows undocumented
> immigrants who have attended a California high school for three years to
> pay in-state tuition at public colleges. The state Supreme Court this week
> upheld the statute, which applies to an estimated 25,000 students.

And now Keely weighs in . . .

Shame on the insipid, weak coward who sent an anonymous email to expose this young man’s status. That person should be ashamed of himself — whereas Ramirez has nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of, and a great deal to be proud of.

The story confirms this: As a 22-year-old college student, it’s not likely that he crossed over without papers in the four years since becoming a legal adult. Obviously, he came over as a child or an adolescent and not a legally responsible moral agent. To condemn or, God forbid, criminalize this enterprising young man is obscene. And while I understand the myriad reasons undocumented adults choose to bring their children to this country with them, and I will not condemn anyone solely for doing so, it’s evident that even if there were moral culpability here, it’s not Pedro’s.

The DREAM act is one of the most humane, reasonable, intelligent — I’d even say God-honoring, for any Christians reading — pieces of legislation ever conceived in the United States. In fact, I think it embodies the very highest promise of this nation, and its non-passage should outrage all of us. Sadly, it won’t, which is a sad reminder of how the reactionary politics of today is fueled less by intelligent debate than by fear, hate, and cowardice.

The Ultimate Goal . . .

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

I’ve been accused, here and elsewhere, of being so ardently egalitarian — feminist in my convictions and reading of the Bible — that, right or wrong, I’ve missed the primary point of being in Christ: The Gospel, the Church, and faithfulness to Christ Jesus. I think this, by L. Sue Hulett, an evangelical and professor of political science at Knox College, says it well.

” . . . I remember that my goal is not egalitarianism per se. The goal is Biblical faithfulness and building and sustaining unity in the body of Christ. As women and men exercise their gifts, obey and spread God’s Word, and serve in ministry together, God will grow us until we see that all gifts, including leadership, should be encouraged in a church mature in the Word . . . “

Dr. L. Sue Hulett, quoted in Mutuality, CBE, Autumn 2010

I would add a hearty “Amen!” Dr. Hulett’s call for faithfulness to the Word, edification and unity of the Body of Christ, and the sharing of the Gospel places her in the tradition of every sober-minded, wise, and committed disciple of Christ Jesus throughout history. That she is an egalitarian enriches, by the truth of Scripture, her position in the Body — it doesn’t contaminate or compromise it. Her insistence on “first things, first” is a reminder to all of us that Truth and Love together are the feet that bring the Good News and the hands that offer Christ to a hurting, lost world.

Two Great Men, Two Passings

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

This week brought news of the death of two men who, under any definition of the word, easily qualify as heroes.

The first is Dr. Richard Kroeger, who, with his wife, Dr. Catherine Clark-Kroeger, helped begin Christians For Biblical Equality, the nation’s primary Evangelical feminist organization. Kroeger was a PCUSA pastor,teacher, seminary professor, writer, and inspiration to hundreds of students fortunate to have been given the opportunity by God to sit at his feet. His commitment to the Bible as God’s Word was unshakable; his conviction that the Gospel liberated women and men to live and serve freely, apart from gender-based restrictions, was the result of intensive study, worship, and prayer. His work will stand forever, and his reward in Heaven is assured. Please pray for his family, and for the work of Catherine Clark-Kroeger, who has lately devoted herself to the cause of domestic violence in the Christian home. Theirs is a light that shines brightly, magnifying the Lord Jesus and scattering, by His Word, the forces of darkness and hate, domination and hierarchy. There aren’t enough men like him.

This morning I received word that Jim LaFortune, who taught both of my sons at Moscow Jr. High School, succumbed to the glioblastoma multi-forme — brain cancer — that doctors discovered about, if I recall correctly, about a year ago. At that time, Jim, easily the most popular teacher in town and a man beloved by everyone who knew him, was given three weeks to live. Three weeks turned into three months, then six, and this man’s spirit and zeal for life, already evident in his every step, eventually carried him through a much longer life expectancy than doctors had initially thought possible. Just a couple of weeks after his first brain surgery, I saw him at the fair — shaved, scarred, shaking, and smiling with such unabashed joy that it brought me to tears.

His diagnosis came less than a month after I greeted him at Moscow’s Rendezvous in the Park in 2009 — as Jim and his beautiful wife, Kathy, got up to dance in the rough grass below the bandstand, I remarked to my husband what a wonderful smile, what an obvious enthusiasm for life, Jim showed. He once called me his favorite Christian; he thought was a great school board trustee. I can’t imagine I deserved it, but Jim was, without question, my favorite teacher and a man who brought grace, wisdom, joy, and a searing intelligence to everything he touched. He taught Spanish and Earth science, but I know that his students learned much, much more from Jim than present-tense conjugations and basic geology. His son is a friend of my son, and there are very few people in Moscow who didn’t know Jim or Kathy LaFortune.

People like Jim make small towns more vibrant and more rich, and I wish with all my heart that he wasn’t gone.

Service On What Basis?

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

“. . . Christians must learn to assess women’s capacity for service in the same way we assess men’s — not based on the Fall, but on our atonement in Christ. To do otherwise is to do violence to the gospel, to which all of Scripture and history point.”

Christians For Biblical Equality President Dr. Mimi Haddad, paraphrasing 19th century Bible scholar Katharine Bushnell, Mutuality, AUtumn 2010

What If We Really Believed It?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

“In every person there is a soul
In every soul there is intelligence,
In every intelligence there is thought,
In every thought there is either good or evil,
In every evil there is death,
In every good there is life,
In every life there is God.”

– Celtic blessing, ca. seventh century A.D.

Why, And How, And What . . .

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Whenever I write a post directly criticizing Douglas Wilson for something he’s said, written, promoted or participated in, I expect to be taken to the woodshed by other Christians for what they see as an unloving tone, an unedifying exchange, and an unwavering disdain for him that they believe is unwarranted. And that’s fair — I write what I write, and I take full responsibility for it all. It is, after all, my blog; no one sneaks in, no one forces me to write anything, and nothing emerges from my keyboard with me unawares.

I despise anonymity, pseudonyms, and other forms of cowardice that pervade the blogosphere, and I don’t tolerate in myself what I refuse to applaud in others. It’s easy to be brave behind a keyboard if the writer hides behind a cloak of anonymity; in fact, a computer keyboard seems to be a testosterone delivery system for some Christian men, failing them only when it comes time to put their names on their taunts, threats, and terror. It’s the barroom belligerence that’s offered up without attribution, which is not altogether different from the guy who recruits an unknowing simpleton to kick over the Harley of the meannest biker at the bar, and then brags to those who weren’t there about what a badass he is. Anselm House, the nerve center of Wilson’s empire, has housed a few such scoundrels over the years, and this gal wonders how it is that the distribution of guts and backbone is so lacking in Moscow’s Temple of the Masculine.

So I’ve established that I take full responsibility for my words, and, as is clear to those of you who regularly check in, I only, with very few exceptions, criticize Christians who behave badly. And I do it with full understanding that many of you think I’m one myself — a Christian acting in a manner unbecoming, because I write strong words in my assessment of those strong words spoken and written by Wilson and others. Fair enough, and I’d like to tell you why.

I don’t use Prevailing Winds as a gallery to exhibit the quality of my writing, and I don’t blog because I have nothing else to do. I write what I write because the Lord Jesus has lead me to live in a part of the Northwest that’s saturated with a history of ugly behavior and grotesque theology that’s accommodated, affirmed, and added to by a man and a movement that I think grievously misstates the Gospel at a fundamental level. I am gifted with an ability to write, a passion for apologetics and evangelism, and a profound hatred of sins committed in the name of Christ. The nature and origin of my gifts and calling is such that I must bear witness, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, to the Way that sets itself against any path leading to oppression, ignorance, hate, arrogance, injustice, and avarice. I see many such paths coming into Moscow, and many more leading from it. And, as is virtually always the case elsewhere, silence here in the chorus of deceit is assent.

Better: Darkness is all around, and I dare not hide my light under a bushel.

Still, some of you, I know, don’t see light in those of my posts that are critical of Wilson, but simply heat — with varying degrees of blistering that depends, I suppose, on how you view conflict. Or women, or ecclesiology, or the merits of whatever issue brings about my criticism of Wilson. If you value harmony, even harmony over truth, my words — not simply their content, but the very fact that I write them — will undoubtedly upset you. And if the seasoning of my words — the quality of my writing and the tone and tenor with which I offer it — were the point, I would be upset, too.

I comment publicly, and often sharply, about things Wilson says because I believe that the Scriptures demonstrate that publicly-disseminated error deserves — requires — public rebuke. And the point of that rebuke must be clear; it must be offered as an opportunity for the one criticized to stop, take stock, and take back what was said in error, in carelessness, or in contempt. The rebuke cannot be about scoring points, but about winning back a heart. I write about Wilson, FOR Wilson, in the hope that he’ll be lead by the Holy Spirit to reconsider what I believe to be things wrongly said or taught, and in order for my words to be taken with any grain of seriousness at all, they have to match the tone and quality of his.

Wilson, who I think writes better than I do, clearly knows how to use words, and he just as clearly values wit and wordplay and the parry-and-thrust of robust dialogue. One of his most famous books, The Serrated Edge, applauds the sarcastic, the snide, the strong, and the scissor-kick of sharp rhetoric, and his writing demonstrates not only an affinity but a true knack for strong words and a rapier wit. Here’s the difference between us, though: Whereas he wields his Serrated Edge at unbelievers, I simply will not. I will, though, in attempting to be used of the Spirit to bring about his reflection and repentance, match him and others in wit and wordplay and strong opinions strongly stated — but only to gain an audience. That audience is not primarily with you, Dear Reader, but with him. Wilson likes his critics rugged, sharp, intrepid, wry and witty; paraphrasing the Apostle Paul, then, I will be all things to all men who speak in error, so that I might win over some.

Make no mistake: Douglas Wilson is tough enough to handle what I dish out, and what I dish out is commensurate in tone to whatever it is that provokes my response and rebuke. I’ve spoken privately with him — in fact, I did so before ever confronting him publicly — and I would again anytime he should want to. I dislike Wilson and I love him; that ought to cause no particular dismay to any of my Christian readers. I will not sin against him, and I will not sin against the Gospel of Christ Jesus by doing what, tragically, his elders and associates do at seemingly every turn, and that is let the man splatter the Gospel and himself with the mud of bigotry and invective with nary a word raised in protest. Every strong, credentialed, male minister inside the Kirk and out can watch, in silent dismay or sycophantic delight, as Doug Wilson spins a Gospel and a witness that looks nothing at all that of Christ; they have to answer for their silence, and not to me. But I’ll go toe-to-toe with the man for one reason, and one reason only: I care enough about him, and care enough about the testimony of Christ on the Palouse, to try to bring him to a better way.

That doesn’t make me a hero, but neither does it make me a strident bitch unworthy of regard by her brethren.

What Passes For Pastoral Wisdom In Moscow, Redux

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

“Whole grains are a great delivery module for getting nutritional value down to the sewer treatment plant.”

“Obesity does not represent a major health crisis in America today. How’s that? In order to sell something to people you have to create a demand for it. In order to sell billions of dollars of something to people, you have to create a huge demand for it. This has now been successfully done — with pills, with weight loss programs, with healthy food regimes, and with more pills.”

(Douglas Wilson, Blog and Mablog, Nov. 8, 2010)

“Father, we confess our fear to You. As a nation, our courage has turned to bluster, our confidence into a calculated pose. We are afraid of real threats, like economic hard times or terrorism, and we are afraid of phantoms of our imagination, like global warming.” (Wilson, Blog and Mablog, Nov. 6, 2010)

Well, it’s been a busy couple of days for Moscow’s sage-in-chief, a man whose cake frosting-like depth of humility is exceeded only by the hairpin-slender breadth of his expertise; thus saith the Puckish Prophet of the Palouse, and pass the ham. Dissent is neither sought nor tolerated when found, and if he equates the food value of a Twinkie with that of a whole-wheat baguette, then that sliver of Hostess stock nestled in the portfolios of Moscow’s Reformed swells accordingly. With Wilson, every pronouncement is ex cathedra, brimming with authority and assurance, regardless of how glaringly self-evident his errors are.

Obesity not a major crisis in the U.S.? Whole grains enriching excrement, not eater? Global warming a hoax — and fear of it as silly as fearing bogeymen and phantoms? Listen to those who demonstrate evidence-based mastery and competence, or to a pastor whose grasp of those things in his purview (namely, theology) is shaky enough without his making shipwreck of medicine and earth science and everything else he presumes to embrace as areas of expertise? The choice is yours — unless you’ve hitched your wagon to the Man’s.

I shudder to think what students of Wilsonian classical Christian education are learning about evidence, education, and epistemology. But what really concerns me is that moms are feeding their kids based on bad science sanctified by a thin, brittle veneer of pseudo-pastoral wisdom. Hundreds of young NSA grads will pour into the world believing that their politics and their energy-consumption choices best glorify God when they fly in the face of established science, and the contempt they’ve been taught for the shadowy forces of Higher Learning Not Their Own not only doesn’t glorify God, but makes their leadership in any area highly suspect.

Wilson’s are not the pronouncements, as he would presume, of one who holds to a high view either of the body or of the Body, and while he finds it amusing when people object, there is One who will require a defense of every careless word spoken. I pray for Wilson, and I beseech him to accept correction now.

“Puckish” isn’t an attribute of the Spirit-filled life.