Archive for January, 2014

No, You Haven’t . . .

Friday, January 10th, 2014

. . . heard from me a lot recently.  And there’s a reason — I just haven’t been feeling very well lately after a change in one of my medications.  It’s made me a bit irritable, which wouldn’t be any of your business, really, except that I don’t trust myself to write when I’m rather more in the flesh than in the Spirit.

Lord knows there are a lot of things to write about.  Doug Wilson’s blather of 2014 so far is his usual bluster and buffoonery, and as I’m forcing myself through his “Future Men” as part of my effort to attack not just the masculinist underpinnings of the Church, but masculinity itself, I know that I’ll be … greatly bothered… and I truly want to make sure that any of my criticisms come from content and not from my mood, from a Spirit-filled reaction and not a fleshly one.  And until I’m feeling better, I’m not going to risk offending the Lord.

Now, some of you may say that, in my describing Wilson and his work with words like “blather,” “bluster,” and “buffoonery,” I already have.  I disagree, and I’ll tell you why.

There is a criteria that I employ before saying things that could be considered inflammatory.  The first is the truthfulness of what I say — in this case, can Wilson fairly be described, on the basis of his words and actions, as a “buffoon.”  I’ve engaged with the man for nearly a dozen years; I’ve read outrageously ill-informed and offensive and constantly defended things from him that span not only that time, but years before — with no signs of abating, much less apology.  I find him rude, disingenuous, foolish, immature, and gleefully belligerent.  “Buffoon” works here.

But is it necessary?  I think it is.

Wilson commands enormous influence not just in Moscow but across the country, and especially in complementarian and Reformed circles.  The power and position he holds is utterly dangerous to the Church and to the unbelieving world around him, and in his destructive and divisive theology, he is not known for subtlety.  On the contrary, he advocates the use of sarcasm and nastiness as the “serrated edge” with which the believer ought to engage with the unbelievers around him.  When you oppose Wilson, something that doesn’t happen in Moscow, frankly, because the Church is impotent and the liberals silly, you have to go mano-a-mano.  He can take “buffoon,” what I intend with utter seriousness, as an insult from someone he has much knowledge of and little regard for, and the starkness of the comment is necessary to counter the starkness of the offense he’s created in the Church and out of it.

And that brings up another point:  Unlike Wilson, who gleefully wields his serrated edge against people inside the Body and outside of it, and does so with wild abandon and untempered malice, I will only ever go after those who identify as Christians.  With the exception of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, who derive most of their support from people who call Christ Lord, I have never tangled with unbelievers.  Their evils are stark enough to merit the exception.  But I contain my criticisms to within the Church, because the indifference, immaturity, indefensible defense of indefensible oppression and inequality, and incomprehensible corruption of Jesus’ Gospel comes from within.  I’m called, as is Wilson, to engage with the “outside” world in love, truth, grace, and openness to correction.  Wilson engages with everyone, his fellow believers and those he believes to be outside of God’s favor — and, because he’s a hard Calvinist, we can assume that he rejoices that that number is presumed to be quite high –  in the same manner as a half-drunk, testosterone-filled, preeningly belligerent bully.

All things considered, “buffoon” represents quite a bit of restraint on my part.  I plan to continue it as long as he does — praying that he doesn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Late Start To The New Year: Frederick Beuchner On The Gospel

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

“As everybody knows by now, gospel means  ‘good news.’

Ironically, it is some of the gospel’s most ardent fans who try to turn it into bad news. For instance: • “It all boils down to the Golden Rule. Just love thy neighbor, and that’s all you have to worry about.” What makes this bad news is that loving our neighbor is exactly what none of us is very good at. Most of the time, we have a hard time loving even our family and friends very effectively. • “Jesus was a great teacher and the best example we have of how we ought to live.” As a teacher, Jesus is at least matched by, for instance, Siddhartha Gautama. As an example, we can only look at Jesus and despair. • “The resurrection is a poetic way of saying that the spirit of Jesus lives on as a constant inspiration to us all.” If all the resurrection means is that Jesus’ spirit lives on like Abraham Lincoln’s or Adolf Hitler’s but that otherwise he is just as dead as anybody else who cashed in two thousand years ago, then, as Saint Paul puts it, “our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (I Corinthians 15:14).

If the enemies of Jesus succeeded for all practical purposes in killing him permanently around A.D. 30, then like Socrates, Thomas More, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so on, he is simply another saintly victim of the wickedness and folly of humankind, and the cross is a symbol of ultimate defeat. What is both good and new about the good news is the wild claim that Jesus did not simply tell us that God loves us even in our wickedness and folly and wants us to love each other the same way and to love God too, but that if we will allow it to happen, God will actually bring about this unprecedented transformation of our hearts himself.

What is both good and new about the good news is the mad insistence that Jesus lives on among us not just as another haunting memory but as the outlandish, holy, and invisible power of God working not just through the sacraments, but in countless hidden ways to make even slobs like us loving and whole beyond anything we could conceivably pull off by ourselves. Thus the gospel is not only good and new but, if you take it seriously, a holy terror. Jesus never claimed that the process of being changed from a slob into a human being was going to be a Sunday school picnic. On the contrary. Childbirth may occasionally be painless, but rebirth, never. Part of what it means to be a slob is to hang on for dear life to our slobbery.”

Fredrick Beuchner