The danger of ‘radically different’

Read the comments on any article reporting on such horrors and you’ll find a weirdly contentious unanimity. Everyone is upset. Everyone is appalled. But everyone also seems strangely convinced that their being upset and appalled sets them apart — and that these imagined others who are not upset and appalled also need to be admonished and corrected and punished. The comments quickly go from everyone saying “That’s wrong!” to everyone saying “I can’t believe that anyone would say that’s not wrong!” Even though literally no one is saying that. [Read more…]

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‘A person who stands against everything that Christianity believes’

Evangelical author Philip Yancey: “I am staggered that so many conservative or evangelical Christians would see a man who is a bully, who made his money by casinos, who has had several wives and several affairs, that they would somehow paint him as a hero, as someone that we could stand behind. … To choose a person who stands against everything that Christianity believes as the hero, the representative, one that we get behind enthusiastically is not something I understand at all.” [Read more…]

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Baptizing Breitbart: Eric Metaxas, George Barna among evangelicals promoting conspiracy theories about international Jewish financiers

This is what we talk about when we talk about George Soros: The idea of a vast, secretive Jewish conspiracy of secretive Jews conspiring secretly to control the whole world through their cunning international finance. If you think his name is self-evidently scary and that any alleged connection to him is somehow damning, it’s because you believe in that anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. [Read more…]

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White evangelicals’ ‘new chapter’ on race (cont’d.)

This granting of permission is welcome, even if it is at the same time deeply troubling. The very form and fact of the essay does as much to reinforce the dynamics of such permission-granting as it does to deal with any of the substance of the thing being permitted. That assertion of control and entitled legitimacy is as much the theme of the essay as anything it has to say about the secondary matter of what such control is now being expanded to include, and that can make the whole thing a bit hard to swallow. [Read more…]

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‘[White] evangelicals and race — a new chapter’?

That multi-car accident of a sentence starts with the reaffirmation of “mainstream white evangelical leaders” as the only right, proper, legitimate and acceptable authority, and it ends with a not-so-subtle, baldly pragmatic panic about financial survival amid changing demographics, and in between it pauses to relitigate all the current culture-war hot-buttons and to reaffirm their priority over that of racial justice. That’s ten pounds of framing for a 2-ounce statement. But if we just focus on that statement — ignoring, for now, all the ways that framing utterly undermines and contradicts it — it says this: “Racial justice is now a core concern.” And that’s good, right? [Read more…]

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Talking to Republican friends at the Trumpian crossroads

I’m not interested here in what’s “savvy,” or in playing some kind of 11-dimensional chess game. I’m thinking here, instead, of all the Very Nice People I know in white evangelicalism, Republicans all, who find themselves at a crossroads — forced to choose whether they will follow this path even all the way to Donald Trump. I am not thinking here in the abstract, but of very specific individuals — people I know and like, people I respect despite our deep political disagreements, people I’ve learned from and people I admire. I’m thinking of friends, relatives, neighbors, church-members, teachers, authors, writers and correspondents. [Read more…]

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Trust me, I’ve tried all the other religions. All of them.

This is a thing that a lot of evangelical Christians do and that we really need to stop doing. It’s an attempt to tell your story in a way that discounts and dismisses every other story. That’s always a bad look and it comes from a bad place. It’s the impulse that is unable to celebrate anything without simultaneously disparaging everything else that is not that thing. And it’s an attempt to bolster what you’re saying about what you do know by claiming to also be an expert about everything else. [Read more…]

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‘What became of the Christian intellectuals?’

When looking for the next Niebuhr, or for the next nationally influential Christian public intellectual, for some reason, Martin Luther King Jr. doesn’t count. This is never explained. We can guess at one very bad reason for why this might be so, but I suspect it’s due to another, slightly less-bad reason. I’m guessing it’s because Jacobs doesn’t think King fits neatly into the standard mold for what he imagines a “Christian intellectual” should be. [Read more…]

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