OK, Rainn Wilson, it’s on


This is America. We don’t need kings. “When in the Course of human events …” and all that. We shouldn’t be allowing some would be double-reed monarch to assume a triple-throne atop our online religious humor best-selling lists. That’s the same kind of royal sense of entitlement that led to the Stamp Act and the execution of Anne Boleyn. [Read more...]

Why conversionist stories promote dishonesty

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It’s more than just the temptation to give our stories, as Burke writes, “a little stretch” with an eye to make them more compelling calls for “winning souls for Christ.” That idea — that exaggerations are acceptable because they serve this higher purpose of spreading the gospel and saving souls — is a key to the rationalization that defends the tendency toward dishonest conversion stories, but I don’t think it’s the cause of that tendency. [Read more...]

‘The Anti-Christ Handbook, Volume 2′


Wake the kids, phone the neighbors, The Anti-Christ Handbook, Volume 2 is now available for your Kindle, smartphone, and awkward desktop e-reader perusal. Just $3.99 at your local (not actually local) Amazon.com. [Read more...]

How conversionist stories promote dishonesty

Clive Rowe sings "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" in the 1982 revival of "Guys and Dolls."

The evangelical conversion narrative encourages — maybe even requires — exaggeration, which is to say that it encourages or requires dishonesty. It compels/induces/rewards/expects/elicits a two-fold dishonesty — one that exaggerates our wickedness prior to the moment of conversion and then exaggerates our transformation after that moment. [Read more...]

Armistice Day and apologies

A legitimate apology needs to express regret, responsibility, and remedy, says author Beverly Engel. Without all three elements, any apology will seem hollow, inadequate, and insincere. That’s why, I think, neither “Thank you for your service” nor “Happy Veterans Day” can ever express what they’re attempting to convey. [Read more...]

‘Anti-Christ Handbook: Vol. 2′ arriving soon


So at first, it’s all sort of exciting and encouraging. You’re compiling all these things you wrote years ago and revisiting them and everything that’s good about them just sort of jumps out at you. “This is good stuff,” you think. “I’m proud of this.” But then you’ve got to do some more careful copyediting and proofreading. You’ve got to format the thing and then double-check the formatting. … [Read more...]

Rothko’s ‘War on Christmas’ (1950, oil on paper)


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Crackpots and candidates: How to lead in the GOP polls


Here again are Maggie Koerth-Baker’s five rules for discerning the difference between a genius and a crackpot. Some of these are so apt at describing the crackpottery of Ben Carson and Donald Trump that I think we could invert and repurpose her list into something like “Five Steps to Dominating the GOP Primary Polls.” [Read more...]

I believe in conversion, but not in ‘conversionism’


Conversionism needs drama. It needs the stark contrast of pre-conversion wickedness and post-conversion piety. It needs the arc of redemption we sing about in my least-favorite verse of “Amazing Grace.” But most of us don’t have that kind of conversion story. In fact, John Newton himself didn’t have that kind of story. [Read more...]

Ben Carson is ‘Bad Jackie’


Sometimes you will hear something like this: “Scientists have found Joshua’s missing day.” Or like this: “The CEO of Procter & Gamble was on Oprah and said that part of their profits go to the Church of Satan.” And when you hear that, you are dealing with someone who has been deceived. The person passing along this misinformation has been misled — perhaps mostly innocently. But sometimes you will hear, instead, something like this: “A scientist told me that they’ve found Joshua’s missing day.” Or like this: “I saw the CEO of Procter & Gamble on Oprah …” And when you hear that, you are dealing with someone who is trying to deceive you. [Read more...]