It’s not rocket science: Why at first I thought Ben Carson was like ‘Good Jackie’


As Ben Carson began repeating the urban legends and folklore of his religious community, I was hearing “stuff that I long ago forgot isn’t general public knowledge.” I remember that stuff, and I remember what it was like to be surrounded almost entirely by others for whom it seemed like “general public knowledge.” And so I assumed that poor Ben Carson was just innocently misinformed. [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (11.3)


Digby on David Barton’s growing influence in the Republican Party. Rick Pearlstein and Brad DeLong have more to say about the current state of the GOP. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry states it plain. And Samantha Field on turning away from lies she’d been taught. [Read more...]

It sounded right in my head until I said it out loud

Maybe it’s never happened to you. But if you’ve ever had that experience of having a long-held, unacknowledged misconception corrected the hard way, then you’ll recognize the same thing when it happens to others when you see them stepping outside of their communities of misconception and saying something out loud for the first time to others who know better. [Read more...]

How to understand ‘biblical inerrantists’


The modern assertion of “biblical inerrancy” is best explained in a 1978 document called the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” That statement includes 19 denials that tell you everything you need to know about inerrancy and inerrantists. Just read through those denials and, in each case, replace “We Deny that …” with “We Are Very Much Afraid that …” [Read more...]

Just watching myself in some play


A great magician reveals a trick; the end of the season and the End of the World; standing athwart algebra, yelling Stop; coherent theodicies; “How to Get a Drink at a Crowded Bar;” and the twilight of the answering-machine song. [Read more...]

As one by one the lights go out


The “Jade Helm” military training exercise ends without anything like any of the right-wing conspiracy theories about it coming true, thereby confirming those theories for the right wing and ensuring that the name Jade Helm will live on, like Whitewater and Benghazi, in the endlessly invoked litany of non-existent proofs of liberal nefariousness. Also: Ranking holiness; glib and woolly moralizing; the arrest of a gamergater; and the Worst Movie Break-In of All Time. [Read more...]

The uncanny sex fiends of Christianity Today (No. 3)

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Ed Stetzer’s hasty guesstimate that 400 church leaders might possibly be resigning quickly morphed into a fact that metastasized and spread. Now lots of people “know” that “400 pastors resigned after Ashley Madison hack,” even though nothing like that actually happened. [Read more...]

‘We must be careful about what we pretend to be’: How tribal cheerleading creates new tribal dogma and changes the tribe to conform to it


Over time, these kinds of tribal-cheerleading responses to pollsters and other catechists eventually become required responses. And thus, over time, the things that people pretend to believe as a “way of showing that they’re members in good standing” of their political faction become the things that members of that faction actually believe. The fluff becomes substance — becomes dogma. And the tribe is transformed to conform to this new dogma. [Read more...]