Spring training, homework, fandom and evangelism


On Monday, Frank Robinson visited the Orioles spring training camp in Florida. That's a big deal. Frank Robinson is the kind of hall-of-famer that other hall-of-famers regard with awe. He was Rookie of the Year in 1956, NL MVP in 1961, and AL MVP in 1966, when he won the triple crown. He hit 586 home runs -- still enough to rank him No. 9 on the all-time list. And in 1975 he became the first black manager in the major leagues. Maybe you already knew all that or maybe you didn't. Maybe all … [Read more...]

Can you obsessively patrol tribal boundaries without appearing to be a ridiculous self-parody who long ago lost every last vestige of faith, hope and love?

Screenshot 2014-02-25 at 9.18.51 PM

No. No, you cannot. Period. That is all.   … [Read more...]

Rewriting evangelical history, with special guest D.G. Hart

This "exotic" figure sold more books than all of the "normal" figures Hart mentions put together.

D.G. Hart seems disappointed that Molly Worthen wrote Apostles of Reason, rather than the book he wishes she had written instead. That's never a promising approach to a book review. But Hart's review stands out for its conclusion, which offers a spectacular example of a favorite switcheroo move beloved by the tribal gatekeepers of white evangelicalism. This switcheroo is a defensive move -- a means of fending off legitimate criticism directed toward the most prominent, most popular, most … [Read more...]

A wise guy in the sky invites you to his guilty party

• Because it's there. • When something someone writes or says frightens the white evangelical tribe, it's first defense is to try to delegitimize the writer/speaker, thereby redefining them as an outsider who can safely be ignored. In practice, this means troublemakers must be perpetually catechized in the hopes that they will trip over some detail and thereby confirm their own illegitimacy. Brian McLaren has had to endure this perpetual catechizing for a long time, yet he still … [Read more...]

Inhospitality: Play-acting evangelism to reinforce the tribe


Over at Friendly Atheist, Terry Firma shares a purportedly "evangelistic" video featuring a short skit with a Righteous Christian and an Arrogant Atheist Fool stock character, who in this case is also a dentist: The video was produced by something called CVCNow, which seems to be a church or parachurch group of Australian evangelical Christians. The group's website is full of similar videos, and its "about" page consists of one sentence: "All we want is to help you explore those … [Read more...]

7 @ 9: The countdown’s getting lower ev’ry day

I would also like to see a debate between Al Mohler and this 9,550-year-old spruce tree.

1. Intelligent design: A case study. 2. I'm not eagerly anticipating the upcoming "debate" between young-Earth creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The debate I would like to see is between Ken Ham and a 6.5-meter core sample taken from a peat bog in Switzerland. No, the core sample from the peat bog cannot actually talk, so that would be a bit of a disadvantage in most debate formats. But if Ken Ham is right about anything, then that core sample shouldn't even exist. So … [Read more...]

Why ‘witnessing tools’ never work and why the acting is always bad in evangelism-training videos

This is not a thing that has ever happened. This is not a thing that will ever happen.

I first saw the awful thing below at Christian Nightmares, which seems apt. This purports to be an evangelism-training video urging Christians to "witness" at their Jewish friends. Or, rather, urging them to go out and make "friends" with some Jewish people, but just so that they can then witness at them. Much of that bears all the hallmarks of an earnest local-church-produced video, ca. 1989 or 1990 (guessing by the hairstyles, the existence of phone booths, and the vintage Mac on the … [Read more...]

Larry Pratt: Still dishonest and violent, and still an upstanding pillar of the white evangelical community


Years ago, I sat with my then-boss Ron Sider during a Christian talk-radio debate on gun control with white evangelical activist Larry Pratt. Pratt is the founder of Gun Owners of America, which he bills as the conservative alternative to the NRA. As Miranda Blue documents, Pratt is also a rabid conspiracy theorist with ties to white supremacists and Holocaust deniers, and he urges white people to own guns for fear of a coming "race war." Some highlights/lowlights from Blue's report: Like … [Read more...]