Quote of the Week

We’re starting a new weekly feature here at The New Christians.  It’s the Quote of the Week.  Nominations are always welcome — just post them in the comment section.

Our inaugural quote:

“God is both the shit and the fan.”
  • http://pomomusings.com Adam Walker Cleaveland

    I would LOVE to know more of the context behind this quote…I love Phyllis and would just like to know more about what she was talking about.

  • Ted

    That is a fantastic quote.

  • Your Name

    I guess shock value is still in as a way to try and get attention. I bet she is intelligent enough to say what she means in a way that makes it plain that she really is intelligent and educated.

  • Jeff

    Tony, thank you for quoting her, now I know not to waste any money on any of her garbage pulications.

  • http://www.comingtolife.blogspot.com Mike Stavlund

    With respect, could I suggest that my fellow commenters take a deep breath, relax, and recognize a brilliant insight into theodicy when they hear one?
    PT rox.

  • nathan

    Could someone explain to me why people immediately pull the “intelligence” card when expressing their personal preferences about language?
    No one has made a case as to why this is such a deal breaker…
    Go PT!

  • bill

    The problem with the statement as I see it — It communicates truth, but not in a way that is going to actually communicate that truth to others.

  • JPL

    This reminds me of a piece attributed to Brian McClaren, speaking to an Evangelical audience. Paraphrasing, it went something like…
    “There are three things I want to share with you this evening. Firstly, 30,000 children died last night of starvation and diseases related to simple malnutrition. Secondly, most of you don’t give a shit about it. Lastly, the problem is that you are far more concerned that I just said “shit” then you are about the deaths of those children.”
    Clearly some here have the same problem…they value purity over truth and clarity.

  • Dan

    JPL, with all due respect, this quote has no context, no surrounding data with which one can judge its relative significance. It equates God with human excrement, which is quite a bit different from the occasional slip into crude language after smashing a finger. Phyllis Tickle may have been making some point that might allow one to make a more generous assessment the face-value offense of the statement, but Tony J. provides none.
    It serves to confirm a steady slide by Tony J into who knows what. I get the impression he posted this for no other reason than to provoke. Regardless, the quote serves no useful purpose, it only serves to attract attention and spur negative controversy. At this rate, he can soon stop the pretense of being a positive force for Christianity and become Keith Olberman or Howard Stern. Maybe he just needs the attention.

  • JPL

    Dan, it’s weird to me you get that from this. The quote seems quite clear to me, needing little further context, and certainly has absolutely nothing to do with comparing God to excrement.
    The colloquial phrase “The shit has hit the fan” essentially means that trouble has begun, that some radical change is afoot. Tickle seems to be indicating that God is such a major agent of change, so willing to upset the status quo, that he fills both parts of that relationship. Perhaps a “non-dualistic fecal theology” might have been more to your liking?
    Anyway, I feel deeply confident that a woman who has wrote numerous books on fixed-hour prayer, and many other pieces on Christianity, all with the greatest respect and thoughtfulness, and who comes out of a fairly “elegant” tradition like the Episcopal Church, certainly isn’t saying that God is dung. She’s saying that God really likes to make change happen, that he isn’t at all unwilling to be a provocateur in human affairs.
    As for Tony, that just seems like personal bias to me. It’s nice to see the church addressing the important issues of our time with less tap dancing and more clarity. I applaud his direct and honest support of gays, and his wisdom in the Emergent movement.

  • Dan

    JPL. You may feel quite comfortable with Phyllis Tickle’s credentials and could use that as context to give her leeway on the statement. Those who have not read her would not have any such context and would only see the quote, which at best, would seem to say that God is the cause of the bad stuff that happens as well as the good. Certainly there are more elegant ways of saying that. I note Tickle’s most recent book is endorsed by Kate Schiori of the pro-gay Episcopal church in the USA, a presiding bishopress who has no problem referring to Jesus as “mother”. That “elegant” Episcopal tradition ran off the rails with John Spong years ago.
    My point is that Tony seems to love to shock, loves to stir the pot and not always for constructive purposes. I do not applaud the “honest support of gays”, if that means turning the text of scripture on its ear. I have a lot more respect for those who reject Christianity altogether than for those who try to make Christianity say the opposite of what it has said for 2000 years. There is nothing honest about that at all. Thankfully CT’s article by Edith M. Humphrey at least provides a concise response to the typical biblical revisionism rampant in the Episcopal Church, segments of Presbyterianism, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Canada etc.
    (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/september/11.36.html)
    It is an arrogant and dangerous attempt to remake Christianity and redefine God to be the nebulous jello filled idol in that some want Him to be that is most bothersome.

  • JPL

    Sorry, Dan, I apprecite your position, but disagree. People have been changing biblical injunctions to align with their perspective of God’s deeper purposes ever since Phillip baptized a eunuch, which violated a the explicit directions of HIS Bible, what we think of as the Old Testament.

  • marjorie

    This is just another example of why I have, not just basic doctrinal issues with the Emergent Church, but also a growing antipathy. The disregard most of them show for any sort of authority or clear-cut morals is just rebelliousness and hubris in order to look cooler and more palatable. The distasteful aphorism Tony put forth as worthy of “quote of the week” status just exemplifies their need to shock and tip-toe over the line. There are a million other just as visually compelling and impacting (not to mention more theologically nuanced and accurate – heck even glib and funny as I’m assuming this one intends to be) ways of saying the exact same thing. Noooo, not the emergent church – they’ve gotta be edgy and stay out an hour past curfew just so people know they’re not lame and boring like all those other ancient and enduring denominations.

  • nathan

    Wow. This really must be the Age of the Spirit. People can look into other people’s hearts and determine their motives, insecurities, and write people off as perpetual adolescents.
    This obsession with seeing “difference” as “rebellion” really only reveals a deep concern with control, power and conformity.
    Ironic you’re the ones who actually are showing their proverbial cards.
    Yikes.
    As for the Episcopal Church, please whoever you are refrain from making statements about a communion you only know through the major media. And even despite my own disagreements with our PB, you’re actually the one demonstrating disrespect by calling her a bishopress and such.
    It’s clear who actually needs to do the growing up around here.
    Yeeeesh

  • nathan

    and as far as the ancient and enduring denominations go…if you don’t get by now that the emerging church has been the critical voice to foreground the value of the truly ancient witnesses of the Church then you really don’t “get” who you presume to critique.

  • marjorie

    “Wow. This really must be the Age of the Spirit. People can look into other people’s hearts and determine their motives, insecurities, and write people off as perpetual adolescents.
    This obsession with seeing “difference” as “rebellion” really only reveals a deep concern with control, power and conformity.”
    I didn’t profess to look into anyone’s heart, I have only read their doctrine and the works of some of their very reflective and confessional proponents and I do think it gives me an idea of what they’re going for. In addition, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak.” Your words can’t help but reveal a little bit about who you are inside. But mainly, I was going off of facts about the church and the movement and the spirit of the statement.
    As for your second thought, I pretty much anticipated someone saying that on a Emergent Church board. As if I cared at all about controlling anybody or had any ecclesiastical power over anybody (nor would I want any). You’re a free person just as I am.
    Also, in re the last poster there – I have in fact read many of the ancient witnesses of the church and I think if you read a work such as “Confessions” by St. Augustine, you will find that a great deal of his struggles came from reconciling his heart with the scriptures (not the other way around) and the struggles he had with obedience and authority.
    Lastly, I only wanted to comment on a particular post and give my take on it, not necessarily pen The Great Polemic against Emergents, so.

  • nathan

    Well if you weren’t looking to take on the “emergents”, then why that big broad brush?
    As far as looking into people’s hearts and such…as soon as you start attributing motives about wanting to be edgy and prove we’re not lame, then you crossed into that territory. Why? because there’s not indication as to that being the reason for the post, etc. period.
    talk about pulling things out of thin air.
    It’s nice you’ve read the Confessions though. There’s so much more as far as the wisdom of the ancient Church.

  • nathan

    As far as control goes…nobody said you were trying to exercise ecclesiastical authority. But when somebody characterizes people with motives of “rebellion” and such, then you implicitly declared the issue.

  • Rev Dave

    Re JPL @ 12:24 – just for the record, that anecdote is actually from Tony Campolo, not McLaren. Funny, though, that it is now apparently being attributed to him in some circles. I imagine someone thought it’d be a novel way to slam him by putting Campolo’s words in his mouth. (Not saying that was you, JPL, just wondering aloud.) Or maybe their critics can’t tell them apart or couldn’t be bothered to find the actual source or…who knows… (“not me, I never lost control.”)
    Re Mike Stavlund: agreed. Everyone needs to fucking relax already! Seriously though, who are these people that still think “profanity” is an important evil in the world? As JPL wrote above, I guess it is easier to be concerned about purity than about actual injustice like hunger, poverty, racism, prejudice, etc.
    I mean, really, how can you live in this world and NOT swear at least occasionally?
    Finally, re Dan’s “biblical revisionism rampant in…” well, everywhere but HIS church, apparently. Yeesh. Does every post here have to devolve into an argument on the nature of scripture? So, what, everyone who disagrees with you is willfully rewriting scripture to fit their needs? Because you so obviously have the one, true, pure reading? It really grows wearisome.

  • Rev Dave

    Re JPL @ 12:24 – just for the record, that anecdote is actually from Tony Campolo, not McLaren. Funny, though, that it is now apparently being attributed to him in some circles. I imagine someone thought it’d be a novel way to slam him by putting Campolo’s words in his mouth. (Not saying that was you, JPL, just wondering aloud.) Or maybe their critics can’t tell them apart or couldn’t be bothered to find the actual source or…who knows… (“not me, I never lost control.”)
    Re Mike Stavlund: agreed. Everyone needs to f*cking relax already! Seriously though, who are these people that still think “profanity” is an important evil in the world? As JPL wrote above, I guess it is easier to be concerned about purity than about actual injustice like hunger, poverty, racism, prejudice, etc.
    I mean, really, how can you live in this world and NOT swear at least occasionally?
    (My first version of this comment wasn’t this shy, but it got “held.” I assume because of the “swear” words. That’s pretty ironic and funny given the post.)
    Finally, re Dan’s “biblical revisionism rampant in…” well, everywhere but HIS church, apparently. Yeesh. Does every post here have to devolve into an argument on the nature of scripture? So, what, everyone who disagrees with you is willfully rewriting scripture to fit their needs? Because you so obviously have the one, true, pure reading? It really grows wearisome.

  • JPL

    Thanks for the correction re: Campolo vs. McLaren. I certainly meant no slam, as I have respect for both men, and appreciate their work, McLaren’s in particular.


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