Theological Madness? Or Just Plain Madness?

It seems that James Duncan is a professor of communications at Anderson University in South Carolina.  And it seems, based on his blogroll, that he’s compatriots with some of the websites who believe that I am the spawn of Satan.

But theological differences aside, he writes an amazing narrative of what happened to him at the hands of a staff person and several members of a church in his city.  It seems he wrote some blog posts critical of the graphic messages on billboards by a church, and some of the members of the church went super Internet crazy on him.

I take no side in this.  But it is an example of this whole Christian Internet thing gone horribly awry.  And, if Duncan’s version is accurate, it does show what a militaristic, violent theology can breed in people.

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  • When I launched during the POTUS primaries, my in-box was inundated with — let’s just call it — “madness” from thousands of my coreligionists. Then, when Cathlimergent was but a cyber-sapling, more madness ensued from an altogether different source — whom I shall not name & all previous references to whom have now been deleted per your counsel — that thinks me and all my coreligionists (including the “mad” ones) are … I forget … as it’s hard to remember incoherent schtuff … but yeah … Satan’s allegedly involved.

    I have no sociologic insight as I traffic only in ideas. But this madness you speak of is frighteningly real and, at times, has given me some pause about possibly placing my family in harm’s way by engaging in Internet outreach. I can laugh off things written about me, especially when I’m being pejoratively associated with Thomas Merton. But it saddens and angers some of my children and seeing them wounded profoundly wounds me. Alas, another teachable moment. And I shall carry on, as they say, anyway.

  • John Sylvest, the response you received pales in comparison to madness of voting for Obama. If Merton were here to chastise you, your mystical ears would be scorched. (All said with a smile and a hug.)

    Anyway, aside from your voting misstep, I continue to admire and respect your great intellect and beautiful heart and love your site!

    We are all entitled to moments of madness. :>)

  • Greg, so I’m sure you voted for the “right” person.

  • George, wish that choice had been available.

  • Took a while to read. That is INSANE. I get really uncomfortable anytime persons in leadership directly and intentionally curb criticism by either demonizing the critic or claiming that criticism is somehow sinful or insubordinate. This attitude is, unfortunately, modeled by some very well known pastors. Why can’t people be vulnerable?

  • nathan

    to the questions…

    probably a little bit of both…

    then again, i think this points to profound flaws within evangelical “ecclesiology”…or what passes for it these days.

    personality driven consumer church collides with the self-appointed magisterium/watchdogs…

    what a mess…

  • Greg’s response to John reveals how, when on the internet, we (myself at times included) are prone to feel the need to tell people what’s supposedly “right” and “wrong”, even when it doesn’t remotely apply to the conversation.

  • Courtney, you missed the point that I admire John greatly as well as the wonderful site he has started. You missed the references he made to those who unkindly criticized him for his views and my making light of that episode. So my comments did apply to what he had said and were more in the tone of saying there can be differing points of view without the kind of hostile attack he suffered. Saying that one can kid about how we each see the world without diminishing the lvoe we have for one another. Sorry to have left out so much context.

  • Plain or theological madness? Just plain madness. And, not surprising coming from Newspring. My sister and her family attend there, and I hate it. They are less loving, more materialistic, more self-righteous now than when they began attending. I’ve listened to Noble’s sermons (a few, you can really only stomach so much), and he comes across as arrogant at best. I’ll never forget a quote from Noble in response to spending time with people in his congregation: “I don’t feel like spending my time eating food I don’t like, in a place I don’t want to be, with people who make me uncomfortable.” Now, there’s some amazing pastoral wisdom. These “pastors” of the church pulled a dorm room prank, but the stakes get really high when all the people involved are professionals with real lives and families.

    Tony, you and I would disagree with a lot of things. You might find me in much more agreement with Duncan on theological issues than I would ever be close to you. But, I really, really appreciate you posting this. This is megachurch mania, dorm room antics and non-Christian behavior–all from people who are leading other Christians….into “godliness.”

    Maybe we can all follow Newspring’s example and play Guitar Hero in church this Sunday. Then go beat the hell out of some children whose parents we don’t like.


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