At Least God’s Not Dead

Jonathan Fitzgerald is one of my favorite bloggers. When you read his posts at Patrol, it’s like you can see him leaving evangelicalism before your very eyes. And now he’s written a book, Not Your Mother’s Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better. I endorsed it, cuz it’s good. You should buy it, and read it. Just to give you a taste, here’s an excerpt:

I realized just how universal the whole “spiritual, but not religious” thing had become recently while helping a friend fill out a profile. When it came time define religion, all the old standards were there, but beneath those, the final option was “spiritual, but not religious.” We considered for a few minutes, and she ultimately decided to check the box. “I can work with that,” she joked. [Read more…]

Meet the New Evangelical Boss, Same as the Old Evangelical Boss

Gabe Lyons is sad.

In response to Gigliogate, Gabe Lyons wrote a tirade about how this was a hate crime against his fellow evangelical speaker and that Barack Obama was facing a Martin Luther King moment in how he responds. David Sessions came back at Lyons in stunning fashion. His opening paragraph says what I’ve been trying to say for some time: the young, hip evangelical intelligentsia is no different from from the older cabal of Dobson, Colson, and the like. Here’s Sessions:

I wrote a short thing some time ago about the garb of non-ideological non-partisanship in which a younger generation of conservative evangelicals have cloaked themselves. They often explicitly and forcefully position themselves against the religious right, but there is very little substantive difference when you get down to it, especially on some of the most important social issues of the moment.

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What Crisis in Christianity?!? Andrew Sullivan Reax

The editor of a major newsweekly once told me that if he wanted to double the sales of the magazine for a week, he just had to put Jesus, Mary, or angels on the cover. Newsweek, even after the ousting of its staunchly Episcopalian editor, Jon Meacham, still plays this game more than other newsweeklies. So it was no surprise that the latest acquisition by Newsweek/The Daily Beast, the vaguely Catholic Andrew Sullivan, penned the Holy Week cover story on Jesus and the crisis in Christianity.

According to Sullivan, who often publicly quarrels with his own church, the crisis in Christianity is that the church has become too political, thus corrupting the central message of Jesus. Get Jesus back into your heart, and screw the church. That’s Sully’s thesis.

Many of the bloggers I read disagree. Here’s a round-up of them, including a riposte from Sullivan himself:

Father Robert Barron at RealClearReligion:

The result of this Jeffersonian surgery is Jesus the enlightened sage, the teacher of timeless moral truths concerning love, forgiveness and non-violence. Both Jefferson and Sullivan urge that this Christ, freed from churchly distortions, can still speak in a liberating way to an intelligent and non-superstitious audience.

Diana Butler Bass at HuffPo:

What Sullivan apparently does not know is that some Christians, from pews, pulpits, and classrooms are asking the right questions–and are working toward a spiritually renewed and intellectually credible Christianity. These new questioners make up what I call America’s “exile” faith communities–the creative but often ignored Christians found in liberal mainline churches, emergent evangelical gatherings, and progressive Catholic circles. With growing awareness over the last two decades, they have been engaging this crisis, listening to the grassroots questions of American religious life, and constructing new patterns and practices of faith. For them, the questions are becoming clear–and some answers are emerging.

Paul Pastor at Out of Ur:

There once was a writer named Sullivan
who wanted to give Christ a mulligan,
so he said “people, please—ditch the Church so diseased,
and remember what Jesus taught us again!”

Scott Paeth at Against the Stream:

To be Christian, he seems to be arguing, means to reject the use of power, and he responds to a commentator who notes that we’re always exercising power by saying “well: duh,” and referring back to the fall. But I think this sells the question of power short. Power is not simply the power of coercion, which is how Sullivan wants to use it, and thus not simply a product of the fall, rather, power is constitutive of our very being. To exist is to exercise power, not simply because of the fall, but because that’s what existence means.

In this respect, I think that Sullivan has perhaps drunk a bit too deeply from the works of Reinhold Niebuhr, and not deeply enough from the work of Paul Tillich.

And, at Patrol, all the bases are covered:

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Patrol Mag: Let's Stop Making Pronouncements about Others' Sexuality

If you don’t subscribe to the online mag Patrol, you should, because you’ll get to read smart, spicy posts like this one from Jonathan Fitzgerald on same sex marriage:

I’m fine with being proven wrong on this, and the last thing I’m trying to do is prooftext with the Bible. I really don’t believe that’s the way we are intended to read it. A different approach, then, is to look at the spirit of the Gospel, to look at its earliest implementation in the first century church, and ask myself whether making pronouncements about people’s particular sins seemed to be a priority. I submit that it did not. That it still should not. I took this question to my friend, the priest of my parish, and he wisely pointed out that sin in the Bible is hardly ever talked about in terms of this or that action, but rather as a state that we all live in. In that way, it’s not the kind of thing we identify in others’ actions because it is more than that, it is our very nature.

via Let’s Not Talk About the Morality of Strangers | Patrol.