I’m going to take the opportunity of having written something somewhere else (see below), to not only link that here, but also to point out a number of podcasts and things I’ve listened to over the last couple of weeks that I’ve been meaning to link but keep forgetting about. Here is me making up my failures all in one day.
So first of all, I have severely cut back on my podcast consumption because of trying to make it through a couple of long audible listens (A Peace to End all Peace, and Trollop’s Can You Forgive Her) but when I have snatches here and there I catch up with the Brant and Sherry Oddcast which is super funny and cheerful—and sanely Christian. Whenever I am trying to force myself to work out, I lie on my mat and listen to them laughing. Then I don’t feel so bad about not actually working out.
And then I have really been enjoying the Persuasion Podcast’s latest series on movies. Hannah and Erin are going back and watching iconic films they missed at the time, and talking about why they were so important and if they merited their place in film history. Which is so great because that’s basically my whole life. I haven’t seen anything and this way, I don’t even have to. I particularly liked the Mean Girl’s episode because I’m never going to watch that movie, it being too like real life, and they confirmed in my decision.
Here is a one episode thing—I mean, it’s an ongoing radio show but this one bit is an interview of friend I actually have (I Have Friends, I Do) in real life who is a scholar who, and no one in their right mind would go on doing this but for the grace of God, carries on the Herculean task of teaching music and music history at our local community college. She has spent the last year writing a course in Black music, which led her to her discussion linked up there. So fascinating. Her job is so difficult because the students have intermediate to no levels of caring about academics, but also they, many of them, are trying to climb out of poverty and bad life situations, and their lives are precarious and messy, and really, they should come to class and do the reading, oh my word if they would just do the reading. In other words, she’s doing the Lord’s work and it is both exhilarating and discouraging, and she should be paid all the money, except she isn’t because, well, because America is weird. Also here is her blog for her students which is brilliant.
Evans everywhere misuses the term “literalism,” applying it disparagingly to those who believe the Bible is understandable and consistent with itself. Because she does not believe that God is able to speak clearly, the text becomes for her a useful “cacophony of voices.”9 Without a substitutionary atonement, without a respectful and nuanced reading of the Old Testament law that takes Christ as its fulfillment and culmination, without the dual natures of Christ, and without the distinction between teaching and narrative, the Bible is fragmented and unintelligible.
And yet, for centuries Christians have known that God speaks coherently in every age and in every place. God is a poet, a teacher, a master of metaphor, a narrator so devoted to a perfect arch that He encompasses the totality of human history within His divine purposes. Indeed, God so relies on the complexities and subtleties of human speech as to adopt for Himself the name “The Word.” When God says, “Do not lie,” everybody understands what He means. When Jesus stands sorrowing over the city of Jerusalem, grieving that He would have gathered her as a hen gathers her chicks (Matt. 23:37), even a small child understands that He is not a chicken, but that He deeply desires not the death of sinners but that they should turn to Him and live.
Increasingly marginalized American mainline denominations embraced a splintered reading of Scripture throughout the last century without making any real mark on evangelicalism. Evans popularized this confused reading, reaching many disenfranchised evangelicals just at the moment when they hungered and thirsted for a more culturally palatable Bible. As modern-day heresies press upon the church, Evans made a way in the Bible Belt for advantageous, unorthodox, incoherent interpretations. Most of all, she nursed ordinary people into a strange comfort, not of bringing the difficult and terrifying questions of life and death to be answered by a kind and merciful Savior in the life-giving Scriptures, but of finding refuge in their own doubts, their supposedly unanswerable questions. This is perhaps the most tragic portion of her legacy, and one with which the church will have to wrestle for many decades to come.
Go over and read the rest! And finally, it’s my day to be on Word FM’s The Ride Home with John and Kathy, if you want to catch me around 4:40 pm. Some months I say something coherent, other times you can just laugh because that’s what makes life bearable.
And now I will go face my trashed house and serve up caffeine to children hunkering down to their final exams.