Wandering Around That Howling Wilderness

Wandering Around That Howling Wilderness February 10, 2021

Well, we just got through another birthday successfully. Bit of a break now until April–of course, a break that includes Lent and then Easter, so we shall be very busy all the same. Also, in my little post yesterday I called that great American educational reformer, Dr. Mann, “Thomas” in one place and “Horace” in the other. Of course, his name is Horace, not Thomas. So sorry! Thomas is a novelist of some note, but both of them are dead, so does it even matter? (JK, of course it matters.)

So anyway, this is good–a very short primer about the new religion emerging out of the ashes of a dying Christianity. And also, as I’m sure you all know, John McWhorter is putting up whole chapters of his new book for free on his Substack. Here is the second part.

I have so many ideas swirling around that I need to go put down in some other place, but I have two off the handle #thoughtsandprayers I might as well fling here before I go do that.

First, when I was reading Bediako for that chapter on ATR I did that’s coming out soon, he made the interesting hypothesis that the West, as it encountered Christianity, did not really deal with its pagan soul. It didn’t fully baptize itself into true Christianity, but sort of lathered Christian faith over the top and went on its merry way, so that as the Christain part is stripped back there is the paganism lying close at hand, ready to be restored to its rightful throne. There’s no way of proving this, of course, but it’s an interesting thought that has stuck with me as I’ve watched the threads of Western Christianity unravel and fly away into the wind.

Second, back to the Jesus and John Wayne book which, in all my violent (hahaha) reactions to I hopefully will find some more coherent thoughts emerge, one of the chief things I hated–which everyone does but it is always a bad thing to do–is to sweep up all of evangelicalism into one heap and indict the whole mess by means of guilt by association. There she is standing before her pinboard, putting up pictures and then pieces of string, connecting everyone together as if she has discovered some appalling conspiracy. It is the leftist version of Q Anon and just because what she’s saying is what everyone wants to hear doesn’t make it ok. She draws lines between Albert Mohler, the Vision Forum, HSLDA, the Gospel Coalition, T4G, Doug Wilson, BJU, John McArthur–indeed basically every “conservative” Christian in the US. And then, to top it off, she lumps Jen Hatmaker in as an “evangelical” as if that hasn’t been one of the major defining fights of the last five years. If Jen Hatmaker is an Evangelical Christian, then I’m not sure what that makes me, but more to the point, by pushing and pushing against the existence of any intellectual, or even vaguely thinking, conservative voice (especially those that belong to men) she–and this is the point–silences them, or at least embarrasses everyone who listens to them. There can be no more sifting through all the competing voices of Christianity to find the truth, there can only be the tribalism of “in” or “out.” It’s sleight of hand, and Christians should resist it.

I guess I have one final thought. As you dig through the rubble with your teaspoon looking for hope, find the people who sound Christian. Don’t accept redefinitions of words. Listen to people who know the scripture at such a deep level that it flows easily out. If you disagree with them here or there, that’s fine, but don’t let them be demonized, or be thrown into that howling wilderness. After a while, the only people you’ll be able to hear are yourself and the only other person on earth who agrees with you. Don’t give in. Read provocative, intellectual, and interesting writers. Admit to reading them. Listen to lots of different people talk on the internet. Or get off and read books. But most of all, let your own self be deeply formed by the scripture so that what comes out of your mouth is your first love and not this new political ideologically dubious religion.

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