Fundamentalist Paint-by-Numbers

Fundamentalist Paint-by-Numbers January 21, 2016

Fundamentalism is to Christianity what paint-by-numbers is to art Brian Zahnd

The quote comes from a post on Brian Zahnd’s blog with the title “The X-Files is Better Than Scooby Doo.” Since the X-Files is returning next weekend, that is another good reason to share the quote and mention the post. Are you excited about the return of the X-Files?


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  • The Eh’theist

    I overthought it, expecting from the headline to see only two numbers and black and white. 🙂

    Not sure how I feel about the X-Files. I’ve let my knowledge lapse over the years, and the new show has been pitched as picking up the threads, so I don’t know if the enjoyment would be there without a large commitment to review and relearning that I can’t make right now.

    OTOH, having watched The Force Awakens my thought was I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t remember A New Hope quite so clearly. 🙂

    One quick off-topic thought, since you made me think of TFA. In spite of the numerous Evangelical attempts to piggyback on the latest Star Wars I haven’t seen a whole lot of love given to encouraging the vulnerable, open, relational model of fatherhood demonstrated by one of the characters. Too far from the ‘biblical model of maleness’ I guess.

    • One might even say “self-sacrificial,” assuming you are referring to the character I think you are…

      • The Eh’theist

        I am. My friends and I have been discussing whether the father in question was aware of the son’s intentions or had mistakenly put a more positive interpretation on his words in agreeing to help.

        While we agreed that he was certainly prepared to risk his life for his son in all cases, we’re still debating whether he deliberately chose self-sacrifice, à la Obi-Wan trusting that everything would have a final positive resolution.

        Definitely the meatiest part of the film for discussion from my point of view.

        EDIT: Having written that, if one accepts the self-sacrifice motif, it almost turns Abraham and Isaac inside out, and to me speaks of a much greater ‘faith’ on the part of the father than Abraham.

        • I’m fascinated by the scene and the different possible interpretations of it, but having engaged in speculation when watching LOST and other Abrams shows, I have learned my lesson and will simply appreciate the mysteries and possibilities, and try to avoid filling in the gaps prematurely.

          • The Eh’theist

            What I find interesting about the discussions with my friends is the discussion of what may or may not have changed in his worldview.

            Some are arguing according to his original worldview, and occasional poor judgement, and thus claim he was mistaken about his son’s intentions; while others make the argument that his indirect experiences with the Force and the ‘unintuitive’ path it can take to achieve an end may have changed his worldview and made the self-sacrifice interpretation more likely.

            That was the basis for my Abraham comment. Unlike that narrative, where Abraham has had multiple direct interactions with God prior to the request for Isaac, this father has had no comparable direct experience of the Force if he chose self-sacrifice in the hope it would achieve the desired outcome.

            For me, the big take-away has been the very counter-cultural portrayal of fatherhood in that scene, whatever the final interpretation (and being Star Wars that interpretation could be rewritten in a future digital release) 😉

          • I am eagerly looking forward to see where they go with this!

          • The Eh’theist

            I’m stymied. I can’t think how of how to share some of the later discussion without introducing spoilers-sorry!

          • Isn’t it long enough after the movie, and far enough down in the comment thread, that we can stop worrying about spoilers and say things like “Ben Solo killed his father”?

          • (And now he waits, curious how that comment will be previewed in the blog sidebar, and hoping that at least there the text will stop before the last line…)

          • The Eh’theist

            Your blog, your rules. Since you’ve ripped the band aid off the cut I feel fine to continue.

            What most of our discussion has circled around has been whether we should consider Han according to his attitude demonstrated in A New Hope and thus think of him interacting with his son in a more naturalistic manner.

            Contrary opinion has been that his time with Luke, Leia and Obi-Wan had an influence on him, and even though he hasn’t direct experience with the Force, he still believes in the idea of bringing balance, often by indirect means.

            The other key variable is how one rates Han’s ability to judge others’ motives and intentions. Those of us who suggest a self-sacrifice model, point out Han’s decision to return to help the Rebels, and his warming up to Rey. Others point out Lando and his frequent run-ins with employers.

            Depending on the settings you choose for these two variables, you can have a touching model of self-sacrifice and faith, or a misguided blunder of epic proportions, or part-way between these. I tend to lean toward the self-sacrifice interpretation, because I want to see growth in Han, especially given Leia’s reaction to his return, but there isn’t conclusive evidence either way at this point.

            The debate I’ve been following online with interest has been Rey: Kenobi or Skywalker? Any thoughts on it?