Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things February 3, 2013

Albert Einstein, from Ideas and Opinions

Everybody has certain ideals which determine the direction of his endeavors and his judgments. In this sense I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — such an ethical basis I call more proper for a herd of swine. The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty.

Elizabeth Drescher: “Mark Driscoll Hate-Tweets as Pope Benedict Flip-Flops”

Driscoll has long been an especially obnoxiously “resounding gong or clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1) in the face of Christian scriptural teachings on radical love and compassion, and it’s easy to dismiss him as a megalomaniac with a new self-pornographizing book to sell every six months. But the string of replies to the tweet as well as a number of pained blog posts, make clear that Driscoll’s rhetoric is at least as alienating to thoughtful Christians across the ideological spectrum as it is titillating to his followers.

For those Christians often straining to sustain their identification and affiliation with one or another branch of the Christian family, Driscoll comes off like the ranting, half drunk cousin who shows up to the dinner to which you’ve happened to bring your newest love. He’s embarrassing. He’s humiliating. And your new squeeze has to wonder if that particular kind of hate-filled crazy is somewhere in your gene pool. “How exactly are you related to him?” she asks.

Amy Mitchell: “Anger is not hate”

That said, I want to talk again about one of the ways in which the system contributes to the muting of so many people across Christianity. I like to call it “Be-Niceism.” There is a school of thought that equates non-violence with non-anger. It dictates that we must never use harsh words or direct criticism. In fact, even we who are willing to push forcefully against the system have resorted to using the word “critique” rather than criticism because the latter word has become so connotation-laden.

Andrew Sullivan: “Christianism and Violence”

I just read a post on National Review arguing that Christianity is in part about armed self-defense and the Second Amendment. I kid you not. Christianity is now apparently compatible with the gun lobby.

… The whole point of Christianity, on a personal level, is a refusal to use violence even in self-defense and even when one’s own life is threatened. For centuries, this radical nonviolence was celebrated by the church in its canonization of martyrs who chose to be mauled alive by animals than submit to the civil order’s paganism. Martyrdom was the first and ultimate form of nonviolent resistance to injustice and, like the Christian-rooted civil rights movement or Gandhi’s campaign for independence, it was precisely this staggering refusal to defend oneself, the insistence on being completely disarmed, that changed global consciousness. It was what made Christians different. It’s what made Martin Luther King Jr different. To use Jesus as an advocate of armed self-defense is almost comical if it were not so despicable.

Alisa Harris: “The Violence in New Mexico”

During my time growing up in a tiny church of 10 or so homeschooled families, I saw emotional, sexual, and physical violence again and again. A stepfather went to prison for raping his stepdaughter, a landlord was arrested for child pornography, and more than one wife fled her husband in terror. I’ve seen the homeschool community draw a type of family that craves isolation and doesn’t want the authorities intruding into their lives. They would prefer not to have a watchful school official notice a bruise and would rather deal with a troubled child in secret instead of under the scrutiny of the state. This type of community can especially draw violent and abusive men who quote scriptures about wives obeying their husbands and take those scriptures as a license to abuse.

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