1. 50 Shades of White. All-white panel of white Reformed evangelicals says that rap and Hip-Hop are musical forms that cannot be redeemed, only “transformed” into whiter musical forms. These are white men blinded by the glare of their own whiteness. It’s true these guys dismiss some forms of white culture as well as all forms of black culture, but I’m not sure that can save them from the conclusion that their response to rap and Hip-Hop is really, really, really racist.
2. I learn via Paul Carpenter of the (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call that Rick Santorum’s movie, The Christmas Candle, is (or maybe was) playing here in Downingtown. Carpenter notes that critics aren’t impressed with the film and he calls it a “flop.” It grossed about $900,000 in its first 10 days in limited release (392 theaters) — climbing to No. 15 at the box office, but I don’t know what kind of DVD sales or TV deals Santorum’s EchoLight Studios has lined up for the picture, so it’s still got a shot of maybe earning back its $7 million budget, eventually.
Still, though, Candle doesn’t seem to have tapped into the tribal must-see category that fueled low-budget money-makers like the Kirk Cameron vehicle Fireproof. As a politician, Rick Santorum defined himself as a culture warrior. Oddly, his failure so far as a movie producer is that he’s not enough of a culture warrior. He’s still imagining he can make a movie that might reach the broader culture, but the truth is the only way that Christian-brand movies make money is when they fire up the culture-war base, appealing to tribal competitiveness to make tribal Christianists believe that buying a ticket means striking a blow against Obama and “secular humanism.”
3. “Many Americans, including Catholics believe that a thoughtful, intentional approach to childbearing is a moral or spiritual responsibility. They don’t want insurance constraints that make this harder, and they especially don’t want their boss attempting to influence when and whether they have a child.”4. This is a bit broad, and the mugging has the effect of pulling the punches on the toughest punchlines, but it’s still pretty funny. (Guy reminds me of an evangelical Fred Armisen — which I guess means he could team up with, say, Riki Michelle for an improv series called Wheatonia.)
5. Peter Enns asks “Are Ph.D. programs in biblical studies ethical?” I’ve thought about this myself in terms of, for example, the “journalism” major, which seems to be training students for a world that no longer exists in that form. It’s kind of like getting a degree in blacksmithing — yes, some few blacksmiths can find work as blacksmiths, but it would seem irresponsible to charge hundreds of students each year for such training when only a handful of them will ever be able to make a living in that field. “I am glad I no longer teach doctoral students for careers in Biblical Studies,” Enns writes. “I would feel dirty.”
The world needs journalists and the church needs experts in biblical studies. Yet the world and the church are not currently in a position to employ either one. That does seem to make offering such expensive degrees a bit ethically dubious.
6. I bookmarked this post by Warren Throckmorton back in September, meaning to write something about it: “Politico on David Barton: What Will Evangelicals Do?” Throckmorton was responding to Stephanie Simon’s devastating piece, “Evangelical historian remains key ally of right.” Simon highlighted Barton’s “stunning” lack of credibility and integrity, but noted that none of that seemed to bother the Christian activists who regarded him as a useful advocate for their side. Throckmorton summarized:
Instead of integrity, accuracy, correction and stewardship, evangelical groups are openly discussing the value of content and consultants in utilitarian terms. If Mr. Barton can deliver a certain segment of evangelicals then the standards will be different for him. Mr. Barton gets a pass because he has a big audience and is perceived to be helpful politically.
Anyway, I didn’t get around to writing about this in September. Now it’s December and it seems Throckmorton’s question has been answered: “What will evangelicals do” in response to David Barton’s exposure as a mendacious hack? Nothing. Nothing at all. For white evangelicals, it seems, when it comes down to truth vs. tribalism, truth doesn’t stand a chance.
7. Here’s Ruthie Foster sauntering through a sultry “Ring of Fire“: