From the sky we look so organized and brave

From the sky we look so organized and brave October 26, 2020

A personal testimony from Shannon Dingle.

Caricatures make for good propaganda but terrible policy. People, real people, become pregnant. And those people each carry their own stories, nuanced and unique.

Propaganda is easy. Twitter insults from anonymous accounts are too.

But people, real people, have real stories, like mine.

My story is heartbreaking. Telling it is tender. But I need you to understand that real people like me are living real stories.

• Daniel Silliman offers a handy look at “Claims of Sexual Misconduct at Spas” owned by the late evangelist/apologist Ravi Zacharias. Here’s a follow-up article on a second investigation, seeking a happy ending for this scandal.

Smirking puns aside, this story is a reminder that president/founder/pope types running ministry empires should be presumed guilty unless or until proven innocent.

Erik Loomis visits the American grave of Jonathan Daniels.

Growing up in white evangelicalism, I was constantly being told and re-told the story of Jim Elliot, the sainted Christian martyr who gave his life for the gospel. I heard this in Sunday school, in chapel services at our private Christian school, on every youth group “retreat,” at least once during every annual church “Missions Conference,” and then again when our church was recruiting its usual delegation out to Urbana. I even had a copy of the Spire Christian comics version of “Through the Gates of Splendor.”

But I never once heard the martyrdom story of Jonathan Daniels. Not once. Not even though Daniels’ story was, in truth, everything we were trying and straining to make Elliot’s story out to be.

Spire Christian comics never published a kid-friendly version of Daniels’ story. You’d never find his name anywhere in our church library or in our “Christian book stores.”


You know why. We all know why.

• Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have announced their intention to overturn the court’s ruling affirming an equal right to marriage for same-sex couples. You can see where this is going from Thomas’ weird assertion that marriage equality creates “ruinous consequences for religious liberty.” He means that the rights of Some Kinds of Religious Groups not to recognize others’ marriages should trump those people’s right to get married.

The logic of this argument would not just mean overturning Obergefell, it would also mean overturning Loving v. Virginia. And possibly also an end to legal divorce which, after all, creates “ruinous consequences” for the religious liberty of those churches that do not recognize the legitimacy of it.

The argument presented by Thomas and Alito is not smart, compelling, ethical, logical, legal, or constitutional. And they know this. But they no longer have to pretend to care about that. They have the numbers now, so they don’t need legal arguments anymore.

• Right-wing clickbait site the Christian Post is doing a series on white evangelicals who convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. This is a thing, and has been for a while. Without getting into the particulars of the individuals profiled in these pieces, if you want to understand this, read Molly Worthen on The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism.

Proof-texting Bible fights were supposed to resolve that crisis of authority, but those proved, instead, to just be an endless, unwinnable version of the children’s card-game “War.” The lack of any final arbiter to determine the winner and loser of doctrinal and political disputes makes some white evangelicals envy Catholics, whom they imagine have solved this problem by having a pope. (That doesn’t actually work as tidily as evangelicals imagine, but they think it does.)

But these folks don’t want to convert to Catholicism because their goal doesn’t involve having to submit to some final authority. They just want to claim some link to a tradition that would enable them to invoke such authority as their own. Catholic bishops and cardinals are too present and too visible in America to allow them free rein to invoke Catholic authority without also having to submit to it. But the hierarchy of most Eastern Orthodox or offshoot Anglican sects are not as present and visible here in the US. Hence the appeal.

• Those who have ears to hear, let them hear:

She has far more reasons to be tired than I do. Imagine surviving Jim Crow and having to deal with White supremacy’s court jester in this stage of life. Knowing that your children and grandchildren not only have to contend with so many of the same problems you endured decades ago, but perhaps even worse realities should he be reelected. It must be so tiring to have to watch history repeat itself so often.

• The title of this post comes from Jason Isbell’s “Flying Over Water.”

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