Still a ways away

Still a ways away January 21, 2022

• Jesse Curtis shares Tim LaHaye’s angry blackmail letter to Wheaton College in 1968 after the school held a memorial service following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Curtis has the original at that link, but here’s the text, in which LaHaye apparently was responding to a newspaper report on the memorial service:

It seems incredible that a Christian college could participate in honoring an out-right theological liberal heretic whose “non-violent” demonstrations have resulted in the deaths of seventeen people.

As a pastor, I am asked every year by parents and prospective students to express my sentiments of Wheaton College. In all fairness, I would like to know if this article accurately describes the fact. I honestly will be quite delighted if you can say no.

Curtis asks a long series of excellent questions about LaHaye’s letter and its effects. I’d add more, including: How is this different from the letters Wheaton received praising Dr. Larycia Hawkins’ fateful Facebook testimony?

• Krispin Mayfield’s Sojourners article is titled “Evangelical Marriage Advice Failed Us,” but “marriage” here refers mainly to sex.

You may be surprised to learn that if you’re looking for healthy, practical, enriching advice about sex, it’s probably best not to ask a bunch of white evangelical men. For example, Sheila Wray Gregoire tells Mayfield about the mega-selling evangelical “marriage” book by Emerson Eggerichs which offers sex advice only to women: “She was horrified to find that the entire chapter on sex was addressed solely to women, instructing them to care for their husbands’ sexual needs.”

Proof once again that, for white evangelicals, once the topic turns to sex, the Golden Rule goes out the window. We’re all better off ignoring people like Emerson Eggerichs and listening, instead, to the wisdom of Old Man Dunphy in Outside Providence:

“It ain’t over ’til you both get your cookies.”

Alvin McEwen highlights Matt Baume’s sweet, funny video explainer “Why Do Gay Men Love the Golden Girls?” This isn’t just pop-culture ephemera — Baume is doing history.

• “Ten Dazzling Celestial Events to See in 2022.” Could be retitled “Ten Nights When It’s Probably Going to Be &#@$ Cloudy in 2022.”

• It’s fascinating to read perfectnumber628 for a view of the pandemic from China, where the official and public response to Covid has been notably different. “I Don’t Know Anyone in China Who Has Had Covid” she wrote back in December, following up more recently with this: “Wow, the Anti-China Bias in Western News Media.”

That latter post is particularly interesting for directly addressing the ways we Americans tend to dismiss or diminish the effectiveness of China’s response. We tend to bounce back and forth between claiming that of course China’s response has been effective, because they’re authoritarians with the power to ignore individual freedom and claiming that surely their death rate must actually be just as bad as America’s, but they’re covering it up and censoring any reporting of that.

“Yeah, I guess I shouldn’t be ignorant of my own bias,” she writes, “because I am in Shanghai and I have benefitted a lot from China’s ‘zero covid’ strategy. I get to just live my life normally, except that I have to wear a mask in public and traveling is very restricted.” But I don’t think it’s really “bias” to point out that her relatively enviable situation is relatively enviable.

• Setting aside my usual concerns about surveys attempting to measure religious practice and attitudes, let’s consider what it means if the survey results reported here accurately reflect the sentiment of church-goers: “9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long.”

I worry that there’s a kind of Heisenberg effect that comes from measuring and reporting on something like this.

Right now, most church-goers are apparently satisfied that most sermons are about the right length. That’s good. But now that we’re telling preachers that most church-goers are happy with the length of their sermons, what do you think some (many) of those preachers are going to do with that information?

I suspect there exists some number of preachers who have, up until now, restrained their desire to preach longer sermons due to their worry that congregants might find that off-putting. But rather than receiving this survey data as confirmation that this restraint was appropriate, they’re likely to interpret it as suggesting that they need not have been worried about that — as meaning that their former restraint was unnecessary. In other words, tell some preachers that most people don’t think their sermons are “too long” and their sermons will get longer and longer until some future survey tells them otherwise.

• Whether or not McSweeney’s “What Your Favorite Sad Dad Band Says About You” is accurate matters less than whether or not it’s funny. It is. Anyway, here’s mine:

"One of these ought to do: https://knowyourmeme.com/me..."

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