May 22 Flashback: The old paradigm

May 22 Flashback: The old paradigm May 21, 2022

From May 22, 2019, “Farewell to old wineskins“:

“Building a New Paradigm is hard,” John W. Hawthorne writes. True, that. But I think he is correct that this is what we now see happening — slowly, in fits and starts, within American white evangelical Christianity.

Yes, this is going to be another one of those posts — yet another abstract discussion of the abstract concepts bounding and/or centering the abstraction of evangelical identity. Even worse, it’s going to involve words like “paradigm.” Ugh.

But perhaps I can persuade you to read on anyway by quoting from the beginning of his post:

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in Evangelical World. We lost Rachel Held Evans, Pence gave commencement addresses at Liberty and Taylor about coming evangelical persecution, Beth Moore took on Complementarianism, restrictive state abortion laws were met with some evangelical critique, and, to top it off, James MacDonald was accused of trying to arrange a murder to be carried out on a motorcycle trip to the Creation Museum.

Did you catch that last bit? This is a thing that really happened. Hawthorne is paraphrasing this gloriously strange sentence from a Christian Post report: “Bucur alleges that MacDonald asked him to kill Groves while they were on a motorcycle trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.”

Everything about that sentence is amazing.

“We were somewhere around Boone County, on the edge of Kentucky, when the drugs began to take hold …”

“MacDonald” is the Rev. James MacDonald, former mega-church pastor and popular white evangelical author. “Bucur” is Manny Bucur — a deacon at MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel and apparently also the pastor’s bodyguard. Several other deacons and elders from the suburban Chicago mega-church were on this motorcycle trip. A motorcycle trip to the Creation Museum. A young-Earth creationist “museum” located less than 20 miles from Big Bone Lick State Park, the birthplace of American paleontology. And on this trip the pastor asked the deacon to murder his former son-in-law.

If some recovering ex-evangelical wrote a Hiassen-esque satirical novel including a scene like this one it would be dismissed as a nasty, hyperbolic hatchet job. But this is simply one more news item, duly reported, on the state of American white evangelicalism unmasked in the time of Trump.

It may not even be the weirdest or wildest or most disturbing such item, even in recent weeks, given the whole Jerry Falwell Jr./Michael Cohen “terrible” sex photo business and whatever story is still lurking beneath it. Or the exposure of a vast network of online astroturfing, blackface fraud, hate speech and slime orchestrated by an alleged evangelical intellectual. Or the weird medical fantasies [dead link to story on anti-abortion bill claiming it is possible to “re-implant” ectopic pregnancies] and Holocaust-diminishment enthusiastically proclaimed by various white evangelical Republican lawmakers.

As Hawthorne says, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. So: “Somehow, all of this disruption got me thinking about Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. …”

Read the whole post here.


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