• Kudos to Dr. Danny Faulkner for taking on flat-earthers. The detailed patience of his specific response to a specific claim made by these conspiracy theorists is admirable, reminding me of the way that Dr. Joel Duff seriously engages with even the most laughable-seeming claims made by the conspiracy theorists of young-earth creationism.
The problem for Dr. Faulkner is that he is, himself, a young-earth creationist, and the platform on which he’s challenging the ludicrous claims of flat-earthers is the website of Ken Ham’s “Answers in Genesis.” That will strike most readers as a strange place to read this:
Some people may think it is a waste of time to discuss the flat-earth movement. However, the flat-earth movement presents a danger to the church. Self-professed biblical flat-earthers apply a flawed hermeneutic to Scripture. Their hyper literal approach to poetic and prophetic books wrings unfounded meanings from those passages. Flat-earthers must create in their minds a vast satanic conspiracy about the earth’s shape to support belief that the earth is flat. This often results in a caustic attitude that damages couples, families, and churches. Many flat-earthers end up leaving their churches and not assembling with fellow believers as we are commanded to do. Therefore, it is important that I continue researching the flat-earth movement and report on new developments in that movement.
Not sure how long Dr. Faulkner can keep this up before he begins to see what you probably see reading that — that there are other, more obvious ways to fill in these blanks:
Some people may think it is a waste of time to discuss the _____-earth movement. However, the _____-earth movement presents a danger to the church. Self-professed biblical _____-earthers apply a flawed hermeneutic to Scripture. Their hyper literal approach to poetic and prophetic books wrings unfounded meanings from those passages. _____-earthers must create in their minds a vast satanic conspiracy about the earth’s _____ to support belief that the earth is _____. This often results in a caustic attitude that damages couples, families, and churches. Many _____-earthers end up leaving their churches and not assembling with fellow believers as we are commanded to do. Therefore, it is important that I continue researching the _____-earth movement and report on new developments in that movement.
• Kony 2023.
Tim Ballard — the Sound of Freedom guy and founder/CEO/hero of multiple
anti-kitten-burning anti-child-sex-trafficking charities — is giving off major Kony 2012 vibes.
Eleven years is ancient history in internet time, but you may still remember the massive viral phenomena of Kony 2012, which united the world in agreeing that Doing Very Bad Things To Children Is Very Bad.
It was a particularly popular movement, of course, among those who need to imagine that agreeing with that makes them special and different from most of their neighbors who, they assume, do not share their heroic moral courage in agreeing to that proposition. That kind of sanctimony is as powerful as any drug and, sadly, the movement leader’s addiction to that drug eventually led to a very public rock-bottom breakdown.
Tim Ballard seems headed in a similar direction. That’s how this tends to work. The president/founder/CEO/champion of the anti-kitten-burning coalition always winds up, in one way or another, jackin’ it in San Diego.
This is always a failure and also, more importantly, always a terrible, semi-illiterate idea. The point of having multiple Gospels is to learn from their differences, not to ignore or attempt to erase those differences.
“Harmonies” — whether of the four canonical Gospels, or of the various creation accounts in the Hebrew scriptures, or of the “histories” of Kings and Chronicles — are usually attempted by people who claim to believe the scriptures are infallible and inerrant. But this “harmonizing” effort to smooth away contradictions is based on the premise that all such contradictions are, in fact, embarrassing mistakes and errors that must be fixed.
Matthew and Luke give us two very different “Christmas” stories. Those differences are precisely where and how the authors are trying to tell us something. Ignore those differences and you’ll never understand what those authors were trying to say.
Trust me, if I knew the magical solution for reaching my parents, I would have implemented it decades ago. But having lived the problem, I can’t look away, and I hope you won’t either. I admit, “Let’s broaden our legal prohibitions against scams and rethink the tax exemption for churches” isn’t a particularly rousing or convincing response to the problem of people like my parents pledging to fight for a Christian nationalist country, buying overpriced sheets that they believe will hasten this vision and/or the Second Coming, and gearing up to vote in the next election. What I do know is that my parents aren’t the only elderly evangelicals in precarious health, in a crumbling house, watching the Victory Channel in place of news, and sending money they can’t spare to televangelists. My hopes around their situation are pretty small-scale now: that their gravel road won’t wash down the mountain in the next storm, that neither of them will need 24-hour nursing care, and that I can remember the passwords for their Ingles and Food Lion accounts if I have to start buying their groceries again.
• William Gannon makes witty, provocative art, and the kind of people who get upset about Banksy’s works also get upset about his. Thus, even though Gannon is a sculptor whose work is nothing at all like Banksy’s, some of those folks are now convinced he must be Banksy. It’s the transitive property of I Don’t Get It or the logical principle of Everything Offends Me Therefore Everything Is Connected or something.
There’s really no way for him to respond to that sort of thing. As he says, “When I tell people that I am NOT Banksy they say ‘That is just what Banksy would say.’ So now I just don’t talk about it any more.”