56 June 8, 2024

• Ansley Quiros looks at two recent books on white evangelicalism in America, “Exvangelicals and Evangelicals: Reviewing McCammon & Alberta.” It’s an insightful discussion of two important memoir-lamentations from two writers who were raised within evangelical Christianity — born and born-again into this world, faith, tradition, subculture, etc. Both Sarah McCammon and Tim Alberta are following the biblical admonition from 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test everything; hold on to the good.”

McCammon and Alberta (and Dr. Quiros) are all younger than I am, so the white evangelical world they remember from their childhood is different from the version of that world that shaped my upbringing. The biggest difference here isn’t that I grew up without Veggie Tales, or that I was listening to “My Father’s Eyes” while they were listening to “Baby, Baby.” For people their age, or younger, as Quiros writes: “Believing in Jesus, being saved, attending church were part and parcel with opposing abortion and embracing Republicanism, all marks of zeal for the convert both theologically and politically.”

For me that wasn’t true. For me, “Believing in Jesus, being saved, attending church were part and parcel with opposing abortion [Communism] and embracing Republicanism, all marks of zeal for the convert both theologically and politically.”

I can remember white evangelical Christianity before abortion-is-murderism transformed it. I can remember the before as well as the after, and the strangeness of that change as it took place. And thus I can remember that it was a change.

Every white evangelical who is old enough to remember when McDonald’s didn’t have Happy Meals can remember that. Some choose not to. Most pretend not to. But they were there and they saw it too.

• Here is a headline from politically right-wing clickbait site Christian Post. This headline is garbage spin on a garbage poll that is easily, and readily, falsifiable: “Only 2% of Evangelicals define ‘Evangelical’ in political terms.”

Go into any one of those alleged 98% of white evangelical churches and tell them: “I believe that abortion should be legal and that government should not interfere with the decisions made by women and their doctors.” Or tell them: “I believe that same-sex couples should have the exact same legal rights as heterosexual couples.” Or, heck, just tell them: “I believe that the release of carbon gasses from burning fossil fuels is changing our climate in ways that will dramatically alter the world our children and grandchildren will live in and that governments have an obligation to do something about that.”

Those churches are determinedly pretending to believe that the political litmus tests that provide the basis of their identity and their spirituality are not “political terms.” They are willfully pretending to believe that their recently adopted mythology of abortion-is-murderism is biblical and not “political.”

Surveys like the one cited here allow white evangelicals to try to describe the constructed pretense of their identity, but they do not tell us — and certainly do not come close to measuring or quantifying — anything about the correspondence between that preferred identity and reality.

• I collect delightful names. Here’s a new one for the list: Hazen Pingree. I’d never heard of him before reading that entry in Erik Loomis’ terrific “American Graves” series. Seems like he was a very good mayor and a decent guy.

Here’s another recent entry in that series on another good guy: George Luther Stearns. Not the greatest American with the middle name of Luther, but probably in the Top 5.

Oh, and here Erik visits the American grave of Madeleine L’Engle.

That’s three admirable, honorable people whose lives and stories are encouraging. Many of the grave visits in that series do not deal with people who were either admirable or honorable. Those entries are less inspiring, but usually much funnier.

• Last night at the Big Box my crew was short-staffed and had a lot of freight, so I was racing around the store a little on the stressed out side. And then at 12:01 somebody got on the PA and announced that it was after midnight and now officially June 8 and played “Happy Birthday.” And then we all went back to packing out the rest of that freight with everybody helping out everybody else until that whole beast of a truck was done. Best crew you could hope for.

Got home a little after six and had birthday cake for breakfast. Best family you could hope for too.

I’m feelin’ thankful for the small things today.

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