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And Then Sometimes The Left Set Fire to a Straw Man

January 8, 2012

I guess because they like to see ’em burn.

Subtitle to my rant:  Pot taking aim at kettle.

I probably should read The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (link is to NYT review).  But why?  Might as well enjoy fruitless speculation which is not based on fact but instead faith.  We* evangelicals are all about that.  At least you’d think so based on this book by Stephens and Giberson as reviewed by Molly Worthen.

This investigation appears to be about how evangelicals have put their brains in neutral (if not in reverse) while they try to fit science into their beliefs.  I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to that or even that I may not be guilty of that — I am.  However Stephens and Giberson appear to cherry-pick the low hanging fruit or some other mixed metaphor.

It seems their exemplars are  Dr. James Dobson and Ken Ham.  This is called shooting ducks in a barrel,  guys.  If most evangelicals consider those two to be among the pantheon of greatest thinkers nobody has told me and I’ve been of the faith for more years than I care to say.  I respected Dr. Dobson’s child-raising views and emphasis on family until he fell off the Right side of the cart.   I still call them both my brothers in the faith however though they may not claim me.

Then the book gets worse.  If the reviewer Dr. Worthen is correct, the authors continue on to mock us for disdaining scholarship and rigorous intellectual thought while we secretly wish we had all the trappings such can claim. Er, what? That’s a bale of hay right there.  Of course the reviewer is an academic and nicely separates herself from the chaff of us religious non-thinkers. Grant you this is only anecdotal but once again this whole contention is outside my daily experience.  I have never heard or read about anyone expressing these views openly or privately.  I’m sure that opinion is out there but its not common.

The reviewer (I think it is the reviewer and not the authors) twits us for CS Lewis love  (link to his foundation here).   She indicates that we admire many of his writings only because he had a “plummy” accent and was an Oxford don.  Not.  Lewis didn’t shy away from talking about difficult things and did not presume to have the only right or best or in fact any answer to all Christianity’s paradoxes.  That paragraph of the review alone encapsulates Worthen’s own snobbery and simplistic view about evangelicals while revealing how little she actually knows.

We are told the authors don’t treat evangelicals as a monolithic group. Well somebody is doing so.  Or maybe, as I suspect, they are conflating my flavor of faith with conservatism and anti-intellectualism in a simple false syllogism.  You know the kind we were warned not to make when we were in middle school?  They all ought to know better.

So for the record Dr. Worthen and Mssrs. Stephens and Giberson, evangelicals come in all belief-sets, politics, and approaches to “secular” knowledge.  Many of us do have a secular education and our heads have not (yet) exploded.  Many of us either embrace troublesome “facts’ or at least allow them into our worldview.  Many look for a deeper truth that combines all we believe into a unified faith narrative.

If Frank Schaeffer were to write this book or even review it, I’d have to pay attention but these guys are clearly sensationalists trying to sell their wares to puzzled NYT-type readers for whom my faith is an oddity.

*For the sake of this blog, I self-identify with many evangelicals and so use “we” and “us”.  Please note that my view may not represent any other evangelical except in the broadest sense.

From → Religion

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