Leaving the bubble

Bruce Gerencser reprises a point I’ve made many times over the years — many preachers undoubtedly know they’re preaching untrue and sometimes harmful nonsense but, once in, leaving the ranks of the clergy is almost impossible and comes at the cost of tremendous upheaval.

In many ways, these defenders of inerrancy are similar to atheist pastors, people who have invested their lives in promoting and defending Evangelicalism. Admitting that what they teach is untrue would quickly and viciously destroy their livelihood. When men have spent their lives pastoring churches or teaching seminary classes, how will they earn a living if they suddenly lose their job? So, Evangelical and atheist pastors alike continue to promote the inerrancy myth, hoping to run out the clock before they are exposed. For some of them, the personal and ethical costs are too high, so they out themselves, causing tremendous heartache and loss.

Just as many parents groom their sons from infancy to be pastors, many little girls are raised to be a pastor’s wife. The cost of leaving, with a set of skills ill-suited for any work but preaching, can be staggering.

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After the exit

Albert the Pious takes-up the matter of the Vatican’s recent urging that, in the event that a loved one is cremated, the ashes be buried in consecrated ground.

In releasing the statement yesterday the Vatican was speaking to Roman Catholics, but it was articulating a position that has been generally held by Christians throughout the centuries, that is a very clear Christian preference for the burial of the dead rather than cremation. The background to this is that in the ancient world, cremation was almost always associated with pagan religious worldviews and rituals, and there was a clear distinction between the paganism and Christianity in terms of the body. Many ancient paganisms and worldviews held that the body is that from which the spirit had to escape at the moment of death and the cremation of the body was a symbolic way of freeing the spirit from the body. This is still the teaching in some Asian religions. And the interesting thing is that in the specifics of its teaching, the Roman Catholic Vatican declares exactly what it means in terms of worldview. As NPR reports,

“The newly articulated ash norms include not storing human cremains in the home and refraining from scattering ashes ‘in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way … in order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided.’”

This is interesting, don’t you think? The point is not to observe some instruction found in the Bible, but to assure that the rest of of the world knows that the decedent was a Christian and not one of those wicked others. It’s for show.

Theologians used to note that the flesh of the dead was often eaten by insects and animals, and then shat onto the ground in various locations, and wonder how He reassembled the pieces in order to torture or reward the dead person for eternity. And what about the problem of somebody recycled as dung and eventually taken-up into a vegetable and re-eaten? What about, that is, matter that belonged to two different dead people? Which one got it?

Also, what about the people who were burned at the stake? How could they possibly be re-assembled in order to be tortured for eternity?

It is a fact: Theologians used to worry and argue about this kind of thing and, from all appearance, without ever having the insight that they’re morons caught-up in a weird version of Dungeons & Dragons.

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Donohue: Jack Chick especially hated Catholics

Sheesh, the persecution mania amongst Christian leaders has got so bad that now they’re jostling to be the most hated and abused by Jack Chick. Bill Donohue, the red-faced blowhard who leads the Catholic League, has this to say:

Chick’s goal was to convince Protestants that Roman Catholicism was a false religion. He published scores of books and magazines, and released many videos, but he was most famous for his small tracts and comic books. His 3×5 inch cartoon-like booklets were released all over the world, and in dozens of languages. His titles were provocative: “Are Roman Catholics Christians?”; “Why is Mary Crying?”; and “The Death Cookie” (meaning the Host). These were among his bestsellers.

Some of the assaults on Catholicism were quite specific. For example, Confession was the work of Satan.

Donohue even goes so far as to count the mentions of gays, Catholics, Muslims, on and on, at the Chick Web site.

Ho-hum. Since Catholics were until recently the largest religious group in the United States (they have been overtaken by ‘nones’), this should not be a surprise*. Of course the largest group draws the most fire; why would Chick waste ink on a vanishingly small group like, say, the Jains?

Notice this, too: Catholics have a much larger support community than any discrete Protestant sub-group, or gays or, even, kids who want a career in science. When a Catholic kid encountered a Jack Chick tract condemning him, there were plenty of people at the ready to pooh-pooh the malice. But a gay kid who happened across Chick’s odious cartoons was pretty much on his own.

When Donohue starts counting insults, he shows what an empty and trivial man he actually is.

– – – – –
*   There are more Protestants overall, which is what Chick was, but they are fractured into multiple sub-groups.

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Meaningless, theology-related Deepity of the Day

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You-read-it-here-first department, ctd

Well … damn. Some guy at Vox is busy pointing-out that Albert Mohler et. al. aren’t — What do you know? — kingmakers after all.

You can’t be a kingmaker if you don’t actually command voters

That’s put religious conservative leaders in an awkward position. Some, like Falwell, were already on board with Trump’s New Rightism — or at least appalled by the unequivocal support for abortion that they associate with Hillary Clinton.

Many of them have followed the lead of the voters and endorsed Trump, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Ted Cruz was a latecomer to the Trump Train, but has campaigned on his behalf; Vander Plaats, meanwhile, says he’s voting for Trump but stresses he’s “not going to be a lapdog,” sounding more than anything like some of the highest-profile Democratic endorsers of Bernie Sanders.

Right. After all, I was on that months ago.

The evangelical leadership are not kingmakers. The next time any of these hot dogs presumes to go to somebody like Mitch McConnell, say, and tell him he has to do this or do that if he wants the evangelical vote, McConnell is going to laugh in his face. Good. Laughter is all they deserve from grown-ups.

The Evangelical Right is dead as a political influence; their support for Trump has revealed who they actually are and, as in the case of Trump himself, decent people have seen enough. Cartoon characters like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz will continue to make an appearance at the Values Voters summit, and Tony Perkins will continue to be able for a while to summon reporters, but the coverage will be deeper in the newspaper and eventually become a footnote everywhere except at Web sites like Life News.

They have committed suicide, and they’re done. They have showed with Donald Trump that their values and principles actually amount to no more than tarted-up malice.

The more interesting question is this: Can a pragmatic, realistic, forward-looking Burkean Conservatism be restored on what remains of the Republican Party? If the few men of character in its leadership had responded properly when the Access Hollywood tape leaked a few weeks ago, that might have been possible. Now that opportunity is gone forever, and the whole party is almost certainly going to go down in flames with the Trump dirigible.

We need a new conservative party.

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