Theology quote for the day

I was sad. I still am sad. I studied for six years to fulfill all the requirements for ordination. I wore my dog collar proudly and worked tirelessly to help people and to help God’s kingdom come. Being a minister was the lion’s share of my identity. That’s gone now.

For closeted clergy, ministers who are still active but no longer believe, the risks of candor are huge. Family and finances are jeopardized.

Rev. Robert Ripley

By the time he gets out of seminary, every bright kid knows three things:

  1. Biblical scholarship has dispositively established that the familiar, orthodox Christian narrative is false.

  2. If he ever says so aloud he will be unemployable as a pastor.

  3. His expensive seminary education leaves him wholly unfitted for any other kind of work.

I suspect, but can’t prove, that this is what lies behind the Southern Baptist insistence upon young marriage and childbirth; it moves the escape hatch out of reach.

So there you are: Just graduated, married to a woman who was herself raised to be a preacher’s wife and who is wildly impatient to get out of married student housing, and with a nest full of hungry and clamoring little birds. You accept the glib assurances that everybody has occasional episodes of doubt, but faith will overcome that, and get that first job and perhaps even take out a mortgage.

Walking that back and living as an honest man is very nearly impossible.

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You-read-it-here-first department

I’ve said for a long time that if George Wallace were alive today he’d campaign as a Republican so, naturally, I’m pleased to see the same observation in Salon.

He’s [Donald Trump] a demagogic ethno-nationalist of the kind that’s succeeded before in American history, especially during times of great upheaval and dislocation. Think of him as our Huey Long1, our George Wallace.

Besides a genius for self-promotion, what Trump has in common with those three men is this: He appeals to a large swathe of Americans who have not only lived through massive social disruption — the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement, respectfully — but who have had their fundamental assumptions about Americanness, and therefore themselves, challenged in the process. When his fans speak of “taking” their country back, they are not being tongue-in-cheek. They are deathly serious.

It is the whole of modernity that the loony Right is upset about, especially the Teavangelicals. Their ethic of unthinking submission has been rejected, they’re not special, they are laughed at when they’re accustomed to deference — the world has become a place that they can’t understand and for which nothing in their experience has prepared them. Our transient political brawls are merely proxies for a deeper fight over an epochal philosophical shift away from Platonism — our world is a poor copy of a perfect world somewhere else — toward some flavor of pragmatic realism. This is, withal, a good thing, though we’re not going to get there easily or without a lot of grief along the way.

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1   The novel All the Kings Men, by Robert Penn Warren, is based upon Huey Long.

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The Will to Power

Book Two: A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto
Concluding remarks concerning the criticism of morality

§400   The three assertions:

  • All that is ignoble is the higher (the protest of the “vulgar man”).

  • All that is contrary to Nature is higher (the protest of the physiologically malformed).

  • All that is of average worth is higher (the protest of the herd, of the “mediocre”).

Thus in the history of morality a will to power finds expression, by means of which, either the slaves, the oppressed, the bungled and the malformed, those that suffer from themselves, or the mediocre, attempt to make those valuations prevail which favour their existence.

From a biological standpoint, therefore, the phenomenon Morality is highly suspicious. Up to the present, morality has developed at the cost of: the ruling classes and their specific instincts, the well constituted and beautiful natures, the independent and privileged classes in all respects.

Morality, then, is a sort of counter-movement opposing Nature’s endeavours to arrive at a higher type. Its effects are: mistrust of life in general (in so far as its tendencies are felt to be immoral), hostility towards the senses (inasmuch as the highest values are felt to be opposed to the higher instincts), Degeneration and self-destruction of “higher natures”, because it is precisely in them that the conflict becomes conscious.

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Puzzling theology tweet of the day


Uhhh — what does this even mean? Or, more precisely, how is it possible that Piper could mean what he seems to mean?

After all, he is a Calvinist, and he teaches that to be born human is to be born guilty, radically depraved, utterly unfit to exist, and deserving of eternal torment. How is a lower view of humanity even possible?

Humanism, the chief rival to theism, generally denies the existence of supernatural beings, teaches that man is born tabula rasa — and capable of building a better world for all of us by the application of reason. That’s a lower view of humanity than Piper’s? Seriously?

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The Will to Power

Book Two: A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto
Concluding remarks concerning the criticism of morality

§399   These are the things I demand of you however badly they may sound to your ears: that you subject moral valuations themselves to criticism. That you should put a stop to your instinctive moral impulse which in this case demands submission and not criticism with the question: “why precisely submission”? That this yearning for a “why” for a criticism of morality should not only be your present form of morality, but the sublimest of all moralities and an honour to yourselves and to the age you live in. That your honesty, your will, may give an account of itself and not deceive you: “why not”? Before what tribunal? The will not to let oneself be deceived is of different origin: a caution against being overpowered, exploited — one of life’s instincts of self-defence.

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