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:
Biblical scholarship has dispositively established that the familiar, orthodox Christian narrative is false.
If he ever says so aloud he will be unemployable as a pastor.
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.
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.
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?