Bruce Gerencser offers a reading recommendation today, On Tyranny by Yale historian Timothy Snyder. One of the most striking things to me about his blog is that, though there is little in our backgrounds that is shared but the fact that we are both from the upper midwest, our thinking aligns pretty closely on the big things — not something you’d expect from two guys with educational and professional backgrounds as different as engineering and the clergy.
So I take Bruce’s reading recommendations seriously, and I downloaded the book to my NOOK.
The book enumerates and discusses 20-recommendations for citizenry worried about authoritarianism taking root here in the Good Ol’ U.S. of A., and this is the first:
Do not obey in advance.
That’s good advice, and I’m happy to endorse it. A free, clear-headed adult reserves judgments for himself, doesn’t mindlessly follow any ol’ gaudy Pied Piper.
Or, at least, that’s what me, Gerencser, and Snyder seem to think. In fairness, I should tell y’all that Southern Baptist biggie David Platt has an entirely different take on that. From Radical, among the best-selling Christian books in years:
First, from the outset you need to commit to believe whatever Jesus says. As a Christian, it would be a grave mistake to come to Jesus and say, “Let me hear what you have to say, and then I’ll decide whether or not I like it.” If you approach Jesus this way, you will never truly hear what he has to say. You have to say yes to the words of Jesus before you even hear them.
Then second, you need to commit to obey what you have heard. [emphases in original]
Platt is not an anomaly, a one-off authoritarian freak; his words are standard-issue, shrink-wrapped Southern Baptist preaching. You will hear the identical thing any Sunday morning in any of thousands of churches across the south.
Yes … Pastor Bubba is an authoritarian leading a cult of self-abasement. Don’t fall for it. Your life is yours, and the good is to live it.