Repost: “Those Evangelicals” Are Ruining Everything

My last repost before the project is done….I think…maybe…hopefully…

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The original post is over here.

My last post was on assuming the worst about “Those Evangelicals” and the liturgy. This week, I thought Those Evangelicals deserved their own post. But first, I should explain what I mean by Those Evangelicals.

Who are Those Evangelicals?

No matter your theology or politics, everybody can have Those Evangelicals.

If you’re a conservative, Those Evangelicals are the people who read Rachel Held Evans and vote Bernie Sanders and use words like “social justice” and “fair trade coffee.”

If you’re a liberal, Those Evangelicals listen to James Dobson and vote Ted Cruz and use words like “sanctity of marriage” and “American exceptionalism.”

And if you’re like me and like pretending you’re a moderate, you could have Those Evangelicals on both sides of you.

There are characteristics that apply to Those Evangelicals. All of them:

  1. Disagree with us on “core issues.” This sounds important and serious, and sometimes it is. Some of the arguments we have are on fundamental matters of Christianity.

Other issues aren’t as “core” as we think. Sometimes they’re just our group’s pet issue of the moment. Because we see the issue defended so often on our newsfeeds, we assume it’s more fundamental than it is.

But either way, the result is the same. We feel that the church in our time must take strong action toward our core issue. Everything depends on it. And Those Evangelicals just don’t get it.

  1. Disagree for the worst reasons. Of course, the only way Those Evangelicals could disagree with us is some deficiency in their character. Liberals assume the “only explanation” for conservatives clinging to their antiquated views is blind adherence to a vanished past, and bigotry toward those who are different. Conservatives assume the “only explanation” for liberals jumping from traditional Christian teachings is a gravelling desire to appease the world, and a terror at being viewed as irrelevant by today’s culture.

The thought that people could disagree for principled reasons never occurs to us.

  1. Must be wrong about everything. Eventually it goes beyond the core issues–we’ll reflexively disagree with everything Those Evangelicals say. No matter how innocuous the statement is, or how little context we have, whenever one of Those Evangelicals says something, we will get offended and disagree.

For me, there’s one author who’s popular with my evangelical friends of. . . a certain political bend. For reasons I can’t quite explain, she drives me crazy. Every time I even glance at one of her re-tweets on Twitter, my heart rate goes up and I start composing diatribes against her in my head1.

  1. Make us feel self-righteous. This is the most fundamental reason of all–every time we disagree with Those Evangelicals, we feel smarter. And holier.

This last factor is what makes Those Evangelicals so fun–and dangerous. When I’m with a group of friends who agree with me, we all crack jokes about Those Evangelicals and how ridiculous they are. Then we laugh and pat each other on the back and congratulate ourselves on our own rightness.

As fun as that is, focusing on Those Evangelicals is bad for us. As you can probably guess, there are several reasons for this, too:

  • It creates a bubble. It’s easy to see why. If our opponents are ruining Christianity with their bad reasoning and poor character, why should we have anything to do with them?

It’s amazing how easy it is to create a bubble of people who agree with us on everything. We can block the newsfeeds of any of Those Evangelicals on Facebook. We can only follow people on Twitter who already agree with us on everything. We can only read the news sites that confirm our worldview. And, as it turns out, everyone we follow has the EXACT same view of Those Evangelicals as us!

Eventually, we get to the point where we’re never challenged, and can’t imagine how anyone could come to a different opinion unless they’re an idiot or a terrible person. You know, like Those Evangelicals.

  • It depersonalizes the other side. If we get to the point where we don’t actually know any of Those Evangelicals, and we don’t bother learning their ideas, then Those Evangelicals stop being people. Instead, they’re more like internet goblins–heartless, disembodied monsters who troll the waves of social media to destroy everything you hold dear. Luckily, you and people like you are here to save the day.
  • It leads to pride. This is the end result of bashing Those Evangelicals. There’s intellectual pride. Congratulating ourselves on our own wisdom for seeing through the errors of Those Evangelicals. There’s also moral pride. Because, of course, the fact that we hold the correct opinions and Those Evangelicals hold the wrong opinions doesn’t just mean we’re smarter–it means we’re better people. We have the moral courage to Take a Stand for Truth when the degenerates around us fall away. If only everyone could be more like us, the world would be a better place….

The solution to this thinking is simple, but it’s also difficult–getting to know Those Evangelicals. Going out to dinner with them. Reading a book they recommend. Disagreeing in a civil way, trying to understand their point of view.

None of this means that we should abandon all of our theological and political convictions. It also doesn’t mean that we should sweep all our differences to the side and pretend we agree on everything. But it does mean that we should view the other side with charity. This goes beyond simply understanding their arguments–it means getting to know them as people.

If all of Those Evangelicals are internet goblins without souls or minds, it’s easy to stand in prideful judgment. But if Those Evangelicals include people we actually know and like, the pride and judgment are harder to come by.

Does anybody have good advice for getting to know people from the “Other Side”? I suppose you could also guess who that writer is who drives me nuts. But you should know I plan on denying everybody suggested…

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1  I’d say who this author is, but that’s better suited for my other blog: “A Million Writers who Bug Me.”

Repost: The Essential Guide to Praying in a Circle

Still plugging away on the special project. Here’s another of my most popular posts.

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Here‘s the original post. You can check it out or just keep reading.

Last post, I shared one of my many embarrassing prayer stories. It was basically an example of what not to do. Today, I want to be more helpful. I’ll give you a step-by-step guide to the most important type of public prayer: the group circle.

Basics

The hallmark of prayer circles is informality. A group of people–usually guys–gather around and pray before an event. This informality causes the awkwardness. Prayer circles can splinter any number of directions, depending on who’s in charge and what method they’re using.

I’ve assembled a list of simple rules for dealing with each of these methods.

Method 1: Everyone prays in a clockwise1 circle.

This is the best idea. Do what you can to make this happen. You may be skeptical, because it guarantees that you’ll pray. But the benefits are myriad:

  • The order is set.
  • There’s no wondering about the right time to jump in.
  • You only need to make one decision: the person who starts.

And it’s so easy to initiate it: just suggest it when everyone is gathering hand to shoulder.

But Method 1 might not work–the group gathers too fast, the youth leader suggests something else, the words catch in your throat. Or you could be like me and stand, mouth slack, unsure whether to murmur your idea as the circle starts.

In that case, you may have to follow the directions for Method 2.

Method 2: Open Prayer with a Closer

At first, this seems great–what could be more freeing than only praying if you want to? But I don’t recommend it because of the hazards:

  • Besides picking someone to lead, you need to pick someone to close. Otherwise there’s an awkward silence the two minutes after the last prayer until everyone realizes it’s over.
  • There’s a risk that everyone except you will pray. Avoid this. And also avoid being the last guy to pray before the closer–they look timid. Instead, if it looks like everyone is choosing to pray, jump in well before the end.

Sometimes, you’ll be in a situation where the circle leader doesn’t assign any roles, and the circle begins without any direction.

In that case:

Method 3: No Clear Plan

We’ve all been there. The group has barely gathered into a circle, and the leader dives into the prayer. The rest of the guys dart their eyes looking for cues to begin, forcing a smile to hide their held breath.

Don’t panic. Look to the guy to the leader’s left. He’s the key to the circle.

If he prays next, everything is great. Assume it’s a clockwise circle and go from there. If he doesn’t pray next, things are tougher. Assume it’s open prayer, but be careful–you might become the closer on accident.

If you are directly to the left of the leader, your role is clear–pray next. Everyone will thank you.

Final scenario. The circle leader does assign roles, and you’re the closer. What now?

Method 4: The Closer

If you’re praying in a clockwise circle, the closer’s role is easy. All you have to do is say “amen” with a little extra force.

But if people are praying out of order, closing gets tricky.

Say it’s a group of eight people. The fifth person finishes praying, and a silence falls over the group. How long should you wait before you close?

Better to close too early than too late. A five-beat count is probably best. Basically, you want to start praying just before the moment when heads start raising and the quiet people start blushing.

Also, make it clear to everyone that you’re the last one. Throw in a “in closing” or something. Then everyone else can relax.

There you have it: the essential steps to praying in a circle.

But that’s not all! I also have a serious conclusion.

A Serious Conclusion

Remember a couple things. First: nobody is listening to your prayers as closely as you think. When is the last time you remembered someone else’s prayer even thirty seconds afterward? That’s how everyone else feels about you.

But more fundamentally (and this is easy for us neurotics to forget): the point of the prayer should not be about making yourself look good. Get that, and the rest becomes easier.

Any other thoughts about praying in circles? Or are there any Australians who want an apology?

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1  Our Australian friends, of course, will pray counterclockwise. But seriously, specify direction. Otherwise the guys on the leader’s right and left will look at each other after the leader’s prayer, and it gets awkward.

Photo credit: John Locher

Repost: The Time My Mom Was Right

I’m still working away on that special project (that I hope to have for you to enjoy by Thanksgiving or so), so here’s repost #2.  Thanks for bearing with me!

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The original post is here, but you can just keep reading. And to clarify, my mom has been right about a lot more than this one thing.

The week before I started high school, my mom took me aside to have One of Those Talks. As only a mother can, she worried that my charm and winning smile would attract a bevy of girls. And some of those girls might lead me down the path of vice.

If mom ever saw me talk to a girl, she’d know she had nothing to worry about. My tongue turned to lead. Sweat beaded down my forehead. And when I started talking, a small piece of my brain told me that I was a thin-wristed loser who wasn’t pulling off that shell necklace. It’s hard to find a girlfriend under those conditions.

As high school rolled through college and into young adulthood, my tongue stayed as lead as ever. But my mother started believing that I was staying single on purpose. This was partly because she still saw me through mom-colored goggles.

Also, that’s what I told her.

Toward the tail end of college I realized that the sweaty forehead would probably never change. But I could change how I framed it. Instead of being the guy too awkward to talk to girls, I became the guy with too many plans to waste time on women.

My Plan

To change my mind, mom developed a bad habit. She started setting me up with a string of “the nicest girls.” But I couldn’t do it. Even though my singleness started as a defense mechanism to social anxiety, it had become a principle.

I had told myself that being single was a deliberate act of rebellion enough times to believe it. If anyone asked me why I was single, I had plenty of reasons:

  • I was reacting against the culture’s obsession with romance. I was taking an especially brave stance against evangelical marriage culture. John Brown University, like many Christian colleges, had a saying around campus that girls should expect a “ring by Spring.” This was one of those jokes that wasn’t entirely a joke. For lots of classmates, the purpose of youth was finding a spouse and preparing to be a spouse.

I was going to be different. I was going to demand more from life.

  • I had killer plans that required singleness. I was going to hitchhike across Europe making pastel sketches. I was going to launch an artisan soda company. I was going to write an epic poem entirely in limerick. I was going to grow out my hair and tie it behind my head like a Samurai. I was going to get the Bayeux tapestry tattooed across my chest.

There was no room in those plans for a relationship.

  • I also found a brochure for a monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. Though they might frown on my samurai hair….

The Candidates

But none of this deterred my mom from her would-be brides. Her phone calls down to JBU sowed the seeds months in advance:

“Matt, I met the sweetest girl at church today. She’s new in town, and was looking for a church where they preach the word. She said the funniest thing when I met her–just like something you’d say…”

When I visited home, the girl would get invited over for dessert. Or asked to join us at the park for Fourth of July. Or offered the seat next to me in the church pew.

Nothing against these girls–they were all nice, and they had no idea they were a pawn in my mom’s master plan. But there was nothing I could do. I had decided to live as a cool loner, the way I imagined Jack Kerouac did. And there was no time for romance.

Besides, these were the girls my mom picked out. I couldn’t let her be right about this.

Trouble

The summer before law school, I met this girl named Danielle at work. Danielle was different. Not only was she both pretty and smart–I  could actually talk to her without my tongue turning to lead. I’d never seen this combination before. Maybe I could actually…

No. There was nothing I could do.

I was a sophisticated single man going to find his fortune in California. I was free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change. Besides, that little part of my brain was pretty sure Danielle thought I was a loser who looked stupid in that paisley tie. Seriously, what was I thinking on that Kohl’s trip?

The Revelation

That may have been how things ended. But then I invited Danielle and some other friends over to my house one evening. Mom was in the kitchen when the doorbell rang1. She answered it. That’s when she saw Danielle for the first time.

Here’s how my mom explains what happened when she opened the door2:

The light from the setting sun was blinding. It radiated around Danielle’s golden hair, wrapping her in a halo of light. Birds sang. Flowers bloomed. Harps played in the background. Everything in Danielle’s countenance–her smile, her eyes, the graceful nod of her head–told my mom that her quest to find her son’s wife had finished.

Now she had a real problem.

Mom’s Dilemma

On one hand, if she tried to set me up with Danielle, I’d see what was happening and reject it on principle. So she couldn’t set us up. But on the other hand, if she did nothing, I would leave for law school without anything happening. So she couldn’t not set us up either. Quite the dilemma.

The plan she settled on was to set us up without “setting us up.” A fine line, to be sure. In practice, this meant she never talked with me about Danielle, but she made sure that Danielle was always around.

It was still clear what was happening. The fact that the only people invited to my Dad’s birthday brunch were me and Danielle made me raise an eyebrow. But the fact that mom never directly talked about it took the edge off.

And what’s more . . . I didn’t mind mom inviting Danielle places. You see, I liked spending time with her.

And that was a problem.

My Dilemma

One one hand, I liked Danielle. She was pretty and I could talk to her without lead-tongue disorder. As a bonus, that little part of my brain even stopped calling me a loser (but it still hated my paisley tie). On the other hand, dating her would give up my principles, my soda company, and the samurai hair.

It would also mean proving mom right.

Hmm…

A week before I left for law school, my family and I were driving back from a trip to Texas. Head leaned against the window, I glazed over the brown fields and abandoned oil rigs. Okay, so I wanted to date Danielle. We stopped at a small town gas station, dust swirling against the mirrors. But that would mean mom was right. I got out to squeegee the bugs off the windshield. Maybe that wouldn’t be the worst thing….

Ten minutes later, I was furiously typing on my phone.

“Who are you texting?” mom asked.

“. . .” I replied.

A couple hours after I got back, Danielle and I started “officially dating,” or whatever I’m supposed to call it. I haven’t looked back since. And, I have to say . . . that is, I mean . . . what I’m trying to communicate is . . . *deep breath* my mom was right.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.

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1  YES, I was living with my parents. I was about to go to law school and needed to save money. Cut me some slack, will you?!?! Why are you all staring at me? It’s my shell necklace, isn’t it?

2  And she has told this story A LOT.

Repost (and Some News): Why I Like My Grandma’s Church

I have good news and bad news. First the bad news: I won’t be able to update the blog for a few weeks. That means you’ll be getting a series of “best of” posts. But the reason I can’t update the blog is (cue good news) I’m working on a secret new project. I think you’ll like it. I won’t give too much away, but it involves evangelicalism, robots, and Tasmanian tigers. And don’t worry–I’ll let you all know as soon as it’s ready….

So now, here’s “best of” post number one:

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Check out the original post here, or just keep reading.

As any cynic knows, the easiest targets are previous generations. It’s simple for millennials to be cynical toward people who are older than us:

  • They’ve already had a shot at running the world. That means all remaining problems must be the result of them screwing up.
  • They have different views of morality and propriety. This obviously means they’re prudish, bigoted, narrow-minded, and generally wicked.
  • They’re, well, old. So we can point to hilarious examples of why they’re silly–look at those old people with their sagging skin and high pants and McDonalds coffee! They can’t even use Facebook right!

When cynics look further into the past, things get even easier. We can make whatever sarcastic joke we want. It could be unfair, and even untrue (Victorians were afraid of sex! Puritans hated fun! The Middle Ages were full of ignorant superstition!). It still sticks.

This is all part of a millennial conviction that because we’re young, we’re both smarter and purer than all previous generations. That sounds cool and edgy. But it’s nothing new. It’s a rite of passage for every generation. Whenever young people reach a certain age, they believe that–by crushing all who preceded them– they have reached the pinnacle of wisdom. By the brilliance of their newness, they’ll (finally) fix the mistakes that old people made by the dullness of their oldness.

An example of this thinking was a slogan bouncing around my Twitter feed a while back. It was for some new downtown church, and said:

“We’re not your Grandma’s church.”

The cynic in me nodded approval. It brought images of decrepit scowls and wrinkled faces curved in frowns, disapproving of the young people because we dared to question their sacred cows. It also patted my millennial conceit that every generation that came before mine was stupid.

But the more I thought, the less I liked it. You see, I’ve actually been to my Grandma Pat’s church.

She goes to an evangelical church in the retirement suburb of Sun City, Arizona. The congregation is entirely old people. Until his death this past year, Grandpa Sid sang in their choir—an avalanche of snowy hair reaching rows above the pastor. And judging from my last visit, Grandma Pat is best friends with every parishioner.

There’s plenty of fodder for hip millennials. The church is fervently pro-America and pro-Israel. Their musical tastes seem frozen in 1972. And a couple parishioners made comments about immigration that made me cringe. That new downtown church probably had this kind of stuff in mind.

But that ignores the bigger picture. Like how the congregation is still bringing their octogenarian neighbors to Jesus. Or how the parishioners cope with death and serious illness with calm resilience and confidence in the promises of God. Or how they showered my Grandma with attention and support after my Grandpa died.

I don’t know how that new church ended up, but they’d be lucky to be my Grandma’s church.

It’s easy for generations to develop a clan attitude–our group is right about everything, and every other group is wrong! For young people, it’s the belief that all old people are narrow-minded bigots. Generational change is a sign of progress–out with the old, and in with the new. For old people, it’s the belief that all young people are selfish, lazy bums 1. Generational change is a sign of decay–things were so different in my day!

Both attitudes are wrong. They’re also self-destructive. Whether you’re eighty or eighteen, before you make a snide remark about some other generation, keep these things in mind:

  • All young people will be old some day. And all old people used to be young.
  • Don’t assume a couple moral blind spots makes a whole generation worthless. Every generation has them–including yours. Be honest, but also be charitable.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to ranting about how much better music was in my day. Just kidding. But it really was…

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1  That’s right, old people–I’m not letting you off the hook!

Photo courtesy of Grace Bible Church

What Old Books and Rwandan Bishops Have in Common

The last couple weeks have been depressing. Of course, there’s the usual stuff: hectic job, crowded schedule, and the existential horror of finding a grey hair in your mustache scruff. The social mediasphere is as toxic as I’ve ever seen it. It’s getting to the point where each new development in the Kavanaugh quagmire makes me feel nauseous.

But this week, I’ve found comfort from two different sources: century-old books, and a Rwandan bishop. I think they’re comforting for the same reason. But before I explain, here’s a little bit about the two sources:

  • Old Books. This past week I’ve been revisiting a couple old books that I love. They aren’t profound. In fact, they’re pulpy and kind of silly. One is “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins, which was published in 1859. The other is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “A Princess of Mars” from 1912. But what the books lack in substance they make up in other virtues–they’re both imaginative, atmospheric, and charged with adventure. And they both have wonderful narratorial voices. By wonderful, I mean different. There’s a unique kind of intimacy that comes from following the way a narrator guides a novel. You get access not only into their opinions, but also the assumptions and habits that were commonplace to them, but are alien to modern readers. While sometimes shocking, on the whole it’s charming.
  • Rwandan Bishops. One of my favorite things about my church is our connection with Rwanda. We were planted by the Anglican Church of Rwanda, and have kept close ties ever since. Folks from our church regularly head over to Rwanda on pilgrimage. And, on the rare occasions, the visa system permits Rwandan leaders to visit us. This past Sunday we hosted Bishop Samuel Mugisha Mugiraneza. His sermon was excellent–you can listen to it here. His insights into American culture were especially striking. Being a visitor and observer helped him identify uniquely American struggles we take for granted–a consuming desire to get ahead, a gnawing need to work, and monetizing all our time.

You probably guessed what these sources have in common, but I’ll explain anyway. They both got me out of my neurotic news bubble. Getting outside the bubble lets me see its limits, feel its edges, and put it in context. My problems aren’t the whole world. My country’s problems aren’t either. They’re just a tiny piece of a larger picture. Whether you’re hearing the Word of God from the other side of the world, or just spending some time in a pleasant Victorian page-turner, it helps to remember that.

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Photo by David Flores

CS Lewis Was Right About Dialogue

CS Lewis once quipped that, “The more ‘up to date’ the book is, the sooner it will be dated.” Novels with teenage characters are a great example of this principle. Writing dialogue for teen characters is hard. New words, phrases, and expressions shuffle in and out of their speech so fast that it’s impossible to get it right for long.

There are two approaches novelists can take in response. The first is trying to capture teen slang in as up-to-the-minute detail as possible. Tana French’s 2014 novel The Secret Place takes that approach.

The Secret Place is a detective novel with literary aspirations. It centers around a murder at an all-girls school outside Dublin. The girls’ speech is, to put it mildly, distinctive. Here are some actual lines of dialogue:

“Not even. I mean, maybe, but no? Like, they could’ve just made it up … They’re, ohmyGod, so weird . . . Well, they used to be OK, like ages ago. Now we’re just like, ‘Whatever,’ you know?”

“[S]he thought she was totes amazeballs because she’d caught someone who was in OMG college, but of course he dumped her the second he found out how old she actually was.”

“OhmyGod, here, have some more duh. They can say whatever they want.”

“[Y]ou actually do the blood-sisters thing? Because that would be so totes adorbs I could just die.”

“But, I mean, she just said it. Straight out. All the guys were like ‘OMG, ew! Way TMI!’ . . . See what I mean? They act like they can say anything they want. None of them have boyfriends–duh, surprise?”

French obviously worked hard to capture the precise language of Dublin teens in 2014. But the problems with her approach outweigh the accomplishment.

Using so much slang is a cheap way to make the dialogue feel “authentic” without digging deeper. The important thing about French’s teenage characters should be their desires, motivations, and values—not the fact that they say “totes adorbs.” French does have interesting things to say about teenage friendship. Or at least, she would if she didn’t distract readers with all the jargon.

Also, this dialogue has aged terribly. I’m a 31 year old nerd, and even I know that teens don’t say things like “totes amazeballs” anymore. A mere four years after publication, it’s already embarrassingly dated.

Meg Wolitzer’s 2013 novel The Interestings takes the opposite approach. Its opening scene is a conversation between a group of teens at an arts camp during the summer of 1974. I’m sure that teens in the 1970s had just as much slang as teens from any other period. But you’d never know it from the book.

For instance, one of the boys loves the phrase “diametrically opposed.” This isn’t a slang term, but it’s perfect for the character: a clever, precocious teen who wants his friends to think he’s profound. It’s the sort of thing I used to say as a teenager.

Perhaps the best dialogue, though, is from a character named Ethan. He’s the group’s most talented artist, and has been nervously explaining his cartoon creation to a girl he has a crush on. After a long description, he says:

“Oh, and did I say that the cartoon is funny? It’s a comedy. Or it’s supposed to be, anyway. You get the idea, I think. Or maybe you don’t . . . I don’t even know why I want to show it to you, but I do, and there it is . . . It just occurred to me in the teepee tonight that there was a slight possibility that you and I had something in common. You know, a sensibility. And that maybe you might like this. But I’m warning you that you might also really, really hate it. Anyway, be honest. Sort of.”

When I finished reading that passage, I thought about how perfectly Wolitzer captured what it was like to be a teenager. And she did it without a word of slang or up-to-date jargon.

The lesson for writers should be obvious. Focusing on the latest slang creates dialogue that feels dated the instant it’s published. But focusing on the timeless aspects of being a teenager creates dialogue that will remain authentic for decades to come. The best way to make it fresh is to stop worrying about making it up-to-date.

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“Speech Bubbles” by Philippe Parreno (1997)

Photo by Looking 4 Poetry

Do Evangelical Celebrities Really Have Worse Kids?

You may have noticed this post is a couple days late. That’s because my original post was *gasp* shrouded in CONTROVERSY.

Sort of.

My original post’s argument went like this: (1) a declaration that the children of evangelical celebrities are, on average, worse people than children of normal evangelicals; (2) a personal anecdote about a jerk evangelical celebrity kid who I went to high school with; and (3) speculation on why evangelical celebrity kids are worse people.

Before I post anything, though, I ask my wife to review it to make edits and stop me from saying anything stupid. And this time, Danielle’s “anything stupid” detector was blaring.

Continue reading “Do Evangelical Celebrities Really Have Worse Kids?”

I’ll Say It: Summer Is Better Than Fall

We are now in the final days of Summer, and the opening days of Fall. That means it’s time to re-ignite a debate as old as human civilization in temperate climates: whether Summer or Fall is better.

What started as fights between serfs and minstrels has now migrated to Facebook and Starbucks. It divides nations, communities, and even homes. Yes, it pains me to say my own wife is an avid Fall-ist.

I’m a Summer man. My reasons are so basic that they barely need explaining. Explaining why Summer is better than Fall is like explaining why civilization is better than savagery–it’s so obvious that it almost defies easy explanation.

But I’ll do my best to put the primal into words. Next time you see someone giggling about their sweaters and their pile of leaf corpses, please respond with the following:

Continue reading “I’ll Say It: Summer Is Better Than Fall”

Twitter Cranks and Evangelical Identity

So I’ve been doing something new and exciting—for me anyway. I’ve started buying some Twitter ads for this blog (it’s going well, thanks for asking). As you can imagine, exposing my tweets to a large number of strangers has done some . . . interesting things to my mentions. Random rude people just come with the territory, but there’s one particular type of comment that I’ve been getting that has gotten my attention:

Lots of people think I’m a Trump supporter.

Obviously, the people making these comments have spent no time on my site. Even a quick glance will show a half dozen posts criticizing Trump.

Which means the comments were prompted solely by the tweet. And what does the tweet say? Absolutely nothing about Trump, or even politics. After thinking about it, I’ve concluded that people assume I’m a Trump supporter because my tweet was not explicitly anti-evangelical.

And that’s got me worried.

Continue reading “Twitter Cranks and Evangelical Identity”

Good News: Our Great-Grandchildren Won’t Care About Trump

I want to share a comforting thought. For this thought, I want to take you to to the year 2068.

I’m sitting on my front porch, scratching my wrinkled head with a finger from my robot body.1 Two of my grandchildren, Xenon and Zorpo, play in the surf2 with my new thylacine3 puppy.

I’m reading my antique iPhone 20 while another grandson, Nikolajokic,4 reads his high school textbook on his iLens.5

“This new dinosaur theme park is a bad idea–mark my words.” I mutter. “Life finds a way–not that young people today know anything about that.”

“Hey grandpa.” Nikolajokic cuts in. “We’re studying the early 21st century in my history class. Is that Don Trump guy for real?”

I get a far away look as a shudder surges through my circuits. “Donald Trump. Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time.”

“How did a guy like him become president?” When Nikolajokic sees the gleam in my eye, he instantly regrets the question.

Over the next fifteen minutes, I tell him the whole story–how we all thought it was a joke at first, how he kept winning no matter what we did, and how most evangelicals eventually followed him. I then made some thoughtful remarks about how evangelicals learned from their mistake and tried to make amends to later generations, but Nikolajokic has stopped listening. As soon as I started talking about some ancient technology called “Twitter,” he secretly played a Seinfeld6 episode on his iLens.

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