Breaking News: Quiz Confirms that I Am Really Evangelical

Back in December, Mere Orthodoxy created a quiz to determine whether you are really evangelical. I waited until now to write about it because I decided it vindicates a point I made in my blog last week.

In addition to proving me right, the quiz is both well-done and hilarious. Don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and take it yourself. I’ll wait.

Okay, now that we’re on the same page, let me commend the opening section of the quiz:

“In the Trump era there is no lack of uncertainty about the true definition of an evangelical Christian. 81% of evangelical Christians supported Trump last fall and… one of Trump’s most prominent conservative critics is evangelical leader Russell Moore. It’s no surprise that a) no one knows what an evangelical is, and b) everyone wants to define it.”

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Evangelical: Good Adjective, Bad Noun

Like many of you, I bounce back and forth about my feelings toward the term “evangelical.” When someone asks if I’m an evangelical, I usually panic before pretending to get a text.

But some less-panicked thought has landed me at a solution. To make things even better, it’s grammar-based. Here it is:

I’m an Evangelical Anglican.1 But I’m not an Anglican Evangelical.

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Re-Launch

Yeah, I know it’s been a while….

I should explain why I haven’t posted anything since . . . I’d rather not check. My plan was to take a “month off’ from writing the blog, and that turned into this. Because everybody loves excuses so much, I thought I’d share some of mine:

  • I’ve written a lot of posts. For those of you rolling your eyes (I’m looking at you, dad), check out my “old posts” catalogue. I’ve written a bunch on evangelicals and cynicism. And so, so, much on Trump. I got to the point where I wanted to write about literally anything else. Plus, I had a nice fiction project I’ve been toying with.1
  • Writing took a lot of time. As you may have noticed (and if you didn’t, don’t tell me), my blog posts were carefully-written. They had logical flow, were polished to a varnish, and were far longer than blog posts should be. They also took a long time. Time that I, as a lawyer, husband, and father of two, didn’t have in abundance (come on Dad, stop rolling your eyes!).
  • Most significantly, I’d started losing confidence in my topic. I’ve written about this before,2 but after Trump steamrolled to the presidency, and seemed to confirm every negative stereotype about evangelicals in the process, writing nice things about evangelicalism became a slog.

This was all made more complicated by a not-so-hidden secret about this project. The reason I started this blog in the first place was…

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Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 8

“Yeah, if I was in Germany during World War II, I probably would have been a Nazi.”

And with that, Eric ruined our meal at Chick-Fil-A. Trying to lighten the mood, I asked if he needed to talk with our Bible professors about in my best deadpan.

He laughed. “No. But pretty much everybody in Germany thought Hitler was great. And the ones who didn’t gave in anyway. Only a few people really stood up to him.” He dipped his waffle fry and took a bite. “And since I’m not the ‘stand up to authority’ type, that wouldn’t have been me. I would have followed the crowd.”

Anyone who’s ever been to college will recognize this conversation. I’d been doing lots of pseudo-philosophizing lately–usually in my dorm over video games after a late-night Taco Bell run. But considering where we’d just come from, the timing for this conversation was . . . awkward.

Continue reading “Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 8”

Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 7

Let me begin with a half-baked sweeping observation: there are two groups of people in the world. The first are those who want to belong to the crowd. The second are those who want to feel special.

These desires aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, most of us have both simultaneously, all the time. And it’s possible to fulfill both at once. Everything from comic-cons to rugby clubs to the cool kids’ table are built on the concept of being special, with others.

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Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 6

Last week(ish), I gave the first reason I loved being a firebrand conservative in college. This week, it’s on to reason number two: being hardcore conservative made me feel manly.

I’ve already documented my…complicated relationship with evangelicals and manliness. For those who didn’t catch it the first time, I talk about it here, here, and here.

To summarize: growing up, there seemed to be some evangelical manliness test. It was written on elephant hide, in blood, by John Eldridge and Mark Driscoll. It involved something about rescuing a beauty, jumping off waterfalls, and being a Leader of this Generation. I think bear-hunting was involved, too.

But whatever the test was, I failed. I wasn’t one of those outdoor-ministry wood-chopping beard-growing types; I was a skinny nerd with peach fuzz and a nervous smile. I had no ability to fix a car, survive in the wilderness, or ask a girl out. And forget being a Leader of this Generation–I couldn’t even lead prayer at a Bible study. If there was a skill you’d think a manly man should have, I did not have it….unless you think a manly man should be good at Nintendo.

But then I found politics.

Continue reading “Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 6”

Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 5

In my last post, I shared three reasons I liked being a firebrand conservative in college:

  • It gave a narrative to the world and my place in it.
  • It made me feel manly.
  • It let me feel different in a good way.

I also said I’d discuss each reason over the next several weeks. Then I didn’t update my blog for a month. I’ll admit my excuse–the birth of my second child–will seem flimsy to many of you. But now that the baby is settled and I’m getting almost enough sleep to function, I’m back to explain the first reason I loved being a college conservative.

This reason also happens to be one of my favorite words: narrative.

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Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 4

“So in conclusion, I’d still rather go duck hunting with Dick Cheney than driving with Ted Kennedy. Or be anywhere alone with Bill Clinton. Or anywhere at all with Hillary.” I smirked into my microphone as my co-hosts laughed their approval.

Me and my friends Brock, Jim, and Adam1 were recording The Right of Way Show, a podcast for our fellow college students who weren’t afraid to let their conservative flags fly. Although we talked everything from news to sports to celebrities, the heart of the show was winning debates on hot-button political issues.

But this caused problems. Because we were all conservative, we basically agreed with each other on everything. So the only way to “win” was to be the person willing to say the most conservative thing.

I don’t mean to brag, but that was usually me.

Continue reading “Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 4”

Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 3

Last week was about all the ways politics terrified me as a boy. This week is about the moment it all changed.

My family was caravanning to Michigan for a reunion. At a gas station outside Wichita, I hopped out to stretch my legs in the dense July air. My grandparents offered to let me ride in their mini van, and I jumped on the chance to escape my brothers. Ten minutes later, I had the entire back seat to myself, chugging a soda with legs extended.

I was admiring a hawk circling the dusty fields when my grandpa switched on the radio. A shudder passed through my neck–Rush.

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Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 2

Last week, I opened my series on evangelicals and politics with my vague boyhood idea that Republicans were good, and Democrats were bad. But that wasn’t my only vague idea.

When I was a kid, politics terrified me.

***

“You know what the real problem is–relying on government for everything.” Mr. Anderson’s voice reverberated across the ball pit. It was a tradition: every week after Sunday evening service, a group of families went to the McDonalds Play Place. All us kids scampered through giant hamster tubes and dove out sticky slides. This was great. The grown ups talked politics.

This was less great.

“That’s why taxes have gotten so high–people need government programs to run their lives.” A mom chimed in.

“Taking all our money for no reason.” Mr. Anderson agreed.

Clinton was going to take all my parents’ money? Then how were they going to buy me food and clothes? I scooted to the far side of the ball pit to escape the talking.

Continue reading “Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 2”