“Cultural Evangelical” Is Now A Thing. It Shouldn’t Be.

Okay, one more post about evangelical identity. At least until my next post.

Some of us in the evangelical world were masochistic enough to follow the aftermath of the 2016 election. For we unhappy few, one number stands out: 81. That’s the supposed percent of white evangelicals who voted for Trump.

Depressing? Sure. But I’ve already dwelt on that enough. Instead, I want to make a few points about the weirdness of polling “evangelicals.”

Continue reading ““Cultural Evangelical” Is Now A Thing. It Shouldn’t Be.”

Reading Cynicism Out of Genre

I have a confession: I like reading genre fiction. I also have a confession about the confession: I feel ashamed about it. And I shouldn’t.

Mostly-true story

I was on the phone with a college friend–the type who makes his own cheese and wants me to read more Bertrand Russell. He asked what books I was reading, and I responded with equal parts hemming and hawing.

At the time, I was reading A Morbid Taste for Bones, a detective story set in Medieval Wales. To make things more shameful, I was enjoying it. The characters were pleasant, the puzzle was engaging, and the prose was admirable.

But of course, my friend couldn’t know this:

“I’m working through a period novel right now. Lots of insight into the Scholastic mind, meditations on guilt, and grasping with ordinary men’s capacity for brutality.”

At this point I’m afraid he’ll ask for the book’s title, so I pivot:

“I also bought Infinite Jest. I’ve just nibbled on it so far, but I’m loving what I’m seeing.” I then compared David Foster Wallace’s writing style to literary kudzu, because I read that in an article once.

This was all true enough. I had bought Infinite Jest because it was ninety-nine cents at the Kindle store, and I had enjoyed reading through the first four pages. But I knew perfectly well that I was never going to finish that thousand-paged hydra.

I just needed to balance my detective story with something literary…

Continue reading “Reading Cynicism Out of Genre”

The Youth Pastor’s Secret to Success

I’m a youth pastor connoisseur. Between high school chapels, youth groups, and special retreat speakers, I’ve seen every type imaginable. Some were good–even when I was a sneering cynic, I still liked my high school youth pastor1. Others youth pastors were…less good.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching a lot of Science Channel, but I think there’s a Unified Theory of Youth Pastors which explains all this. Here’s the thesis: the more concerned a youth pastor is with being manly, the less effective he is. Continue reading “The Youth Pastor’s Secret to Success”

The Christian Phrase that Ruined College

Wild at Heart ruined college for me. Actually, it was one phrase from the book. I’ve been turning it over in my head for a decade, and I still can’t make sense of it:

“He’s dangerous, but in a good way.”

John Eldridge claimed this is what every woman wants to say about her man. But what does it mean? Some of my theories: Continue reading “The Christian Phrase that Ruined College”

What They Don’t Tell You About the Evangelical Bubble

When I was a cynic, I loved talking about the “evangelical bubble.” It was a constant topic at my evangelical college, John Brown University1.

Cynics tell themselves that evangelicalism survives by hiding in its own cocoon. When exposed to the outside world, it shrivels in the light of reason and knowledge.

Evangelicalism may well be a bubble. But it’s one of many. When my cynical friends talk about seeing the “wider world of ideas,” they’re actually trading one bubble for another.

Continue reading “What They Don’t Tell You About the Evangelical Bubble”

Kids: How Not to Be a Cynical Jerk Toward Your Parents Forever

You may think I’ve been ragging on parents lately. That’s totally unfair. All I’ve done is write three consecutive posts (here, here, and here) detailing every single thing that parents can do wrong. Why so sensitive?

But seriously. I don’t mean to blame parents. For many evangelical cynics, their cynicism is more about their their own attitude than their parents’ mistakes.

That’s how it was for me. My parents weren’t ultimately responsible for my cynicism–I was.

Regardless, dealing with parents can be stressful. It’s even worse when you’re struggling with cynicism and doubt. So here’s my advice to kids when their parents are driving them crazy and they want to be cynical.

Continue reading “Kids: How Not to Be a Cynical Jerk Toward Your Parents Forever”

Things Parents Should NOT Do to Keep Their Kids from Becoming Cynics: Part 1

In my last post, I argued that some people become cynical jerks to stick it to their parents. Because I’m assuming most evangelical parents would prefer their kids not become cynical jerks, I have six pieces of can’t-fail advice which I just made up.

But first, one giant caveat–I’m not blaming all parents for their children’s cynicism. Some kids (like me) have great parents and still turn cynical. But if your kid does become a cynic, these things should help get through the process more easily.

Now to the fun stuff. Here are the first three suggestions:

Continue reading “Things Parents Should NOT Do to Keep Their Kids from Becoming Cynics: Part 1”

Why People Become Cynics: I Want to Be Special

At first, this looks like the opposite reason from peer pressure (the subject of my previous post). The peer-pressured become cynics to be like all the other cynics. Today’s post is about the people who become cynics because everyone else is sincere, and they want to be special.

When I think of the people who become cynics to be their own special snowflake, I think of Facebook. My newsfeed is a place where Snowflakes try to out-snowflake each other by proving they are the most cynical about evangelicalism.1

If you’re a Snowflake, here are some things you probably want to be:

Continue reading “Why People Become Cynics: I Want to Be Special”