Why I Don’t Think Much About Atheism Anymore

So I’ve been on this YA kick because I’m researching a writing project.1 As such, I started on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.2 The prologue did a great job of setting up an enticing premise. Then in the first chapter, the protagonist–a teenager from a dystopian future trailer park–gives his personal philosophical manifesto. For some reason.3

The speil was predictable new atheist talking points: how evolution is true, and how that somehow disproves the supernatural. How humanity is on its own and we should just deal with it. How all religion is just fairytales used to manipulate the non-enlightened.

At age twenty, this sort of thing would have sent me into a cocoon. I would have journaled my inner thoughts and doubts, constructed arguments and counter-arguments examining the issue from all sides, and stared in horror at the unblinking stars as I contemplated being alone in the universe.

But that didn’t happen this time. I shrugged it off and continued on. My main emotion was irritation that such a silly argument could have such widespread acceptance.4

Is it bad that Matt of 305 doesn’t spend as much time with this stuff as Matt of 20? Have I become intellectually lazy or stubborn? At the risk of being self-serving, I don’t think so. Here’s why:

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Kids Need Imagination. And So Does the Church. And So Do I.

This past weekend was the Anselm Society’s big yearly conference: Your Imagination Redeemed. It was a blast–speakers and artists from across the country gathered to talk about the role of imagination in the Church.

In an effort to apply as much of what I’ve learned as possible, I’ve decided to share some initial takeaways from the big blob of information that I’m still trying to process.

So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Imagination is Important

It’s easy to think of imagination as a kids’ trifle. We assume the important things are verifiable, commodifiable facts. This attitude is (especially?) prevalent among evangelicals. The only real Important Things are doctrinal issues. Imagination is important, if at all, only to the extent it aids the Important Things.

One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Anthony Esolen, noted that this humans-as-robots sort of thinking isn’t actually how the world works. Yes, it’s important to teach doctrine. But what really forms us is our imagination.

If we only focus on doctrine and ignore imagination, we’ve given away the game without realizing 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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Guest Post: On Beauty, Truth, and Janitor’s Closets

I’m happy to introduce the blog’s very first guest post. It’s by Amy Lee–a fellow member writer in the Anselm Society Arts Guild. To get more of her (excellent) writing, visit her website, sunsteepeddays.com.

 

When I was a very young Christian, I went looking for truth in a janitor’s closet.

Thankfully the situation wasn’t as dismal as it sounds, because this was a rather exceptional janitor’s closet. It housed the library for a tiny international school, which took up the third and fourth floors of an old Korean office building. The closet was windowless and could only hold up to two patrons at a time — if the door was open — but what I found on its shelves had an enormous effect on my fledgling understanding of Christianity.

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Why I Like My Grandma’s Church

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.

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What is an Evangelical Anyway?

My blog is about quitting cynicism toward evangelicals. But before I talk about that, we need definitions. What is an evangelical anyway?

This is weirdly complicated, and has gotten me in trouble a lot. I’ll explain with a mostly-true story:

I denied my faith in the Yale Law School courtyard. Or maybe I didn’t, I’m not really sure. It started with a question from one of my classmates during our year-end picnic:

“What are you, some kind of evangelical?”

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