Enter the Hero Missionary

I was seventeen, sitting in my high school’s weekly chapel, and picturing my future self. I called him Missionary Matt, and he was super cool:

I’m in a thatched-hut village in the Congo. I kneel beside a war orphan, checking his ears for infection and telling jokes to lighten his mood. The sun beats through the ferns, bronzing my arms and beading sweat on my skin-tight v-neck. Finishing the treatment, I stand up and pat the boy on the head. He scampers off to his family, prattling about this amazing American stranger. I stride toward the Chief to discuss the well I’m building for the village. But then my Bantu friend, Shaka, bursts through the underbrush with wild eyes. Western poachers have entered the jungle, he cries, and they’re after the gorillas! Nodding, I grab my machete and bullwhip from the jeep, readjust my cowboy hat, and barrel into the heart of darkness. Continue reading “Enter the Hero Missionary”

Why I “Became” a “Feminist”

Last week, I noted that an overly-cynical approach to manliness “leads to humiliation.” I already told the story about how I tried pretending to be a “Wild at Heart” manly man to impress people. This week is the story of how I pretended to be post-masculinity feminist to impress people.

Here’s the mostly true story:

Continue reading “Why I “Became” a “Feminist””

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”

Why Do Cynics Love Knocking Evangelicals?

I’m about to start a series where I analyze the myriad reasons people become cynical about evangelicalism. But that begs the question: why does evangelicalism attract so much cynicism?

I think it’s the convergence of several factors. They include:

  • Evangelicals are sincere. Instead of the self-aware distance our culture adopts, evangelicals engage with people openly and directly. When somebody is so gosh-darn sincere about how his new beliefs changed his life, he’s wide open to cynicism.
  • Evangelicalism is simplified. At the risk of starting a larger theological argument, evangelicalism lacks the complexity of other Christian traditions. Evangelicalism is about a handful of simple ideas clearly presented.1 It’s easy to attack somebody whose beliefs are “simpler” than yours.

Continue reading “Why Do Cynics Love Knocking Evangelicals?”

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?”

Continue reading “What is an Evangelical Anyway?”