Thursday, February 7, 2013

How To Lose Post-Evangelical Friends And Un-Influence People

This post, “How to lose post-evangelical friends and un-influence people”, is a satirized response to the equally satirical blog post "Post-Evangelical Blogging For Dummies". I know this is out of the ordinary for this book-review blog, but I took an opportunity to review and otherwise poke fun at a blog someone shared with me recently from a fundamentalist position. It's supposed to be funny. Reading the referenced blog post "Post-Evangelical Blogging..." I hyperlinked above will help make sense of this whole thing.

“How to lose post-evangelical friends and un-influence people”

I have people come up to me all the time at conferences and speaking engagements—well I actually have to interrupt a conversation about the keynote speaker’s topic, but that’s beside the point—asking how such a sardonic and pedantic person like myself continues to blog about the obvious, while vilifying stereotypes that in the end are only straw men distracting me from the fact that I’m still living in my grandma’s theological basement.

I could offer hackneyed answers like “I thank God I’m not like other people”, or “a strict diet of fatted calf”, but then I realize I’m alone in a room again. And though God may hear my rant, he doesn’t laugh loud enough, and he’s honestly kind of cheap with compliments.

So here are my secrets on how to lose post-evangelical friends and un-influence people:

א) Totally disregard personal experience. News flash: your story is boring. The Truth has nothing to do with what you think about The Truth. “The Truth is out there”, said one brilliant person it would not behoove me to name, like the sun above the sky, unflinching and unchanging—immutable if you will—and this Truth is as old and impersonal as the stars. Even God can’t change Truth. Thankfully, people like me know The Truth, and it remains unpolluted by my personal bias, opinion, or my…story (how cute). People like me are, if you will, like safety deposit boxes for God’s message to mankind. Hey, don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

ב) Never leave home. God did not call us to adventure, or change, or risk, or anything of the sort. Stay where you are and no one gets hurt. God always send an ark. Those little questions that you find constantly nagging you, that make you think your moral compass has been magnetized and is off by 90 degrees—ignore it. Keep the faith, the old faith, the unchangeable faith of whichever protestant denomination you happened to be born in. Test the boundaries and you might step on a landmine and become a hipster, or the Dude, or Peter Griffin, or Anderson Cooper. Beware the sheep in wolves clothing. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.

ג) Pain or crises don’t change a thing. Honest questioning is honest…’confusioning’. We’re human, after all, and God has placed in each of us an unerring conscience that always speaks the truth very clearly. No grey with God (ooh, I like that). And this truth never conflicts with the Bible. You have to steel your mind against any persuasion that comes knocking at the door as if it’s Christ himself. Shut your ears, cover your eyes, fatten your heart. We’re in for a long ride. Keep your arms and legs inside your creed at all times.

ד) Remember that you are right. You’ve always been right. How could you be wrong? The Bible is right. If you believe in the Bible, you’re right. How do you know the Bible is right? You just know it, that’s all. Nothing external to the Bible has the authority to confirm or deny the claims of the Bible. You just know in your heart. But how do you know your heart is right? We just covered this…because the Bible is right, and you believe it in your heart, therefore you’re right. What part of this do you find confusing? Your mind is playing tricks on you again.

This brings us to the phrase that is anathema to all right people: revelence. I mean, relevance (Spat!!). What is all this talk about relevance? What madman came up with it? What is it, some kind of post-evangelical conspiracy? Look, did Noah care if he was relevant when the ark shut out a whole world of screaming adults and children and little doggies so that his family could be safe? Did Moses care if he was relevant when he told the priests to kill his own people for worshipping an idol while he was having coffee with God? Or did John the Baptist care if he was relevant when he went out to the desert to wear camel’s hair and eat locusts and wild honey? Did Jesus care if he was relevant when he busted out a whip in the temple or told the rich, young ruler to take a hike?

The fate of the prophets, of which I am obviously a true form, was not to be ‘relevant’. It was to have a ‘forehead harder than flint” and “bitterness in the heat of my spirit”. The post-evangelicals—well, now I’m splitting hairs—let’s just say the world as a whole is as “briars, and thorns, and scorpions” to me, an earth swarming with rebellious people who are, starting in alphabetical order, “arrogant, boastful, disobedient to parents, haters of God, insolent, inventors of evil, slanderers without understanding, unloving, unmerciful, untrustworthy; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t add “Jesus loves you”, where ‘you’ is ‘them’; but he’s also just a liiiiiiiiiitle mad at you. Maybe a lot of mad.

Stereotypification is the tir pas cher du jour. I’ve decided I don’t have to take opportunists seriously, so the only thing between me and a good nap is bringing all post-evangelicals (I really love that word) under the rubric of ‘opportunist’. How do I do it so easily? Easy. I just do, and—BAM!—it’s done. Gay people, pro-choicers, feminists, feminist sympathizers, humanitarians, raw-writers, sin-shunners, intellectual wannabes…they all get thrown in the blender, and out comes a nice, cool, smoothie of invigorating “WRONG!!”

I hope this helps. Here’s a tract. Stop by my grandma’s church sometime. Nice altar there. You can get saved.