Evangelicals Aren't Christian

Publicity for From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin continues and it has made me aware of the variety of radio shows in the United States once you get beyond Rush, Sean, and Glenn. I am also much more attentive than I was to the need for talk show hosts to keep a copy of the author’s book handy. Today I was on a show — name withheld to protect the guilty — where the host several times announced that the title of my book was Why Evangelicals Aren’t Conservative. But that was not as bad as the one time when he actually segued into a commercial break by referring to the book as Why Evangelicals Aren’t Christian. As provocative as I try to be, that one never dawned on me, not even now that I no longer have to worry about embarrassing my mother.

For this reason, I returned to steady spirits (as opposed to distilled ones) when I found a review of FBG2SP in yesterday’s Washington Times by William Murchison. It was even positive as the following excerpt attests:

[Hart]e does so much more, which is really the point here. He probes deep below the surface of evangelicalism to identify, with intelligence and grace, elements that conservatives might have examined with more detail back when Mr. Falwell and others came to shopping around for allies to fight the “secular humanism” they viewed with alarm. Conservatives, for one thing, might have thought more about how voters in general would view the evangelical quest, sublimated at first as Republican politics, for increasing Christianity’s political profile.

That would have started arguments about whether America was or wasn’t a Christian nation, as the evangelicals of the day sometimes alleged. Besides, their votes were wanted. Yet when Barry Goldwater, the grandest political conservative of them all back in his day, offered to kick Jerry Falwell in the place where he sat down, conservatives should have figured out that there might be some problems coming down the road. They didn’t, and now the piper demands his pay.

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34 thoughts on “Evangelicals Aren't Christian

  1. The book review was highly favorable- I just started the second chapter so it made me more desirous to get back at it again. It is all about you. I wonder if the reviewer knows any neo-Cals. I’m assuming probably not.

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  2. The review in WT contained the following quote: “There isn’t a whole lot about the evangelical instinct that could be called delicate.”

    In a way, the quote sums up why I’m not an evangelical.

    As an aside…I once served an evangelical friend a snifter of Talisker 18. He proceeded to ask me if I had any Coke to add to the whiskey. I felt like taking his whiskey away from him. And now that Talisker 18 has been discontinued, I wish that I had!

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  3. Larry Sanders is a much better show than the Bill Maher show. But you might sell a lot of books if you got on the Bill Maher show; that was what I was implying. Plus, I would be concerned about what type of questions Bill Maher might ask- it could backfire and cause more problems than good. What would your agent say about it?

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  4. I’m concerned about MM- I have not heard from him in awhile. Perhaps he is chasing Sarah Palin all over the state of Iowa. I should not joke about stuff like that- especially after reading Ephesians chapter 5 this morning.

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  5. No recent Palin sightings, Yeazel.
    Sigh.

    More to the point, no internet service for the past several days. We’re trying to figure out the problem. Meanwhile, my family is being forced to talk to one another. Really, they’re not bad folks at all. I kind of like them. Also, I found out I have two teenage daughters. That would explain the water bills and all those undergarments around the laundry room that clearly are not designed for me.

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  6. I had to google Rip Torn but found out some interesting things about him. He seems to have been an irascible fellow who ran into some troubles with Dennis Hopper (not to schmoozie). The pitfalls of stardom can cause some severe problems in one’s life. Perhaps it is better to stay away from shows like Larry Sanders and Bill Maher- especially when I heard Bill Maher ask Bryan Cranston on a recent Bill Maher show (the brains behind Breaking Bad and a supporting actor in the recent very troubling movie Drive), if he had ever used Crystal Meth, right on live TV. Cranston denied it but what’s up with that?

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  7. There is MM- I missed you this weekend. I could have used your support. I was posting like a madman this weekend trying to figure out this justification and union debate. It’s in my bones and bloodstream now and I won’t stop until I come to some kind of resolution on the matter.

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  8. John, I understand Cranston is an ordained pastor, which makes his stint on Seinfeld as a dentist who converted to Judaism “just for the jokes” sort of funny in an ironical way.

    Speaking of which, if I were ever on the Bill Maher show I’d ask him if he understood the irony of suggesting during the 2008 campaign that Palin was unfit for political office due to her religious beliefs. Sure, they may well be enough to keep her from a Reformed communion, but how is that any different from religionists suggesting the same thing about the political fitness of atheists or agnostics? But what a boring, predictable and even ill-informed question to have asked Cranston. Any watcher of “Breaking Bad” knows his character doesn’t consume his own product. A better question may have been have you ever killed or extorted anyone and justified it in your own compromised conscience.

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  9. More provocation and providence: Terry Gross is right now interviewing “Jesse” who just gave away the cliffhanger to Season 3, which takes some wind from the sails of those of us who haven’t been able to take up Season 4 yet because we refused to let Comcast blackmail us into paying more for the same service service claiming that we’d had “cable leakage” for years.

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  10. Zrim,

    I know what you think of Maher- I have heard you post about him on many occasions and I agree with your point about Palin. He is a jerk who thinks he is slick and he gets away with it all the time. Many of his panelists seem to cower to him. I would like someone to get on the show and put him in his place. Although he might have his boys, he is somewhat thuggish, do something bad to you after the show. He almost comes across as a mobster sometimes. Hence, his getting away with some of the questions he asks.

    You have missed a lot if you have not been watching Season 4. You can get it on ON DEMAND. Find a friend who has it and watch the back episodes. They have been going into the backround of the warring cartels that want the more pure Crystal Meth and thus Walt and Jesse’s services. Jesse has been turning into the hero but not in a good way. The plot still thickens with Walts cop friend who was shot and keeps getting closer to where the Meth is coming from. Meanwhile, Walt’s estranged wife is involved in a whole nother caper with the guy she had the affair with. The webs some people weave. They all are going to get stung by the Scorpion soon. I wonder how the ordained Pastor Cranston will bring some redemption to the whole scenario or if he will allow judgment to run its coarse.

    I’m not sure about your question about Cranston and his not using Crystal Meth- real life and T.V. are not the same things. So, what was the point of your point? I just reread that again and yeah your question is a better question. That basically is what the whole story is about. How we can easily compromise our consciences and how dangerous that can be. It puts someone into the hands of those who could really give a rat’s — you know what, about you.

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  11. John, my point was that there is a difference between provocative and sensationalistic. I understand Maher has to pay the bills and that sensationalism gets that done better. I take that into consideration before slighting him.

    Yes, I know I’ve missed a lot. Don’t remind me. But Vince Gilligan told Terry Gross season five will have almost as many episodes as season four. Also, “Jesse” told her that his rearing as a preacher’s kid helped prepare him for acting, drawing straight lines from preaching American-style to acting. More provocation, at least for experimental Cavinists.

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  12. Zrim,

    I find it hard to believe that there will be a season five. It seems to be coming to a head and I don’t know how they could continue it for another long season.

    Jesse does play his role well (where are you getting all this information on Jesse and Walt’s backround?- can you send me some of this stuff if you can link it; send it to my email or facebook page). There is an especially powerful scene after he shot the other chemist and was feeling extreme remorse about it and attended an AA meeting. I will leave it that- you have got to see it. There are hints though that there was a mystery man in the parking lot, after the shooting, who may have done the deed and Jesse missed. They would have had to have pulled the trigger at almost the exact same time. Jesse is still oblivious to this.

    You made me feel bad about my slight on Maher- not!! You have to admit you get real bad vibes when watching him sometimes; I know I do. He does get lots of people on the show who do disagree with him though so you have to respect that about him. And sometimes his critique of evangelicalism and religion in general is spot on.

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  13. Bravo Zrim, well done. I don’t feel conviction over slighting Maher because he is so good at slighting others.

    If you like Breaking Bad you need to go see the movie Drive with Ryan Gosling (the new heart-throb), Canston and Albert Brooks as the main actors in the movie. Along with that girl who was Gordon Gecko’s daughter in the last Wall Street movie. It is not for the faint of heart though- some gruesome violent scenes. It seems to be on the edge of the new genre in movies where there is not a lot of dialog but reams of things communicated by the scenes, facial expressions and mood expressed by the music and scenes themselves. I found this to be true in the movie the Tree of Life too. I left the movie deeply disturbed and troubled. The only redemption I saw in it was a deeply knifed Gosling at the end the movie, drive off, to who knows where, who had a semblance of humanity still left in him.

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  14. There is also a scene in the Gosling movie where he stomps on the head of an enemy who tried to kill him in an elevator. I guess you could call that redemptive too. All the main ememies of the people of God in the Old Testament had something done to their heads that was rather gruesome- Goliath, Jezebel, etc., etc.

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  15. Thanks for the link, Mark. Relevant to a conversation several weeks ago, I enjoyed the following:

    “Anyway, to return to my use of confessional evangelicalism in arguing for a particular form of Christianity, I use the term `Christianity’ here, rather than `evangelicalism’ because I am not persuaded that the latter actually exists as anything other than a loose network of non-ecclesiastical institutions (professional societies, seminaries, publishers etc.). Thus, terms such as `liberal evangelicalism,’ `generic evangelicalism,’ `open evangelicalism,’ and `confessional evangelicalism’ all run the risk of mistakenly assuming the real existence of a sort of Platonic ideal of `evangelicalism’ in which they each participate. In other words, they each imply a realist view of evangelicalism; I am increasingly a nominalist in my approach. Evangelicalism, at least as a doctrinal movement as opposed to a network of institutions, does not possess any real existence beyond the imaginations of those who have a vested interest in the idea.”

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  16. Still at it, Doc Hart? 😉

    Some people use movies to interact with life:

    Joe Fox: The Godfather is the I-ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” What day of the week is it? “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday.”

    Some (yours truly) think “Lutheran Satire” is an even better I-ching than “The Godfather” to interact with life. Without further ado, here is my reference link that I will only post once – otherwise I’ll end up in moderation purgatory: http://thehighmidlife.blogspot.com/2011/09/overdue-directors-commentaries.html

    Re: Driscoll & Mahaney
    Answer: video #3 – How to start a cult (Ep.6)

    Re: TGC & Niceness, Touchy Feelies & Other Miscellany
    Answer: video #1 – The Feast of the 156th Fruits (Ep. 9) and/or video#4 How to Have an Official Position (Ep. 7) and/or video #2. …and you lost me

    Now, before I get piled on, I’m Lutheran and this is merely a humorous palate cleanser offering for the Doc Etal. Please forgive me if I hurt anyone’s little feelers. 😉

    On second thought, I may belong in moderation purgatory, but this was too delicious of a temptation to not bite and you can always delete me, Doc. 😉

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  17. Lily,

    If you try to link more than one article or video on this site it will automatically put you in moderation. Darryl blamed it on Hal the computer when I was crying about it last weekend- no one loves me and everyone ignores me. Jeff gently told me about trying to post more than one link. I am not as nice as Jeff. Good to hear from you Lily!!!

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  18. Hi John Y,

    How are things in your neck of the woods? It’s fun to see that you and others are still here. I just realized I commented to the wrong post! Anywho, I almost fell over when I saw a clip of Driscoll’s confession of his “gift” last week. Spooky stuff!

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  19. Nice links Lily- I love the one with the guy who is giving the donations to his church; that was really funny. I laughed hard on that one. Driscoll’s gift of clairvoyance?- yeah, that is spooky, weird and bizarre.

    I am doing well and hope you are too. Any good reading and links you might want to pass my way? You always have some good stuff to read.

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  20. Glad you enjoyed the links, John. There were a number of fairly universal elements, especially in the punch lines at the end of the videos, that spoke satirically to the situation in the post. Then again, my humor is rather warped with not much hope of it changing anytime in the near future. I’m thinking the Calvinists need their own version of Pastor Fiene to nail some of their stuff – ya thank?

    Things are not the greatest for me, so I haven’t much to pass on. I have a chronic illness that has been giving me trouble/time consuming, but things could be worse. If you haven’t seen it, Uwe Siemon-Netto has a very interesting blog: http://uwesiemon.blogspot.com Natch, his posts are wonderful since his vocation is journalism.

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