The holidays are in fullest swing as far as we are concerned, but the “pile of stuff” is getting deep so we are going to pass it on to you – much with minimal comment. Keep enjoying your holidays!
About Idaho . . .
Spotlight on Evangelicals . . .
Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemies. Just when we start to get some press, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, about the burgeoning intellectualism in Evangelicalism, we do things that seem to defy that. Our media produces fear mongering pieces about very real problems instead of helping people to get their heads around the depths of the problem and how to combat it – or at least producing something a bit more sober. We reduce a faith system to a media image thing.
Some things to remember – As Ryan Anderson points out at The Corner, writing about a NYTimes Magazine article in the same vein as the WSJ piece, and Matt Anderson considers about the WSJ piece, there is nothing really new about intellectualism in Evangelical circles. Not to mention that much of the intellectual work from the left is, well, bunk.
In the first centuries, the church found itself with a rich array of religious writing. Gnosticism was a heresy produced a great deal of writing. The popular conception is that the early church repressed gnostic writings. While they early church wrote much against these heresies … the repression charge is somewhat hard to sustain given that the extant surviving gnostic literature is found in monastic libraries. The Early church theologians and monastics did not discard these writings because while much in them was heretical and wrong … you could find in them valuable alternative ways of writing about or thinking about the Gospel and God. To put it crudely, they panned and filtered these for the gold they contained discarding the dross. This might be a better analogy when approaching another tradition. Let, “Look for the gold” be your motto.
We’ve thought for a long time that the usefulness of the term and category “Evangelical” was about over. This seems to be proof. Everybody wants to appropriate it for their own, which means it means or stands for nothing other than what the current speaker wants it to. That’s a pretty useless word.
The Political/Religious Landscape . . .
Interesting, but possibly problematic in the future.
You know, I was born in Mississippi, I wonder what this says about me? (Pure aside involving the University of Mississippi [Ole Miss] where I was born: go see The Blind Side before the holidays are over – please. You’ll thank me.)
What’s going on with some once great political sites? Red State and Free Republic have gone over some conservative edge. Red State has gone Tea Party “purgist” and Free Republic? Well, their hatred of Romney is religious in its intensity, if not at its root.
This’ll never happen – but I will bet you even money that places like the aforementioned Red State and Free Republic will start seeing conspiracy theories in it. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Lowell adds . . .
The LDS Church’s statement, which is clearly directed at Rex Rammell, deserves a couple of comments:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is politically neutral and does not endorse or promote any candidate, party or platform. Accordingly, we hope that the campaign practices of political candidates would not suggest that their candidacy is supported by or connected to the church.
“The so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy’ is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine.”
(Emphasis added.) First, although I haven’t done any research, I think an official statement of this nature is unprecedented. It seems to me that the Church is actively protecting its image from those who would use it to their own ends. According to the article Rammell plans to go ahead with his meeting. I predict that the attendance of LDS members, which might not have been all that high anyway, will be down. The percentage of politically very extreme members – not representative of the overall U.S, membership at all – will still be quite high.
Second, the statement asks candidates to refrain from claiming not only that their campaigns are “supported by” the Church, but also that they are “connected to” the Church. That is quite significant. I take it to mean that the Church doesn’t want candidates running around emphasizing their LDS membership and implying that their candidacy is consistent with or supported by Church principles or doctrine. That’s exactly what Rammell tried to do, and I am one Mormon who is glad he did not get away with it. More about all this, and additional links, here.