April 2, 2020

iMonk 101: One Stock That Needs To Drop

UPDATE: Associated Baptist Press took out the numbers that apply to Baptists and confirmed by warnings about the impending generational horizon.

So let’s move on….back to some of the predecessors of this little furor.

From October of ’08, this was a shorter piece on evangelicalism called “One Stock That Needs To Drop.”

If you enjoyed “Collapse,” this is a shorter bit, with a twist at the end. Don’t let the economic metaphor depress you.

Couple of notes from today’s discussion:

I got a lot of email from atheists cheering me for some of what I’ve said. I think it’s ironic that atheists oftentimes see things that Christians themselves refuse to see. One agnostic said the post made him hopeful that perhaps, in the future, he might return to the faith.

But many atheists were doing the Dawkins Shuffle: celebrating the hoped for demise and elimination of evangelicalism, and applauding me for saying our fat, over-hyped movement was going to lose some of its fizz.

Listen, atheists- I don’t want you to go away. I don’t want to convert you. In my worldview, it would be great if you were Christians, but that is entirely up to you. It’s your journey, all the way to wherever. (Read Lewis’s Great Divorce for one version you didn’t hear at church.) Hearing you wish my kind would be eliminated from planet earth is….creepy. Do you guys realize what you sound like when you talk like that? (I’m avoiding being more specific. Internet etiquette.)

How’s this: You can applaud when we expose our issues and failures. We’ll remember Jesus said that was OK. You can do that. But how about laying off the wishes for us to be wiped out like insects in your garage. I realize that fits in with the “survival of the fittest” thing, but I don’t think you’ll win too many converts when you have to sound like…….like….Well, there we are again. Net etiquette. People who want to wipe out other people.

Just a suggestion for a few of you. I enjoyed many of your comments, especially “j,” whom I thought needs to be put on tour at evangelical venues just to say, “That’s not true.” He may be wrong on a few of those, but he laid it down on some of evangelicalism’s biggest delusions. Thanks friend.

In all, what I want to say is Jesus asked us to love our enemies, and as uncomfortable as some of your rhetoric makes me, I respect you and strive, as a student of Jesus, to discover love for you in my experience of God.

READ: One Stock That Needs To Drop.

Comments

  1. This is actually NOT re:BHT, I am just posting to say my goodness, your article is getting linked absolutely everywhere. And I’m leaving out the saucy one!

  2. Hearing you wish my kind would be eliminated from planet earth is….creepy. Do you guys realize what you sound like when you talk like that? (I’m avoiding being more specific. Internet etiquette.)

    iMonk,
    I am glad you mentioned it, because I am not sure I could have put it so nicely. By the way, for those who wish to avoid a den of “creepy” talk, I would caution you about the link on the word “everywhere” in re:BHT’s comment.

  3. Good word, Michael.

  4. I wonder when the atheism movement will die out. i mean even having attended a state university that just hosted a talk by Richard Dawkins, i would say that atheists were a small – if vocal – minority.

    i wonder when they’ll realize that if they’re scientific atheists, that the question is outside the investigative ability of science, and just turn into pagans. honestly, all this scarlet ‘a’ stuff and the Dawkins sensation seems so passé.

    – its a fundamentalist movement that only survives by volume and vitriol.

    – it only identifies itself in terms of what it’s against.

    – it’s intolerant of any dissent, especially in the academy.

    – it has lost (and never really had a chance in) the culture war.

    – its main figureheads are largely loudmouthed, arrogant, cruel people who can’t seem to manage any civility toward those with whom they disagree.

    isn’t that ironic?

  5. The ironic thing is Tim, that I think those terms could just as easily describe a lot of institutional Evanglicals out there.

  6. Chris Martin says

    @Jeff M:
    Ditto about the “everywhere” link. Jeesh. That forum is just embarrassing. I was happy to see things progressing with more civility in the io9 forum. It has become more and more obvious to me over the past couple of years that it’s not just fundamentalists that scream that if you don’t agree with their conclusions then you must just be “too sinful or too stupid to see the light.”

  7. P.Z. Myers noticed you?

    Oh, Michael – you’re really hitting the big time! 🙂

    Will you remember all us little people when the tv interviews and book-signing tours roll round?

    (And you know, seeing the varied range of new readers turning up and denouncing you as a running dog lackey of secularism/cheering you as a running dog lackey of secularism/urging you to learn science and forget all this superstitious religion stuff/urging you to turn your back on godless science and embrace their church, congregation, conventicle, or the One True Faith, I was just waiting for the first mention of Obscure Marian Apparition to turn up and yes! one of the comments mentioned Garabandal! Result!) 😉

  8. wendy gilliatt says

    Funny…my church experience would cause me to disbelieve your hypothesis. However, I go to a wonderful church and understand that not all are as mine is…http://www.safe-place.org/.

    We don’t own a building…don’t have membership rolls…but we are very biblically based.

    My husband and I have both grown exponentially in our spiritual lives since we have been attending.

    Interestly, if I focus on ‘end time prophecies’ your article would certainly seem to provide the basis for a ‘falling away’ — if we are indeed nearing Christ’s return. I did note however, you don’t seem to enter Christ into the equation much, until the end, when you include him in the description of yourself…

    Just some observations…good day to you.

  9. Wendy- I talk about your kind of church a lot. It’s the new church plant that is going to do well if it doesn’t repeat the errors of evangelicalism.

  10. MODERATOR NOTE: Chris’s post isn’t appropriate for this forum, primarily because he’s using the word “you” to me and he doesn’t know me at all. But what he says is an important experience we need to acknowledge. Out of respect for Chris, and despite his avowed hatred of me for giving him my blog to share his story, I’m allowing the comment. Sorry for the length.

    Your blog post on the collapse of Evangelical Christianity made it to the CSMonitor online oped section so I followed the backlink here.

    I’ve grown up Catholic, dismissed it in eighth grade is irrelevant to my life (it truly was) and then fell for the trap of a sense of community at the youth group of an Evangelical Church.

    My problems were two-fold. First, my family was so dysfunctional that none of us kids could trust an enabling mom and a verbally abusive father and tormented each other as a way to cope.

    My second problem is that I was and am gay. This was long before Exodus or any other form of church sponsored response was formulated and I fell into that class of “stubborn problem” people that elders and others avoided because they had no answer.

    As I became more open about that and family related issues, I was even marginalized in the youth group. Having grown up in the Midwest, I was indoctrinated by the larger community – including the church – and my family to believe I was inherently defective and disposable.

    Except for the last church I attended, I continued to receive this kind of treatment at every church I tried. As is usually the case, those of us considered “failures” by the others tended to find each other and form supportive friendships where possible.

    The last church I attended was a “Fellowship Bible Church” – pretty much adhering to the focus on grace that was the driving force for that movement.

    I benefited a great deal from a sort of ersatz friendship with the counseling pastor and, for the first time, felt like I was making some progress in a sense of self respect and appreciation for my own judgment.

    So why did I leave? It’s because of a handful of issues that you captured in the blog posting about the self-serving nature of people who tend to flock to such churches, the bigotry I was exposed to outside of the church pastors and one more thing. Suicidal depression over the innate contradiction between my sexuality and my faith.

    As much as they try to deny it, Evangelicals by their very actions teach revulsion and hatred of anything homosexual in nature.

    They teach that because that’s really how they feel. You talk about how much you’re hated by non-Christians but you refuse to take the log out of your eye and see why.

    I’ll admit that it’s guilt by association and therefore reflexive bigotry, but those attempting to impose their world view and ethos through legal means is nothing short of Pharisaical.

    Those who do this while claiming to be Christians are anything but. Instead of getting out of your comfort zones and welcoming relationship with the very people you see as sinning (like Jesus), you’re drawing thick, black circles of exclusion and telling us that our behavior is the only thing you care about.

    Guess who did that in Jesus’ day? Guess who he spent the largest amount of time being publicly critical of? People like them – the Pharisees.

    He did it publicly for a reason. He was trying as hard as he could to discredit that mindset so he could finally get them to understand that welcoming, loving actions were the essence of what he was teaching and THAT was what God wanted.

    The bizarre thing to non-Christians is that you are all so clueless. You’ve managed to convince most of us that, at best, you’re totally indifferent to our well being and, more likely, hate us.

    When was the last time YOU (any of you) actually visited someone in prison? When was the last time YOU took care of a non-christian who was sick? When was the last time any of YOU invited an abortion doctor, prostitute or homosexual over for dinner?

    Most of you won’t even get out of your comfort zone enough to actually evangelize even. Oh – and God forbid that one of you would be willing to admit to your own problems!

    Is the rate of divorce for Evangelicals still higher than the overall average? The counseling pastor once told me that the incidence and severity of dysfunctionality in families was just has high in the church as out.

    Yet the only people I ever heard publicly admitting that their lives weren’t perfect were the counseling pastor and the founding pastor.

    Am I sounding angry? I believe I have reason. Do I hate you with a broad brush stroke? Yeah, I have to admit I do as a gay man these days.

    But I’m far from alone. I’m also far from alone in seeing you as followers of the hypocritical Pharisees rather than the guy you name yourselves after.

    You want cultural relevance? You want us to stop angry with you and hating you? Stop trying to run our lives. Start loving us where we are by what you DO rather than just mouthing the words.

    Finally, stop hiding your own problems from each other and us. It’s painfully obvious you ALL have them. How can you expect us to trust you when you’re so dishonest even with each other?

    I hope I’ve answered your question about why you provoke such a strong reaction from so many of us non-christians. If you want to talk further, you have my email.

    Chris

  11. Woohoo! I win the Internet!

  12. J:

    Could you write me at iMonk57@gmail.com?

    The guys at my group blog, The Boars Head Tavern, have enjoyed your posts and would like to invite you over.

    peace

    ms

  13. I think it was on Steve Brown Etc, but I heard someone make the distinction between athiests and anti-thiests (a la Dawkins). Thought it an interesting distinction.

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    The ironic thing is Tim, that I think those terms could just as easily describe a lot of institutional Evanglicals out there. — Rampancy

    Every group has their lunatic fringe and high-profile jerks. (If anything, the no-life jerks have an advantage because 100% of their being gets channeled into their jerkness. With no jobs or lives on the Outside, they can be that way full-time instead of part-time.)

    The danger is when the jerk types end up taking over and start running the lunatic asylum without any reality check.

  15. Wishing for “evangelism”, whatever that is, or Christianity to fade from dominance and popularity (in the same way nobody worships Hercules any more) is not the same as wanting to march Christians into death camps.

    Most non-Christians would simply say that they want the most crazy and superstitious teachings of Christianity, like Noah’s Ark and the Apocalypse of St. John, to disappear. Few atheists are protesting at the Unitarian Church.

  16. I taught Sunday School with a lesbian and I’ve taken communion from a gay man. Not all Christians hate gays.

    I’d say they’re just as Godly as the folks at the local fundamentalist mega-church over in the rich part of town. As are atheists, for that matter.

    We’re all sinners, but from where I sit, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality but he said a lot about greed and love of power. But it’s easy to ignore that beam in our national eye.

  17. I like and agree with a lot of your “opinions”. Keep writing, keep listening, keep praying!
    Thanks,
    JBP

  18. From rtechie

    Most non-Christians would simply say that they want the most crazy and superstitious teachings of Christianity, like Noah’s Ark and the Apocalypse of St. John, to disappear. Few atheists are protesting at the Unitarian Church.

    —-

    I know some Unitarians. They accept atheists, buddhists, muslims, and spaghetti-monster followers with equal openness. What they don’t accept is someone who thinks one of these truth-claims is actually umm, true.

    One thing Jesus did not say was “follow me, or whatever feels good to you”. He made claims that are either true or completely absurd. Of course, my faith in their truth is a difficult thing for many non-believers. How could it be otherwise? But to use Unitarians as an example of those you admire is to say that you will only admire us when we give up our faith in the truth of Jesus life, death and resurrection. I can assure you that this will not happen.

    In fact, I am starting to wonder if the need to be loved and be accepted by the world and by even atheists, is not being used here, and in the culture in general, to try to strip people of their faith? If so, it is devilish in its source and vastly worse than the intolerance and occasional bad-behavior it claims to address.

  19. Chris, you make some very good points, particularly your observation that Christians are better described as followers of the Pharisees rather than Christ. I also appreciated your challenge as to when have I ever visited prisoners, cared for the sick, or invited a “sinner” into my home. I am so sorry for the experiences you’ve had with those who claim to follow Christ.