April 5, 2020

The Vilesidious Lectures: Advanced Tactics For Apostasy

305227944_84dfba947e_mUPDATE: Vilesidious has appeared at IM before, writing a young protege on the subject of Christian schools.

The transcript of the following lecture was secured through means that cannot be revealed, but as C.S. Lewis said, are readily available to those who learn a few basic techniques. The general conclusion is that the following lecture is part of an advanced demonic curriculum specializing in leading Christians to abandon their faith.

Transcript of Class Discussion. Advanced Tactics for Apostasy Seminar. Professor Vilesidious presiding.

If you would please turn to page 853 in the teal binder. We’re looking at the outline and readings regarding “Advanced Techniques for Apostasy.”

***noise, pages turning, conversation***

It would be important at the outset to continue emphasizing the focus of this seminar: moving professed and generally assumed Christians to the point of abandoning the faith. Those of you selected for this seminar should be completely aware that much of what you learned in the basic curriculum is of questionable value at this level. A survey of case studies, such as Ehrman 32 for example, will reveal that failure in the basics of preventing a profession of loyalty to the enemy is of often the preparation for greater success in abandoning a very public and influential Christian influence. For that reason, apostasy is far preferable for our Father’s overall goals for the human race. Those of you who are able to assimilate this material and put it into practice will find your advancement in the lowerarchy to be substantially accelerated.

My own experience in advanced apostasy is available to you in the syllabus. I would not want to leave the impression that the considerable accomplishments you will observe there were simply the result of academic study. Far from it. I have made apostasy a passion and I cannot imagine any more satisfying contribution to the Kingdom of Darkness than to accomplish the discouragement of hundreds, even millions on the basis of one person’s renouncing of faith in the enemy.

Now, today’s topic is playing the counter to current apologetic efforts and the basic theme of your readings can be stated as the following:

The dominant themes of Christian apologetics provide the outline of a general approach to apostasy by way of creating subversive resources outside of the realms of those “answers.”

We are discussing a response to the proliferation of Christian apologetics that is proving devastating on the battlefield. In the past 10 years, literally millions who have been exposed to supposed high levels of apologetics answers have despaired of God and abandoned faith into the waiting arms of the agents of darkness. Millions more can be expected. A coming evangelical collapse is not too much to hope for.

The enemy himself has never given high levels of confidence to the apologetic task within Christianity, but Christians themselves have followed a general path of emphasizing the intellectual over the actual, the relational and the existential. The enemy’s use of a written scripture as a key component in his program has led to the inevitable and happy exploitation of the academic nature of faith at the expense of true experience. With moderate amounts of work on our part, the impression has been created that “the Bible has all the answers” and all matters of concern, all problems, all difficulties are addressed within scripture in a sort of “encyclopedic manner.”

So the vast majority of apologetic efforts are actually a collection of answers, generally put forward with a ridiculously arrogant amount of confidence. Look at the absurd claims regarding “proving” the existence of God or “answering all objections” to the resurrection. I have see quite intelligent Christians say that all objections to the resurrection have been answered and no other position exists except to accept it as a fact.

All the while, everyone in the audience knows that all dead people stay dead. Their “gut” is commited to the notion there is no resurrection. It’s a laughable strategy, but the apologists and their publishers and promoters are endlessly trumpeting it. Only the vile and unfair tampering and cheating of the enemy can get past the obviousness of such reality.

Now it would do all of you well to stop and watch a video available in the library this week of one Ravi Zacharias answering questions at a state university somewhere, with the accompanying commentary by Bilgewilber and Wretchitorious. They make it plain that the kind of question and answer demonstrated by Zacharias is not of the variety I referred to earlier, but is characterized more by an overall seriousness in considering all questions without pretending that a few scripture verses or bullet points can be produced to end the dilemma. This can be problematic, even devastating. Zacharias is actually humble, which is difficult to watch. I much prefer listening to the internet webcast by ***garbled*** for a better demonstration of the confidence of the NBA ball player and the resulting set up for blowing away the childish structure of answers.

Question?

Calvinists? Yes, but not exclusively, and especially the “presuppositionalists.” Quite an amusing bunch they are. But someone like Josh Macdowell is not part of the reformed movement and millions of Christians seem to think he has answered all possible question somewhere in his “Evidence” books. So don’t be over specific to the type of apologist. Apologists generally operate at a sub-denominational level for the most part. Some notable exceptions. Labels will do you little good. Look for the flaw in the method.

So the basic agenda is to work in the vast- and I mean truly vast- spaces left between the answers and in the whole realms not addressed by the apologetic techniques.

Look at the conversation I monitored just yesterday. “What was the reason _____ left the faith?” Now what is the questioner looking for?

(Student answer) “A single reason. Probably a reason that can be answered by a standard apologetic answer in some answer book or seminar.”

Correct. The questioner is looking for some single issue- like the problem of suffering- to which an answer will be supplied and the problem remedied. It’s quite ridiculous.

In case study 74097 you’ll see a young man with exceptional Christian background who falls in love with a non-Christian girl. In six months, all traces of faith are in full retreat and apostasy is likely. No “issue” is at stake. This is the actual ground of human experience and addressing it intellectually will only work with an increasing minority of humans. All that was needed was a real life choice between what was empty cardboard and what seems like the meaning of life. Too easy. (Of course, the enemy knows this trick as well and has used it for years.)

Another case……62223. This is a fellow who was walking around for at least three years horrified by the notion that God would eternally punish a creature he created in his own image and at one time loved. We took the fellow’s sense of justice and tortured him with it until he was willing really to do anything to get away from religion. He only needed to read a new atheist for 15 minutes and he had permission to dump a God who presided over a lake of fire.

By the way, it’s exceptionally ironic that the creator has endowed his creatures with the capacity to be completely overwhelmed by the implications of love and justice. Apart from Jesus ***mumbling*** – excuse the use of the name- these attributes of God will drive humans to despair. Take almost any of them, but especially sovereignty, justice or love. It’s like being forced to look at the sun. (Something those of us in the spiritual world know all too well.) But Jesus makes the deity tolerable without resolving all questions. To that end, may we all be encouraged by the disappearance of teaching and preaching about Jesus. Another 50 years of what we see with Osteen, and victory is at hand.

So the entire point is to find areas far, far from the chess board of apologetic answers. Despair comes to those who believe there is no relief. Apostasy is sweet relief to those who are empty, tired of hypocrisy, weary of the church, stuffed full of Christian junk thinking and forced to swallow unsatisfying answers. The sign on the bus is brilliant: There is no God. Just enjoy your life. It’s not great logic. It doesn’t answer the quest for truth. It is no foundation for life. It’s utterly inadequate….but to the human in the vise grip of religion, it looks like an open door to relief, even paradise.

They do not need answers. They need community. Relationships. Satisfaction. All those disgusting aspects of Trinitarian creation. We push the view that they are brains in a jar. They know they are children looking for a Father. Your job is to make the search itself a torment so that the abandonment of the search is a pleasure.

Question?

***something about the new atheists***

There is a division on the use of the answer of those bright boys. I’m of the opinion that they are a bit too cartoonish for long term value. But I realize there are millions who find the discovery of a loud and obnoxious atheist to be reassuring. I don’t understand why anyone is cheering Richard Dawkins like a rock star, but I’m old school. His logic makes me shudder, but our program is nothing if not admiring of pragmatism. It works. Use it. But I’d caution against filling despairing, weary souls with large amounts of Hitchens or Harris. The final result may be to swear off atheism as just as intolerable as fundamentalism. No real progress there.

In the end, we are looking to make the feeling of being alone the dominant desire. Leave me alone. Stop thinking for me. Stop promising what isn’t true. Stop preaching. Stop talking. Just leave me alone. Religion these day can produce some wonderful monastic style apostates. They won’t need much reassurance. They just need to be reassured they never have to take on anyone’s version of the Christian God.

One more question?

The Creation “Museum.” Oh I love it. I surely do.

Comments

  1. Did you write this Micheal? If so, brilliant! Esp. the last bit about the Creation “Museum.” Hilarious and sad all at the same time.

    • Christiane says

      I wonder how many have looked at the Creation Museum and walked away from Christianity thinking that it was a mockery?

    • One of the worst things is that the “Museum” isn’t a museum at all. It’s a large religious tract. Advertising it as a museum is completely misleading. It’s an evangelistic walk-through.

      • Exactly There should be a new term for it, I propose “propagantorium” 😉

        • That word sounds ominously like the room all wealthy Romans utilized during their feasts when they had eaten too much, but still wanted to eat and enjoy more.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        As was said in another thread a month or two ago:

        We (RCCs) have the Pontifical Academy and Vatican Observatory.

        They (Evangelicals) have the Kentucky Creation Museum.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Nya ha ha, My Dear Wormwood…

    • “In the end, we are looking to make the feeling of being alone the dominant desire. Leave me alone. Stop thinking for me. Stop promising what isn’t true. Stop preaching. Stop talking. Just leave me alone.”

      WOW, that’s exactly how I have been feeling the past 4 or 5 years.

      • A great, great insight, although not a new one. See The Brothers Karamzov, Book VI (The Russian Monk), section titled “The Mysterious Visitor”, esp the comments on ‘solitariness’… (I just came across it 5 minutes ago while reading the novel…)

  2. And btw Michael, I’m sorry for what motivated this post. My prayers are with you and the young man.

  3. I got half-way through and then had to break to say: this is genius.

  4. What did you mean by, “They just need to be reassured they never have to take on anyone’s version of the Christian God”? Does “take on” mean to accept or to challenge? And is “anyone’s version of the Christian God” a reference to denominations?

    “Monastic style apostates,” quoted by the Internet Monk … hmm, there’s a message there.

    • I’m kind of curious about the “They just need .. ” sentence, as well. Perhaps Pro. Vilesidious should have attached a final caution — something like: “While inspiring apathy, frustration, and cynicism toward the versions or pictures of the enemy perpetuated by religious leaders and institutions can be a most effective way of getting people to isolate themselves apart from Christian community and fellowship — a condition (as you should already know) in which their lives and faith are much more easily destroyed — it is important to keep in mind that the enemy can turn this strategy against us with disastrous results. I’m refering to those cases in which a person goes seeking the enemy outside the auspices of organized religion and actually finds Him. The vile and blasphemous message that the enemy has made Himself accessible and knowable to all people without the necessity of professional middle men, the administration of religous rites, or through behavior modification is one that we must seek to subvert at all times and through any means necessary. Should an individual embrace this message, then concentrate your efforts on keeping that person isolated, either through feelings of antagonism or bitterness toward the church and/or the illusion that they can go it alone without the benefit of Christian fellowship and support. Supremely dangerous to our cause would be an adoption of this message by entire church bodies and institutions at a deep, foundational level.”
      Otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing. Great job, Michael! You’ve made me want to dig out my old copy of “The Screwtape Letters” and read it again.

  5. “Christians themselves have followed a general path of emphasizing the intellectual over the actual, the relational and the existential…We push the view that they are brains in a jar. They know they are children looking for a Father. Your job is to make the search itself a torment so that the abandonment of the search is a pleasure.”

    For years, evangelism has been focused on having irrefutable answers to the opposition. Overwhelm your audience with your pithy answers, and they will have no choice but to cry uncle and buy in. The answer to keep kids from falling away from the faith has been more and more answers, more indoctrination. I think you are saying that this is only worsening the problem…and I think you’re right.

    Our alleged encounter with God should make us more human, but what outsiders see is something completely different. Experiencing grace should make us more vulnerable, approachable. What is making us more and more defensive?

    • I don’t believe that you all are advocating that we not worry about the answers to the agnostics’ inquiries, but it seems like some are leaning this way.

      Monk clearly pointed out in the post the good that Ravi is doing.

      We are much more than “brains in a jar”, but we do still have brains and questions that need to be addressed intelligently.

      The answer to Hitchens and Dawkins is not “I don’t know, but let me give you a hug, because Jesus loves you, man”

      When I was at a secular university in my early twenties, I honestly thought that Christians couldn’t compete with my professors. I had been raised in a conservative Mennonite home and had gone to Christian school 1-12.

      I got to college and realized that this was a whole different level than I had been exposed to. I loved it, but I wondered if Christians could compete on this level.

      Intervarsity Christian Fellowship sponsored a simulcast of a Ravi Z. debate with an atheist and some other people.

      I loved it. I saw Christians who had done their homework and were intellectual giants. They were answering many of the questions that I had.

      It seemed that most of my profs. were either hostile to Christianity, or condescending towards Christians. But I found people who were on the same playing field as my profs.

      To put this another way, the solution to the problem of workaholism is not becoming a couch potato. But moderation. A person still needs to work, just not as obsessively. They need to make more time for their family etc.

      We still need to know the answers and build the mind, but we need do so with the realization that the brain is not the only part that we need to minister to. As imonk reminded us, we need to be humble first and foremost. Humble and genuine.

  6. In agreement w/ commenters above, this is absolutely golden. I wept at the truths in it.

  7. Lol another 50 years of Osteen and victory is ours!
    Not everybody who thinks is on the side of the angels. Hilarious.

  8. This is incredible stuff. I think C.S. Lewis would be proud. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it had come from ole Screwtape himself.

    And, it was dead-on.

  9. textjunkie says

    BRILLIANT.

  10. I have 2 good friends who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. As we were once conversing (actually conversing — they were not on ministry) about JW and evengelical culture, I invented a new nickname for the JW’s. They are “The Answer People.” They take so much pride in having an answer for every question. The things that don’t make “sense” (i.e. don’t make comprehensible answers) like the Trinity or any other of a long list of mysteries of the faith, they simply shift the text to accomodate a sensible answer.

    This post reminded me of this. There are evangelicals who seek to be “The answer people” above all else, treasuring the “intellectual over the actual.” Different answers — same idol.

    BTW – they did not dispute my characterization. Didn’t care for it, but didn’t really dispute it. They remain my friends.

    • My Dad was raised JW before he converted to Christianity just after I was born. I am personally convinced that the “move” was not as jarring as one might think. He always believed Jesus was God in spite of the JW’s arianism, he could satisfy his Aspie need to argue as easily in fundamentalism as JWism, and the end times charts were nearly identical.

      But his background has prompted me to study the JWs sociologically. R. Laurence Moore claims that when they argue JWs aren’t actually trying to convince you. Your remaining unconvinced actually validates them and their superiority.

      And I, unfortunately, find the same thing true in fundamentalism. I’ve called it a deliberation disability. But . . . same difference.

      Loved the post, btw, Michael! I want to enjoy it a few more times actually.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        You know, I’ve always noticed a HUGE similarity between Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Born-Again-Bible-Believing-Christians (TM) who denounce them — in attitude, in tactics, in eschatology, in behavior in general. Like they’re funhouse mirrors of each other, reflecting each other.

        • However…many fundmentalist, in their early years, needed the discipline, like a young man in military basic training. Then, as they mature….the fundamentalism relaxes into a more down to earth style of Christian living. The Fundamentalist’s place in the Kingdom may be more useful than you think. Although I cannot endure the performances I see in their “shows” on Sunday mornings. I kinow this because my journey took me on such a path. Be less eager to bash them.

          • I am happy for my fundamental foundation. As a brand new child in Christ, I needed the direction and rules, if you will. Now after 25 years, I am much more confident and relaxed in my faith. It is a happy co-mingling of the truth and experience..

      • Nice post and comments; we get holidays and much more interesting, even when misguided, speakers: ever been to a JW conference ?? wow……give me the JC Penny’s catalogue and stale soda any day. Glad to hear about your dad’s conversion (I think).

        • My Dad’s a wonderful human being. In every sense. And a wonderful Christian. A man of prayer and action. Don’t get me started. . . . 😉

          We’ve all left fundamentalism at the same time, btw. The whole extended family. God dragged us out. And it’s a wholly good thing for all of us.

          • you would have made a terrible fundy: I’m thinking some version of ‘church lady’s time outl…..24/7; glad it worked out for all involved.

            PS to my comment about the JW speakers: I’ve been in ev. circles that weren’t that different……speech patterns like Pastor BOb…..walks like Pastor Bob……same style…same dress….you get the idea. Hence the Steve Taylor lyric: “I wanna be a clone……”

          • To Greg R —

            I did make a really lousy fundy. I understand that now. But that’s another story. . . .

  11. With what you’ve been going through lately, I’ll bet this felt good. I interpret it as something of an intellectual/spiritual bender – and (yes I know I’m talking to a Baptist, and I’m sorry, but…) sometimes a good bender is good for the soul.

  12. Great stuff. I think the link at the top is busted, though. Either that or I’ve failed at the interwebz.

  13. You know, I bet Vilesidious has enough lecture material for a tome……imonk, you think an entire lecture series could be discovered by Vilesideous?

    • I’d love it.

      • Just don’t discover the evangelical version of “The Turner Diaries”.

        • That’s already been written- in lots of End Times novels, but also in a piece of Dominionist dreck entitled HEILAND. I got it hoping for a Christian Reconstructionist “Atlas Shrugged” but I got a CR “Turner Diaries”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’ve read attempts at Screwtape Letters sequels (most of them pretty lame, as befits Consciously Christian fiction), and IMonk is one of the best around. He’s really captured the style and satirical focus of Lewis, without doing the slavish imitation that’s messed up so many attempts. Definitely Screwtapish, but also definitely not a Lewis imitation.

      Nya ha ha, My Dear Wormwood…

  14. Tim Keller once said that religion has to be intellectually credible yet at the same time existentially satisfying. Recently there has been a backlash against the latter…

    You said,
    “They do not need answers. They need community. Relationships. Satisfaction. All those disgusting aspects of Trinitarian creation. We push the view that they are brains in a jar. They know they are children looking for a Father.”

    You are absolutely right.

    “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” ~1st Corinthians 3:6-7

    • So, what about people who have community, relationships, satisfaction and so forth outwith postacy. An apostate can and does find those things. Is that the work of graduates of this course as well?

  15. man it is almost scary to think that comes out of your brain imonk! 🙂 Great post gotta go think about it a little… its kinda like after I watched the movie “Fight Club” and then started checking out all my friends to make sure that they were real and not just another personality. good stuff..

  16. So THAT’s why “The Case for Christ” made me itchy….

  17. There’s something to be said—for the devil, anyway—about the attitude of the know-it-all Christian, as you pointed out where Vilesidious objects to Ravi Zacharias’s humility. The average Christian apologist—and I was one of them—is a Hitchensesque pain in the tuckus when it comes to forcefully putting forward his point of view. There is no grace in the answer. It might be a good answer; it might even be Spirit-inspired in that it would be exactly the answer that a certain questioner at a certain time would need to hear. But tone, for many people, is everything. When good news is presented without grace, it is no longer good news. And for some folks, they are as far from grace as a Christian could get, which is exactly the sort of thing the devils prefer.

  18. “They do not need answers. They need community. Relationships. Satisfaction. All those disgusting aspects of Trinitarian creation. We push the view that they are brains in a jar. They know they are children looking for a Father. Your job is to make the search itself a torment so that the abandonment of the search is a pleasure.”
    I agree with this so much it hurts. I think you’ve tapped into a very deep truth here, Michael. And I think it’s really sad how much churches, church leaders, and church members have contributed in making that search a torment for so many people.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I grew up a kid genius, nothing more than a meat support system for my 160 IQ score, the next best thing to being a brain in a jar.

      I would still give anything to go back, start over with a 100 IQ instead of a 160, and live a normal life. I would give anything for a cuddle, for a snuggle, for a girlfriend and wife and family and normal life. For something other than the jar holding my super-brain.

      The fantasy of The Kid Genius is Wesley Crusher or Jimmy Neutron.
      The reality is more like Dallas Egbert III.

      • You ever watched P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia?

      • Though my numbers aren’t nearly as impressive as yours — in fact, I’m not even sure what they are exactly — I can definitely relate to how thinking too darn much about everything can interfere with a healthy, happy existence. And I find myself jealous sometimes of those for whom childlike faith seems to come easy. For others, attaining or maintaining that kind of faith is the central struggle of their Christian walk. But I think God sees our struggle through the eyes of grace. And, who knows, maybe there’s a special crown awaiting those who manage to cling to faith in spite of their oversized intellects.

  19. Mr Spencer, you’re on a roll this week! My goodness! I should be working, not reading this. . .

    Whit all the incomprehensible faff that gets tossed about in evangelical circles, your voice is a clear and honest one. I’m not sure if you tremble at all before posting your material, but either way I’m glad you do. In the paraphrased words of Leonard Cheshire “bravery is not knowing no fear, but rather bravery is knowing fear, but chosing to do it anyway”.

  20. This is pure gold. I am recommending this to others for sure!

  21. Living no more than about ten minutes away from northern Kentucky’s Creation Museum, I have wondered about its presentation since its birthin here, but never found enough “push” to take the time to visit. This past summer my middle daughter brought her teenage son up for a few days and they wanted to experience it. It did not disappoint my expectations: a Biblical version of someone’s wax museum, a lot of information on the walls, some computerized videos, and a gift shop at the end selling everything from literature to cheap trinkets, the books, of course, all promoting Hamm’s agenda. Personally, I think Veggie Tales does it much better……

    • I love veggie tales! The cheeseburger song is my favorite!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        You know Veggie Tales got denounced as Satanic Deception (TM)?

        According to one of my informants, the denunciation sermon was either titled or had as its tag line “BOB THE TOMATO IS A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING!” My informant adopted the phrase as his tag line example for crazy preaching, similar to my “Aslan IS The Antichrist!” and for similar reason.

  22. David Ulrich says

    Lately, I’ve been considering the value of apologetic debaters, book writers, radio hosts, etc. I have the same thoughts that all that is there is intellectual answers for every issue and that much of what is said by Apologeticians (my made-up word) only makes the case for themselves and others in the audience who already agree. What happened to faith? What happened to being ministers of reconciliation, and preachers of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

    It seems as though much of the apologetics out there is not much more than a corporate attorney defending the actions of his client’s organization and having a defensive answer for any question thrown his way.

    “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

    So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    Second Corinthians Chapter 5

  23. My husband was conscripted into a tour of the Creation Museum several years ago. He has nothing good to say about it … the worst part was the propaganda against public schools and the government; making everyone else out to look like idiots. There was no grace there. The second worst part? How crowded it was with gleeful tourist-y Christians who believed every every jot and tittle.

    • Is it just me, or does it seem that this particular brand of Christianity is going for some kind of world record for how many times they can jump the shark?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It’s not just you, Matt.

        “There will come a time when men will go mad. And they will lay hands on the sane among them, saying ‘You are not like us! You must be mad!'” — one of the Desert Fathers

  24. Mike, I gotta say that I personally dislike most creative writing of the past thirty years, especially from the Christian clan. I prefer to read classics like Dickens, Twain, Hawthorne as well as Lewis and Tolkien. Shoot, give me some Shakespeare.

    What you have produced at least has some genuine substance.

    I also cannot stand most Christian music and films. After watching Facing the Giants and Fireproof, I threw my hands up in frustration. Give me Bach or Bachman Turner Overdrive. Give me a River Runs Through It or A Band of Brothers. Heck I even like The Passion. And please, what is it with these guys in Christian films bawling their eyes out! Do they have any hair on their evangelical chests? :S

    I guess the whole point is that literature, music and film from the Evangelical Christian tribes continue to be big on flash and short on substance. Not that I would consider BTO’s “Taking Care of Business” to be a great song of deep philosophy! 😀

    • Sounds like you think Christianity should be not seen and not heard…..kept in our closets at home……or did I mis-read your thoughts?

      • It sounds, to me, like MWPeak wants the Christianity of martyrs and Eric Liddell instead.

        • What is it with this Eric Liddell? I went to his site and wasn’t impressed. I just think guys bawling their eyes out is cheap emotion and sentiments and lacking of anything genuine.

          • Are we talking about the same gentleman? I know him as a Scottish runner who defied the Prince of Wales to avoid competing on Sunday in the Olympics. He later died in a Chinese prison camp where he had been a missionary.

            Most of my knowledge is from “Chariots of Fire”.

          • You’e right. I have committed a grave error. I got my facts wrong. Crap.

            The guy I am thinking about is Eric Ludy. Eric Liddell was the guy who inspired the film Chariots of Fire.

          • “who defied the Prince of Wales to avoid competing on Sunday in the Olympics”

            Check out the Wikipedia article. There was a lot of drama in the movie that wasn’t there in real life. This issue was know months in advance and resolved long before they arrived at the games.

            Still it’s a great movie. Although many of us would consider him, Liddell, too much under the law and not enough under grace. But still a moving story.

            Especially the implication that worldly success is never enough. See also the end of “The Sting” and “For the Love of the Game”.

      • Dan Allison says

        dfh,

        What I read was that if Christians can produce only the lamest and most-poorly thought-out and poorly-produced art, better not to produce it at all. MWPeak says that he likes Lewis, Tolkien, and Gibson’s Passion, all fine stuff. That the kind of art that isn’t kept in the closet at home

        But mediocre stuff like Fireproof doesn’t come close. It’s simply bad, and it’s proof that earnestness alone is not nearly enough. It really should be kept in the clset or tosssed altogether. “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson won a Pulitzer Prize, and Anne Rice’s “Christ the Lord” novels, are current examples of greatness and excellence in fiction, but can you find them in the local Christian bookstore? No way.

        And actually, our Christianity really does have to be seen before it can be heard, because we have to gain credibility with people and show that we love them and care for them. otherwise we come off like we’re merely trying to sign them up for the Christian equivalent of Amway. If Jesus had not fed and healed people — showed in a real and tangible way that he loved and cared for people — few would have listened.

        • Mediocre? That’s high praise.

          • As a bit of an audiophile, I would say that much of what passes for musical art inside or out side of the church is tripe.

            The problem in the church is that because christianese art is pushing a pseudochristian agenda, it falls under a different rating system.

            A spade is a spade, even if it has a fish carved into the handle.

          • LOL…..I think the phrase “ham-fisted acting” has cropped up a few times in the reviews I’ve seen. whoa….those dudes and dudettes are just trying a little too hard

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            How about “Steaming Pile”?

        • Spot on, Dan. The evangelical movement has become the most un-evangelical movement around because it’s neglecting people for agendas.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          …otherwise we come off like we’re merely trying to sign them up for the Christian equivalent of Amway.

          You mean Christ ISN’T just My Personal Amway Upline? Ever heard of “Multiplying Ministry” from Campus Crusade? If that isn’t Gospel = God running a cosmic MLM pyramid, you tell me what is!

          And Amway itself uses every trick of SBC-style Preaching to make sure the downline “associates” stay in the game, Walking the Aisle to the Top of the Pyramid.

        • I wouldn’t go that far with Lewis or Tolkien. Def not Gibson.

          My biggest problem with accepting Lewis and his inspiration to thousands of English-speaking Christians is the sleazy way The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe basically amounts to Christian propaganda directed at children. That ain’t art. I totally understand the anger of whoever it was that wrote The Golden Compass.

          There’s real Christian art but most of it loses resonance unless you yourself subscribe to the system of thought. As far as English-speaking Christian art that knows what time it is and is capable of dialogue with the secular world… from the last century, there’s Greene, Flannery O’Connor, and Eliot. That list is comprehensive as far as I can tell.

      • My complaint is that I started reading “Christian” fiction with the Left Behind series. After being exposed to guys like Lewis and Hemingway and classic l came to the conclusion that Christian fiction is just bland and empty, lacking of that certain something that we call literary quality. It’s bad stuff.

        Christian influenced literature has produced some outstanding literary work and it just seems to me that evanglicals are not even striving for excellence. If it has the right “message,” then its best seller material, even though it will be forgotten tomorrow.

        I’m not for hiding Christianity. I just find that quality takes a back seat to quantity. How can people respect the message of Christian writers when they are not good as being a writer?

        I have been working on my own fiction and still struggle to be more than just a marketable product. It is about being a serious writer.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          My complaint is that I started reading “Christian” fiction with the Left Behind series.

          Poor sod. Too late. Starting with the Eragon of Christian (TM) Apocalyptic. The only thing worse is its “Eye of Argon”, Salem Kirban’s 666.

          After being exposed to guys like Lewis and Hemingway and classic l came to the conclusion that Christian fiction is just bland and empty, lacking of that certain something that we call literary quality. It’s bad stuff.

          With me — long before I ever knew of Lewis and Tolkien — it was Anderson, Dickson, Heinlien, Norton, Piper, and Cordwainer Smith (the last acknowledged as a Christian SF writer by everyone EXCEPT Christians — go fig).

          There’s a reason in the Eighties a local SF litfan proverb was “It’s gotta be Christian — look how shoddy/lame it is!” Outside the four walls of the CBA/ECPA, Christian = Crap.

          …it just seems to me that evanglicals are not even striving for excellence. If it has the right “message,” then its best seller material, even though it will be forgotten tomorrow.

          This is fanboy fanservice material and nothing else. I’ve seen enough of it in Furry Fandom. Give the fanboys whatever floats their boat and they won’t care how crappy the rest is, whether what floats their boat is fur & tails, sparkling “vampires”, or Bible Verses and Altar-Call endings.

          And (according to interviews with the guy at Marcher Lord Press) the Christian (TM) Publishing Industry likes it that way (i.e. bonnet romances for Born-Again Bored Housewives) and will block any and all change. The only way around the CBA/ECPA monopoly is the end run through small presses like Marcher Lord. And small presses don’t pay anywhere near what a writer needs to survive.

          I joined the Lost Genre Guild to get AWAY from that mentality!

    • If you think those movies were lame, don’t watch Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.

      • Don’t get me started on Christian films like Time Changer and The Second Chance. I watched the Last Sin Eater and it had a great idea that could have been developed into a powerful message about redemption and being a new person in Christ, but ended up being another “Let’s all hug and cry and love Jesus and walk away feeling all better about being Evangelical!” film.

        I suddenly feel like watching Clockwork Orange …

      • Is there a Christian version of MST 3K ?? where is Tommy Servo…..we have a crusade made just for him…….

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Is there a Christian Version of MST3K?

          If there isn’t, there should be.

          In the Not-too-distant Future,
          Next Sunday, AD —
          There lived a guy named Yeshua,
          Not too different from you or me;
          He worked at Gizmonics Institute,
          Just another face in a red jumpsuit;
          He did a good job cleaning up the place
          But his bosses didn’t like him
          So they shot him into Spaace!
          “We’ll send him CHRISTIAN Movies,
          The worst we can find!
          (not too hard there)
          He’ll have to sit and watch them all
          And we’ll monitor his mind!!!!!”

          P.S. Give me Gypsy instead of Tom Servo. Not all that bright, but very sweet. Besides, we’ve got M&M dispensers around the office that look too much like “Bring me the Head of Tom Servo!”

    • Couldn’t agree more. So much of what is marketed as Christian art and literature these days is complete junk. Give me Tolkein, Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Ann RIce, Shusaku Endo or Frederick Buechener any day. But you won’t find most of the good stuff in Christian bookstores, especially the great literature that has some real ambiguity instead of all the answers. Same goes if you want really seriouos nonfiction works by some of the best theologians out there. You have to hunt for the good stuff. Blame the marketing if you want, but realize to a large extent that marketing is responding to what the masses want, and we have Christian masses who don’t know enough to ask for anything better. It’s like happily eat mac and cheese when with a little more knowlege and searching you could be eating filet mignon for the same price.

  25. Just curious about what you think of Hank Hannegraff, probably spelled that wrong.

    • My own experience with BAM and HH has been positive. I don’t know a lot about some of the financial accusations made about HH.

  26. Bravo.

  27. My primary problem with some evangelical apologists, mostly the layman in the pew, is that they’re not doing apologetics at all. Apologetics is, by definition, a _defense_ of a position. It is not a positive argument _for_ a position. If you’re answering philosophical and historical objections to the truth of the resurrection, you’re doing apologetics. If you’re arguing that you can _prove_ that the resurrection occurred and that all rational people should accept your argument, you’re not doing apologetics.

    Apologetics is, at its best, a way to answer objections and remove roadblocks that would keep a person from hearing and accepting the Gospel. Apologetics should therefore be directed outward from the church to the world. But, like so many other things in the evangelical culture, apologetics is far too often turned inward. It becomes a way for believers to shore up their “faith,” as if faith was not true unless proven by argument and evidence. Apologetics becomes another casualty of the misguided quest for certainty.

    In the most dire cases, apologetics ceases to be about preparing the ground for evangelism, and instead becomes solely about making me feel good about my faith and protecting myself from the evil of doubt. Richard Hofstadter described this attitude perfectly in his 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”:

    “The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.”

    All of which is not to say that there are not good and effective apologists out there. I’ve learned much from C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Norm Geisler, Peter Kreeft, and many others. The trouble comes in when something that is meant to aid in the enlightenment of the unbelieving world is turned inward to serve the edification of the self.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In the most dire cases, apologetics ceases to be about preparing the ground for evangelism, and instead becomes solely about making me feel good about my faith and protecting myself from the evil of doubt. Richard Hofstadter described this attitude perfectly in his 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”:

      “The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.”

      Actually, you can learn about this and other variations of the Conspiracy Mindset from C.S.Lewis. Specifically, from Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle:
      “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS!
      WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!
      THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS!
      WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!
      WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”

  28. L. Winthrop says

    I dislike the tone of this, but then, I also groan at C.S. Lewis.

    So: doubting Christianity (or a certain version of it) is demonic. Come now. If you really want to find the devil, you don’t need to look as far as atheism (or the conservative reaction).

    Elaine Pagels (in “Adam, Eve, and the Serpent”) proposes that Christianity’s emphasis on Satan and demons (present in Zoroastrianism, but not in Judaism) emerged because this provided a convenient way of “demonizing” (so to speak) its opponents.

    • You’re right on top of this, L. 🙂

    • I groan with you, L!

    • Lewis was writing to get a backwards point of view on the table., He wasn’t establishing demonology. If you’re looking to bemoan the state of those who believe in the devil, then I’m sorry to have to say I do, but if you are looking for someone to say epilepsy is caused by demonic forces and we’re all being monitored by Vilesidious, then you can count me among the unbelievers and skeptics.”

      Lewis was being humorous and using the imaginative world of the lowerarchy to create an alternate way to discuss a subject.

      Ease up folks.

      • I meant my groan mostly in fun. I am not moaning about the Screwtape Letters themselves, which I have not read, but for the books I have read, the Narnias and (half of) Mere Christianity. I just don’t get the popular love for C S Lewis but that’s just me. I would be very pleasantly surprised if Screwtape was better than Vilesidious :^)

      • L. Winthrop says

        Lewis in “Screwtape” wrote humorously (as you do here), but the humor masks a theology which I find off-putting. Not so much because of the devil or devils–I am fond of the Desert Fathers–but for causing the demons to inspire doubt and irreligiosity, as well as rival Christian beliefs with which he disagrees (in his case liberalism, in your case more conservative evangalicals). I doubt whether God gets so worked up over unbelief as you do, and while I realize that you do not seriously propose the ham-handed evangelical reaction to be diabolically inspired, the result is still a caricature. Perhaps they paint your views with an equal lack of charity.

        Just as the early Christians were most likely to curse those whom they most resembled (Pharisees, Judaizers, heretics), so do we behave in general. I see you and your conservative critics as more similar than not–just as in your story, the demons seem to share common cultural reference points with evangelical Christianity.

        By the way, I loved “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman (sp?).

  29. Wow, I felt a couple of the zingers! It was a good reminder to me of where most people live. I love philosophy. I love theology. I could dwell in those realms ever so long. But, it is helpful to remember that all of us also dwell in the image and likeness of a God who is community personified.

    Of course, I promptly violated the Tenth Commandment. I lusted after iMonk’s writing talent. GRIN.

  30. Christiane says

    When will we learn that ‘walking the Walk’ is the only way to witness to so great a Lord?
    All else is commentary.

    • Christiane says

      Notice I didn’t say ‘walking the aisle’. 🙂
      The Way of the Lord is the journey of a life-time and an Eternity.

  31. My unease with Christian schools and, to a lesser extent, childrens’ Sunday school is the idea that faith can be taught. “If we just have the right Sunday school curriculum, our little darlings will be Christians.” My six year old was bringing home from VBS little laminated cards on how to witness to his friends. Six years old? Classically he wouldn’t be expected to know right from wrong until was seven!

    It seems to me that a Christian life has to be lived – in the world. It is like the commentator I once heard complaining about his high school daughter being pressured into earning college credits: “Shakespeare is wasted on college students, let alone 15 year olds.” How many of us have trained from a career in college (say engineering) only to find that out in the real world 90% of what we learned is useless.

    I can still see the need to ground your child in the basics. Knowledge of the Bible will be there when they need it. However, without the context, much of it will be just noise. I especially liked the line about detecting hypocrisy. Perhaps we, as adults, should parade our struggles with hypocrisy in front of our children. That way they might learn that a whiff of hypocrisy does not require that the whole enterprise be abandoned, that just because the world is messy does not mean it is without meaning.

    • Apparently I have been so engrossed by the views of Prof Vilesidious that I commented on his previous letter instead of his lecture.

      Sorry

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “If we just have the right Sunday school curriculum, our little darlings will be Christians.” My six year old was bringing home from VBS little laminated cards on how to witness to his friends. Six years old? Classically he wouldn’t be expected to know right from wrong until was seven!

      That’s not “teaching faith”, that’s Indoctrinating a Party Line.
      “If we just have the right Sunday school curriculum, our little darlings will be Christians.”
      Automatically. As if imprinted in their DNA.
      What’s wrong with this picture?

  32. I’ve always seen the new atheists as fundamentalists from the wrong side…

    • There two kinds of people in the world and it ain’t necessarily Christian and Atheist.

    • Many are former fundamentalists who were weaned on fire and brimstone sermons and the certainty that if you can’t site the exact day and hour of creation, you are a child of the devil. Law without grace drilled into the mind from the cradle is mutable. Raise a child to be a fanatic, the fanatic he’ll be regardless of belief.

      • I should have said “may be” because there is always hope.

        Great piece, Monk!

      • When your child was born, was he or she a Republican? A Liberal Democrat? A neo-Keynesian? At what age do we assign children such labels, and how accurate are they to describe the child? The very notion of such early labels is so absurd that it takes religious belief to alter common sense into thinking there’s nothing odd or even wrong about labeling our children with their parent’s religious beliefs! Might that assumption be considered a wee bit inappropriate… maybe a bit presumptuous… perhaps … oh, I don’t know…. extraordinarily arrogant?

        • Nothing to do with birth. Children are usually taught to love the things their parents love and to hate those things their parents hate. Carefully taught, as the lyric goes. They are also taught to express these things as their parents do. Of course the child may develop separate beliefs. But I maintain they will likely express those beliefs in something akin to the way they were raised. The child from the authoritarian, conservative home may grow up to become a progressive animal rights activist. And still authoritarian. I know atheists raised in fundamentalists churches. I see little difference in the fervor with which they express their beliefs.

          • Usually taught doesn’t mean ought to be taught, although I agree with you that this is common enough. It’s the labeling that bothers me, meaning that we don’t call a Democrat’s newborn a Democrat because the parents may be Democrats, but we allow it without a twinge of remorse if we call that baby Christian of Christian parents. I just think we need more twinges before we continue the practice by doing the labeling ourselves.

        • A prominent group (a.k.a. anti-denominational “denomination”) in my previous life had their annual meeting a few months back. Their program for the kids — and I kid you not — “I want to be a fundamentalist when I grow up!”

          Oy.

          • AWESOME.

            AWESOMEAWESOMEAWESOME.

            That’s just awesome.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Their program for the kids — and I kid you not — “I want to be a fundamentalist when I grow up!”

            I could NOT come up with crap like that if I tried. (And after all my time in-country in SF fandom, comics fandom, D&D, and Furry, believe me, I’ve tried.)

            Somebody forward this to Parker & Stone — this belongs on South Park for the name alone!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Many are former fundamentalists who were weaned on fire and brimstone sermons and the certainty that if you can’t cite the exact day and hour of creation, you are a child of the devil.

        Don’t forget the Exact Year/Month/Day/Hour/Minute/Second you Accepted Christ (TM) and were Saved. (I am not exaggerating.)

    • Not going to let you get away with that, brambonius.

      Perhaps you think what you do because so much of what atheists actually say is misquoted but, rather than check the source to find out for yourself, you believe those with whom you already agree and make all kinds of inaccurate deductions.

      Perfect example:

      Our author writes The sign on the bus is brilliant: There is no God. Just enjoy your life.

      The sign actually says There’s PROBABLY no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” (The entire sign is written in upper case letters but I’ve raised the ‘probably’ to make my point.) But to include such an important word as PROBABLY directly affects the false sense of certainty the author wishes you to believe equates atheistic certainty with religious fundamentalist certainty. The correct quote undermines the similarity, now doesn’t it? It also reveals that the author is willing to misrepresent those with whom he disagrees to help bolster the cause. How important, therefore, is literary integrity in such a piece? It makes me wonder. It makes me DOUBT.

      This doubt is rewarded when I go on to read how Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins are portrayed. This portrayal is not reflected accurately. Furthermore, I wonder why Dennett, Coyne, and Onfray were left off the list? Isn’t any atheist too loud and obnoxious? So too must be Einstein, I guess, who wrote The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. Too strident or militant, do you think? Or is he just another lost fundamentalist soul pining for a sense of community?

      Find me a fundamentalist certain in his or her religious convictions and just try to pry a “probably” out of that closed mind when it comes to the truth value of the various theocratic claims. You will find no such reticence to doubt from the vast majority of those in the atheist camp… as long as you have more than self-anointed assertions repackaged as Truth to back up your request.

      Atheists for the most part do not believe in ‘whatever’ without adequate justification. Religious fundamentalists DO believe in their religious certainties without adequate justifications… merely assertion stated as if it were Truth usually based on a re-interpreted multi-transcribed conflicted ancient text filled with glaring irregularities and incorrect scientific assertions. So put to bed any notion that an atheist is just another fundamentalist. It’s such a groundless assumption so poorly thought out that it boggles the mind.

      • Dan Allison says

        Lit teacher here. Read the piece a little more closely. It’s the character, Viledicious, who is misquoting the atheist bus sign, to further HIS agenda.

      • L. Winthrop says

        If memory serves, the bus company required them to add the “probably.” Something about a law against making unproveable claims. (Really!)

      • I don’t understand why they misrepresent themselves in their own writing and speaking then? Are they misquoting themselves? I’ve not read much ABOUT Dawkins,Hitchens and Harris, but I’ve read some of what they’ve written. If they are as reasonable as you are representing them, how come they fail to show this in their writings? Using much of the same rhetoric style and strawmen arguments that religious fundies use. Giving plenty of fodder to “groundless assumptions”.

        • I don’t know if you’re asking an honest question hoping for an honest answer but what the ‘new’ atheists write about, Jenny, is that religion should be accessible to inquiry about its truth claims and that whatever informs those reasons need to undergo critical review in an open and honest manner. That effrontery raises a lot of hackles from those who think that faith must be grounded first in belief and then followed by exploration of why that belief is true. Such an exploration usually relies on the various holy texts. These atheist authors tackle this issue head on and spend many pages exposing obvious discrepancies and conflicting documentation from the various holy texts about what is true.

          Their writings are clear, concise, and to the point, and should give the honest reader at the very least cause to reflect. Of course, it’s much easier to criticize what you may not have read because content and context go hand in hand. They are not loud, strident, militant, nor arrogant; if nothing else, these authors are honest and consistent even if you disagree with their assessments. They do offer their reasons.

        • The New Atheists- Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, Hitchens- have a common belief that religion itself is destructive to human life, is abusive to children, and should be opposed on the grounds that it amounts to a mental illness in human culture. They make no differentiation between Mohamed with a sword and Jesus on the cross. All must be opposed. Dawkins, whom I’ve read more than the others, denies that there is any logical cohesion between atheist regimes and violence, but insists that there is a logical connection betyween all religions and violence.

      • “You will find no such reticence to doubt from the vast majority of those in the atheist camp”

        Are you absolutely positively certain about that. tildeb? 🙂

        • No. But it’s a pretty safe probability based that it’s true enough from 100% of atheists I have come to know. I must leave enough wiggle room for those with whom I have not, so I say vast majority. Atheism is all about doubting religious truth claims, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet by definition alone.

          But now compare: can you say the same about all the religious people you know, that each and every one has little reticence doubting the truth claims of his or her religious convictions?

      • “Atheists for the most part do not believe in ‘whatever’ without adequate justification.”

        This is really dumb.

  33. For some reason this post reminded me of an artiucle that Rich Mullins wrote for Relevant magazine (I think).

    Rich described a discussion with an unbelieving friend where he had really left his friend with no ground to stand on. It was quite obvious to him that he had left his friend without an excuse and that all that was left was for his friend to cave in and become a christian.

    Rich was quite puzzled about what was preventing his friend from doing so, but quite to his suprise his friends response was simply “I don’t want to be a christian.”

    Humble answers are necessary, but they are not enough.

    Go figure.

  34. Christopher Lake says

    This is brilliant satire. It’s a shame that it needed to be written, but it’s great.

    I do think that many people want answers– just not answers given in a smug way, without genuine respect and concern for the one who asks. I’m curious, Michael– on the subject of presuppositionalism, what do you think of Greg Bahnsen (apologetics, not theonomy)?

    • Yes, CL, many people want answers. But some people have the immoral notion to think that such answers are enhanced when they are probably true.

  35. It’s like an irony Easter egg hunt!

  36. “After over a decade of being in the shadow of the XXXXXXXX movement and 30 years of its inflexible dogmatic principles, disruptive new YYYYYYYYY thought leadership is emerging that is truly able to compromise with the realistic needs of ZZZZZZZZZ without carrying the baggage of strict adherence to an ideology that is by definition a culture of exclusion. ”

    Read this on another blog tonight. I’ll post where in a day or so. But it seems to fit the tenor of the last few days here. The point is that dogmatic adherence to issues that make no sense to the main point don’t work over the long run.

  37. Thank you for this.

    I have been insisting for a while that I consider the relational and intellectual sides of my faith as inseparable. We need answers, but we are idiots if we think we have them all, or that one simple answer will bring someone to God.
    But as someone who grew up in a conservative Evangelical church, I must confess that I have observed the opposite trend. Maybe it’s a backlash, but I know firsthand how genuine intellectual inquiry is frightening to conservative Christians. I am so tired so being told to stop approaching my faith intellectually. So, when people come to me with genuine, thoughtful questions, I’m supposed to just smile and say: “It doesn’t matter! Jesus loves you!”

    • Amy, I was impressed with Billy Graham´s sermon at the september 11 prayer service that president bush put together. Graham pointed to the crucifix and said something to the effect of, “this is something that only a christian would understand, suffering is a deep mystery and only looking to that crucifix provides unexplainable comfort. I often answer that “I don´t know, but that I have become confident that somehow the answer has something to do with that dead Jew on the cross.

  38. Too short!

    So part of what I take away is this: (1) It is not wrong to engage with intellectual doubts, but it is wrong to do so without intellectual honesty and without humility. And (2) often the most severe challenges to faith are not intellectual, but emotional and relational and sensual, and the corrective (or preventative) to these challenges is an honest and humble flesh-and-blood relationship with Jesus.

  39. *There is no God. Just enjoy your life . . .It doesn’t answer the quest for truth. It is no foundation for life. It’s utterly inadequate…*

    What the heck is the “quest for truth”?

    And also, why is “just enjoy your life” considered ‘no foundation for life’ or ‘it’s utterly inadequate’. Yeah, I’m sure that if you read enough philosophy then everything does indeed start to look very fraught and horrible and our lives seem like hollow, whistling shells for which there is no balm in Gilead.

    But meanwhile, the other 90% of us are down the corner listening to music and drinking beer and bouncing our children on our knees. And yeah there are books, but better Shakespeare and Harry Potter and Basho than than those sad German guys, Nietzsche and Luther.

    There has never, in all the life of Man, ever been a more robust, fun, serviceable philosophy than Cheerful Nihilism. It’s a philosophy that actually *does* stand a chance of relieving you of “a moment’s toothache.”