Monday, May 28, 2007

My Thoughts Exactly on "Emergentitis"

HT JohnMcG for linking to this great piece by Lydia McGrew. It's short, so I'll just post the whole enchilada here.

Let's Keep the Church Political

Now that I have your attention...

My Right Reason blog colleague Dan Bonevac has a post on the "emergent church" and "church growth" movements in evangelicalism and their goal to move evangelicals to the left in political activism. To my mind this is numinously evident from overwhelming evidence, one prominent bit of which is Rick Warren's switcheroo from listing abortion as a "non-negotiable issue" in 2004 to his appearing recently with none other than Barak Obama to oppose AIDS. (Was someone in favor of AIDS?) His response when challenged is given by a commentator in Dan's thread: "Left wing, right wing. I want the whole bird!" This, to my mind, more or less defines "shallow," but apparently not everyone agrees.

What bothers me most of all as I've been googling things like "abortion" and "Brian McLaren" (guru of "emergentism") is the pretense that these folks are trying to make the evangelical church apolitical. Right. Crusading about global warming and hollering about the terrible "dominance of the religious right" on evangelical churches is so apolitical.

A couple of weeks ago I had a close Catholic friend visit. She went to Mass at our local parish, St. Monica's (on Mother's Day, which was especially appropriate) and came home mentioning how pro-life of a parish it is, how there was a special prayer at the end for an end to abortion and so forth. I guess Mr. McLaren and his friends would also deplore this as the "dominance of the religious right" at St. Monica's.

Let's admit: In the present social context, when emergentists and their ilk tell us that they want to "shift the focus away from politics in the church," here's a translation: "Let's not talk in religious gatherings about abortion, because it makes lefties uncomfortable. But rallies about poverty, AIDS, and global warming are wonderful. That's speaking prophetically to the present age."

Glad to have that little misunderstanding cleared up.

I couldn't have explained it better myself. The only thing I have to say to Mrs. McGrew is that every left-winger knows that the so-called religious right is in favor of AIDS and that Pat Robertson concocted it in his sercet lab.

Of Chariots and Planters

Sister Mary Martha speculates about the "bodies of the saints" which experienced a sort of "pre-resurrection" on Good Friday and are mentioned in Matthew 27:52-53.

But those people were not raised bodily into heaven. We actually don't know who they were or what became of them except that since they weren't raised bodily into heaven they must have died. Again.

It's okay. Funerals weren't so expensive back then.

I've always imagined that they got to go and say a few words to the relatives or whoever and then went back to being dead later that day, so as not to be any trouble to anyone. If it were me, that's what I would have done, at least. They'd definitely want to get back to being dead, since the Gates of Heaven were finally open. I'm sure that's what they came back to tell everyone.

So only Mary and Jesus and maybe Elijah, if he didn't burn up in the atmosphere. They can use his chariot as a planter.

That last line encapsulates what I love about nuns, especially Sister Mary Martha. Spiritual and practical. And funny.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Beckwith on Hewitt on Romney

This is for Dianonymous who thinks Mr. Beckwith is a "hunk". Maybe she'll vote for Romney for the same reason? Speaking of looks, Hugh looks like my dad. Well, I'm jealous of both of them for keeping their hair, which doesn't seem fair at all in my dad's case since I'm a blood relative of his.

Here's F.B.'s review. I have the book; haven't read it yet. Liked this part of the review, where he talks about how

...Hewitt addresses what I call the Creedal Mistake.

This mistake occurs when a Christian citizen believes that the planks of his creed are the best standard by which to judge the suitability of a political candidate. For example, suppose a Presbyterian votes for one of Romney’s primary opponents solely on the basis of the governor’s rejection of the Nicene Creed. An elder who did this would not truly understand the purpose of creeds: to provide church members and the world at large a summary of beliefs that one must embrace in order to be considered an orthodox member of that body. Creeds are not meant to measure the qualifications of a political candidate in a liberal democracy. Not only does the formulation of Christendom’s most important creeds predate the existence of liberal democracies, their subject matter bears no relation to assessing those attributes that we consider essential to the leadership of a political regime. In practice, most Christians already fully grasp this truth.

He uses the example of Carter and Reagan to hammer this home. He goes on to bemoan Hewitt's negligence in dealing with Kennedy's "concession" back during his run. This may be due to the fact that Hewitt left the Catholic Church for Evangelical Protestantism and is personally comfortable with what Kennedy did.

Many Protestant Christians at the time were concerned that Kennedy’s commitment as a Catholic to the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium on a variety of social, moral, and political issues would serve as his guide for U.S. domestic and foreign policy. In order to assuage Protestant fears, on September 12, 1960, Kennedy addressed the Greater Houston Ministerial Association and assured the attendees that nothing of his Catholic faith would play any role in his judgments as occupant of the White House.

Kennedy’s speech reads like a complete acquiescence to American mainline Protestant notions of privatized faith and anti-clericalism, as well as its stereotypical, outdated, and uncharitable ideas about the Catholic hierarchy and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Kennedy could have argued that his Catholicism informs him of certain theological and moral doctrines that will make him a thoughtful and principled president. He could have consulted and mined from the works of Catholic scholars who were able defenders of liberal democracy and the natural law that grounds it. But he did not. Kennedy’s speech was a terrible concession. For it played to his audience’s anti-Catholic prejudices while saying that his religious beliefs are so trivial that he would govern exactly the same if they were absent.

I'm just speculating, of course. I really like to listen to Hugh Hewitt, but he does irritate me with what I call his "denominational indifference" regarding Catholicism. He made a big deal about going to an Easter Vigil Mass and his Presbyterian Easter service and how he was getting the "best of both worlds", you know, the neat-o, quaint, ancient Catholic liturgy plus the updated, superior music and singing of the nice, happy Protestants. As you can tell, I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist.

Well, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir blows us all away music-wise -- what does that prove?

Atheist donates $27 million to New York Archdiocese

Hey, that'll help. Excerpt:

While he is not religious, Mr Wilson indicated a deep respect for the Catholic faith. "Let's face it," he told a reporter, "without the Roman Catholic Church there would be no Western civilization."

Mr Wilson, who is retired and in his 80s, according to the archdiocese, is one of the nation's major philanthropists, ABC 7 says.

According to Business Week, he has also contributed millions to environmental and wildlife conservation causes, the New York Public Library and the city's arts institutions.

He reportedly made his money on Wall Street by turning a $15,000 investment into $225 million.

Say a prayer for the good man. God wants our love and devotion, not just our money, but $27 million is a good start.

Puts me in mind of what Christ said, "The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold a greater than Solomon here." So don't forget to pony up when they pass the plate, Jack.