Fearsome Pirate writes:
I should congratulate JS Bangs on moving to Romania. Everywhere has its own special kind of insanity, but it seems that eastern Europeans are not possessed of the unique madness that they and their civilization have no right to exist.
So John and I have both already posted this on both FB and Twitter, but just in case it’s gone unnoticed, I wanted to draw the tavern’s attention to this piece by Nicole Cliffe, co-editor of the feminist website The Toast.
A Christian for only the past three months, she outlines her nightly practice of prayer, and how she finds it so meaningful.
Next, and finally, comes my hands-down favourite part of prayer, and the part that I think is great REGARDLESS of your beliefs or lack thereof: praying for other people. I say this because it teaches you who you love, and who’s important to you. What problems facing others have you taken on as your own? Does this change how you deal with them in real life? Can YOU help answer these prayers with money or time or by listening, etc.? I pray for my family, and I pray for my friends, and I pray for Toasties who have said things in Open Threads that I think they could use some help with, and I pray for the people I make this site with, and I pray for people who are sick, or who have sick boyfriends, and I pray for bigger world stuff, and by the time I’m done, I’ve realized that I love all these people I’ve prayed for (you can throw up now), and that’s very meaningful to me.
As someone who counts my time knowing the Lord in decades instead of months, this was a beautiful reminder of the realness and goodness of salvation and God’s work in our lives, and how amazing a thing prayer is when (if) we practice it.
Matthew: I know who Merlin Mann is, but I have no clue what you’re referencing there. Something about small sample sizes, I suppose.
Obviously, you know your own conference well. But for the sake of perpetuating an argument in a place that used to have lots, I’ve been going to this church for 26 years. I think I’ve attended with somewhere between 8 and 10 pastors during that time. None of them seem post-evangelical to me. Granted summer isn’t a great time for the church calendar. But all have been fairly typical evangelicals. I’ve always felt like they could switch to an Orange County mega-church and fit in just fine.
On a related note, I don’t know why that specific congregation can’t seem to find and and keep a strong pastor. The congregation is steady in numbers and kind and sincere in spirit. And the U.P. is beautiful. UMC has great pensions? That’s such a win-win. Live in one of the most beautiful places in America with a decent salary and a great pension and have all the outdoors and beauty you could ever ask for.
Of all the odd news to read, Thomas Merton’s personal belongings have been held for 50-ish years by a former nun.
Not to go all Merlin Mann on you, but here’s the thing…
My experience (which, admittedly, isn’t authoritative) tells me that’s the exception that proves the rule. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the pastor you mention probably came to us from a different denomination. We get a lot of former Baptists, Nazarenes, and what not. Sometimes because our guaranteed appointment rule means we’ll always have a job. Sometimes because our pension is better than other denominations. Sometimes, though, it’s because they’ve become convinced that our beliefs line up with their own better than their former denomination. Who knows? Sometimes they bring a special brand of un-awesome opinions with them and there’s not a lot I can do about that because I’m not currently on any ordination committee. Blame Andy all you want though: he’s in Michigan and on a board.
All that to say, almost to a t, the born and bred UM evangelicals hit almost every point on your list (probably not the communion one, but I’d guess most of us would like weekly communion). I went to the New Room conference in Nashville a couple of weeks ago and I bet almost all of the pastors who attended would affirm at least 90% of your list and I bet that the churches we pastor would come close, too. So, I’m sorry about your experience in the UP, but that’s not nearly representative of most UM evangelicals.
Matthew: I think we’ve talked about this before, but I attend a UMC church in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan every summer. There is very little on that list that I find in that UMC parish. Their most recent pastor went on quite the cultural warrior rampage this summer, including a general admonition to stop shopping at any store that has “Happy Holidays!” signs.
So I guess I remain pretty confused at what mainline evangelical churches have to offer. Except the ones that have gone super liberal. I know exactly where they’re at. And it ain’t evangelical.
Jaredd, you can add to your list the vacillation between grudging respect and indignant eye-rolling at the statements of:
I’d like to point out that you’ve described mainline evangelicalism.
It continues to strike me that many of us are really no longer evangelicals. We just aren’t. We’ve discarded too many of the ideas and practices that really makes an evangelical tick (although we may still be chafing under them in our current church, ChrisH :-). But to call us evangelicals is just not right. I call myself and others like me post-evangelicals.
And hey, you can bicker with my terminology if you want. But most of you here are math and/or tech-heads, so you know that you can define your terms if you want to. As long as you’re consistent. So with no further ado, and mostly just for fun, here is my proposed list of characteristics of a post-evangelical. [edit. adding to my list]
- You prefer to take communion every week.
- You want a time of confession at the beginning of worship.
- You don’t think Mother’s Day is on the church calendar.
- You REALLY don’t think Memorial Day and Veteran’s days are on the church calendar.
- You know there’s a difference between Christmas and Advent.
- You don’t mind if a store clerk greets you with “Happy Holidays!”
- You laugh at the notion that Xmas is x-ing the Christ out of Christmas.
- You don’t like Fox News and you don’t want to be a cultural warrior.
- You’ve ever said “Fuller isn’t that liberal.”
- You prefer “Surprised by Hope” over “Left Behind”.
- You read @biblestdntssay and laugh.
- You would rather be at a small church than a big one.
- You are uncomfortable when people talk about taking the Bible literally.
- You’re old earth, not young.
- You’ve commented that they effectively have a Trinity of God, Jesus and the Bible.
- You actually enjoy sermons that talk about the work of the Holy Spirit and even pray to be filled by the Spirit from time to time.
Want to add to my list?
It originates with atheist, Marxist intellectuals in universities.
Whatever your view on various issues (women in ministry, lgbt issues, liturgical dance, clown communion, whatever), as culture goes, this is true. Among the college educated, what is taught as the enlightened progressive attitude is defined by sociologists and antropologists whose ideas and classifications are rooted in Marxist thought. With the possible exception of PhD candidates, I would argue many of them have no idea.
What I find frustrating in churches really has nothing to do with the parenthetical issues above as much as this: Buying into culture or wilfully separating from culture plays into Marxism’s necessity to separate people into groups and set them at odds with each other. Whichever group happens to have the majority of perceived or actual power is defined as the demon against which every other group is a victim. Today, the perceived power is straight white males of European descent and a Judeo-Christain heritage. It’s easy enough to pick at the flaws of one group and excuse that of another. But what isn’t understood (or worse, is understood and no one cares) is that as soon as the current dominant group has been knocked off the mountain, another will assert itself in that place until it becomes the next demon to slay.
In that, Fundamentalism isn’t so much a real “come out and be ye separate” or “in the world but not of the world” position as it is a stunted perversion of victimhood as played by other groups. In the end it’s all one of Uncle Screwtapes schemes.
Now if we start talking about reconciliation, grace, and forgiveness from God to all who would have it, and put it under Christ the King’s authority, then that which is Christianity might have something useful to say to the rest of the world. As it is, as long as we keep playing by Marxism’s rules, we’re wasting our time.