web analytics

Why Bother?

In other words, what’s your justification for this project?

Conservative Evangelicalism was a political movement with religious muscle (not a religious movement with political consequences). Of course, we can’t know for another few years or so, but it seems that when one of our (supposed) own occupied the White House and bankrupted our moral resources, the movement died.

Now there is a vacuum. Some of us have absconded for a still-ersatz Evangelical Left. Some still straddle the line as libertarians. Those who have stayed in the Religious Right continue to beat the same war drum of fear and pain. Not only is it not working, it’s hurting those that are least able to speak for themselves.

I believe that we’re at a crossroads. We’re either going to circle the wagons and continue to brandish our tomahawks at imaginary monsters while our children quietly leave us and/or the Faith (since we’ve so adeptly quilted our beliefs with our politics, rejecting the one clearly means they will have to leave the other). Or we’ll stop and try a new way. Still the Gospel way, of course, but one that isn’t stuck in the grooves we’ve worn into the prairie mud.

I don’t know what that new way looks like. I want to imagine several alternatives. But not until I understand how we got here. How I got here as a daughter of conservative Evangelicalism.

So many of my Gen-X peers have left fundamentalism. Many of the Boomers still remain (changing their name to “biblicist” or some other essentialized term) or still defend the movement from the outside. The Gen-Yers are about to leave in droves. Those of us who have left too often believe the myth that we learned in fundamentalism that the real difference between them and us is music (“worship style”) or dress or even theology, only to embrace a nearly identical ethic within neo-evangelicalism that is as fearful, as striving, as sectarian, and as contradictory.

If we really want to leave behind the excesses of fundamentalism, we have to more clearly identify what those excesses are. We can’t believe the characterization we grew up hearing. We need to look at this from a different angle, and we need to start at the beginning.

Now I don’t plan on continuing this in any orderly fashion. I have to write it out, and as an “independent scholar,” in a motley fashion. With little snips of information here. Puking up thoughts I’ve digested there. It won’t be pretty, so consider yourself warned.

12 thoughts on “Why Bother?

  1. I’d be curious to know what Marsden thinks of your thesis that conservative evangelicalism was a political movement with religions muscle.

  2. As a Boomer with Gen-X leanings, I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts and gaining further understanding.

  3. “Hurting those that can least speak for themselves”

    So far, Obama has overturned the Mexico City rule so that our tax dollars are now funding abortions…

    Overturned the limits on embryonic stem cell research…

    Overturned the “conscience” exemption for health care workers which will force them to provide abortions…

    Appointed a radical pro-abortionist as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services…

    Announced his support for the Freedom of Choice Act which will re-legalize partial birth abortion and repeal parental notification laws…

    but it’s the religious right hurting those who can’t speak for themselves. Gotcha.

    These six things doth the Lord hate, yea seven are an abomination unto him…hands that shed innocent blood.

  4. I have no idea how to properly debate or what a “tu toque fallacy” is so forgive me if I continue down that line. However, if being concerned about what Rob mentioned is the fear you talk about than I am right there. I am a nurse and although I don’t think the conscience rule has been done away with quite yet I am extremely concerned about that. Not only that I am very thankful for those who choose to be vocal about it not being done away with. You can call it what you wish.
    Having followed your blog for awhile I am pretty sure you are talking about far more, though. I will be curious to continue to read what you have to say. I am very thankful that God’s grace isn’t bound by human interpretations of the Bible and theology. He is working in and using all of us- even those of us who would still claim the title “conservative evangelical”. God’s grace is amazing though- I know we agree on that:)

  5. Camille – I’m so eager to read more. I can’t begin to tell you how much your thoughts and your experience resonates. As a disillusioned late Gen-Xer myself, I think you’re on to something big with this research subject.

  6. I think it was CS Lewis who said something to the effect that a virtue practiced at the expense of other virtues is evil.

    Lately almost every discussion with conservative Evangelical culture warriors turns racial. I know you are familiar with the dark history of racial relations where you live, but this disturbing pattern is somewhat recent and newer to me.

    The two most common talking points I now tire of hearing are.

    “This is an affirmative action president. I will not hold back from criticizing him just because he is black!”

    “This mortgage crisis started with Democrats handing out houses to blacks and Hispanics! That is where the crisis started.”

    I just asked the guy yesterday what independent sources he uses to come to such conclusions. His answer? Fox News – the most “balanced” news outlet by far.

    With the worsening economy and the black president at the helm, I think the radicalization of the Religious Right will only accelerate.

  7. I agree with you, Stacy. I do. My point with Rob is that he may be right or he may be wrong. But it has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m talking about here. It’s a distraction.

  8. For me, it was seeing the flaws in fundamentalism. “They” come across as the benevolent theologians who know what’s best for one. The only problem with that is :I: am the one who has to stand before my Maker and give some sort of account of myself.

    If I’m going to be a pragmatist, if I’m going to make an error in theology (which is likely), I want my error to be in favor of humans, whom Christ came to save, to offer abundant life and life everlasting.

    Christ’s sacrifice was for us – for people, not to preserve some idea or even a book. I find no comfort in the benevolent people thinking they know best for me. At almost 50, I have a lot more questions than answers. I take comfort in the love and light I experience as I proceed down the journey.

    Remember when you first discovered Jesus? That’s what’s happened. We’ve forgotten what’s important. Politics is fleeting. Governments come and go. God is now and forever. I want my eyes on Christ, so I can be with God.

    Does this mean I have lost all political connection? Absolutely not. But, if I’m to live the Sermon on the Mount, I’m going to do a lot more than talk about politics and vote. I’m going to seek out injustice, oppression and fear, in whatever forms they present themselves and work toward eliminating them. That’s making the rough places plain and the lifting the valleys.

  9. I’m not attempting to distract from your point, I’m attempting to point out what appears to me to be a logical error in your words. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your definition of harm or who it is that is “least able to speak for themselves.” Perhaps you might be willing to clarify who you see those people to be.

    I can easily understand why the murderous conduct of our new President isn’t something you want to discuss, but it’s a pretty big elephant (pun intended) to overlook. Calling it tu toque won’t make it go away, nor will it change the path he’s setting our nation on.

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re right that fundamentalism/evangelicalism failed to train the next generation. We entertained them, but that’s not quite the same thing. Combined with the failure of our schools to teach basic principles of citizenship, we have lost the two pillars on which our republic rested–moral and civic virtue. I think the answer to Franklin’s “if you can keep it” statement is unfolding before our eyes.

  10. Entertained us? For me, embittered us might be a more appropriate description of how many people my age (20-30 somethings) feel about the conservative evangelical movement. I am angry and bitter that I was raised to see God and Country/America as one and the same.

    I would elaborate, but my blog reading is cutting in on mommy-daughter time. Briefly – when it comes to politics, I’m disillusioned to the point of exhaustion and barely have anything left within me to care. I tend to stand with Dan in this discussion, seeing nothing – not one thing – in Christ’s parting command to us . . . to go forth and teach and baptize in all nations of the world.

    I so very, very much look forward to the discussion unfolding here.

Comments are closed.