Tuesday, January 13, 2009
W@H: Appendix B
Molly Worthen asks the question Who Would Jesus Smack Down? in the New York Times. It's an article about Mark Driscoll, a macho Neo-Calvinist who basically combines the worst of Wild at Heart with the worst of Calvinism. And Christians are eating it up. Beyond the fact that I graduated from high school with Molly, and it's always cool to see a familiar name in the paper of record, it's a fascinating article. Some of the people I least want to have anything to do with from my old fundagelical days are the self-same people who are passing Driscoll's videos around on Facebook. The article also has a special guest appearance by Brett and Alex Harris, who I talked smack about over a year ago. Anyway, for those who are wondering, Calvinism represented one of my first breaks with the evangelical culture I grew up in. I spent a lot of time hearing about how America was supposed to be a "Christian nation" and how we were supposed to fervently desire that divine transformation. But as much as I was a Christian, I was fledgling historian. I knew of John Calvin's Geneva. I knew of Oliver Cromwell's England. I knew of the real story of why the Pilgrims traveled to the New World. I knew that cultures under religious domination are less, not more free. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about radical Islam or radical Christianity, a theocracy restricts freedom and the only people who thrive are the ones on top or the ones who find restricted freedom a good thing. I gradually began to side with the Enlightenment, which according to the descendants of Calvin is the root of all modern evil. My historian ways gave me the words and the platform to speak against the ideas I kept hearing of the great godly America. "I don't know about that," my replies would go, "I wouldn't have wanted to live in Calvin's Geneva." And people listened, even if it was simply to take it as a cautionary tale of theocracy gone too far. Moreover, Calvinism takes a glitch in the religious story and turns it in to a feature. The question that has best been able to stop theologians in their tracks is that of theodicy: namely if there is an omnipotent, omnipresent, omni[insert third part of the O-O-O trilogy here] god who cares and is good, how is there evil and suffering in the world. Theologians best respond with the free will answer, namely we bring it on ourselves. Calvinists negate the free will answer by saying god preordains everything. Therefore, both good and evil come from god. Happiness and suffering come from god. And god chooses who to save, thereby also choosing who to damn. The Calvinist god created humans only to direct their lives minute by minute and then send the majority to Hell because they displeased him. And we're supposed to say this is good and want to go to Driscoll's church and watch his YouTube videos. Anyway, read the article. It's good. And Molly makes some of the points I made above but with a different focus. I think, too, that the reason I'm attaching this to the Wild at Heart project will be readily apparent. And when you're done, please join me in the lobby for in a hearty chorus of, "Fuck you, Mark Driscoll." There will be coffee and cake afterwards.