Monday, June 14, 2021

A few thoughts

I have no real outlet outside of my professional life as a pastor to broadcast what I have been thinking about lately. To some extent, that is to be expected. I am called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (God saves sinners like me through Jesus) and so the congregation should expect to hear the Gospel preached from various angles and implementations. So my issue is not with my calling and vocation (I am happy to preach the Gospel at every opportunity), but rather, what do I do with ideas that I cannot quite rightly connect to the proclamation of the Gospel.
Here are a few examples from my recent thoughts (incomplete as they may be):
1. I am fairly certain that the adoption of certain names as insults is meant to further certain political aims. Perhaps it is because I have a daughter who has a name that is currently in the zeitgeist as a particularly cruel insult. For the record, a Christian calls a person who butts into the business of others and makes loud and sweeping demands a 'busybody.' The political motivation seems to be silencing by fear of public shaming people who may put up a fight to the adoption of radical ideas to reshape Western Civilization. If people, especially women, are afraid of being called a 'busybody' in circumstances where the label is not apt (i.e. speaking up in situations where it is called for, such as the teaching of ideological propaganda in an elementary school) then they will remain silent. It seems right now that this self-censoring benefits those pushing radical, cultural Marxist ideas.
2. I do not understand why anyone falls into pyramid schemes. I think it is something akin to the reason people buy lottery tickets. To be sure, it can seem that a lot of hustle will pay off, but in the end only a very few benefit to any measurable degree. Once friends and family have been hit up for the tenth time to buy some product(s) and they begin to politely and then forcefully say, "NO," the scheme falls apart. At that point the poor soul is probably over-leveraged with product to move, ending worse than the start and those upstream laugh all the way to the bank.
3. If the COVID-19 pandemic revealed anything to me, it was that those who claim to be experts/leaders no longer deserve our attention/respect by virtue of their credentials. Credentials simply do not say enough to ascertain if a person is worth trusting. I was recently talking with someone about the pandemic and there was a pause when discussing a certain epidemiologist (I will give you three guesses as to who). The person just no longer was sure if he was trustworthy. This was expressed with grief, as if saying so out loud meant leaving behind one's father's house and going into a strange new country. I think this goes doubly so for those peddling Critical Race Theory nonsense. These CRT pushers hide behind degrees and credentials that are largely meaningless, yet, because they can claim expertise in an area of academic study they are given credence. What needs to be considered, however, is if that area of academic study has any rigor/value to it in the first place. There are two ways to lose credibility, I suppose. First, as with the epidemiologist, one can peddle lies and half-truths and be found out. Second, as with the CRT peddlers, one can be shown to have a sincere belief in what turns out to be nonsense.
4. Speaking of Critical Race Theory, I am convinced that this is truly dangerous stuff. That's not the thought. Here's the thought: those who are buying into CRT at this point are not thinking through the implications of its implementation. Critical Theory simply is caustic no matter its academic field. Critical Theory can only tear down and NEVER build or construct BY DESIGN. I was taught deconstructionism as theology early in my seminary education. I saw that the foundation was just left unpoured and instead a hasty, caricatured, strawman form of traditional Reformed theology was knocked over. What was shocking to me, though, was that when I pointed this out (deconstruction has no way to construct a viable theological framework) I was told that I just did not understand. Perhaps that was so at the time. Now, however, I can say with more certainty that we need certain foundational principles (say the Nicene Creed or the five solas of the Reformation) or else faith collapses into navel-gazing. The cultural Marxists pushing CRT certainly would like to deconstruct Western Civilization (defund/abolish the police is a prime example), but they must employ magical thinking for what comes next with their thought something akin to, "If we get rid of the police and prisons, then people will not commit crimes and we can all enjoy utopia." I suppose as a Calvinist it is my grim duty to remind everyone that deep down inside we are not good people and that all utopians, given enough power, end up being mass-murderers out of frustration. Better to murder millions holding back utopia than admit the theory is built on sand, I suppose.
5. Some years back I read a book that would not be published today. The title was catchy, "Why Men Hate Going to Church." The thoughts in the book were okay, basically positing that church was not exciting for men. What I think was a real missed opportunity was discussing the turn to the therapeutic in the model for pastoral ministry. Sermons since the middle of the last century slowly (and then quickly) turned away from placing God at the center to placing people at the center. The sermon was no longer a exposition of the Word of God (which is primarily about God and secondarily about our duties/responsibilities to God) to a practical application of the Scripture. Slowly the sermon turned from particular biblical passages to proof texts to make a particular point. Emotion replaced theology as the central control for the sermon. I think at this point, the bankruptcy of this approach is apparent for anyone who cares to pay attention.