...the whole blog post, but I figured I'd give you a snippet and let you click over to read the rest. Any blog that can work its way from Sufjan Stevens to Dobsocrats and fill the in between parts with such cogent reflections deserves to be read!
Stevens gets a lot of press for his quirky Christianity; I don’t know anything specific about his particular beliefs, but it’s clear that it’s a brand of Christianity that embraces, or at least is interested in exploring, contradictions, complexities, ambiguities. These are, of course, the very concepts that modern evangelical Christianity—the tradition I grew up in and still hang around the periphery of—has a pervading and hysterical horror of. Go to any Christian bookstore (most of which tend to be evangelical Christian stores hawking Left Behind and the like) and take a gander at the array of books organized around lists and categories—The 5 Love Languages, the 4 Personality Types, 21 Ways to Conquer Anxiety, Fear, and Discontentment, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. Now, breaking a complicated issue down into discrete parts to understand it better is not in and of itself a bad thing (and there are plenty of secular self-help books that do the same—7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which of course inspired the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Christians, evangelical culture always being only about five steps behind the mainstream that it decries).
But that’s not what these books do. These books—or, to be charitable, the way in which these books are taught and presented in the churches I’ve been a part of over the years—are about liberating you from the burdensome responsibility of having to think hard about an issue, of having to grapple with questions that don’t have easy answers. They’re about providing a formula—sometimes a Biblical formula, more often a syrupy cocktail of cherry-picked Bible verses, CEO motivation manuals, and nineteenth-century gender politics—that you can apply to world events, workplace stresses, personal relationships, or whatever situation might arise, a formula that does not explain nearly as much as it obscures, but which gives the illusion of deep understanding. It reminds me of a church small group I was in once in which everyone seemed to know exactly one thing about everyone else, and that one thing was used to explain everything each person said or did. “Well, now, as an engineer, Carl, it doesn’t surprise me that you would feel that way about the book of James.” And so on.
PrettyFakes-Blog Archive-Onward, Dobson Soldiers