The Post-Evangelicals That Weren’t

Hannah Anderson saying smart things:

Millennials tend to associate evangelicalism with an odd collection of American religiosity, traditional mores, and a “God-said-it-I-believe-it” reductionism. In many ways, their understanding has been shaped by growing up in the culture wars of the 1980s and 90s, and has been exacerbated by a religious consumerism unique to capitalism.

Step back a generation or two and you’ll find an evangelicalism less defined by politics and more defined by a commitment to the relevancy and authority of Scripture. Step back yet one more generation and evangelicalism is embodied in cross-denominational cooperation, the global missions movement, and social reform. Step back again and you’ll discover an evangelicalism that was birthed in the revivals of the Great Awakening.

Just as our DNA is the product of the generations before us, today’s evangelicals carry traits, not only of their mothers and fathers, but of their grandmothers and grandfathers and great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers. What many millennials understand to be evangelicalism—some kind of quasi-Protestant, flag-waving, gun-toting, ‘mericanism–simply isn’t. …

What has become evident in the recent World Vision debacle is that many who wish to identify as post-evangelical continue to function within profoundly evangelical (and at times, fundamentalist) paradigms. Their objectives may have shifted, but their rhetoric has not.

A League of Their Own

The Far Post tells the story of how Kenyan soccer has matured in recent years, largely thanks in part to the work of a 71-year-old Canadian:

Bob Munro, 71, is completely at ease; his sweater is draped over his shoulders, and his shirtsleeves are rolled up. The waiters, at the popular local restaurant where we have met, refer to him by first name. At first glance, Munro doesn’t strike you an authority on Kenyan football; he has a kindly smile, his glasses are the proper old school kind (round, no frames) and, well, he’s white.

Munro, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario, has come a long way from the ice hockey and baseball of his youth, and is now one of the go-to people on Kenyan football. Munro, who moved to the country as an advisor to the United Nations Environmental Program and UN Habitat in 1985, founded the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 1987, and the professional team Mathare United FC in 1994. Both are based in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s sprawling slums, which are home to at least 60% of Nairobi residents. MYSA, a global pioneer in sports for development, was the only league in the stands to have a column for ‘garbage cleaning’ in the points table; the association now has over 1,800 youth football teams, and over 25,000 boys and girls who develop their community through environmental cleanup, HIV/AIDS awareness, and literacy programs. MYSA and Mathare United FC were amongst the 165 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, and are expected to defend their FIFA Football for Hope championship title in Brazil this year.

War Has a Mind of Its Own

A thoughtful essay titled “The ‘Aresian Risk’ of Unmanned Maritime Systems,” by a Naval philosopher. The “Aresian risk” to which Hatfield refers is the risk the ancients understood but moderns have largely forgotten: war, symbolized by Ares, god of war, is more than just the sum of two warring parties:

It is instructive to note that the ancient Greeks, through their personification of war with the god Ares, had the conceptual resources to cope with the true nature of war in a manner that has become less accessible to modern strategists. In this respect we have become rational to a fault. Like the actual warfare that defines recent experience, Ares was thought to have a mind of his own. Capable of independent action, he was no tool of men. Because of this, all Greek commanders understood warfare as a peculiarly precarious undertaking.

Against “Christian Seders”

An interesting post from a retired mainline pastor:

Beyond all this is the basic question of why some of us feel we need to hold a Seder in Holy Week in our Christian congregations in the first place. The treasure chest of Christian liturgical ritual that pertains to the Paschal season is so enormously rich that one wonders why we would turn to someone else’s. Perhaps it is because so few of our churches celebrate this range and depth of options that we cast around looking for something meaningful and rich like we imagine a Seder to be.

What could Christian do instead during Holy Week if we take seriously the objection that a “Christian Seder” is anachronistic, a contradiction in terms, and a potential offense to Jews today for whom the Passover rituals are a living tradition, and not a sort of curious antiquarianism?

If we really want to understand the mysteries of Jesus’ last days, we might consider participating in the classic liturgies of the Great Three Days of Maundy/Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. It is there, in the experience of the powerful liturgical traditions of those three days, that we encounter the meaning, depth, and power of our salvation. In the ritual of the Passover, the Jewish people recount their story of redemption. In the liturgies of the Great Three Days – and especially the Easter Vigil – the Christian community recounts and relives our story of redemption.

A Case Study for Wonk Journalism

Greg Marx on Ezra Klein’s Vox:

But if it’s still early to draw conclusions about the execution, one thing about Vox seems already clear: It’s going to be, basically, what you’d expect if you’ve been following Klein’s critique of the industry—which is that journalism turns off news consumers by focusing too much on what’s new, and so makes it hard to understand why it matters, or what the big picture is. As Politico’s Dylan Byers noted on Twitter: “The Feb. theory on Vox as a new, smarter version of Wikipedia seems to have panned out.” And that means it’ll be fascinating to watch even if you’re not a fan of Klein and Yglesias, because Klein’s critique will be put to the test.

Austen and Aquinas

Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P., on the importance of principle in Mansfield Park.

Henry’s failure provides a good illustration of the effect that vice has on one’s moral judgment. The motives out of which he acts are good, namely humbling Maria so that she would learn to properly value the virtue of Fanny. However, Henry chooses an unsuitable means to achieve this end, as he had previously been habituated to believe that the proper way to put a young woman in her place was through breaking her heart. The real tragedy of Henry’s situation is not that he loses Fanny, but that he actually does perceive the good and falls away from it due to the disorder arising from his false principles.

Americans are having dogs instead of babies.

From The Atlantic:

It could just be a coincidence that Americans are birthing fewer babies at the same time as they’re buying a lot more little dogs. But there’s pretty good reason to believe it isn’t, Damian Shore, an analyst at market-research firm Euromonitor, says. “There’s definitely some replacement happening there,” he says.

One telling sign that the two are not entirely unrelated is that the same age groups that are forgoing motherhood are leading the small dog charge. “Women are not only having fewer children, but are also getting married later. There are more single and unmarried women in their late 20s and early 30s, which also happens to be the demographic that buys the most small dogs,” Shore says.

There’s also evidence people are treating their dogs a bit more like little humans these days. Premium dog food, the most expensive kind, has grown by 170 percent over the past 15 years, and now accounts for 57 percent of of the overall dog food market.

The Tragedy of the Healthy Eater

If you are at all familiar with the latest round of fad diets, this should make you laugh:

All you want to do is eat a little healthier. Really. Maybe get some of that Activa probiotic yogurt or something. So you look around and start researching what “healthier” means.

That really skinny old scientist dude says anything from an animal will give you cancer. But a super-ripped 60 year old with a best-selling diet book says eat more butter with your crispy T-Bone and you’ll be just fine as long as you stay away from grains. Great abs beat out the PhD so you end up hanging out on a forum where everyone eats green apples and red meat and talks about how functional and badass parkour is.

You learn that basically, if you ignore civilization and Mark Knopfler music, the last 10,000 years of human development has been one big societal and nutritional cock-up and wheat is entirely to blame. What we all need to do is eat like cave-people.

You’re hardcore now, so you go way past way cave-person. You go all the way to The Inuit Diet™.

Some people say it’s a little fringe, but you are committed to live a healthy lifestyle. “Okay,” you say, “let’s do this shit,” as you fry your caribou steak and seal liver in rendered whale blubber. You lose some weight which is good, but it costs $147.99 a pound for frozen seal liver out of the back of an unmarked van at the Canadian border.

The Library of Frederick Douglass

From the Art of Manliness blog.

Ultimately, then, for Frederick Douglass reading meant freedom.

His ability to read a text, to synthesize that information, and then let it change his thoughts and compel him to action directly led to his fight against slavery, both as an individual man seeking his own freedom, and later as a statesman, fighting for the rights of his fellow man. A single man’s desire to read and attain knowledge changed the landscape of America forever.

Throughout his life, Douglass’s library would grow, and it now serves as a great insight into his thoughts and beliefs. In reading through the list, you get an idea of how incredibly wide-read Douglass was. We see everything from classic Christian pieces, to abolitionist texts, to popular novels of the time, to history and science textbooks, and even seemingly random works on subjects like the dental arts and knitting(!).

Jean Calvin on Lip Gloss

Apart from the swipe at Plato, this is good from Derek Rishmawy.

Calvin might seem like an odd source to appeal to. He certainly wasn’t known for his expertise in mascara, nor the proper application of blush. (Though he did seem to have a fabulous beard that probably required some grooming.) What’s more, he makes no bones about the fact that he considers the soul, and indeed, the intellect, as the chief seat of God’s Image in humanity.

(Calvin, by the way, thought Plato the most useful and correct of the ancient philosophers concerning the soul, though (if I might paraphrase Calvin’s thoughts about philosophy in the first book of the Institutes) in an already-long treatise on religion, ain’t nobody got time for that.)