Skip to main content

🚨 URGENT: Mere Orthodoxy Needs YOUR Help

Tim Keller Goes for a Walk

January 13th, 2017 | 7 min read

By Susannah Black Roberts

This piece was co-written with Jake Meador. 

Tim Keller: (Walks outside on beautiful fall day, inhales deeply, and sighs contentedly) This is such a lovely day.

Rachel Held Evans: What exactly are you implying?

Keller: Umm. Nothing, really. I just am saying that this particular day is pleasant.

R. Scott Clark: You know who else likes mild weather? Federal Visionists.

Keller: (Starts walking east on 83rd Street) I – that doesn’t even make sense. I just think it’s a pleasant day outside. It’s like 55 degrees, there’s a slight breeze… what’s not to like?

Evans: 13 degrees. Come on. Literally every country in Europe switched to Celsius. Decades ago. This is the worst kind of American exceptionalism and isolationism, and it’ll only get worse under Trump. We were so close to going metric. This is a huge setback. Every time you use that Trumpist system of temperature measurement, you show your essential disrespect for women, people of color, and other marginalized groups.

Keller: Look, I’m just enjoying this weather. Might go for a walk in the park. It’s not a huge thing.

Dewey Roberts/The Aquila Report: If you must go for a walk in the park, I encourage you to do so with eyes wide open, exercising full discernment. Certainly there are some good things in Central Park, but there are many errors there as well. While the mature Olmsted understood that nature was to be tamed into submission, the earlier Olmsted, infected with the German Romanticism of his youth, believed that it might be suitable for some trees and plants to be encouraged to grow according to their own internal tendencies. This is horticultural Pelagianism of the most flagrant kind. Moreover, Olmsted insisted that the park must take into account the existing geography of the Island—the loam of the meadows closer to midtown, the rocky heights up near Harlem.  He used these geological features rather than bringing them into submission. But did not God judge even the righteous kings of Judah for failing to tear down the high places?

Keller: (Blinks several times) You know what would be really nice while I’m walking? A pretzel. I am going to get a pretzel to have on my pleasant fall walk.

Clark: Pretzels were originally eaten as symbols of penance during Lent; this is sheer papistry!

Evans: This is clearly a dogwhistle catering to the Islamophobia of the religious right, referring to the idea that in 1529 the pretzel-bakers of Vienna were the ones who heard the noise of the Turks attempting to tunnel under the city walls, and by alerting the defenses, “saved” “Europe” from “Muslim” “domination.” You might as well be COMPLETELY offensive and eat a croissant. GOSH.

Keller: (Takes a right, glancing at the books on the carts outside Book Culture as he passes, then crosses Columbus) These new bike lanes are great: They discourage congestion and encourage people to use a form of transportation that gets them active.

John Zmirak/The Stream: Personal virtue can’t be dictated by changing the environment. This is crypto-Marxist materialism.  

Keller: (Continues east) You know, I really appreciate the architectural details on a lot of the brownstones on these crosstown blocks. That kind of craftsmanship is good to see.

John Hagee: The cities of the world will be destroyed in fire!

Keller: (Has reached Central Park West; thoughtful while paying for a pretzel from one of the carts outside the Museum of Natural History.) Really concerned about the ban on churches renting space in New York City public schools. We have the mayor’s promise not to enforce it, but who knows whether that’d last under a new mayor, or even under de Blasio in a second term?  A whole lot of Redeemer plants, and others as well, would have to find other places to meet. We really need city council members to support us here; gotta get that ban off the books.

Clark: You are seeking a return to “Christendom,” that quasi-pagan compromise. I knew you were just like Leithart. This is sheer Constantinianism. What the church needs today, and always, is not theocracy but the preaching of the Law in all its severity and of the Gospel in all its fullness.

Keller: (Carrying pretzel, heads into the park while he pulls out his phone to look at the church bulletin for the upcoming Sunday) Pretty happy with the tweaks in layout of these programs. The logo looks good; I’ve always loved that typeface.

DG Hart: Look at this. It’s typical Evangelical prioritizing of style over substance from TKNY. This New-Light appeal to tech and hip feel won’t get you disciples, or converts, but the same, immature faux-believers mega-Evangelicalism has always produced.

Keller: (takes a deep breath and smiles) You know what will be the perfect end to this day? I’m going to go home and reread my favorite part of Return of the King.

Clark: I knew it! You really are a Romanist!

Evans: Um. Tolkien? His portrayal of Eowyn and femininity is deeply problematic. And the problems extend, of course, to the forms of political organization that he valorizes. The blatantly reactionary government of Gondor builds heteronormativity directly into its regime by insisting on a line of succession which demands procreative efforts. And don’t even get me started on all the tacit Othering of orcs throughout the whole series.

Keller: (Stops short) Rats. I forgot to get mustard for my pretzel.

Derek Rishmawy: (pops out from behind a tree next to the Delacorte Theater, mustard in hand) There you go!

Enjoy the article? Pay the writer.

Personal Info

Donation Total: $0

Susannah Black Roberts

Susannah Black Roberts is senior editor at Plough. She is a native Manhattanite. She and her husband, the theologian Alastair Roberts, split their time between Manhattan and the West Midlands of the UK.