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!

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Posted by Susannah Black

Susannah Black received her BA from Amherst College and her MA from Boston University. She is an editor at Plough, associate editor of Providence Magazine, and an editor of The Davenant Trust’s journal Ad Fontes. She's a founding editor of Solidarity Hall and is on the Board of the Distributist Review. Her writing has appeared in First Things, The Distributist Review, Solidarity Hall, Providence, Amherst Magazine, Front Porch Republic, Ethika Politika, The Human Life Review, The American Conservative, Mere Orthodoxy, and elsewhere. She blogs at Radio Free Thulcandra and tweets at @suzania. A native Manhattanite, she is now living in Queens.

  • Hilarious. Thanks for the wide grin now splashed across my face.

  • Kyle Williams

    So good

  • wassup402

    I think I’m going to go for a walk.

    Or is it “a stroll”?

  • CarmenFowlerLaBerge

    So great! I noticed that his first turn was to the right. Some would certainly take issue with that.

    • Pea-Tear

      why? Does not the wise man’s heart incline to the Right?

    • Susannah Black

      haha it’s because that is literally the direction he’d have to turn if he were coming out of the Redeemer offices and heading to the park. Never been to the offices, but you can tell from building numbers. I was right in that neighborhood last week, basically did the same walk, though not intentionally.

  • Steve in Toronto

    This is very theological and historically astute. The knife is so sharp it does not even hurt when it goes in….but then you twists it!

  • Steve_Winnipeg_Canada

    Rishmaway to the rescue.

    • Susannah Black

      Always!

  • Genius.

  • Benjamin Lima
    • David Wolf

      They make me so sad.

  • Even More

    Frank Schaeffer: I remember walking in the park with my dad. I’ve got another book coming out about my dad soon. Keller’s a jerk like my dad.

    Dee Parsons: Why has no one pointed out that this 9Marxist Calvinista didn’t have his wife along? I assume she was forced to stay in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant.

    Steven Furtick: Hey Haterz…. I’m a actually little jealous that he doesn’t need much product to keep his hair in place.

    Keller: Why did I go out walking in a full suit? I should at least untie my bowtie.

    John MacArthur: I knew it, he’s one of them.

  • SamHamilton

    Well done, though I had to Google a few of these people.

  • Pingback: Weekend reading (1/14)()

  • David

    Please do more of these!

  • Greg Herr

    The best part of this piece is that I now know for *certain* something I had thought for quite some time: That Keller dude I love so much is a Papist.

    Call us Tim. Do we have a plan for you! Our most recently ordained priest was a (Crypto?) Presbo Pastor too. Total walk in the park. :>

  • Rachel Lulich

    Dang. I was hoping Mere Orthodoxy would make an appearance on this walk…