Now Playing at Life in Mordor: A Reflection on the Post-Evangelical Wilderness and That Rob Bell Book

As some of you probably know, I am an occasional guest contributor over at Life in Mordor, the blog of Mike Frizzell.  My current post is called “A Reflection on the Post-Evangelical Wilderness and That Rob Bell Book“.

If any of you out there read any of the same blogs where I hang out regularly, then you may be familiar with the term “post-evangelical wilderness”.  For me, the post-evangelical wilderness is not some idle theoretical construct created by bloggers with WAY too much time on their hands and nothing to do with it except sit all day in front of their computer screens and write whatever tickles their fancy.  For me, the post-evangelical wilderness is real life.  It’s where I live, and where I have lived for the better part of the past decade.

In this post I reflect on life in the post-evangelical wilderness, and how the ongoing furor over that Rob Bell book (Don’t know which one?  What rock have you been living under for the last six months?) intersects with that.

Les Miserables 68: The Battle Commences

The change in Cosette’s life that we read about last time happened between the time Marius first saw her at the Luxembourg and the time he saw her again six months later.

Recall that when Marius first saw Cosette at the Luxembourg, he was relatively unimpressed with her.  Here is Victor Hugo’s description of what Marius saw that day:

The first time the young girl that accompanied him [Valjean] sat down on the seat they seemed to have adopted, she looked like a girl of about thirteen or fourteen, puny to the point of being almost ugly, awkward, insignificant, yet promising, perhaps, to have rather fine eyes.  But they were always looking about with a sort of unpleasant assurance.  She wore the uniform, both aged and childish, peculiar to the convent boarders, an ill-fitting garment of coarse black merino.  They appeared to be father and daughter.

…He found the man very much to his liking, but the girl rather depressing.

Continue reading “Les Miserables 68: The Battle Commences”

The Monday Melange 07.25.11: Jim Donnan, Gene Chizik, Dan Radakovich

–Aloysius, our Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion, has been in stitches over last week’s item about the running of the bulls in Spain.  He has been saying to me, “You humans are SOOOOOO STUPID!!!!!!!!!  [in mocking voice]  ‘There are bulls running loose in the street today!  I think I’ll go for a run!’ ”  Aloysius never tires of reminding me that bears have much better sense than to go for a run when there are bulls running loose in the streets.  Yeah whatever.  But I have nothing to say to him in response.  He is right on this one.  Sometimes it annoys me, and when I’ve had enough I just remind him–ever so gently–of that bear that got stuck on that bridge out in California a couple of years back, and that usually shuts him up.

Ponzi scheme?!?!? I thought the guy said "tunnel screen"!!!!!

–Jim Donnan’s legal and personal troubles are deepening.  Not only is he now bankrupt, he is now accused of running a Ponzi scheme.  Well, at least he’s got the right guy to defend him:  Athens lawyer Ed Tolley, who has a long career of making sticky situations for UGA not so sticky, is on the case.  Not that Tolley needs any suggestions from me, but here’s one:  Say that Donnan thought the guy said “tunnel screen” (sounds kinda like “Ponzi scheme” if you say it really fast) and said, “What?  Tunnel screen?  I love those!!!!!  Sign me up!!!!!”

If you’ve been wondering about the state of the NCAA’s investigation into Cam Newton at Auburn, wonder no longer.  Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s vice president of enforcement, came to the SEC coaches’ annual meeting in Destin and gave a presentation there.  When she opened it up for questions, Gene Chizik raised his hand.  What followed was a testy exchange which resembled the scene at the congressional hearing in The Godfather II where the Corleone family lawyer gets up and says, “…We hope that you will have the decency to clear the Corleone family name with the same publicity with which you have besmirched it.”  Chizik peppered Roe Lach with questions about the status about the investigation, complaining that the open-ended nature of this investigation was hurting recruiting.  To which Roe Lach responded, “You’ll know when we’re finished.  And we’re not finished.”

Translation:  Sit down and shut up.

–It usually doesn’t go very well for you if you get testy with the NCAA.  Dan Radakovich at Georgia Tech could tell you a thing or two about that.  Georgia Tech just managed to take what should have been nothing more than a secondary violation and squeeze four years probation and a forfeited ACC championship out of it, because they were deemed as failing to cooperate with the NCAA’s investigation.  AJC sports columnist Mark Bradley contrasts the Georgia Tech situation with the situation at LSU, which had a major infraction and could have gotten in huge trouble but got off with the equivalent of time already served because they cooperated with the NCAA in their investigation.

Tom Brashears: How to Run a Church Well Without Going Seeker-Sensitive

The God Whisperers” has become one of my favorite podcasts lately.  This one is two Lutheran pastors out of California (kinda like the Car Talk guys) who talk about Christian theology, faith, and culture from a distinctly Lutheran perspective, and have massive amounts of fun and craziness along the way.  This is very much to be expected, since they are from California.

In this episode they are joined by special guest Rev. Tom Brashears, a Lutheran pastor whose unique background gives him insight into the business aspects of leading a church.  Brashears discusses issues such as why people are averse to the idea of running church like a business, why committee meetings over seemingly unimportant issues sometimes become crazy contentious, and how to run a church well without having it turn into something Rick Warren would do.

Les Miserables 67: The Rose Discovers She Is an Instrument of War

After Valjean and Cosette left the convent, they settled in to the house on the Rue Plumet and lived there quietly.  Cosette lived in the main house while Valjean lived in the guesthouse in the back.  She loved Valjean and spent almost all of her time with him.

One of the tensions that Valjean felt at this point had to do with Cosette’s mother, Fantine.  Cosette had never known her mother.  When she was little, Valjean talked about her frequently, but now he said nothing whenever Cosette asked about her.

Jean Valjean’s silence veiled Fantine with night.

Was this prudence?  Was it respect?  Was it a fear of giving up that name to the chances of another memory than his own?

While Cosette was a little girl, Jean Valjean had been fond of talking with her about her mother; when she was older, he found it impossible.  It seemed to him he no longer dared.  Was this on account of Cosette?  Was it because of Fantine?  He felt a sort of religious horror at introducing that shade into Cosette’s thoughts and at bringing in the dead as a party to their destiny.  The more sacred that shade was to him, the more intimidating it seemed to him.  He thought of Fantine and felt overwhelmed with silence.  He could dimly see in the darkness something like a finger raised to lips.  Had all that modesty that had once been Fantine’s and, during her life, had been forced out of her by violence, returned after her death to take its place over her, to watch, indignant, over the peace of the dead woman, and to guard her fiercely in her tomb?  Did Jean Valjean, without knowing it, feel its influence?  We who believe in death are not among those who would reject his mysterious explanation.  Hence the impossibility of pronouncing, even for Cosette, that name, “Fantine.”

Continue reading “Les Miserables 67: The Rose Discovers She Is an Instrument of War”

The Monday Melange 07.18.11: Edwin Edwards, Derek Jeter, Damon Evans

DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS if your 10K time is over 30 minutes.

–We here in Atlanta just had the Peachtree Road Race last week.  60,000 people running down Peachtree Road on the hottest day of the year.  Why?  Because we’re ATLiens and that’s how we roll!!!!!!

Of course the Kenyans won.  They always win this thing.  In the time it takes you to finish the PRR, the Kenyans would have time to finish, run all the way back to the start, and run all the way through the course again, this time stopping to get all the free samples and drink all the free beer that was being passed out.

But what would have made the PRR a lot more interesting is if they had bulls running loose on Peachtree Road during the race.

I’m not kidding here.  They actually do this in Spain.  They have this thing called the Running of the Bulls, where they let some bulls loose in the street and people actually try to run with them.  Has anyone figured out that this is an EXTREMELY BAD IDEA?????????  Of course Ernest Hemingway liked this.  But Hemingway was weird anyway.  He had a habit of drinking too much and writing novels with crazy long sentences that nobody can make sense of.

Think about this, people.  The bulls have a decided advantage here.  Even if the people attempting to keep up with them are Kenyan.  Bulls the world over actually plan their summer vacations around this thing.  (“No Ferdinand, I get the fat guy this year.  You can have the guy who doesn’t have any clothes on.”)

I’m not kidding about that last one.  Somebody actually tried to streak the Running of the Bulls this year.  Now, it’s stupid enough to attempt to run while there are bulls in the street if you do not have a 10K time of less than 30 minutes.  But to take your clothes off while attempting to run with the bulls?  That is taking stupidity to a whole other level.  Any bets on how long that would last?  If this video is any indication, only about 40 seconds.  Of course, the guy holding the video camera yelling “Kill Killer Kill!!!” at about the 20-second mark is a very nice touch.

–How would you like to be Facebook friends with a crooked Louisiana politician?  Well, now’s your chance.  Former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards is now on Facebook.  And you too can be his friend.  PSYCHE!!!!!!  No you can’t; he has too many friends.

If you look at his profile, you will notice that he says very little about being governor of Louisiana.  Can’t say I blame him.  If I were a four-term governor of a third world country who served jail time for racketeering and corruption while in office, I’d probably want to keep that on the DL too.

What does that say about Louisiana that a former governor who served jail time for racketeering and corruption has so many friends on Facebook that they won’t let him have any more?

–Congrats go out from all the staff here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion to Derek Jeter, who last week just hit his 3,000th home run.  Amazing.  Not even Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, or Barry Bonds could touch that, and Jeter did it without even touching steroids (at least that we know of).  WHOOPS!!!!!  Turns out he actually got his 3,000th hit, which just happened to be for a home run.

Here’s a link to the video of the CNN newscast, in which you can actually see them flash the graphic announcing Jeter’s 3000th homer, then take it down a split second before the newscaster correctly announces that Jeter has gotten 3,000 hits.

–Former UGA athletic director Damon Evans will soon be back in college athletics again.  According to a report in the Savannah Morning News, he has been hired as a consultant to the athletic department at Savannah State after they suddenly fired athletic director Marilyn Suggs.  Evans is currently working with the Markley Group, a Boston-area marketing firm.

ROB BELL TURNED ME INTO A UNIVERSALIST!!!!! A Diatribe about Heaven, Hell and That Book that All the Leading Names in Evangelicalism DO NOT WANT YOU TO READ!!!!!

Farewell Rob Bell.

–John Piper

Some questions don’t require answers.  Some require a conversation.  This is one of the taglines for Starting Point, an environment at my church for seekers and new believers to ask questions about the Christian faith in a nonthreatening place.

Heaven and hell is one of those questions that requires a conversation.

I know a lot of you out there would love to believe that we have definitive answers to the question of heaven and hell.  It’s all laid out there all nicely and neatly and you will see it for yourself if you would just open your eyes and read your Bible for crying out loud.  But despite the best efforts of the John Pipers of the world, people are reading that Rob Bell book.  And it is striking a chord with them–an awful lot of them, at least.  Far too many of them to just dismiss this as a passing thing.  This shows that for now at least, the issue of heaven and hell is FAR FROM settled.

Come on, people.  Protestantism is NOT the religion of “Roma locuta est, causa finita est” (that’s “Rome has spoken, the matter is settled” for those of you who aren’t quite all the way up to speed on your Latin).  As Protestants, we have historically believed that all truth is God’s truth.  Therefore, it is perfectly OK to talk about things, and even to raise some ideas that are completely and totally out there.  As we talk through these things, there is a sifting process that happens.  This can take a long time, decades or even centuries–and it can get excruciatingly messy at times, thus the contention by some of our Catholic and Orthodox brethren that our rancorous debating and divisions are a slander upon the body of Christ.  But God is in control of this process, and His truth will win out in the end.

Sure it would be nice to have a centralized, Magisterial teaching authority that could step up and shut down the Rob Bells and Joel Osteens and Ken Hams and Pat Robertsons and [insert the name of your least favorite evangelical leader here] of the world.  But who corrects the Magisterium when they get it wrong (and they do get it wrong sometimes, the whole infallibility thing notwithstanding)?  NO ONE!!!!!!!!!

Trust the process, people.  It’s a whole lot better than the alternative.

Now then.  Why do you think Rob Bell decided to write a book with some crazy new ideas about heaven and hell?  Do you think he did it just because it thrills him to sit in front of his computer screen all day for weeks or months on end or however long it took to write the thing?  Do you think he did it just to get a rise out of the whole evangelical world?  Do you think he did it…just for the hell of it?  (HAH!!!!!  Made a funny!!!!!)

No.  He did it in an attempt to correct something which he sees as a glaring problem in evangelicalism (and it is, by the way) :  Christians, and evangelicals in particular, have been very poor stewards of the concept of heaven and hell. Continue reading “ROB BELL TURNED ME INTO A UNIVERSALIST!!!!! A Diatribe about Heaven, Hell and That Book that All the Leading Names in Evangelicalism DO NOT WANT YOU TO READ!!!!!”