John McWhorter explains a bit about the new religion Electism to me. I had not heard of it by name, but I had run across some of the concepts. They seem an inevitable extension of some black theology over the last couple of decades.
Yet what jumped out at me was not the theology so much as the reasoning. There was a small sample to work from, but the two theologians he quotes - one from Chicago Theological Seminary and the other from Princeton, Tubingen, and Yale - were operating on an extremely long kite string from grounded reality. It occurred to me that I was not interested in what they had to say on any other subject. I had not quite known this about myself, but I understood that I make my judgements on this basis often.
If I overheard them talking about the brakes of a car or important facets of making wine I would ease away. Yes there is some chance one of them worked for a few year at a winery and might know something, but even at that, I would wonder if they had absorbed too much speculative knowledge or great ideas they had come up with on their own without running past anyone else.
I would not ask them if such-and-such was a good boss to work for or a good employee to hire. If I learned that they had spent time in Des Moines I would not ask them what is happening with the culture or economy there. I don't trust their ability to make simple observations and draw simple conclusions.Such preachers used to be comic figures, whether they were urban or rural, white or black, trying to impress us by using big words. I think it's a reliable indicator, not only in theology, but in any complex subject. Do I even want to hear them talk about a simple subject?
Incidentally, I have an answer to the puzzle John came up against about the leap of faith aspect of religion as applied to Electism. There is something different from the more familiar religions, and he comes right to the edge of it. All religions do ask for some leap of faith, and he doesn't feel the need to make one for any of them. I might like to pursue that with him, but I get that reasoning. (I think the same might be said of many philosophies that would deny being religions but function as one. I am one who believes that everyone has a religion in there somewhere, they just may not have defined it that way.)
But first, other religions aren't constructed of things known to be false. You might not believe that Mohammed was a prophet, and don't want to take the leap that he was, but you haven't got a way of proving that he wasn't. You might think the idea of Jesus rising from the dead absurdly unlikely, but you haven't got an active disproof. But we know the information about Michael Brown is false, based on a theory of innocence that does not accord with the facts. Secondly, this particular new religion asks us to make a leap of faith at every point. It is not merely some difficult doctrines which require getting over, it is every item on the menu.