Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Casual Meanness

Related to the previous post:  I think the main danger of division in the church is not gay rights, or pacifism, or socialism, the role of women, or any of the common topics of the day.  It is the casual meanness of Nice People in discussing these issues.  They are insulting and self-righteous and do not see it.  The simple exercise of reading back to oneself how these same words would sound coming back does not even occur to them.

How could it?  They are well-defended.  They think of themselves as kindly people, and comfort themselves with images of the worst examples of their opponents.  They aren't mean like them.  They aren't haters like those awful people who call themselves Christians.

The folks at Westboro Baptist are mean, the health and wealth Positive Jesus people are condescending, but they are of no real danger in the long run.  It's the Nice People, who have no awareness that they are one and the same who will someday make the church indistinguishable from "the popular opinions of the best people."


james said...

Someday? I was catching up on the Slack(TM) conversations yesterday after the long weekend away from work, and noticed a long 2am conversation between a couple of colleagues discussing church and their youth. They mutually concluded that the only important thing in church doctrine was being nice to people. "Theraputic deism" is the phrase I've heard describing this; about half the descriptions of Christianity I've seen lately assume something like it. The fundamental nature of reality and our place in it don't matter nearly as much as whether we are nice--where the definition of nice varies somewhat with tribe. Sort of a distant echo of what Jesus said about sheep and goats...

Christopher B said...

I agree with James. I’ve been seeing a whole eschatology of Nice for quite a while, and it was especially visible for the last week or so regarding the mean people who won’t make pizzas for certain weddings. If only we could get everyone to be Nice to one another we’d have the Kingdom on Earth.

Sam L. said...

" It is the casual meanness of Nice People in discussing these issues. They are insulting and self-righteous and do not see it. The simple exercise of reading back to oneself how these same words would sound coming back does not even occur to them." They KNOW they're nice, so how could they be offensive.

Leftists KNOW they're much smarter that the average person, because they are above-average in intelligence, went to the right schools, and the media agree with them.

Sam L. said...

This seems to address this topic:


Texan99 said...

I've begun to watch, with pleasure, the Masterpiece production of "Wolf Hall." I didn't care for the book, but the TV production is excellent. I've only watched the first episode, which is introducing the POV character, Thomas Cromwell, treated with greater sympathy in this work than the usual hero of the story, Sir Thomas More. Not to suggest that this is anything more than a convenient writer's device for turning expectations on their heads, it is interesting to watch Cromwell (great-grandfather of the horrible Oliver Cromwell) meeting in secret with his radical English-Bible-reading friends and worrying about More's replacing Wolsey. As Cromwell says, Cardinal Wolsey burns Bibles, but More will burn men. (Again, not claiming this is historically accurate or fair as to the individuals.)

We don't take seriously any more any controversy over whether a vernacular Bible is an evil threat, so the whole story becomes one about which religious crimes are serious enough to torture people to death over. One way out of that dilemma is to decline to treat any secular crimes (or what we would today call victimless crimes) as serious. It doesn't mean that we've solved the problem of how to confront sin without indulging in bloody hatred of the sinner. It certainly doesn't mean that we've figured out how to avoid elevating any particular sin to the special level of "completely outside the normal social system in which we continue to advocate against the behavior without demonizing the actor."

Lewis cautions us about the problem of despair when we've committed some sin that we believe can't be forgiven. His idea is we've merely finally identified a sin we truly believe is sinful; our other "forgiven sins" are things we acknowledge as a violation of some arbitrary rulebook, as opposed to things we believe in our hearts were wrong and shameful.

This is a bit rambling, but I'm trying to talk about how the intensity of attention we give to a particular sin at a particular time can have more to do with secular influences than with a genuine working out of our duty sometimes to be at odds with a worldly culture in service of a higher standard.