Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where's an Israeli desert when you need one?

The famous John Shelby Dong Spong managed to get a major U.S. newspaper to waste some space on his latest roguish musings. He took time out recently to do some slumming - evangelicals hosted a question-and-answer forum at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA for the presidential candidates on August 16.

Typically, 4/5ths of his little essay is an attack on the people asking the questions. After his opening titter about how "naive" it all was, he gets down to business.
The questions asked reflected an evangelical world view that is one to which educated people today cannot relate.
I would imagine, then, that the candidates would have been completely at sea as to how to answer them, then, no? As an educated person myself, if someone started asking me questions on a subject I could not relate to, like, say, the efficacy of bleeding to treat cancer, well, I wouldn't really know what to say! I sure couldn't answer the question in a way that the questioner would value, since I don't share his basic premise that 12th-century medical methods are appropriate today, and therefore I haven't wasted my time studying them. But the candidates didn't seem to have any trouble "relating" to the questions - are they not "educated people" either? Even if they were just saying what was needed to win votes, the fact that they could even understand their questioners demonstrates that whatever the reasons people like Spong can't relate to basic Christian assumptions, "education" is not among them.
It did reveal that evangelical Christianity is broadening in its interests to concerns about life after birth and the environment, but part of that is because the old hot button issues of abortion and homosexuality are simply fading in importance.
Oh, ha ha. Evangelicals are now discovering that there is "life after birth", eh? Makes one wonder why they ever bothered coming up with codes of conduct and avoiding temptations, when all that matters is thwarting a woman's desire for an abortion and then losing all interest in her. And homosexuality is not exactly a "pre-natal" issue, or any kind of -natal, come to think of it.
Everyone knows that abortions can be greatly reduced by competent sex education in the public schools and by the wide distribution of safe contraceptive devices.
"Everyone knows" - Malcolm Muggeridge called this 'the ritual introduction of a lie'. Why on earth would Spong want to reduce abortion? What's wrong with it? Has anyone ever heard him state what the problem is with abortion, except for the disapproval of the "uneducated"? (Coincidentally, the same single problem that afflicts homosexuals - they are pure, it's everyone else who misunderstands and misjudges them.) His whole church has deeply invested in the idea that any abortion, anywhere, any time, by any woman, is to be supported, financed, facilitated and approved. What is all this thin-lipped, teeth-gritted determination in favour of? Something ugly, evil, dirty and shameful? Will the radicals lurching drunkenly at the controls of the Episcopal Racket admit that in this case, they've chosen the side of evil? Or is it in favour of something harmless and beneficial (even if it's only the imaginary benefit of women asserting that they're the boss and can do what they want)? If it's the latter, then why would anyone want to "reduce" such behaviour? What's wrong with it?

As for the "competent sex education" that will save the day, could Spong please inform us of when it may be appearing on the horizon? I'm almost 50, and sex education was well-establish and uncontroversial when I learned it in the 70s. Thirty years have gone by, and sex education has continued uninterrupted. Those teaching it now learned it themselves in the schools. Three generations have had unrestricted sex education, but to people like Spong, it's always 1949 - we all have mothers like Carrie's, and we all stumble into our first period ignorant, shocked and traumatized.

Ah, but the "educated" shall inherit the earth. When their taste in sexual perversion changes, the rest of us must follow. That's why "the pejorative definition of homosexuality as either a mental illness (the liberal evangelical position) or a chosen act of moral depravity (the conservative evangelical position) are both dismissed today as incompetent among educated scientists and doctors." It's interesting that he later concedes that "One should not expect politicians to be either competent theologians or biblical scholars," but no such restriction applies to scientists and doctors, at least the "educated" ones. (One wonders what other kind there is, and where you would go to find them.)

Just as Spong's favourite doctors and scientists (i.e, the ones who agree with him) are not barred from opining on theological matters, neither is he hesitant to lecture on the roots of homosexuality, despite no training in science or medicine. But why should he be modest? He sees himself as a worthy sharer in those lofty heights, where what is known to educated men like himself has yet "to trickle down to the masses."

And as a proof of his disdain for modesty at his own level of education, he takes on not only the humble American Evangelical, but also those uneducated rubes in the Vatican, led by the illiterate Benedict XVI. I'm willing to wait for the verdict of History on who ends up most resembling the Flat Earth Society: the Catholic Church, or the all but defunct Episcopal Racket.

Hat tip: Stand Firm
Title ripped off from Kathy Shaidle at Five Feet of Fury


Anonymous Sibyl said...

After sharpening your blades for a week or so on Chesterton, you made easy hash of ol' Spong.

No one can dissect, slice and dice like you. I'm still chuckling over The Collected Scoldings of N.T.Wright.

11:48 am  
Anonymous Matthias said...

Ah, but two things.
1. Spong used to be fundamentalist himself, so he KNOWS. KNOWS!

2. Spong ritually purified himself through participation in a civil rights march in the 1960s, and he is therefore a New Creation.

3:12 pm  

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