Archives For March 2011

Mystery in the Mundane

March 16, 2011 — 5 Comments


I suppose that engaging with one’s professor’s published material ought to be nerve-racking. It is one thing to read, review, and critique the work of authors who, you are rather sure, do not know you exist nor would they likely stumble across your comments and, even if they did, likely wouldn’t deign to respond. This post, however, cannot hide under the cloak of my obscurity. The author, Jason Clark, is the lead mentor of my DMin program and the person who will be giving me marks at the end of the term on the nature of the posts that appear in this space. Yet with all that, I neither fear nor tremble. He is, and I say this in a way that he will hear as loving and kind, just another bloke.
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Like a lot of other evangelicals, I’ve been drawn in by the whole Rob Bell Love Wins discussion. By and large, I have been ashamed of the way that evangelicals have gone after Bell, largely without giving his book a fair treatment, many responding to an artfully produced marketing video as the sole basis for their critique. Even those that have had access to a slimmed down “review” copy of the book have decided to condemn the work before the reading public has a chance to assess it themselves. Why all the vitriol? Oddly enough, I think that evangelicals are scared to lose hell.
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Of course it is possible, even common, under the misguided moralism that blights most of our churches, to turn the beginning of Lent into a peculiar form of asceticism: we mortify the flesh in the name of the spirit, and deprive our bodies for the sake of religious “growth.”

What a wonderful, timely post on the nature of Ash Wednesday in particular, and Lent in general. This ties in so well with Erdozain’s critique of evangelicalism’s creeping moralism in Victorian England.


With the lights out, it’s less dangerous,

Here we are now, entertain us,

I feel stupid, and contagious,

Here we are now, entertain us.

(“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nevermind, Nirvana 1991)

“The thinking was that ‘we must approach them where they are most accessible; we must see in ways they will understand to enlighten, elevate, attract them;’ . . . ‘One minister uses a magic lantern to enforce his sermon; another has added a tavern to his church equipment; a third takes up the latest murder scandal; a fourth has a service of song; a fifth depends on a gipsy or ex-pugilist. A church will soon embrace a theatre, a variety-show, a saloon, a tourist agency, and other attractions which will draw young people and prevent old people from wearying in the worship of God'” (The Problem of Pleasure, Dominic Erdozain, 254, 255).
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