Something that concerns me about contemporary Christianity in America:
I perceive an increasingly anti-intellectual trend. I’m not saying this to rag on the church. I’m a Christian myself (Albeit a potty-mouthed one who writes just weird, weird, weird stories that occasionally cross the line into theologically suspect areas).
The thing is that more and more of late I find us opposing things like Psychiatry, and Medicine and Science and Nuclear Power and Space Exploration and Genetically Modified Foods and realistic studies of History and so on. In essence, more and more we’re taking the hippie-shit view of things (I *SAID* I was potty-mouthed. What did you expect?). We’re more and more on the wrong side of stuff. We take the Promethean view that if we go too far with Science then God will get all vengeful on us, or we take the paranoid view that Psychiatry and Book Learnin’ are just the devil’s way of poisoning your mind.
Some years ago, the preacher in the church I’m nominally a member of gave a sermon in which he advised – insisted, really – that people on psych meds trust God and throw thaat stuff away. Now, having spent a lot of time around mentally ill people – it runs in my family, and I’m manic depressive myself – I recognize that as an incredibly wrongheaded thing to do. Much like saying “Play Russian Roulette and trust God will protect you!”
Well, no, that’s just dumb. Yeah, God healed people in the past, but He appears to have subcontracted that job out to us. We’re pretty good with these things called ‘Doctors’, and honestly it’s pretty egocentric to demand the God of the entire universe cure your flu when you could just as easily cross the street and get a vaccination at Wallgreens.
I am nominally a member there. I go rarely, usually for functions other than services. I haven’t been able to find a church I like better, and if I’m honest, I do kind of enjoy worshiping at St. Mattress of the Pillow on Sunday mornings. So, yeah, I’m lazy. I can’t blame it all on doctrine.
Still, our obsession with these things sometimes borders on the paranoid.
The Accelerated Christian Education school that my son went to for a while taught him that the sun is not nuclear. Why? Well, evidently the people who wrote that lesson couldn’t figure out why God’d need stars that last billions of years when the earth is only gonna be around for 7 or 8,000, so it must be something that’ll burn out. They cited fake evidence of it getting dimmer and smaller in recorded history. I dunno what it’s supposed to be powered by. Coal, perhaps.
Oh, and check this one out: The same curriculum said that God created the earth with a thin globe of ice completely encircling it, supported entirely by air! The ice broke, which fell to earth and caused the flood. Now firstly, that kind of structure violates the basic laws of physics, and would break up in less than a day, not however many thousand years there were from creation to the flood. Secondly, it violates the Bible itself, which says (Paraphrased) that God intended us to see the stars, which you couldn’t do through a mile of ice, no matter how clear. As to the compressed air that allegedly held this thing aloft, well, again that wouldn’t work (Physics!) but they claim that this higher oxygen pressure and protection from radiation from the non-nuclear sun is what caused people like Methuselah to live to be (nearly) 1000, and our puny short lives are because we don’t have it anymore.
Did you know that Jesus was supposed to come again in 1988? I did. I got taught that a lot in 1981. It has to do with a completely illiterate misrepresentation of a passage. And they did the math wrong, too. By a Jewish calendar it shoulda been 1987. Dopes. Oh, and NATO is the Antichrist. Or maybe it’s this Pope, I mean that next one, I mean the one after him. Nope, nope, it’s this one for sure. No foolin’! This endless – and illiterate – aggressive appetite for destruction gets tedious. I have a theory about it, but I’ve already rambled too long, so we’ll save it for another day.
The obsession with evolution: whichever side you take on it, IT IS NOT A SALVATION ISSUE. At no point does the Bible say “Believe, Be Baptized, and Renounce the Works of Charles Darwin.” We’ve wasted a century and a half on something that is not going to affect whether you get into heaven or not. It’s just silly. I imagine some of us are going to have a lot of explaining to do when we get to heaven.
St. Peter: “So you did missions work?”
Dr. Duane T. Gish: “Oh, yeah, tons of it.”
Pete: “Awesome. So, what? Smuggling Bibles into the USSR? Preaching to people in Africa? Building homes for the homeless in poor countries as a reflection of the love of Christ?”
Pete [excited]: “Awesome! Tell me about it!”
Gish: “I spent 70 years teaching people that they are not, in fact, a monkey’s uncle.”
Pete [Blinking in disbelief. Sighs heavily. Picks up phone] “Gabe? Yeah, it’s Pete. I got another one here that is in need of mandatory psychiatric evaluation. Can you please send over some orderlies? Thanks.”
Again: I’m not ragging on Christianity. I’m a Christian myself. I make no claim as to how this works in the rest of the world. Maybe Lutherans and the Revolutionary People’s Catholic Church in China have this stuff knocked and locked, I dunno. Good for them if they do. I don’t even claim to know how it works in the BIG denominations in the US: Methodists, Lutherans, Anglicans, whatever. All I know is that in us puny denominations and independent churches, which I grew up in, and which I’m most comfortable with, we seem to have made a wrong turn, and are aggressively resisting backtracking.