Friday, August 26, 2005

Sin and Non-Conformity

I’ve got to develop this further, but as of right now I’m saying that conservative evangelicals equate or define sin as non-conformity with whatever micro or macro community of which they may be a member. I think we all can agree that the sin du jour for our conservative brethren is homosexuality. Homosexuality, of course, transgresses the idealized 1950’s lifestyle, but I don’t think that explains the conservative fascination with it. I think it comes down to the fact that most people are either, at the very least, uncomfortable with it or just downright don’t like homosexuals. There is a strong existing bias in American society against homosexuals. Most people attracted by the right-wing in this country are not homosexual and don’t know any homosexuals, thus homosexuals are prone to demonization. Homosexuality makes a good scapegoat, all other so-called sins dissolve and disappear when they are compared to homosexuality. Divorce and adultery are easily forgiven and forgotten. There are too many divorcees and adulterers in conservative circles for those people to be demonized, other sexual sins are looked down on, of course, but they get no where near the opprobrium that homosexuality gets. The group must agree and be united when they demonize something, there is way too much resistance for the demonization of adultery and divorce. There is a lot of guilt, and that guilt must be placed somewhere, and not just somewhere, it must be placed somewhere outside the community. Denouncing members of your own community will not get you anywhere. The negativity of the community must be placed outside of the group. Homosexuals are a small, and for the most part, non-taboo minority. This is why homosexuality is the sin du jour. It easy to define us and them.

I will definitely be refining and expanding upon this idea and the relationship of sin and group conformity.

Sin and the Ten Commandments

The ten commandments are not arbitrary laws that God gave to the Israelites, they have a very important goal. That goal is peace. The greatest problem of primitive societies, as well as modern ones, is internal violence. The ten commandments are not so much laws as they are a very astute exposition upon the nature of human desire. Human desire is by nature imitative, or as Rene Girard puts it, mimetic. The ten commandments recognize this. Commandments six through ten explain what happens when human desire becomes distorted, or more specifically when humans desire through the eyes of someone/something other than God/Jesus. Here Rene Girard discusses the ten commandments from his book I See Satan Fall Like Lightning.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cigars For Everyone!!!

Simon Ulysses Eschaton arrived in the world today.
Both baby and Mrs. Eschaton are doing very well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sin and Difference

I don’t know why I’m picking on Albert Mohler, but a section in this (I know it’s old) column was noteworthy. The section I’m concerning myself with today is actually a quote from someone else. I think it typifies conservative evangelical thinking on the subject of Sin.

Throughout the column, Jewel made her convictions clear, but also insisted that homosexuality is not the only sin of her concern. She made a clear biblical case, drawn from both the Old and New Testaments, and argued that "sin is sin," and that tolerance of sin is deadly to society. "The problem is that people do not recognize this as sin when the Bible clearly states that it is."
Jewel also extended a truly Christian response to those dealing with this sin. "In God's condemnation of any-and-all sin, He does not tell us to condemn the people involved in it. He tells us to hate the sin, but love the sinner. That is exactly what He does with us. None of us is worthy of the gift of salvation that He so graciously bestows upon us, but we do have the choice as to how we live our lives in the choices that we make in accordance to His will."

The clear meaning of sin in this article is non-conformity. No reason given why homosexuality is sin, just that it’s not in “accordance to His will”. “Jewel’s” understanding of sin is that it is some sort of non-conformity to God’s seemingly arbitrary will. The phrase “Sin is Sin” is almost laughable for its meaninglessness, and we’ve all (or at least I have) heard those words many times. Then she goes on, “Tolerance of sin is deadly to society.” There is so much wrong with that phrase that I can’t possibly begin at this point. So she is saying sin, meaning lack of conformity, is deadly to society. Tolerance of difference is deadly to society. How is tolerance, meaning forgiveness, deadly to society. She doesn’t actually say it, but in the end it will lead to the expulsion of people society deems to be sinners. This is not pretty, or really even remotely Christian. This is a very debased understanding of what sin is and how sin affects society, but it’s so prevalent.

I hope later, in what I’m calling “Sin Week”, I’ll have time to go through the ten commandments and at least start to get a better idea, a much more primitive understanding of what sin is and why it is harmful to individual human beings.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I'm really trying to understand what conservative evangelicals mean when they use the word sin.  I realize I'm going to be pretty cynical here.  But what is it that they mean?  Two words come to mind, "Conformity" and "Order". Maybe a third, "Transgression".  “Design” is also another conservative buzzword.  A sinner seems to be anyone who isn't aligned with the cultural expectations of conservative evangelicalism.  Thus homosexuality is a terrible threat to marriage and the Christian way of life, but divorce is relatively benign and really not much of threat to anything, at least if you compare the emphasis put on each one in right-wing circles.  War is perfectly fine and even to be encouraged and reveled in as long as it is waged by the U.S

The conservative evangelical bluster about sin is meaningless.  Inside the box is goodness, outside the box is sin, which leads to Hell.  Hold tight to the popularly elected morality.  Goodness is in numbers and strength/volume.  Sins are the things/lifestyles/ideas which are not popular, which are not approved of by the majority, or against an individual's or group’s particular moral taste or expectations regarding cultural norms and standards.

This column, by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on deliberate childlessness is an example, I think, of how conservatives respond to any breach in cultural conformity.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I think if you want to launch any kind of critique of what has become the dominant popular form of Christian theology, at least in America, you have to start with what is at the center of that theology. The main character in conservative evangelicalism is Sin. James Alison says the following:
Sin, not God is the central character...You can tell this by the fact that once sin has come into the story -- at the fall -- all the other characters are reduced to dancing around it, wondering what they should do about it. Well this means that sin runs the story. All the other characters are reactive in one way or another. And of course it is the non-reactive character who is the real god of the story, while the other characters, being reactive, none of them are god. I guess it is no surprise that in a world formed by this storyline, evil should become fascinating, while good becomes boring.
With Sin being such a central character and so important to the whole conservative evangelical storyline I think it would be a good thing to define our terms. What is Sin? Let's begin by describing what Sin is from a conservative evangelical position.

We all know that the "fundagelicals", as one of my beloved Pastors is fond of calling that particular subset of modern Christianity, rely heavily or are the inheritors of the Anselmian doctrine of Penal substitutionary atonement. So looking at Sin through those eyes it can be described as any offence to God's infinite honor and righteousness. Sin is a contradiction of the excellence of His moral character. It contradicts His holiness, and he must hate it. Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude or nature.
Sin is devotion to self
Sin is search for pleasure
Sin is missing the mark (not living up to the mandates of the law)
Sin is man's declaration of independence from God
All sin is a kind of lying
Failure to submit (presumably to God's law)
Sin is want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God
Sin disunites God from man
Sin is abuse of human appetites, of human passions and human faculties
There are so many things undefined here. What exactly is the law? What is the purpose of the law? Where did this idea of God's honor come from? How exactly does sin, if it does at all, disunite God from man? Why does sin often seem to be just nonconformity with the cultural expectations of the conservative evangelicals?

This is a huge subject, with many questions and terms/ideas to be defined, and of course I'm only barely even scratching the surface in this particular blog post.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The War On Iraq

Let me put this whole blog project of mine into perspective. It began with the build-up to the War on Iraq. It was at this point I knew that a reformation of American Christianity was needed. I realized something had gone horribly wrong when the most fanatically pro-war segment of society was also the segment that called itself the most Christian. I was shocked that something as wrong as this war could happen and not only that but that the people who should stand up and stop it or speak out against it were the ones most enthusiastically pro-war. But like always when we are most despondent over the killing and futility of all things God comes and begins to gently lead us into the right direction. My great hope is that the War on Iraq will lead to a great renewal and revival of Christianity, especially in America where the need and hunger is so great.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

What is Christianity?

Why did Jesus come to Earth? What is the point of this whole thing we call Christianity? Does it have anything to say to us? What does the Bible say? How do we interpret it? So many questions, I hope to provide, not answers, but even more questions. I'll try to present different perspectives, though probably not in a completely unbiased or scholarly fashion. So I'll attempt to work through quite a bit of material, hopefully improve my writing and communication skills. I'll experiment with different writing styles and perspectives. I hope this will be fun and of course comments are welcome.

Inaugural Blog Post

Christianity in America has some serious problems. It is in desperate need of renewal. This blog will be me trying to work through some things. I'm going to attempt to unravel and rediscover the the meanings of Christian symbols, doctrines and all things theological. I'm not going to do this in any systematic or orderly way, I only have a general idea of the things I want to write about. I hope this will be interesting for somebody.