Saturday, March 14, 2015

Christians and thinking

Roger Olson talks about anti-intellectualism in this post. Read the whole thing, but to give you a taste of it...
To a very large extent American “Christianity” simply fits in with our overwhelmingly secular and increasingly pagan culture that is driven by money, entertainment, celebrity obsession, sex, personal autonomy (“above all be true to yourself”), and “freedom” (lack of accountability).

One aspect of this I’d especially like to point to is—anti-intellectualism. American society is saturated with antipathy toward the life of the mind. We love “experts” but disdain “scholars.” How often is someone identified on a television news or talk program as a “scholar?” Almost never. I recognize some as scholars but see that they are routinely introduced as “experts.” What’s the difference? A scholar is a researcher who knows all knowledge is ambiguous and continually growing. A scholar is someone who only reluctantly, if ever, will offer a media talking head’s required “sound byte.” An “expert,” on the other hand, is someone who is knowledgeable about a particular subject, usually a skill, has statistics at her fingertips, and is willing to package information without ambiguity or complication. One person can be both, of course. Americans despise scholars but love experts.

Isn't that the truth! You can't nuance things in a sound bite. And you can't take more than 15 seconds of the viewers time or they will turn off...we have more important things to do than think! After all, there are new cat videos on the Internet!

A little further on he laments:

Some years ago there was a television commercial for black colleges with the motto “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste.” If we were honest about it, the motto of many American Christians would be “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Use”—especially in relation to faith.

Many contemporary American churches do not even care whether their pastoral staff members have any formal education. The big question is whether they are talented, attractive, charismatic, articulate and personable. The result is the pastor I heard preach at a mega-church a few months ago. His “sermon” was nonsense—literally. It made no sense. He claimed the Bible says things it absolutely does not say. But he was handsome, youthful, animated, well-dressed, wore the right glasses, passionate and engaging. And funny. If he ever went to seminary he has left whatever he learned there behind. He had the approximately one thousand people in that one service eating out of his hand.

His parting shot is so true it hurts:
A great irony is that supposedly “conservative” churches are often the most eager to imitate secular/pagan culture in terms of style and substance—even as they point accusing fingers at “liberal churches” for accommodating to modern or postmodern thought forms.

No comments: