Should we avoid religious language?

When someone is beset by faith, especially at first, there is such a thing as the zeal of a convert. If that kicks in, he or she wants to tell everyone: the Great Good Thing is real, objective, full of truth the world needs more than anything. Until this is known, there is an emergency in progress that must be addressed, regardless of the usual decorum. The Owl knows this feeling from the inside, and has actually alienated his more conventional friends by succumbing to it.

Wiser heads say it is not to be done. Their reasoning is pragmatic. For the fact is, Christian language repels many. In our current fevered political atmosphere, it brings out some very ugly, sometimes dangerously violent reactions. We need not retail those here, but even in a benign context it is unconvincing, off-putting, and embarrassing. People hearing it will usually not engage with it. It seems they either have some visceral rejecting reflex, or they simply don’t comprehend, or they are polite enough to feign incomprehension.

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Chaos Schmaos

Back a few posts, the Owl noted that some readers find his writing too hard to understand. That is at least partly my fault. A good writer tries to keep it simple and direct. It’s also because of the subject matter: theology just isn’t always simple and direct. Please forgive if this entry only makes matters worse.

I had sent my friend Ken a passage from Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics (III.3,477ff.). He pleaded: Is there a way to make it a little clearer for someone like me? I sent him the following:

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The Altruism Industry – Part II

In Part I we described salient cultural developments of the 1960s, particularly the civil rights and anti-war movements. Some of us still alive can take pride in our roles, but by now they seem quaint. What follows outlines the devolution of our societal discourse since then.

As in other entertainments, so it is in politics: something has to replace the last thing before it gets stale. Soon Negroes (using the word then current) were pushed off the screen to make room for Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, then anti-war protests drove him off the screen and out of office. There followed a succession of new competitors, making their claims against society. They said in effect, “What about me? I too deserve redress.” And, “I deserve it more than those others do.” Professional activists promoted themselves, claiming to have uncovered suffering the rest of us were too thickheaded to notice, too insensitive to care about, or too slow to fix. “Great” in Great Society became a sneer. It became commonplace to say injustice was endemic to our polity, our economy, our culture, and our very psychology. Eventually the power game swamped whatever good will was left among us.

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The Altruism Industry – Part I

Each generation that comes along has the comical notion that they are the first to discover sex. The generation of the 60s thought it was the first to discover  America’s materialism and complacency. It was not; we inherited that awareness from the Beats and other less theatrical critics of the 1950s.

A golden moment

We came up in a golden moment of postwar prosperity. There was enough money to pay for tuition at the best schools. We had great teachers, the best libraries in existence, music and food in abundance, and friends with whom to enjoy them. We were excused from military conscription and protected from anti-drug laws. Our parents, after the deadliest war in history, seeing life as something of a miracle; sent us love upon request.

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