Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A lot less than meets the eye

Prevarication is a theological art form. Canny theologians will talk and write as if things are "just so" when they're perfectly aware that they're simply manipulating metaphor. It keeps potential critics at bay by laying down a fog of obfuscation. A clever wordsmith can blandly pontificate on Adam, Eve and Original Sin, but when you confront them about misleading the folk in the pews they simply stick their highly educated snooters in the air and infer that it's you who has the problem, what with being a bit thick and unsubtle. Their slippery approach is apparently a sign of their superior insight.

Well, that is plain bulldust. Dishonest, manipulative, and ultimately self-defeating.

Did you know I have a PhD dear?
Then again, there's the rare bird who reverses the approach. They have already painted themselves into a literalist corner which they're now forced to aggressively defend, but their pride and arrogance forces them to nonetheless put on a considered and scholarly veneer in a Hyacinth Bucket sort of way. They might seek out reputable scholars so they can bask in their reflected glory, they might cherry-pick respectable sources for citations, but in the end it's all about image and not substance.

In short, there's a lot less there than meets the eye.

(It would be unkind to focus on a particular example I suppose, so instead I'll just change the subject and ask if you've seen the current issue of David Hulme's Vision magazine.)

So which do you think is preferable, to be knowledgeable and two-faced (so you don't scare the riff-raff), or wooden-minded and two-faced (so you don't scare the people whose status you aspire to)?


  1. Otagosh: Was there anything in particular that got you spun up?

    -- Neo

    1. It would be unkind to focus on a particular example I suppose, so instead I'll just change the subject and ask if you've seen the current issue of David Hulme's Vision magazine.

  2. Based on your link I read a number of the "Vision" articles and am somewhat amazed at the formula. They all seem to start out with informative, interesting content in description of some current issue or news topic or scientific topic or whatever, with current authors or authorities cited or interviewed. Interesting issues or questions are raised, set up for debate. Then invariably one reads to find their (the authors') solution or analysis or resolution or analysis and finds: (a) some almost-meaningless cliche (like, the solution to human conflict is that humans need to learn to serve one another better--that at the end of a discussion on which form of human government is best, which is also the conclusion to a discussion of whether issues raised by feminism have merit), followed by (b) the obligatory reference to things will be solved in the coming Kingdom of God on earth. In other words, a buildup to really nothing, despite the buildup starting out interesting and informative. Every time I would think "this is actually interesting--what is their actual recommendation or thinking on this issue?"--it would fall into the same formulaic "no human solutions in this age except individually, only the coming World Tomorrow will be the solution", which isn't very helpful or informative. It falls into the same old WCG script that "humans are incapable of solving their own problems" which was such a basic mantra to a church consisting of powerless people who thought tithing to support spreading this message of learned helplessness was an appropriate and productive response to social problems. I fully relate to your comment Gavin; I think you pegged it spot-on. These "Vision" articles are like seeing a menu at a fine restaurant and looking forward to a good meal and then being served cotton candy--there's nothing there in the end except "God will come and make everything all better and happy" and humans can forget about systemic or organized solutions until then. A very different script from the Jewish idea that humans should "pray, and then get to work" (and solve some of these things, here and now, in this world), or the thinking of the abolitionists against slavery of an earlier era or their modern counterparts today. Greg D

  3. The WCG certainly was incapable of solving its own problems and the splinters are even worse -- you'd think they'd all fall silent and slink away quietly....