E-mail RE: "Do you know what I hate?"

A friend of mine recently send me an e-mail with this heading: "Do you know what I hate?"

The body of the e-mail read:

Post-modern christians.

Hip christians.


People who use the word "indigenous."


Angst-ridden people dressed in black.

Cliche tattoos.

Shaved heads.

Sorry if you fall into any of these categories. Be assured I don't hate you.

But I do fall into some of these categories. Or I have. Or if I didn't, I wanted to. I want to be cool and smoke cigarettes and show people my tattoos. Emergents: we're too damn easily impressed. Hipster Christians. Too easy. I'm a whore to fads and kitsch. If you aren't, I admire you.

As I find myself becoming more overtly liberal, I find the hipster-fit fading fast. There's not much that's "hip" about the shrinking Liberal Mainline. And while that's sad, it's probably good for me.


Wickle said...

You know what I hate?

That people think hatred is funny.

Not the people who think it, mind you ... the idea.

That's unlike this e-mail, which says that the sender hates "Christians." That would be people.

I hate that the idea is out there that Christianity should be defined by what we oppose, rather than what God offers.

Dang, I might as well admit that I'm a liberal these days, too.

A. D. Hunt said...


I think we are overdue for a post by you describing what you mean by "liberal." I would be fascinated as to how you can reconcile post-modernism and the severely "modernist" classical Protestant liberalism.

Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Peter,
I agree with A.D.Hunt.
Time to fess up and face the inquisition. You know that belief is everything ! Lay your cards out !
OK, sorry, little facetious there.
But I just posted on "Emergent Christianity" and I came back to see if you do fall in that camp. I am trying to get clear on those exact philosophical categories that A.D. Hunt is asking about.
Is it OK to ask what your thought are, have been, are becoming -- or how important you think "thoughts" actually are?

Peter said...

Ha! I'm actually working on a much-expanded treatise on what liberalism means to me. Meanwhile, most of what I wrote in this post (http://www.emergingchristian.com/2008/11/on-liberalism.html) remains true.

I'm a liberal who is post-modern enough to recognize I am probably wrong about everything, and that there is a mystical element to the universe that I cannot grasp and cannot quantify.

Sabio, no, I don't think my thoughts are all that important (but aren't we all a little narcissistic to have blogs in the first place?). But it's certainly OK to ask - it only encourages me though!
But yes, Tony, I do agree that liberalism itself is a very modern construct. Which is not good or bad (in my view) but probably in need of redefining to be continually relevant. The paradigms of the Republican and Democratic parties rest on very stale worldviews and platforms.

Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Peter,

Thanks to your link to your previous post on your "Liberalism".
After reading that post (11/14/2008), I am thoroughly confused and wanted to write you to before you finished your new "much-expanded treatise" on your "move overtly liberal[ism]". Please do tell us how you changed since your 2008 post and why.

For in your 2008 post, though hinting at some liberal leanings, you seem to miserably fail your own definition. But that was Nov. 2008 -- have you changed, has George Fox and friends altered you? Is the stress of the economy taking its toll on you?

Though you may want to consider yourself "liberal", you fail by your own words. Here are your 5 characterizations of Liberals:

1. No absolute Truth
2. Pluralism
3. Errancy
4. Non-Virginity
5. No Resurrection

Next you admit that you don't adhere.

I don't necessarily adhere to there liberal statements.

You may want to play both sides by saying "don't necessarily", but the truth is, you ABSOLUTELY don't adhere to liberal theological positions, as I illustrate each below:

(1) Failed: You believe in Absolute Truth
I believe that God, through Jesus Christ, is Absolute Truth.
Whatever the heck that means? Sounds beautiful (to a Christian), but bizarre to nonbelievers. Here, imagine someone saying, "I believe that Shiva, through Ganesh, is Absolute Truth" Doesn't that seem a bit nonsensical, unless you have been raised with the myths of Shiva and Ganesh?

Sure, you understand the subjectivity of knowledge but you desire an anchor, but gee, what a bizarre anchor.

(2) Failed: Looks I guess you are an inclusivist, not a pluralist.

(3) Failed: Seems you hold a "Well, sure, there may SEEM to be problems but God will clear that all up if we pray. Meanwhile, lets just realize the Bible is "precious" [arghhhh !]

(4) Failed: I want my cake and eat it too. OK, the virgin-birth does not make sense, but I won't reject it. [Read: I still want to stay buddy-buddy with all you who buy this stuff and keep my bible "precious".]

(5) Failed: You believe !

Unfortunately you fail miserably at being a Liberal Christian. (yes, my bias is that I prefer true liberal Christians), You may want to sound liberal and talk cool and make friends with us non-believing type, but you still sing from the same Hymnbook, it seems. Or am I missing something.

Sure, your 10/31/2008 post explains that all you mean by liberal is:
a) some abortions are OK
b) women can have a role in the church
c) war should not be justified by religion
d) it is OK for Christians to be Democrats

Yeah, to conservative fundamentalists, these 4 apples may be gateway beliefs to full blown liberalism. To me you sound like a conservative democrat Christian who wants to flirt with the word "liberal" in a rebellious adolescent way but doesn't really mean it accept in the political sense. But then I guess you confess that you are politically liberal but theologically liberal.

So, I thought my pagan insights might assist in organizing your new treatise on the new Peter Walker.

You are a fun writer, btw, and I think George Fox is luck to have you. But I wonder, it must be hard, with all the peer pressure, not to collapse into conservatism. After all, the cognitive dissonance would be too painful otherwise. Also, how could you get a job after all that schooling if you did not swallow the right color pill?

I was in a playful writing mood, nothing meant offensive -- instead, I write knowing your strong confidence and flexibility and look forward to your reply.


Peter said...

Taken in fun Sabio, thanks for the pushback. I'm considering how to respond - you're posing meaningful arguments and I don't take them lightly. I don't want to take an "easy way out," either - which so-called "postmodernism" often is... but I think A.D. Hunt's issue (above) highlights what I instinctively see the difference being between YOUR definition of liberalism, and my own. One is modern and concrete, the other is postmodern, fluid and without all of the established-absolutes you infer.

Shame on me for using ambiguous language ;) but I really DO want to distance myself from - as you say - "a conservative democrat Christian who wants to flirt with the word "liberal" in a rebellious adolescent way but doesn't really mean it accept in the political sense." I'll try to hammer out some answers to a few of the arguments you offer in my next post, but the treatise I'm working on is a long way off...

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