Rushing over here so late in the morning because I’ve been distracted by many things, as they say, “online.” While I was listening to this:
Matt came in listening to this:
And all while I had meant to have something to say about this clip:
Which is to say, my mind is a bit of a jumble. And I’m already supposed to be doing other things. So I guess I’ll quickly go in reverse order and say whatever is right at the top of my mind, and then perhaps come back to some of it next week.
First, poor Ms. Hathaway. I grieve over the pathos in her voice. And of course, I hear what she is trying to say–people often find themselves in what feels to be an impossible situation with no way out. And so, when a way out is presented, it must feel like a mercy. But the sort of “mercy,” in this case, which is being offered, is only to be lowered further into the pit. It isn’t actual mercy.
I grieve so much for women of this generation who have been sold such a terrible lie. I pray for God’s actual mercy to break into this desolate darkness and provide a real way out–the work of Jesus on the cross, bringing judgment and mercy together in himself to provide the way of repentance that leads to eternal life.
Second, on a lighter note, poor Mr. French and Professor Du Mez. They also seem to be having a rough time of it, though the pathos seems a little less compelling to me. Perhaps I am just too callous and unfeeling. What I found most interesting about their interview is not that they feel stressed about all the attacks on them (that would be stressful for anyone and everyone) but that they still don’t understand why a hefty chunk of American Christians don’t accept their critique and have remained unmoved by their particular call to “repentance.” I believe very much in repentance, but it is so important to know what to repent for.
Just to the most obvious reasons that they both are receiving so much “pushback”–it isn’t possible to be LGBTQ-affirming and call oneself an “orthodox” Christian. No one wants to listen to Professor Du Mez’s thoughts on American Christianity, whether she is a historian or not, because she admits to applying a “lens” (as she calls it) both to scripture and history that Christians are called to reject. For Mr. French, he lost the trust of so-called “evangelicals” when he portrayed drag-queen story hour wherein young children are groomed by men dressed up as women as just one more blessing of liberty. Anyway, this is way too big a topic for a Friday.
And finally, goodness, poor Mr. Hatmaker. I am planning to listen to part two because I did find the one I posted up there so illuminating. I have several thoughts about it. First, it was a breath of fresh air to hear someone take actual responsibility for his own actions. If you are curious about what happened to the Hatmakers, as I have been, he talks about it here. And he doesn’t blame Jen or anyone. Second, the person interviewing him is excessively fawning. She repeatedly congratulates him on his bravery and courage. Maybe that’s part of the program? I don’t want to be too judgmental but I am weary of the trauma/victim paradigm into which everything has to fit in these latter days.
The main thing, though, is what Mr. Hatmaker says about his faith and the church. When he and Jen, his former wife, decided to “rethink” their beliefs on the LGBTQ debate, they, apparently, did not anticipate what would happen. They were absolutely shocked to have all their books pulled and to be left out in the cold. I do remember that Jen was so appalled that she had to go take that Instagram pic of the wine glass at the lake, the way one does when one’s online life is unraveling. Mr. Hatmaker says that everything, up to that moment, had been going swimmingly–their family life, their church, their careers were at full tilt–but acknowledges that they were swept up by the celebrity nature of their lives. And then, suddenly, it was all gone. They felt betrayed by the church, and, for Mr. Hatmaker, he began to lose his faith. He describes himself as “lost” many times during the hour. Now, having gone through a program of therapy and healing, he is on the way to a better life. What fascinates me, though, is that never is the truth, or the gospel, or Jesus mentioned in a compelling way. He does, now, see the importance of “truth-telling” but it seems like his idea of “the church” was easily replaced by the therapeutic help that he received at the treatment center. And somehow, Jesus does not get a mention. This is a serious indictment on “the church” and one which needs to be reckoned with by almost all of us.
In the final few minutes of the program, the therapist says something that I find, frankly, demonic. She says that if you can’t first trust yourself, you can’t trust anyone. Trust in the self is primary, it comes before all other trusts.
This belief, I think, is the single thread that ties these three separate interviews together. It is the thing that Christians today–if they really are Christian–have to repudiate utterly. You cannot trust yourself. You cannot love yourself. You cannot privilege yourself. You cannot accept yourself. You cannot even forgive yourself. You can try to do these things for yourself, but you cannot succeed. It is the new, unquestioned law that has replaced that older harder one–to love God first. To accept him. To trust him. You couldn’t do that either, so that was rotten. But at least in the trying, you were admitting that God is God and you are not. This new law of the self is pure idolatry. It digs you deeper into the pit that you are already digging.
If you are meeting with a therapist or going to a church that tells you that you must love and accept yourself, you should just quietly get up and back out as quickly as possible, and go running and stumbling to a church and a friend and a helper who will tell you that God is God, and you are not him.
And now, I must go and do some other things.