Dreher, Doug and the Ducks
If Phil Robertson weren’t a rough customer from the rural South, there wouldn’t be a TV show. If Phil Robertson looked more like a clean-cut Baptist pastor from suburban Shreveport instead of John the Baptist, wearing camo instead of camel hair, his Christian witness would be unremarkable. (Similarly, if Nadia Bolz-Weber weren’t tattooed, the roadmap of her life in the wilderness, she would come across as safe, as tame, and her witness would be unremarkable.) See, we want our wild people to be wild in ways that we can accept. So many liberals, for example, love to praise exotic foreign and primitive cultures for their authenticity, for the apparent fact that they see more deeply into life and how to live it than we in our technological consumer society do — but edit out parts of their traditions that offend their sensibilities. It’s like the people who want close-knit communities, like in the good old days, but who forget the oppressive conditions, material and social, under which those close communal bonds were forged. The Episcopal seminarian I wrote about in the 1990s, who didn’t understand why the inmates in her Bible study class rejected her liberal interpretation of Scripture for a fundamentalist one, could not grasp that the world these impoverished prisoners came from compelled them to seek out strong, morally uncompromising religion. She wanted to turn them into Episcopalians, but they were a lot closer to giving their lives to Islam.
And here’s Doug Wilson, on the way red state Christians have responded to A&E, and the way blue state Christians have responded to them:
The contrast must not be between how unsophisticated Christians fight and how sophisticated Christians . . . what do they do? At most, they demur, with a throat-clearing caveat or two. Theologians and ecclesiastical eggheads can make merry over this kind of pop culture melee if they like. The material is there — “look at those rubes, standing against the principalities and powers with their duck calls, zz top beards, and chicken sammich haute cuisine, hold the mayo.”
But the lack of self-awareness in this criticism is staggering. These are shepherds who feed only themselves (Ezek. 34:2). When shepherds have neglected the flock for so long, and the wolves are ravaging them, and the sheep come up with some kind of strategy to defend themselves, and the shepherds sit up on the ridge, laughing at the tactical inadequacy of what the sheep are attempting, what shall we call that?
So what do we need? We don’t need generals. We have that. We need generals who fight. We don’t need leadership councils. We have those. We need national leaders who fight. We don’t need pretty boy preachers. We have those. We need preachers who fight. We don’t need evangelical regiments of pajamaboys. We have that. We need fight, and we need to fight with everything we have — heart, strength, and brains. All in.
Show me your forearms. Unless there are scars all over them, then I honestly don’t want to hear your views of the inadequacy of these cultural clashes (Gal. 6:17). When the barbarians are throwing their scaling ladders against the city walls, if the only defenders at the top of those walls are Chick Fil A employees in paper hats and hot grease from the deep fryer, and rednecks with their beards and shotguns, and nobody at all there from Red Brick Memorial Reformed, Rev. Forsythe P. Snodgrass, D.Min, minister, then let us be frank. We shouldn’t blame the folks who are there.