To my knowledge, no politician since Truman has stayed 15 consecutive days at the Blair House. Doing so would be highly unusual. And so we shouldn't be surprised when such an unprecedented request is denied. Certainly we shouldn't be outraged.One reader wrote the following in response to Ted's comments ...
The fervor over this situation makes me wonder how long will it be before someone makes the correlation between it and that experienced by the Messiah, whose family was also told that there was no room in the inn for them.
Ted, what does this have to do with anything this blog is supposed to be about? This is a political post that does not have a clear connection to church, family, young people, or marriage. I read Boundless for biblical-based viewpoints, not Republican-party-based rants against the liberal media.This reader's observation got me thinking about what Boundless is supposed to be. For the last couple of years, the Boundless website has been a target-rich environment for my criticism. Somebody might assume that I have a personal ax to grind against its staff members. I really don't, however. The folks at Boundless are not the only the ones who have been the subject of my criticisms. Moreover, Boundless has indeed presented some material that I can heartily agree with as a Christian. So, what is the problem?
I'm surprised you chose this controversy to comment on rather than the controversy over Rick Warren's invitation to pray at the inauguration. I'm not asking you to add to the uproar over who's praying where, but it would be more in line with your mission statement, as I understand it, if you had chosen a topic like the Warren issue.
The problem is that even though a stopped clock is right twice a day, it's still a stopped clock. The problem is that in North America, there is some confusion about what the word "Christian" conveys. For people such as myself, "Christian" conveys an adherence to God's will as revealed in his inspired word (we might call this "Biblical Christianity"). To others, the connotation is arguably more political or social in nature (we might call "cultural Christianity"). The concept of "a Christian nation" comes to mind as something indicative of "cultural Christianity" (though the idea is unbiblical, at best). In bringing up this matter, I am reminded of what Os Guinness (along with John Yates) wrote about the Episcopal church:
The "sola scriptura" ("by the scriptures alone") doctrine of the Reformation church has been abandoned for the "sola cultura" (by the culture alone) way of the modern church. No longer under authority, the Episcopal Church today is either its own authority or finds its authority in the shifting winds of intellectual and social fashion -- which is to say it has no authority.Truer words have never been spoken about the religious left. Now, let me ask some questions. Do we really believe that social conservatives are any less immune to the all-too-human temptation to refashion spiritual truths according to their taste? Is there a conservative analog to the "sola cultura" of the left that is just as spiritually suspect? If not, how do we, for instance, explain the shameful legacy of overt racism among socially conservative faith traditions? If there is a "sola cultura" that can be found among conservatives, does it become legitimate simply on the basis of passing lip service given to Biblical authority (Mark 7:6-7)?
This gets me back to Boundless. Boundless' stated goals are as follows ...
The mission of Boundless is to build strong foundations for marriage, parenting and Christian service by providing young adults with a Biblical vision for the single years rooted in sexual purity, Christian community, and stewardship of gifts and talents.Yet what have readers actually encountered? Extra-biblical, legalistic, reactionary ideas about dating, sexuality, marriage, childbirth, gender roles, etc. That in addition to the following ...
- reflexive anti-environmentalism (such as panning green bibles, while giving a free pass to other topical bibles - women's bibles, bibles for military personal, etc.)
- pro-Israel sentimentality
- support of neocon interventionism (the war in Iraq)
- unapologetic support for the concept of one-issue voting (contrary to James 2:10; Rom. 3:8)
- .... and the "such like," being hallmark traits of right-wing religiosity.
I submit that "ministries" such as Boundless have no real value except for a segment of Christendom that has grown up in a certain sociocultural context. Others who come to Christ from a different background and who have little or no use for the Southern-fried, Americanized, suburbanized Churchianity that passes for Christianity in the Anglosphere are not going to have much use for Boundless or similar outfits. To be blunt, the heavily politicized modus operandi of Boundless and its parent organization, Focus on the Family, could easily be underwritten by a conservative think tank in Washington (such as the American Enterprise Institute). Discerning believers who eschew the intellectual sinkhole of modern conservatism would do well to look to other alternatives for spiritual advice for their daily living. Really, if I wanted to hear the rantings of misguided Republicans, I could read the Weekly Standard or National Review Online, not a website supposedly targeted towards single Christians.
Now that the economy is in the doldrums, the bread-and-circus crowd must worry about their next paycheck and not so much about blowing up "dem Ayrabs." All the palace prophets that enjoyed their strut across the public stage for the last eight years or so have been sidelined to a considerable degree. People may have voted for marriage (Proposition 8), but they didn't vote for Dr. Dobson's handpicked neocon (and no, dear readers, I didn't vote for any race horse in the corrupt two-party system).
What can we say to all of this? I can say that I find many of my fellow believers to be hopelessly insular and out of touch with what the Gospel is really about (I say this is as a soul that has come from a non-churched background and who has in many ways been on the outside looking in). What should we expect when the Gospel is politicized, perverted, and prostituted by people with a desire for political and cultural hegemony? I could tolerate the intellectual hypocrisy of the Religious Right a little bit better if they didn't try to pass off so much of their views as the "Biblical" or "Christian" way. I could tolerate them a little bit better if they didn't demonize their opponents as being "liberal," "secular" "unspiritual," etc.
There are souls out there such as myself who cannot be categorized as politically, culturally, or even theologically liberal who nonetheless have no use for the Mighty Wurlitzer of Red State values. People such as myself cannot be ignored any longer. We refuse the facile pigeonholing of the culture wars. The culture warriors tell us the fundamental issue is about "worldviews." They're right about that; I'm just not so certain theirs is all that Biblical.