The Dementape Letters: Six

Posts in the The Dementape Letters series

  1. The Dementape Letters: One
  2. The Dementape Letters: Two
  3. The Dementape Letters: Three
  4. The Dementape Letters: Four
  5. The Dementape Letters: Five
  6. The Dementape Letters: Six

[Ah, Aunt we've missed your misanthropic take on the Emerging Church. It's been so long since we've had the horrific pleasure of your correspondence that some of us may need to refresh our feeble memories here, and thereby relive the dark magic of your virtual poison pen.]

To my dear niece, Gutrot:

Please accept my apologies for my long absence. As you probably know, I was on a Special Covert Assignment — handed down directly from Our Father Below — and was not able to communicate via normal channels. I cannot reveal the details, but I will tell you that all’s well on the sub-Saharan front. Be assured that I’ve been kept abreast of your progress.

I’ve lately been perusing your most recent reports on the local Emerging Church (yes, my Assistant Under-Head, Swellgore, has kept the files meticulously up-to-date), and I am pleased with the newest developments. You really are out-darkening my lowest expectations, Niece. Never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine you would prove to be such a valuable contributor to my Department of Kingdom Thwartation. Keeping on your current track, your descent down the ladder of success will be swift indeed, and the buffet of souls virtually endless. (If my magnanimity makes you apprehensive, never fear…I had such success with my CovertOp that I’m finding it difficult to be my usual malevolent self, but I’m confident I’ll regain my equilibrium presently.)

The confusion you have sown in your local E.C. with regard to the concept of “Righteousness” is delicious. I can almost taste the Chaos. However did you think of such an ingenius approach? You’ve masterfully suggested they pay special attention to certain books and theologians which explain that “Righteousness” is best understood as related closely to “Justice.” And while we know it couldn’t be more true — though not quite in the way your Subjects imagine — this “new” idea has certainly stood them on their heads.

Does this mean personal Holiness is a paranoid idea birthed by the evil, obsessive Puritans and now we can stop being so concerned with our behavior?, they ask with frantic fervor…half-hopeful, half-afraid. Does this mean we can do whatever we wish, so long as we don’t oppress anyone, so long as we’re passionately active in setting the captive free?

Oh yes, Gutrot. Sumptuous. They’re positively titillated by the possibilities, blinded to the Truth that Justice is never truly Just when divorced of good old fashioned Morality, and that Morality is never really Righteous if not married to a prophetic demand for Justice. Hell knows why The Enemy’s Children have always found it so difficult to hold these concepts in tandem, to see how fundamentally akin they are. How can they not sense in their miserable guts that “personal” Immorality is necessarily oppressive, that a Moral Righteousness is the warp upon which the very fabric of Justice is woven?

Well, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. (I realize I’m preaching to the demonic choir, as it were…you’ve done remarkable work.) I encourage you to continue your twin attacks in this arena, as they are proving most effective. On the one front, persist in allowing them to be enthusiastic about Justice For All — so long as you keep up the second front (tempting the individual Subjects toward unHoly thoughts and acts of all kinds), it can’t hurt. If we are lucky, their feelings that their “personal Holiness” is wholly irrelevant to the dratted Kingdom will undermine all their Just pursuits…and wreck their lives and relationships in the process, which is always nice.

Keep up the Evil work, my dear. You are a credit to your Mother.

Your vile and affectionate Aunt,

Previous in series: The Dementape Letters: Five

11 thoughts on “The Dementape Letters: Six

  1. Morphea

    “…and wreck their lives and relationships in the process, which is always nice.”

    That’s my favorite part. Well done again, Al, and very funny. I can see how the emergent members would find that very issue awfully tempting. I certainly would.


  2. Morphea

    Whoa, there, Mr. Agreeable. I’m not saying they’re PRONE to it. I’m just saying putting peripheral Christian issues in their proper place – something Emergents seem rather good at and Fundies, not so much – might give one a false sense of freedom, possibly resulting in said exhilarated persons letting some behaviors into their lives that truly are [winces] un-Christian.

    That’s all I’m saying.


  3. harmonicminer

    Hmm… I’m not saying anthing at all, except that I think “…and wreck their lives and relationships in the process, which is always nice.” is a snappy line.

    Cerise, dear, your view of me is apparently very one-dimensional. Sometime, we must actually talk about some things we agree on.

    For now: I’m not sure it’s possible for you to have more animus for much of the traditional church than me. (Pretty much regardless of what “traditional church” means to you.) I have a relatively high (and growing) regard for (more or less) central Christian teaching, but for most of my life (quite some time, we all agree) a very low regard for the institution as it manifests “’round heah”. It took me some decades to stop judging the teaching by the institutions’ histories and current behavior… and I’m still working on that.

    I just REALLY, REALLY DOUBT that the EC is any better. See, it has people in it.

  4. Morphea

    First of all, my ‘animus’ for the traditional Christian church didn’t really (for once)color my comment. I just outlined one thing I think the EC-ers do a little more efficiently than the Traditionalists.

    Secondly, I don’t think the EC is better. You’ll observe (honestly, you’d have to be blind not to)that I’m not part of either school of thought, really. For honesty’s sake, though, if I were a Christian it would be more of the Aly kind and less of the James Dobson kind. However, one thing I think the EC is more, as I said, efficient at is putting marginal beliefs that plague the Christian church into their proper place – the margins of thought and grappling. Please don’t ask me for a list of issues I find to be peripheral – we’ll have a fight. And therein lies one of the EC’s big areas of temptation, IMO.

    Thirdly, I, uh, didn’t mean to pick a fight. I just get jumpy when you and I agree on something. It makes me want to be really, REALLY clear on what I mean in case you misunderstood. Aren’t I awful? Yes I am. That’s what you get for engaging a highly-strung, minimally educated 31-year-old. Especially when you call her Dear.


  5. aly hawkins Post author

    No worries, guys. Jack away.

    BTW, I read back over this thing this morning, and I decided it’s pretty esoteric and difficult to understand unless you’ve been reading all the same books and blogs as I have. (And no one’s that cool.) Just in case you’re wondering “What is the name of all that is unHoly is Dementape talking about?” here is the Cliff’s Notes version of the issue:

    There O.T. Hebrew word tsedeq can be translated “justice” or “righteousness”…you can’t have one idea without the other, they’re quite inseparable. In English, however, we have two different words that convey very different ideas. Some in the E.C. feel that the Protestant (evangelical, in particular) church has put too great a premium on the “righteousness” side of the equation — don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, eschew girls who do — to the detriment of the “justice” side. That’s the reason justice issues are a pretty big deal in the E.C., and I believe it’s an important correction to imbalance.

    What gives me pause is that I’d not like to see an over-correction, a complete swing away from “righteousness”…since they’re related in an intimate way, and you can’t truly have one without the other. I haven’t seen too much of this as yet (though, to be honest, drinking, smoking, and chewing don’t bother me in the least, so maybe I’m not the right person to judge), but I think it’s worth throwing out on the table.

    Hope that’s clear as mud.

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