The Bible Podcast just passed 2,000 daily subscribers to its RSS feed. Wahoo!
The Bible Podcast just passed 2,000 daily subscribers to its RSS feed. Wahoo!
It’s not my plan to make all Thinky Thoughts with Aly a Something vs. Something Caged Death Match, but thinky thoughts have a mind of their own (ha) and that’s just how they thunk this week. Actually, now that I think about it (double ha), pitting related concepts against each other to duke it to the death is one of the the ways we sort shit out. Maybe it’s part of the system Michael mentioned: “We take in data, organize it into a structure that makes sense of it, then use that structure to gather more data.” Maybe Conceptual UFC (RESPECT) is a good idea after all.
We’ll see. Onward…
This week I began editing Tony Campolo’s new book, Red Letter Christians: A Citizen’s Guide to Faith & Politics. (I’m excited and alternately petrified. This is My First Big Book.) I’m not very far into it yet, but it’s already got me thinking. [Side note: In days of yore, I used to think and write about politics a lot. This was until I came to the painful realization that obsessing about civics was a substitute for working out my issues, and I had to put on the kibosh to avoid the looneybin. Now that I'm fractionally less crazy, I'm allowing myself to put politics back on the cooktop, albeit on the back burner. Hey, they're important, but they're not Life.]
So I’ve been musing on the difference between inequality and inequity. In the U.S., “inequality” gets a lot of airtime, I suspect because we’ve got the holding of these truths to be self-evident thing going on as the bedrock of our democracy. (That would be “all men are created equal,” for any of you just tuning in.) But I’m not sure what ol’ Benji Franklin was thinking…it’s pretty clear to me that all people are not created equal. You’ve got tall people and short people, female people and male people (and sometimes in-between people), athletic people and clumsy people, smart people and dumb-as-a-stick people, musical people and hey-I-can’t-lift-this-tune-bucket people. If God created all men equal, She must be using a different dictionary.
To be fair, I’m pretty sure ol’ Benji wasn’t thinking that all people are actually created equal — he was just trying to find a poetic way of saying “Georgie, you’ve got about as much divine right to rule me as I have to fart on your face.” But we seem to forget the circumstances under which The Equality Clause came into being, and have a very bad habit of taking the words at face value, sometimes almost believing that we’re all the same with the lights off. But we’re not. And we’d do well to remember it.
Because aiming social reform at erasing our God-given inequality is about as smart (and effective) as using a paintball gun to screw in a lightbulb. It don’t make no sense.
I hate that “inequality” is so much more of an emotionally loaded word. I think that must be why we keep using it in place of “inequity,” which feels dry and math-ish in comparison. Dry or not, however, inequity is the real Nasty, the bugger we ought to strap on big boots to stomp out.
But it’s hard, and hard is difficult. Inequity is much less abstract than inequality, and that makes it uncomfortable. The numbers don’t lie. (CEOs getting paid 400% of the average worker’s annual salary, anyone?) It’s so much nicer to toss around Big Ideas like “All men are created equal” and golf clap until our hands bleed than it is to sit down with our slide rule and abacus and do the work.
I haven’t been in a writing frame of mind lately, which is a bit unfortunate for one who aspires to make a living doing so at some point in the near future. Editing and writing, I have discovered, use different parts of the brain — or, at least, they use different parts of my brain — and I’ve found that switching between the two is like changing political parties: There’s a lot of paperwork and justification involved. I spend at least eight hours of my day in Editing Brain, and it’s hard to steel myself to fill out the triplicate forms and get my story straight (literally) to put on Writing Brain when I get home.
And also, hanging with my husband while knocking back a bottle of vino is a big distraction. Have I mentioned that he’s my favorite human and that kicking it with him tops just about everything? No? Well, consider that oversight remedied here.
Anyway, it’s been brought to my attention (mostly by said huz) that thinking thinky thoughts and writing about them is part of what keeps me sane, and hey! since we’re all for that, I’m going to try cutting through the mental red tape to put on Writing Brain once a week or so for — tada!: Thinky Thoughts with Aly.
[This is where I insert a disclaimer about my qualifications for thinking and writing about thinky thoughts compared to other authors' credentials, and ask for your patience with my rather elementary approach and tone. Disclaimer ends here.]
For today’s installment, dear reader, I’d like to write about What versus Why. I was actually inspired to think thinky thoughts about What and Why by a book proposal I reviewed this week as part of my editorial duties. (All the editors get together once a week to rip on the ideas of others, which we weren’t man or woman enough to come up with on our own. I love my job!) In the proposal, which was so excellent that I hope we don’t publish it, the author suggests that in this dear old Information Age — borne out of the Age of Reason and accelerated by yummy technology — we try to substitute information (What) for meaning (Why).
Why would we do such a nitwit thing? you ask. (I did, too…and this is where the thinky thoughts come in.) I think we do it because What is easy and Why is hard; because we secretly hope that if we can wrap our brains around all the What in the universe about a Thing, the Why of the Thing will become suddenly obvious and we can dispense with a little thingamajigger called faith (which is the only thing that makes sense of Why).
Here’s a poorly kept secret: I’m a trivia whore. I love to know shit from shinola, and I love even more to tell you the difference. Why? Because information is power. (And who doesn’t love that, can I get an Amen? ) Why does information equal power? Because we’ve predicated our entire society on the faulty premise that the What can save us. Think about the War on Terror. Or consider that the NY Times bestselling “religious” book of the year is based on the idea that we think reality into existence — that the What is the Why. Our sneaky negative thoughts (What) are the reason (Why) we’re in such a fix! (Damn. I wish we’d known this before, say…the effing Holocaust.)
I think you see where I’m headed. Our addiction to What is killing us.
I’m definitely not saying that What isn’t important — I think I may have mentioned that I like information as much as the next gal (and perhaps slightly more). My point is that only Why can make sense of What…not the other way around. To be didactic about it: We can use our What well only when we have a good Why.
Thus concludes the first installment of Thinky Thoughts with Aly.
So, I finished up the sermon for last Sunday, and I’m posting it here, along with the manuscript and the slides, for anyone who is interested. The audio cuts off the first 5 minutes of the message, so it’s kind of an odd jump in, but you didn’t miss much of the content.07-29-2007_service.mp3
Download the manuscript: Our Father, Who Art In Heaven
And the interactive Quicktime file of the slides: Our Father – Slides
Previous in series: The Weakness of God
I heard someone once describe having your first child in this way: you feel like you’ve given fate a hostage, and you will never be safe again.
It’s an apt description. One of the mysteries of love is that it connects you to the well-being of the person you love. With Gretchen, my wife, her joy and pain affect me, not in the same way that they affect her, but in some degree they have an impact on my own joy or pain. In the same way, my love for Sophia, our daughter, connects me to her joy and her pain. I am personally invested in her well-being, because of my love for her.
That makes me vulnerable to things that I wouldn’t otherwise be vulnerable to. Up at the cabin in Santa Cruz, there is an old library-style ladder from the living room up to the loft. Sophia learned to climb it over the past few weeks, and now she scampers up and down at will.
I get nervous, every time. I’m not likely to fall and hurt myself if my foot slips on the ladder, but for her it would be a disastrous fall. What’s not danger for me, is danger for her, and so I become vulnerable to it. Even though she herself is unaware of the danger that she’s in, I am vulnerable to it.
On his own, apart from us, God is invulnerable. Because he connected himself to us by way of love, he has made himself vulnerable to pain, sorrow, suffering, hunger, grief, and the myriad of broken tragedies that inflict our lives. God made himself weak with love for us.
Previous in series: Our Father, Who Art In Heaven
Next in series: Our Father: Sermon Final
I’m preaching again on Sunday. Just starting to gather some thoughts, and put them out here for public comment, as usual.
This time, I’m splitting a two-part series with our youth pastor, who preached last week. He has been married for less than I year. I’ve been a father for a little over two. We thought it might be interesting to reflect on things we’ve learned about God as newly minted participants in our respective roles. Not “Here’s how to be a husband” or “Here’s a message on how to raise your kids”, Lord knows we have little enough to say on either subject. Instead, the idea is more along the lines of “Here are some things about God that I’m beginning to think about differently since becoming a husband / father.”
So, my turn at bat this Sunday. I’ll post some of the ideas that are percolating as they develop. Stay tuned! Stay alert! Stay pretty! Daddy and Mommy will only love you if you are pretty!
Next in series: The Weakness of God
There is a bounty in this
lexicon of worship
Every halleluia is imbued with
every halleluia that came before
Bless this language of remembrance
Bless this act of reconstruction
Bless this lexicon of worship
That old words might be fitting tools for new acts of praise
Remember the story of David and Goliath from Sunday School? It was yesterday’s reading from The Bible Podcast. It had been a while since I’d read the actual text.
Um, who decided this was a children’s story? Beheadings, corpses lying in fields, rivers running with blood, deceit, cowardice, birds pecking out eyes. Yeah, it’s your basic Sandra Boynton rhyming silly kids story.
Anyway, if you haven’t listened to it in a while, it’s a great story. Click here for the direct link:
On a related tangent, the podcast passed a significant milestone a few weeks ago. We added a listener at a research station in Antarctica, which makes people on all 7 continents who listen to the thing. How cool is that?
If you’re a fan of historical jurisprudence political processes (and, let’s be honest, who isn’t?), the 1991 confirmation of Clarence Thomas probably stands out in your mind. It was bitterly contentious, both in populist rhetoric, and within the narrow world of legal academia, for two very different reasons.
REASON 1 – The pubic hair.
REASON 2 – Clarence Thomas believed in an arcane ethical principle leftover from the dark ages, when beasts roamed the earth devouring maidens. Thomas actually believed in something called Natural Law. The horror! (nevermind for just a minute that almost every thinker who was important to the framing of our constitutional democracy also believed in this arcane theory). In spite of the public furor over the sexual harassment charge, it was this second objection from the legal academia that almost cost Thomas the nomination.
Natural Law (I’ll abbreviate it as NL, in order to save myself a lot of typing during this post. I hate extraneous typing, so reducing those 10 letters down to just 2 makes my job a whole lot easier), or NL (which stands for Natural Law), holds that moral value is an intrinsic part of the universe, like the laws of gravity or energy. Moral value isn’t because of anything, moral value just is.
There have been many variations on the theme of NL, from the Plato to Aquinas, but there are some common threads running through them all. Most of the time, NL isn’t discussed in terms of ethics (right and wrong behavior), but in terms of moral value (what are the appropriate ends that we’re acting toward). For example, NL might not say anything about torture being right or wrong, but it would say that human dignity has a high moral value. From that value we can reasonably figure out what behaviors we have an ethical obligation to do.
If you think about it, this is similar to how natural laws, like gravity and energy, work. A few simple principles extrapolate out into very complex actions, based on the surrounding circumstances. Likewise, if moral value is a brute set of simple principles, ethical behavior can still extrapolate out into complex patterns based on the surrounding circumstances. You could (I won’t, but still) make the case that all ethical behavior can be governed by three simple principles: dignity of life, justice, and charity. Even if that’s the case, the interaction between these three simple principles leads to some very complex ethical decision making.
As soon as you start to talk about NL, you immediately run into a problem: what is it? What’s actually in the Natural Law? If this code of moral value is woven into the very fabric of the world, then it seems like 1) we should all know it, and 2) every culture across history should have the same ethical rules. If that’s the case, why do we have any disagreement over what’s ethical and what’s not? The variation in how cultures view morality seems like a strong argument against NL.
The !Kung people living in the Kalahari Desert have an ethical code that requires abandoning elders who can no longer provide for themselves. The Hmong people in Southeast Asia have an ethical code that requires honoring and caring for elders within the clan. If there is a universal natural law, how can there be that kind of wide disparity between what different cultures consider to be ethical behavior?
There are 3 arguments that someone might give here in defense of Natural Law:
So, where does God hang out in all of this? In Divine Command Ethics, he’s the originator of morality. Now, in the Natural Law view, the moral value is separate from God, and prior to His creation of the world. When we say that “God is good”, we’re comparing his actions to a universal standard. How do we get around our earlier argument for DCE, that’s says if God has to obey some other standard of goodness, he is no longer omnipotent?
A philosopher who believed in both God and Natural Law might argue that moral law is the same kind of thing as the laws of logic. We accept that there are some things God cannot do (like microwave a burrito so hot that God himself cannot eat it), not because he lacks the power, but because the thing itself by definition cannot exist. This doesn’t mean God is any less omnipotent. God still has unlimited power to create any of the things that can actually exist.
NL defenders say that moral laws are the same kind of fundamental definitions. If that’s the case, then God’s adherence to those laws doesn’t limit God’s omnipotence. I don’t particularly like this argument, but this post is already long enough, so I’ll skip why.
So, if we buy into Natural Law, and God isn’t the origin of right and wrong, then what’s his role? He is omniscient, the only person who perfectly knows the content of the Natural Law, and how it ought to be applied to every circumstance. Therefore, when he says something is right or wrong, he is always perfectly correct. For us, then, as puny humans rolling around in the dust of this earth, we can take God’s commands as a true statement of moral obligation, because of His perfect knowledge.
This isn’t the last time we’ll see a moral theory move from omnipotence to omniscience for dealing with God’s relationship to morality – oh no, my friend! not nearly the last time! Muaaahahahahahahaha!
So, in conclusion, the pubic hair joke wasn’t that funny, sexual harassment is no laughing matter, but Natural Law theory is a pretty compelling way of understanding moral obligation. I think the most attractive part of it is the way that it accounts for simplicity and complexity in moral value vs. ethical behavior, and how it allows for progress in how we actually work out our ethical obligations. That, to me, lines up pretty well with how ethics and morality actually function.
Also, C.S. Lewis was a pretty strong supporter of Natural Law Theory. But, he’s British, so we don’t really count him.
Previous in series: Moral Theory: Divine Command Ethics
Fightin’ Fundies, Part 3: The Creation Museum
Sorry, I know this post arrived late in the day, but it’s still May 28…
Our last action-packed episode ended with mention of a major event today (May 28, 2007) that, in my humble opinion, will not help promote nuanced discourse about the origins of life. That event would be the grand opening of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Sporting a $27 million budget, this multi-media walk-through extravaganza, designed by a former exhibit director at Universal Studies Florida (as in “King Kong” and “Jurassic Park” rides), will function as a showcase (I use the word advisedly) for the organization Answers in Genesis and will also serve as the group’s administrative and ministry headquarters. Both Answers in Genesis and The Creation Museum are dedicated to advancing an unapologetic and uncompromising “young earth” interpretation of the contents of the Bible overall and Genesis in particular. Specifically, they insist that the earth and apparently the entire universe were created about 6,000 years ago, over the course of six literal 24-hour days – and much more.
The Creation Museum website speaks for itself, but I would direct your attention to a couple of representative entries. A description for the Bible Authority Room on the virtual walk-through tour announces, “The Bible is true. No doubt about it! Paul explains God’s authoritative Word, and everyone who rejects His history — including six-day creation and Noah’s Flood — is ‘willfully’ ignorant.” The descriptive text for the Creation area declares, “…the Bible’s clear—heaven and earth in six 24-hour days, earth before sun, birds before lizards. Adam and apes share the same birthday. The first man walked with dinosaurs and named them all! God’s Word is true, or evolution is true. No millions of years. There’s no room for compromise.”
Now I have no doubt as to the sincerity and commitment of those involved in this project, but I still cannot rejoice in the debut of this particular enterprise. For one thing, it would appear to be one of the biggest, most irresistible targets for media ridicule of Christians in many months. Watch for unflattering attention on SNL or MAD TV or the Daily Show, for starters. (I’m surprised no one picked it up for Phreaky Friday this week, but I suspect the 3-day weekend was a distraction.) No doubt the staff of Answers in Genesis is prepared for this, and will probably consider comedic persecution to be part of the cost of taking their particular stand.
But more bothersome is the fact that those who won’t give an inch in their opposition to the idea that life might have a designer will have another glorious opportunity to lump everyone who questions naturalistic evolution into the six-day, young earth camp. This of course is not at all the case, but it’s certainly a convenient rhetorical device, somewhat like tarring all followers of Islam as terrorists or pro-lifers as clinic bombers. For example, a May 24 LA Times editorial dealing with the Creation Museum (mischievously titled “Yabba-Dabba Science”), notes with some alarm that “…three of the Republican candidates for president do not believe in evolution. Three men seeking to lead the last superpower on Earth reject the scientific consensus on cosmology, thermonuclear dynamics, geology and biology, believing instead that Bamm-Bamm and Dino played together.” In fact, the question “Do you believe in evolution?” was asked of John McCain at the 10-candidate Republican debate on May 3. He said, “Yes” and then a moment later noted that he “sees the hand of God” in a sunset or at the Grand Canyon. The moderator then asked for a show of hands of anyone on the platform who doesn’t believe in evolution. Three hands went up, prompting considerable ridicule in the press during the ensuing weeks. I don’t know if the three dissenting candidates are young-earth Creationists or people who (like me) are comfortable with a 4.5 billion year old earth and a 15 billion year old universe, but question the “we are the product of random, meaningless biochemical reactions” party line. There’s a big difference, but I doubt that we’ll hear much about it in the media.
I have one other concern about the thinking represented in the Creation Museum, and, believe it or not, it is actually well-stated in the aforementioned LA Times piece.
Religion and science can coexist. That the Earth is billions of years old is a fact. How the universe came into being and whether it operates by design are matters of faith. The problem is that people who deny science in one realm are unlikely to embrace it in another. Those who cannot accept that climate change may have caused the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago probably don’t put much stock in the fact that today it poses grave peril to the Earth as we know it.
Okay, the last sentence is a little stretchy, but the point is worth pondering. In my own field I have repeatedly seen a disturbing tendency among some evangelicals to distrust scientific inquiry, and in particular to blow off a well-established body of knowledge about how the human body works in order to embrace eccentric or even bizarre therapies. I suppose I could be accused of doing the same with respect to evolutionary biology, but I see a major difference between understanding how cells work (and, for example, that they’re not influenced by “invisible energies” supposedly manipulated by someone waving their hands over the body) and claiming to understand how all of these intricate mechanisms assembled themselves randomly out of primordial soup.
I have to confess that I haven’t probed in depth to see how people who believe the planet must be 6,000 years old explain all of the evidence that suggests otherwise, but in this regard I find them in a similar position as the evolutionary fundamentalists, with a hard-core bottom line and a lot of ‘splainin’ to do about information that doesn’t readily conform to their doctrine. Put another way, I’m equally impatient with Christians who insist that a six 24-hour-day creation is the only way to understand Genesis 1 and with evolutionists who insist that they know that life has no designer.
To both I would say, “Really??…”
At the conclusion of our last exciting episode, I noted that not all fundamentalism relates to deities and the dogmas surrounding them, and that I wanted to propose for membership in the Fightin’ Fundie Club a vocal group (not the Four Seasons) that claims no religious affiliation whatsoever. My nominees are (drum roll) the implacable proponents of naturalistic evolution, true believers in the fullest sense of the word. I’m not going to offer a systematic footnoted literature review here, but rather a personal meditation on the way the (non)discussion of the origin of life has been playing out recently in the mainstream media.
By way of introduction: I am a family physician focused on the daily care of people with various health issues and not an bioscience academician, but as such I have some degree of understanding of animal (though far less of plant) biology. I would submit that even the most casual study of any type of biological system – animal, plant, microbe – at any level – macro, micro, biochemical – and from any angle – structural, functional, dissected or integrated – reveals a level of complexity that is, in a word, staggering. Pick a topic – how the eye works, how blood clots, how nutrients are absorbed, how glucose enters cells, how white cells destroy microbial invaders, how viruses hijack cell nuclei to replicate themselves, how sound is converted into electrical impulses, how nerves communicate with each other, how cells divide – whatever the subject, study it in any detail: if you don’t experience awe and wonder, administer a good enema and try again. And we’re not even addressing the intricate play of astronomy, geophysics and climate that are finely tuned to allow these events to proceed.
Call me naive, but it has repeatedly struck me that the most intuitive and rational response to this information is that it seems incredibly unlikely that these systems would assemble themselves at random, no matter how much time one might give them to do so. If you make the random-assembly-over-billions-of-years assumption, there’s a whole lot of faith involved in the process, and a lot of ‘splainin’ to do in order to address how so many features of the above-noted complexity came to be. In recent years books such as Darwin’s Black Box have raised some reasonable questions about what the naturalistic evolutionists (NEs) are willing to accept on faith as they move from point A to point ZZZ despite the gaping uncertainties in between – a process that we used to call “hand waving” in math class.
Instead of responding reasonably and thoughtfully to these questions, however, I continue to hear (in the general public media, anyway) the NEs planting their flags and defending their position with startling, numbing ferocity, including routine rants about separation of church and state, political innuendo of all sorts and lots of ad hominem attacks (i.e., characterizing people who question the NE position are all Bible-wielding, IQ-impaired sub-hominids who want to take over the government and stamp out free speech). More than once in the past few weeks I have heard, with a clear rhetorical snort, references to the fact that X number of Republican presidential nominees don’t believe the naturalistic evolution gospel, as if that meant they also believe in Santa Claus and child sacrifice.
Yet what continues to leak through all of the rhetorical smoke, in my humble opinion, is that NE remains a philosophical assumption, a bottom line that was made the starting point and now has become iron-clad dogma, with no questions to be entertained, not even for a second. If the Scopes trial were held today, it would be the NEs who would be singing “Gimme that old time religion” and prosecuting the science teacher who had the temerity to ask students to think critically about NE’s assumptions. In other words, they’re acting like good old-fashioned Fightin’ Fundies.
Over the past decade some of the more nuanced and thoughtful questioning of NE has come from what is called the “Intelligent Design” camp, including authors such as Michael Behe (author of the above noted Darwin’s Black Box) and William Dembski. NE zealots routinely vilify these guys, and have seemed bent on avoiding at all cost an intelligent public dialogue about intelligent design. When I read op-ed pieces on this subject in the LA Times or even commentaries in medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, I repeatedly sense the following subtext:
Naturalistic evolutionist (NE): Life assembled itself over billions of years from primordial elements.
Inquirer (I): How do you know?
NE: It just did!!
I: But how do you explai—
NE: DON’T INJECT YOUR RELIGIOUS DOGMA INTO A SCIENTIFIC DISCUSSION!
I: But I was just wondering—
NE: “Religious fundamentalism is on the rise around the world, and our own virulent domestic version of it, under the rubric of ‘intelligent design,’ by elbowing its way into the classroom abrogates the divide between church and state that has served this country so well for so long.” [Robert Lee Hotz, “Laws of Nature,” LA Times Book Review, July 30, 2006.]
I: But could we just talk a little about the idea of “irreducible complexity”—
NE: Shut up! This has all been settled! Go back to your pews!
Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but see if you don’t notice a little of this venom in the op-ed pages of the Times and other media outlets in the coming weeks. There will be, I’m sorry to report, a spectacular opportunity for NE pundits to vent their spleens – beginning tomorrow (May 28).
And what will be the occasion that will cause a major setback for intelligent conversation about the origin of life? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exciting installment!
Previous in series: Fightin’ Fundies, Part 1: Narrow My God to Thee
This blog was supposed to be about the opening of summer movie season. It was supposed to be a hip, geeky, yet cynically detached commentary on the marvel that is big budget summer movies, and how they take over my mind even at age 30.
That will have to be another blog.
Friday night, we went to see the 10:40 show of Spider Man 3 at Mann’s Village Theater in Westwood Village, CA. Yeah, Yeah… The Chinese is more famous across town, and The Dome is pretty hip, but The Village is still the granddaddy, for my $10.75.
The Village seats about 1,400 people, so on an opening night for big movie like SpiderMan, the line literally can stretch around the block. The Opening Night Line Squat is one of the great Los Angeles experiences, and I fear it’s dying as they insist upon building carbon copied megaplexes by the truckload. Who wants to wait for three hours when it’s showing on 12 screens starting every 15 minutes at The Grove?
Soulless yuppies. You know nothing of sacrifice.
Anyways, I’m old school, and Erica and I are parked on the street, finishing our CPK take out, and waiting for our friends to join us when two casually dressed young men walked up onto the sidewalk. One of them hung back, and the other pulled out three strings of different lengths as if to do the old, “Three strings of different lengths that somehow all becomes one length,” trick. He held them in his hands and began to address the crowd with an authoritative voice.
“Good evening, I want to take a few moments of your time to talk to you about something very important, but before I do, I want to let you all know that I’m not drunk, or high, or dangerous…”
You know how Peter Parker has his spidey sense? I have that too, but it’s for spotting Christians.
“…I want to talk to you about something tonight that shouldn’t be at all offensive to you. I want to talk to you about heaven…”
You’re made, dude. I’ve so got your number. He continues on. He’s loud, clearly going to take the confrontational approach, people are trying to ignore him uncomfortably or just staring with outright contempt on their faces and all the while those damn strings in his hands are just flopping to and fro with each gesticulation. Why me, Oh Lord? You may be thinking that what I’ve quoted thus far doesn’t sound offensive, and to be fair, I’m gonna do my best to not over tell this story. Just know that his countenance was oppressive, and, in my opinion, his choice of words didn’t help.
His buddy is hanging back, watching, not four feet from me. I shoot Erica a glance that says, “There are 1400 people in line, and this guy pulls up next to us… is it some sort of sign?” We’ve been married 8 years, we’re getting good at communicating sub-verbally. Her look says, “Go for it, this guy’s kind of pissing me off.”
I sidle up and decide to flash my Christian Credentials. “So… you guys with Campus Crusade or YWAM or something?” His look was classic. I might as well have drawn a fish in the sand. “Uhh… no, we’re sorta on our own. He’s my brother, and I’m just observing. He goes to Master’s. One of his classmates is around here somewhere.”
For those of you who are unwashed heathens, The Master’s College was founded by one Pastor John MacArthur in Santa Clarita, California. JohnnyMac is a bit of a conundrum for me. He’s a Biblical scholar of epic proportions, and he’s a great teacher. He’s pretty hardcore Calvinist, and takes the idea of the inerrancy of Scripture (an idea in which I believe, if it matters to anyone) to untenable extremes.
The thing about Master’s and the church he pastors, Grace Community Church, is that they’re cults of personality. People who attend there have this vague air of superiority about them. They call JohnnyMac their “Shepherd.” Speaking with one of them, and I know a few, you get the distinct impression that everyone else who attends other churches or Christian colleges are… well… just a little weak in their faith. Sometimes I wonder if the word “Master,” is referring to Jesus, or MacArthur.
So… back to our story, our preacher. He’s a MacArthurite, and I know that there’s gonna be no arguing with him. I step back to my wife and listen a bit more. He’s moved on to the strings now, talking about Romans, how the one who has been sinned much (short string) has been forgiven much, and I can just see it coming. He’s gonna get to sanctification by grace just as he magically makes all the strings the same length. Glory, Hallelujah.
Did I mention he’s yelling? Well, he’s on the street, and he’s yelling, eyes strangely vacant, doing the schpeel. I’m watching him, talking on my cellphone, guiding in our friends who’ve never been here before, watching the crowd getting agitated, etc.
Erica turns to me and says, “Are you gonna say something to him?” What would I actually want to ask this guy, I think to myself. I don’t want to argue theology, or mock him. I’m not interested in making a spectacle of myself. I’m not interested in associating myself with him, but I’m not interested in kicking his ass, either.
So, I raised my hand, he recognized me, and I asked him the only question that I was genuinely interested in asking. “So… I’m wondering how you reconcile this approach with Jesus’ words about approaching gently, as well as some pretty specific guidelines about this sort of thing given in the epistles.”
I zinged him, and broke his flow, but he was right back at me, suspiciously quickly. “Well, there’s a long history of street preaching, Jesus did it himself, as well as the apostles and people like John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon, but I’ll talk to you later.” And then he was back on track. I was just dying… he actually invoked Mighty Spurgeon to rebut me. How classic. Phil would be so proud.
At this point, our friends had arrived, and there were hugs and greetings around. “What’s this guy’s story?” They asked. “Oh man.. he’s from Master’s, and he’s kind of a dick, and he wasn’t able to answer my question…”
I notice the preacher’s brother inching in to get a good listen, and he addresses me this time. “You’re pretty judgmental, man, and you just misrepresented what happened to your friends. He’s able to answer your question, it’s just that you interrupted his talk, and he didn’t want to get distracted…” I cut him off.
“Exactly. I interrupted his talk, his prepared schpeel. You know what else, man? I didn’t misrepresent what happened. I told these people, my friends, knowing their context and personalities, exactly what they needed to hear to know my take on this situation. See… these are my friends, and I know them, and I know how to communicate with them… so what you hear and what they hear are two radically different things.”
“Oh.” He said. “I guess you’re right.”
He had a gentle face. A kind face. I decided to out myself.
“Dude. I know you guys. I know that you don’t know me, but I know you. I’m a worship leader at a theologically conservative baptist church. I’ve been a Christian all my life. I know all about Masters, and your boy JohnnyMac (I actually called him JohnnyMac… which made his face go three shades of pale), and you can either believe me or we can sit here and debate theology until we’re blue in the face and then you’ll believe me that I know what I’m talking about.”
He looked offended. “You don’t know anything about us!”
I have a freakish ability, in extreme situations, to say exactly what I mean to say. It doesn’t happen all the time, and I cannot, for the life of me, control it, but every so often I manage to get my thoughts out in one, long, semi-coherent stream of consciousness.
I cut him off again, and said something along the lines of, “Dude, I’m not saying I know you, or your brother. What I am saying is that I know the Scriptures, we’ve read all the same books, and we most likely know some of the same people, as it’s a small world, after all. I know where you’ve been, what you’ve heard, and how you think. I know you’re a five point Calvinist, that you believe in the complete inerrancy of Scripture, that you believe we live in a corrupt and wicked generation that needs the gospel thrown at them so that the elect can be called out.”
His eyes nearly bugged out of his head when I managed to get “Elect” in there. He didn’t really say anything, so I just kept letting him have it, “You know what man? I do street evangelism. I direct a youth choir, and we were ministering to the homeless and addicted not two weeks ago.”
I don’t remember exactly where he stopped me, but he said something like this, “So you’re a Christian, huh, and yet your judging us for trying to do God’s work and present the Gospel…” Chad was not having any of this.
“The gospel is good news, man. Good news. Your approach sounds a lot like bad news. Your approach is scary and intimidating. The first thing that I did when your brother started his speech was check both of you for weapons or bombs. These people spent thirty horrifying seconds wondering if their friends were gonna read about their bloodied bodies in the morning paper…”
He stopped me, saying something like… “That’s not fair, you should see some of the other street evangelists we’ve met, calling women sluts and telling people they’re gonna burn in hell…(at this point, I must have rolled my eyes, thinking that he wants brownie points for their ability to not refer to women on the street as sluts) my brother wants to talk about hope!”
I came back with this, perhaps my best and only constructive point, “If you want to preach at people about hope, here’s how you do it. Go to your church, or friends, or something, and get $100 in $1 bills. Put them in a bucket, and make a sign that says ‘For the homeless’ and then park it here in this same spot and just open the Bible and start reading… oh I dunno… the book of John. Instead of alienating people, you’ll serve two purposes: they’ll be grateful to you for stopping the homeless people from continually harassing them for change, and the Holy Spirit would convict us about our own lack of generosity towards them. The door would be open for you to talk about anything you want.” Then I kind of got a little mean, but to the point, “The question is this: are you really interested in impacting people, or do you just get off on being right?”
This hurt his feelings, I could tell.
“You’re not being fair, look over there,” he said. His brother had moved from a crowd address to an animated conversation with one guy in line, of course the one who was most vocal in his protests and jeering. “They are having a real conversation.” I remember thinking that it looked like a conversation with a lot of pointing, which often means it’s not a real conversation, but rather two concurrent arguments with pauses.
I could tell he was struggling with me. I’m guessing that arguments on the street don’t usually involve people who can give a concise explanation of TULIP. “Look,” I said, “Maybe this is how God wants to use you to reach people. Maybe you have to go through the theatrics of the cold open in order to have one real conversation a night. However, you picked this one random spot in the world and it just happened to be next to me, and God wasn’t gonna let me get out of here just ignoring you. I knew I had to talk to you after about fifteen seconds of hearing your brother talk.”
“Most of these people think you’re crazy, or stupid, or annoying, or just a couple of assholes, (a well placed cussword always throws fundies for a loop) or even dangerous. Heck, you had me worried, and I’m on your team. It only took me two questions to get a clear picture of where you sat theologically. You throw out a passage from Romans, and they have no idea what you’re talking about. They have no context, no understanding, they don’t even know what that is. We’re in a post-Christian environment, so you can’t use the Scriptures in the public square like Spurgeon did and expect to get the same kind of traction. I’m not saying that Scripture has lost it’s power, or that we have to sterilize it or dumb it down, but we must be wise as serpents, harmless as doves. Give some thought as to what Paul was talking about when he said he tried to be all things to all people.”
I had talked myself blue by this point. I wanted to try and wind it up. “Look, it’s clear that you’re doing your best to serve God, and I’m glad for that. I apologize for coming on so strong, and it’s clear that you’re decent guys, and maybe we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this.”
He agreed, said “God Bless You,” and I think he meant it, and I returned the same to him, and I meant it.
I resumed The Hang with Erica and our friends, and waited for the line to go in. Street Preacher still was engaged in his conversation with Pointy Finger Man the whole time. His brother moved over there and listened in. When the line finally went in, Street Preacher walked with Pointy Finger Man all the way to the entrance and said goodbye. He passed me and said, “Hey man, I’m sorry I didn’t get to talk to you.” I smiled and thought to myself… I don’t know if that’s true… ask your brother.
I told this story to Mike yesterday, and he laughed at the part where I was trying to flash my Christian Badge in order to get this guy to talk with me as a peer, and not a potential convert, (which, of course, is at the heart of the problem…) Mike said, taking on my role for a moment, “Brother… I understand that burning in your belly… lemme get you a Tums.” I laughed.
I’m gonna post and tag this thing, and, who knows, someday Street Preacher or his Brother may find it, and realize it’s them. They may take issue with my description of the events, or our conversation. If they do, they should comment here, as while I’ve done my best to preserve the content, it was going fast and furious, and often the line between what one actually says and what one thinks after the fact becomes blurry.
Of course, after I left them, SpiderMan 3 melted several dozen IQ points from my brain, so that may factor in as well.
It’s not enough to mean well, guys. How did that conversation go with Pointy Finger Man? Is he coming to church next weekend? Has anyone ever actually allowed you to be their friends once you were done with them? What’s the deal with the string thing? Why do you have to have a prepared schpeel? Why won’t you answer my question in front of those people? It was a fair question. Why are you more interested in how Spurgeon or Wesley did it then how Jesus, Peter and Paul did it? Street Preacher’s Brother mentioned those giants of the reformation way more often then you mentioned Christ Himself, and it showed. Remember Jesus? He was pretty smart. He didn’t get killed because he was a reckless idiot. He was killed because he was changing people’s minds by the truckload, and he scared the hell out of the establishment. Annoying the establishment doesn’t make you like Christ, it just makes you annoying.
Are you actually interested in impacting this culture, or are you only interested in being theologically correct?
I’m in the middle of reading 1 Corinthians right now for The Bible Podcast. This morning I recorded myself reading 1 Corinthians 11, where Paul smacks the church in Corinth upside the head for their mishandling of, well, pretty much everything. But in this chapter, mostly communion.
It’s the chapter that the famous “Words of Institution” come from …
The Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For every time you eat this bread, and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
In the middle of recording myself reading that chapter, I had a sudden vivid memory of the last time I had said those words out loud.
Our pastor Doug was out of town, it was toward the end of summer, I think, and he had asked me to preach. It wasn’t the first time I had given the message, but it was the first time that it had landed on Communion Sunday, which we celebrate on the first Sunday of every month.
I come from the low church tradition, Baptist and later Evangelical Free. We didn’t have much in the way of ritual, or liturgy. We believed strongly in the priesthood of all believers, in the personal dimension of each person’s relationship with Christ, in the primacy of the preached word, and our corporate worship was constructed along those lines. We celebrated baptisms with great fervor, because baptism meant conversion. We observed communion, but it seemed more out of obligation than any great sense of purpose or meaning.
That might be too harsh. Let me leave it this way – we were never taught to understand the value of ritual itself, how to find meaning in the repetition of words or actions.
When Pope John Paul II died, the funeral was televised live in the middle of the night here in LA. I was just coming home from a gig, and flipped on the TV to unwind. I watched, transfixed, as the BBC newsperson explained the meaning of every movement, every word, each act in the unfolding drama. Everything had purpose, everything was a symbol and a reenactment. As the choir sang songs composed 800 years ago, as the cardinals recited prayers written 1600 years ago, I had a profound sense of standing in the stream of history.
I had been raised in a tradition that viewed ritual as “dead acts”, a lifeless repetition of habit in the place of real worship, by people who didn’t have the Holy Spirit in them. But there was nothing lifeless about what I saw that night. It was made alive in the people who reenacted it, step for step. It had the breath of the Holy Spirit in it, from first note to final prayer.
I watched the whole thing. When I finally shut off the TV and crawled into bed, I lay awake for a while, thinking about what it means to be connected to 2,000 years of Christ’s People.
Rituals are reenactments of the sacred themes of life. Placing the ring on the finger, going under the water, eating the bread and wine, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed, they are all reenactments of true themes.
And in each ritual, there is a part to play. The bride and groom play the roles of Christ and Church, the child in soaking white robes is Good Friday and Easter, the leader and the congregation reciting the creeds become Prophet and Israel.
And on Sunday morning, when I raised the bread, and broke it, and spoke out loud the words of institution, “This is my body, and it is for you,” I become suddenly, manifestly aware of my role in the ritual.
It is Christ who lifts bread, and breaks it. It is Christ who drinks the wine. It is Christ who feeds his people, and who proclaims their unity. And in this reenactment, this remembrance, I was standing in his place for that congregation, that day, in that place.
The words caught in my throat that morning. I’m glad that they did. I would not like to be the sort of person who suddenly pictures himself in Christ’s sandals, and keeps right on going. The words caught in my throat, and I felt tears gathering in my eyes. I felt the crushing weight of my own dark soul, made evident in the glare of that moment.
It can be a beautiful thing to have such clarity right before you eat at the Lord’s table.
I finished the words of institution, and the elders distributed the bread and cup throughout the congregation. They returned, and knelt on the front step of the platform to receive their own portion. I handed bread and wine to these men and women, years ahead of me in faith and dignity, any one of whom would have been a more fitting representative of Christ that morning.
But the ritual doesn’t depend on the worth of the players. The proclamation of Christ’s death and resurrection, the power of grace, the unity of all believers, these are the beautiful truths that the ritual proclaims. Maybe it’s better to have someone in the role at the head of the table who no one would mistake for the real thing.
And so, when I ate the bread, and when I drank the cup, the entire congregation did too. And I was with them, again, eating at the same table, receiving the same grace.
That morning, as I moved through the scenes of the play, and followed the motions, as I spoke the words of Christ by way of Paul, and played the part of Christ to his people in that place, I was doing two things.
I was remembering Christ.
And I was remembering his people, that great cloud of witnesses who, for 2000 years, have used this ritual to make present the mystery of grace.
From April 9th 4:00pm
from Jeannette, Rod’s daughter:
“My dad is doing better and better everyday. Physical therapists have come in the last 3 days to help strengthen his left side, which is getting stronger all the time. 2 days sitting in a chair for an hour each and today he stood up for a few minutes. He has been the best today, in and out of sleep but totally having long conversations with whoever is in the room. He can still only whisper because of his laryngitis, and he’ll most likely start eating solid food today (that’s a big hallelujah).
The surgery is tentatively scheduled for this Thursday and will be performed by Dr. David Lundin. The family jokes about how we think he looks like Jack from Lost, who also happens to be a neurosurgeon☺. Although Dr. Lundin has some pretty incredible credentials, my dad’s surgery is also in the hands of God, and we need to pray that it goes without a hitch.
The doctor is waiting for his swelling to go down enough to where he can perform the surgery. Because my dad is alert and awake more these days, it’s obvious he is thinking a lot about the fact he’s going to have brain surgery soon, and the more waiting he has to do, the harder it is to not have it on his mind. It’s a pretty freaky thing to think about.
So I was thinking, perhaps to get his mind off it (and because the family is running out of things to talk about with him) it might be nice if people wanted to, they could submit some words of love and encouragement or a funny story or memory that involved my dad, it could even be a funny joke they know! He’s already so amazed at how many have joined the facebook group and that so many people are praying for him.
So, if you’d like to send Rod some love, a joke, memory, or story, please send it to my email address: email@example.com
As per Paul’s request, here’s the full audio and video for the opening of our Easter service.
[flashvideo filename=http://addisonrd.com/WordPress/wp-content/video/Easter_Open_2007.flv /]
Happy Easter, everyone. Go find some joy today.
1. I sang in hootenannies for remote Nike sites in Alaska when I was a teenager. I wasn’t that good a musician but I was easy on the eyes—especially for servicemen who hadn’t seen any non-Eskimo female for several months.
2. When I was 27, my older and younger brothers were both killed while flying drugs up from South America across San Diego. While my mother told friends they had died on a camping accident (“THIS was no boating accident!”), my father was stalking the lawyer who financed the drug trip; he was packing heat and fully intended to kill him.
3. I have a little rose tattoo on my shoulder that involved a lunch with my best friend in Santa Barbara many years ago where too much alcohol was consumed. By the time we had sobered up, it was a fait accompli. Upon returning home, with my tail between my legs, I confessed the deed, showed it to Paul, who wisely mused, “Well…I guess I have to change my opinion of women who have tattoos now!”
4. In 1971, I drifted over to the “Celebration of Life” rock festival near the Atchafalaya River near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and ingested enough pills to kill an elephant, with the express purpose of finding out, one and for all, if there was life after death. That experiment ended in a 3-day sleep and my best girlfriend spiriting me away to California for “counseling.” (Yeah, ya THINK???)
5. I was molested for some time between 6 and 7 years of age (Debbie Downer…waa-waa…).
6. My first car (1970; I was 19) was a 1965 VW Bug. Car insurance was something very rich people had. I held up lace and spray painted the car in egg shell blue. The engine caught fire late one night when Chad was a baby. Damn, I loved that car!
7. During the early 70s, when the cost of an airline ticket was out of the question, I would drive my Bug 1800 miles straight to Louisiana (parents) because I couldn’t afford to stop at a motel. During that long 800-mile stretch across west Texas, I had some pretty interesting hallucinations.
8. I used to clean up and bandage the bloodied welts my father sliced into my sister’s back during one if “razor strap” rages (waa-waa…).
9. Except for a few years off when the kids were little, I have worked since age 15. My first job was maid service at a cheap motel in Fairbanks, and involved a game called “How quietly can I sneak around so that the lecherous manager doesn’t know which room I’m making up right now?” Between 15 and 24, I worked in just about every entry level job a female can hold.
10. Venice is the most romantic city I’ve ever been to. I could sit outside with a drink and some smokes and watch people for hours and hours.
11. I was attacked once (age 19) when I was alone in a Laundromat. I beat the snot out of him with a pillowcase, screaming at decibel levels I didn’t know I had in my repertoire. I am woman; hear me roar.
12. My father was a B24 pilot in WWII who was one of the few who came back during the Ploesti raids. Later he and his crew were shot down over Germany, where he spent the last 18 months of the war in a POW camp.
13. I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi but lived in Fairbanks, Alaska from ages 3 to 16. Yes, I experienced the great Alaskan earthquake. Ask me about it sometime.
14. I attended 3 different high schools and 7 different colleges & universities.
15. I stayed up all night during John Glenn’s 1962 historic trio of earth orbits, and passionately wanted to become an astronaut from that moment forward. But girls weren’t allowed to be astronauts, so I never even dreamed of pursuing that dream. I DO, however, still have a life goal of going up in a shuttle before I’m senile. I figure this will pretty much screw up my kids’ inheritance (he he he).
16. A few years ago I started writing a sci fi novel.
17. I was the third of five kids. I was my dad’s favorite. I’m the only kid who escaped the wrath of the almighty razor strap.
18. It’s all about Kaluha Sours.
19. My first public appearance was age 5 for a Christmas show at Fairbanks, Alaska’s one and only cracker box theater. I sang that most ancient and beloved of all Christmas carols, “You Better Watch Out.”
20. I went by my real name “Teresa” until age 16.
21. I have a pretty serious crush on my granddaughter, Ella.
22. I love working for myself and by myself. Early in life I vowed I would somehow position myself to never, ever, ever again have to work in an office full of women.
23. When the Beatles came on the Ed Sullivan Show, my father turned the TV off midway through their first song. I don’t think I ever hated my father as much as I did in that cruel moment. I was 13.
24. My kids don’t understand how I could have gone through the 60s and 70s counterculture, know every song TUNE, but not the lyrics. I used to think I just had a bad memory. But I think it’s because I was just plain stoned the whole time and never listened to the words in the first place.
25. It’s hard to come up with 100 things. How did those other people do it???
26. My grandson, Zion, is a complete and utter character. He makes me laugh out loud. He is so…all boy…compared to Ella!
27. I have a book fetish. I don’t know how not to order a book from Amazon.com once I get it into my head that I must possess it.
28. When my…sainted mother moved in with us 3 years ago, I ordered every Nebula Award winning sci-fi from 1950 to the present. It was cheaper than street vicodin.
29. My mommy dearest has now happily moved back to Louisiana. It’s like I’ve been released from prison. I am euphoric 99.4% of the time nowadays. I tried. I tried really, really hard to give her one more chance to love me, and it failed. I sure thought I had buried this issue years ago in therapy!
30. Since my mother’s departure in January, I have been getting a weekly massage and adjustment.
31. I really and truly don’t get why people find it hard to talk about sex or God. These are two issues that I love to discuss because I am endlessly fascinated by what people think about these two topics.
32. My daughter is rapidly becoming my best friend. It’s freakish how easy it is to talk to her. She actually gets me.
33. I have finally, at the ripe old age of 55, figured out the basics. I am ready to roll, now!
34. I am not easily shocked.
35. No, really.
36. Paul and I have been married 32 years this June, and the only time we’ve ever had an empty nest was the first 12 months of marriage, at which time Chad was born. I don’t know why, but we’ve always felt really good about having visitors who stay for 6-24 months.
37. Ah, Paul…
39. I never succeeded teaching my son the difference between “than” and “then.” Sigh.
40. My biggest terror is the thought of no life of any kind after death. If I let myself think in that direction for any length of time, I can induce a full-scale panic attack. I’m amazed that people can create whole new denominations over doctrine. As long as I continue to exist, I’ll deal! I can’t believe I’m even writing this.
41. Paul and I earned $14,000 during the spring weekends of 1982 singing and dancing in Amway shows that played in really huge venues. No kidding—I had Bob Mackie gowns made for me!
42. I spent the first 8 years of my marriage waiting for Paul to find out what a fraud I really was and then leave me. I was so sure this was inevitable that I hardened myself to him, preparing for the day he would unmask me.
44. When he gave up on trying to fix me, he just held me and waited. And then lovingly prescribed Prozac.
45. I am continuously blown away by how incredibly well Chad & Erica have conducted their first eight years. Where/how did they learn to do that???
46. My favorite philosopher is Kierkegaard.
47. For two years now, I stop by Starbuck’s every day before work and get a tall mocha frappachino and a sandwich for later. I justify it by telling myself it’s healthier than cigarettes.
48. My guilty television pleasures: Idol, Survivor, House.
49. We flew with Keith Green in the airplane he went down in…one week prior to the fatal accident.
50. I acted with Amanda Bynes in a local production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” when she was a young adolescent. She was a cutie pie.
51. I watched Al Gore’s documentary, and I am truly shaken. Why didn’t he sound this smart when he was running for President??? He would’ve been the first Democrat I’d ever voted for. Actually there may be a few democrats in my future…
52. Sometimes when I watch my son in action, I can hardly believe I get to claim “mom status” with him. I’m pretty much in awe. I wish I could take all the credit for how he turned out, but I have to unhesitatingly and gratefully give Erica full and grateful kudos. Not to mention the work he’s done on his very own. I did a lot of things wrong raising my kids, but I am proud that I raised them to identify, articulate and defend their feelings. Okay…so maybe I did this job a little too well with Chad, but I’d rather have a child who is a thinking, passionate, alive human being than someone who never had an independent thought. So there.
53. Paul was my Pygmalion. He chiseled me out of a block of rough stone, then loved me until I became real. We belong to each other. He is my safe harbor. I can only be fully in exhale mode when I am with him.
54. Change is inevitable; growth is optional. Don’t wait till you’re 50 to figure this out.
Okay, it’s 2 a.m…enough already!
Be with us
though we shriek and
spit and kick
claw and tooth
Be with us
though we beat your chest
face wet with sweat and red
Be with us
though in our shame
we flee your grace
though in our shame
we are repelled by your innocence
by your strength
Be with us
though your children are
children in your presence
May we never be
Bereft of you
“Linux and the Emerging Church: how decentralized authority, high-identity communities, and counter-culture cache led to the mainstreaming of formerly subversive alternatives.”
Sweet. Maybe now my Motorola Q will get better reception….