Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Now The Praise of Folly

I debated within myself if I even wanted to bring this issue up, but I decided to but not for the obvious reasons.

As most people know, Christian congressman Mark Souder made a teary announcement yesterday that he had been having an affair with one of his staffers. There was a lot of hay made about this because he and that very same staffer had made a video promoting sexual abstinence. He had also been in favor of promoting the teaching of Intelligent Design in the schools, having strong boarders (keeping those nasty aliens out . . . not my words) and other Evangelical causes. His major constituents were the “pro-family” and evangelical voters.

Did I mention that video was such a big hit yesterday on Youtube that it had to be taken down?

So Mark is just one more in a long list of Christian favorite sons and daughters, congressmen (and rarely women) caught in adultery or some other major-league sin.

Now I am not naive about this. I know that the people with an axe to grind with Evangelicals love these stories and put them in the lime light when they happen. I also know that the Christians in high places who behave badly like this—or at least are caught behaving badly—are just a small percentage and there are many more who have never strayed like this . . . or are not caught.

I also am not coming from this from the angle that I’m any better than these folks. I actually have more compassion on them than you could imagine. But there is still a lesson here and something disturbing.

Somehow, and I can’t put it into words just yet, this is indicative of the whole dis-connection between the Evangelical world . . . and reality. There is still this myth that we hold up that we are the good guys and the non-Christians are the bad guys. If you ever want to see an Evangelical’s temper soar (beneath the radar though) is to bring up one of these celebrity Evangelical’s failure at church. They want to quickly sweep these stories under the carpet to keep up the illusion.

I’ve always thought that the Wittenburg Door folks (book marked over at the side of this blog) are the only Christians who’ve had the courage to make fun of ourselves. They poke fun at the stupid looking and acting TV Evangelist with the big hair and big lies, they poke fun at the “Christian Politicians” who are in bed with the moral majority (and its descendents, red state or tea party Evangelicals) and in bed, literally, with their pretty staff (or sometimes hookers).

It reminds me of the same spirit of Desiderius Erasmus’ “In Praise of Folly” of 1512. At that time the Church was behaving so stupidly, that Erasmus couldn’t deal with it in any other way . . . but with humor.

I’m not saying that these things are funny. They are indeed tragic. Mark’s wife and family are suffering horribly. The Church suffers. The Evangelical haters are having a field day with this and previous escapades. A few more youth, raised in the Church, will walk away shaking their heads and believing the whole thing is a farce after this.

So, the real problem isn’t that a man sinned, but that we actually believed that they could rise above that.


Lutestring said...

The Praise of Folly is a fascinating book. I would love to see more of your thoughts on it. Great post as a whole.

MJ said...

I wish I could give you more thoughts on it but it was about . . . hmm . . . 15 years ago when I read it. Makes me want to go back and look at it again. Seemed like it was a healthy way to draw attention to the absurdities of the Church at that time. One of the straws that eventually broke the Camel's back of Rome . . . leading not only to the Reformation but to reform within the Catholic Church.

I don't think there has been any Holy Brothels catering to the needs of the holy men at the Vatican since that age. Now there are just the TV evangelists' brothels. :>)

Unknownguy said...

"So, the real problem isn’t that a man sinned, but that we actually believed that they could rise above that. "

I think we should expect Christians to rise above it.

I'm not saying that Christians will be perfect, or that they will always abstain from 'big' sins (Not that I necessarily like to use the word 'big', as that can sometimes make other sins 'small' but bear with me) but that there should be a movement towards becoming Christ-like. (a la Romans 8:12-14).

Now in saying this, I also believe that it is God doing the work in us, not us somehow gritting our teeth and somehow not sinning. (The interesting duality of its not up to us but yet we do as much as we can :D).

MJ said...

My intended point was "rising above the vulnerability."j That is what the "that" is referring to.

Unknownguy said...

K, that I would agree with. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't think there has been any Holy Brothels catering to the needs of the holy men at the Vatican since that age.

Except in anti-Catholic screeds & tracts. There, the accusations continue to this day.