The other day I posted the following tweet: “If I read 1 more evangelical tweet about claiming my purpose, speaking into destiny or seizing my passion I will punch someone in the teeth.”
Obviously, that is pure hyperbole on my part. As an aspiring pacifist I limit my carnage to Zombies, Aliens and human-animal hybrids.
However, I must reiterate my distaste for the language that pervades much of evangelicalism. I could go off on an extended diatribe about how much of the current state of evangelical language is simply window dressing: using new words to communicate the same stale ideas but that is unnecessary. Most of us are smart enough to know that talk of destiny, purpose and claiming the milk-laden, puppy and sno-cone riddled future is just a power of positive thinking prosperity gospel that would surely make Jesus barf.
No, what really gets me beyond that is the damned certainty of it all. For example, here is one tweet that gets my goat: “Don’t just do your own thing! Be a part of the bigger picture! The local church. All ur dreams can be accomplished when you plant yourself.”
First of all, why is the bigger picture the local church? That is the ultimate end? Seriously? And how in the world can anyone possibly state that “ur” dreams can so simply be accomplished? All of those people with shattered dreams and broken hearts are obviously just uprooted right? They need the big picture of the local church.
Give me a break.
I believe the local church CAN do great things if its priorities are right (and not saddled down with salaries, buildings and lock-ins). There is obviously power in community and lives can be improved through benevolent largesse.
But the idea that some Utopian existence on earth is achievable if you just gird your loins, deposit your contribution and think happy-sappy thoughts is offensive to me. I encounter people every day who have been so broken by the wheels of living that this very idea is obviously offensive to them as well. (Side note: I have probably done more ministry in a year working at a library than any year of ministry I ever experienced. I’ve definitely encountered more people in desperate need.)
I was just going to slough off this particular round of annoying tweets and move on. (Side note: I don’t necessarily follow these people on my personal account, but it is the politic thing to do on the business account so to speak.)
But then the latest inanity by a loud-mouth Calvinist up in the Pacific Northwest was posted where he went through a litany of Young Adult books, which he clearly has never read, and likened them all with satanism.
The connection here is the certainty: “God WILL do this…” “God DOES have this in mind…” “This IS sin…” “Do THIS to be faithful…”
After 20 years of ministry and now a year in the real world I KNOW one thing: that I don’t KNOW anything. The more I understand the more I am enveloped by the mystery. The certainty of my younger years has been replaced with a numinosity that, to me, is much easier to live with.
Maybe, just maybe, if we would love to shut our mouths from all of our certainty, throw up our hands and say “I don’t know, but I am willing and eager to travel this path of seeking with you” then our language might begin to mean something again.
And faith would be redeemed.
But what do I know? I’m just a librarian.