Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Trip To Mars

Lauren Sandler, author of a hysterical new screed against Christianity called RIGHTEOUS: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement, spends some time at Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church in Seattle and....hates it. Not surprisingly.

Writing for Salon magazine (you have to watch a brief commercial in order to access the full article, and be warned there is some strong pornographic language from rapper Snoop Dogg quoted in the article for no discernible reason), Sandler, who used to be a producer for that taxpayer-subsidized bastion of fairness, National Public Radio, manages to dredge up a couple of admittedly unappealing congregants (if they are quoted and described correctly, which is never a given), and extrapolates from them to the rest of Driscoll's several-thousand-member church to fulfill her "Christianity is evil" thesis:
Driscoll and his Mars Hills followers epitomize the mounting evangelical youth movement in America. Within this movement lies something as old as America itself, and as terrifying and alluring as anything Orwell predicted; something that is at once political, emotional, deeply anti-intellectual, and more galvanized than you can imagine. I call this population of fierce young evangelicals the Disciple Generation.
(Cue "Psycho" music.) And then they killed kittens and ate babies!

Now, while I don't agree with everything Driscoll does (though I do respect him), I'm willing to bet a great deal that he reads more books of intellectual heft in a month than Ms. Sandler does in any given year. Her manifest lack of rigor, insight, or nuance perhaps betrays her own subpar cerebral abilities. But putting that aside, why does she launch such a vicious attack on people who are obviously trying to be nice to her?
While cultural specifics -- media, music, dress, attitude, and so on -- vary widely in the churches that [Driscoll's church planting organization] encourages nationwide, cultural politics do not. Most significantly, in founding the network, Driscoll has established a nationwide apparatus to push back women's rights through the "liberation theology" of submission. The online application for church planting is an extremist screening device to this effect. It begins with a lengthy doctrinal assertion that every word of the Bible is literal truth; the application plucks out the examples of creationism and male headship of home and church to clarify this doctrine. "We are not liberals," it says. "We are not egalitarian."
Oh, the humanity. It turns out that her main criticism of Driscoll's church is that it preaches and practices orthodox, biblical Christianity, including believing in Heaven, Hell, sin, male leadership, the inerrancy of the Bible, the blessing of family and children, and the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus. You know, pretty much like the faithful church has always preached over the last 2000 years.

Who knows? If Driscoll can find a few more enemies like this, he might finally get a little deserved respect from some of his leery fellow evangelicals.

UPDATE: Judy, one of the members of Driscoll's church made to look so unappealing in the article, has written a letter to Salon saying that--big suprise--she was horrifically misrepresented. (Thanks to Scott for the heads-up.) She writes:
I’m nothing short of furious that Ms. Sandler felt it was ok to pick & choose snippets of our conversation and weave them together to create a more controversial story. I write this, not so much to defend myself, but to defend my family who she’s dragging through the mud in the name of journalism.
Sandler's article had "disingenuous hit piece" written all over it. Now we know.

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