Notable Quotation

Comrade, your statement is factually incorrect.”
“Yes, it is. But it is politically correct.”

The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself. Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature’s laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement’s nominal goal eventually ends up being subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement’s own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what the progressives say about themselves and the world, progressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e., what thoughts serve the party’s interest—were correct factually.

—Angelo M. Codevilla, “The Rise of Political Correctness”

Why Death????

In my last post on the nature of plausibility structures, I used a movie with death as a central character to show how subtle messaging in movies leads to making God seem more or less real to people, thus more or less plausible. As I said, death never caused one of the other characters to ever bring up God, as if the divine being is irrelevant to life and death. I want to make the case briefly that although death and suffering often cause people to reject God, they are a far bigger problem for the materialist/atheist than the Christian. My contention is that death and suffering lends credibility to the Christian faith, while making atheism/materialism less credible.

“Mr. Church”: How Plausibility Structures Work

Plausibility is a word we don’t often hear in church (ever?), but the concept plays a crucial role in helping us keep our kids Christian. A familiar word, it is defined thus: having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable. One of the basic premises of my book is that most people reject the Christian faith, or drift away from it, not because they’ve studied all the evidence, worked through the logic of it, and come to a conclusion, but because it doesn’t seem real to them.  It is not plausible to them. If we add structure to the word, we get a building, a structure, of belief in our minds such that certain things seem real and credible to us, and others don’t. The culture we inhabit contributes to that conceptual edifice.

Notable Quotation

In her fiction, O’Connor deliberately tried to alter her readers’ perception, to get them to notice what she called the “distortions” of modern life and to look at the created world closely enough that they might perceive in its depths proof of a creator. For secular audiences, she saw little point in subtlety, famously explaining her grotesque style in this way: “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”

—Cassandra Nelson, “Seeing Is Believing: What Flannery O’Connor Meant by ‘Vision'”

Famous Christian’s Son Rejects His Father’s Liberal Faith

Liberal Christianity (J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity & Liberalism is an excellent study on the differences between liberal and conservative Christianity) got it’s start in America in the late 1800/early 1900s. It started with the 17th Century Enlightenment that made reason the ultimate arbiter of truth, which lead to German Higher Criticism’s study of the Bible as a merely human document. Without the supernatural, all that was left of Christianity was ethics, which became the sine qua non of liberal Christianity. When the welfare of human beings becomes the focus of Christianity, and not the glory of a Savior God in Christ, it eventually loses it’s power to captivate the human heart. That’s what happened to “The Evangelical Scion Who Stopped Believing.”

Notable Quotation

One of the best things about growing up is that, if you can learn from experience, you come to the realization that two things matter more than anything else, truth with a lowercase t and Truth with an uppercase T. You have to tell the truth, demand the truth from others, recognize lies and refute them; you’ve got to see the world as it is, not as you want it to be, not as others who wish to dominate you might say it is. Embracing truth frees you from false expectation, fruitless pursuits, disappointment, pointless anger, envy, despair. And the bigger kind of Truth, that life has meaning, is the sure source of happiness, because it allows you to recognize your true value and potential, encourages a humility that brings peace. Most important, the big-T Truth makes it possible for you to love others for who they are, always without consideration of what they might do for you, and only from such relationships arise those rare moments of pure joy that shine so bright in memory.

—Dean Koontz, The City, p. 96

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

Charlie Brown: Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?!

Linus: Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please?

And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Why Is Atheism Growing So Quickly In Great Britain?

The short answer: plausibility structures.

Have you ever been watching a movie or a TV show and something happens that completely takes you out of the flow of the story because it is patently absurd? You may not use the word, but you could easily be thinking, that’s just not plausible. If the scene is not too over the top, we may be able to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the story. Good fiction depends on it.

Plausibility, or that which seems credible or believable to us, isn’t just important for fiction, though. It’s a natural part of everyday existence, and critical to understand if we’re to correctly assess religious faith, or the lack thereof, in a secular post-Christian culture.

The Non-Religious Person Does Not Exist

If we’re to raise our kids in a hostile 21st Century secular culture so that they maintain their Christian commitment throughout their lives, we need to continuously show them how reality affirms what they believe. This sounds so ridiculously obvious, but I think many Christians would not be quite certain what I mean. What follows is a simple example.

The Bible tells us that man was made in God’s image, male and female he created them. Then something very bad happened. The first humans rebelled against their Creator, and sin and death entered the world, just as God predicted it would. At the heart of this fall from grace is the temptation of Adam and Eve we read about in Genesis 3:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Study Confirms Why Conservative Churches Grow and Liberal Churches Shrink

During the first half of the 20th Century, Mainline Protestant denominations were a large and powerful force in American culture. Protestant Christianity was mediated to America through these denominational bodies. This started to slowly change during what’s come to be called the fundamentalist/modernist controversies in the early part of the century (they peaked in the 1920s) when liberalism defeated the conservative fundamentalists for control of the denominations. From that moment these pillars of American Christianity began a slow slide into cultural irrelevance which persists to this day. These denominations continue to lose membership, and liberalism is why. The numbers are substantial:

Across the English-speaking world the numerical decline of mainline Protestantism is accelerating. The largest mainline Protestant denominations in the United States are the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church. Collectively, membership in these denominations decreases by about 1 million a year, resulting in hundreds of church closures annually.

A recent study attempts to answer the question why this is happening. I could have saved them the time. The answer is liberalism! In a study of “2,200 of the congregants, half attending growing churches and half at declining churches,” it became obvious: