I challenge all progressive theo-bloggers to write one post about God between now and August 15.
I mean, all of you: Fred, Scot, Rachel, MPT, John Shore, everyone at the Patheos Progressive Portal, and all of you I haven’t mentioned or even ever read. Write something substantive about God. Not about Jesus, not about the Bible, but about God.This is not going to be that post. In fact, it's gonna be everything but that post, so I can save time writing it.
So of course, when Fred (and I, and others) chafed at that and made some submissions that we thought would meet the impossible criteria of at once not talking about Jesus, not talking about the Bible, and still being Christian enough, he followed up:
Thirdly, several people have submitted poetry. That’s fine. I can appreciate poetry. But, whereas I usually find poetry a more difficult medium in which to communicate than prose, in this case I think it’s the converse: I think that poetry is something of a cop-out to my challenge. To speak of God using word-pictures and imagery is substantive, in a way. But, again, it’s probably not how you’d talk to your seatmate on a plane. If you start speaking in verse, they may ask to be reassigned to another seat.
Which leads to my observation: Lots of progressives have responded to my challenge with lots of throat-clearing. By that I mean, they’ve loaded their posts with prolegomena about how we really can’t speak confidently about the character of God, about how we don’t want to be arrogant like the conservatives, and about how our God-talk needs to exude epistemic humility.
I get it. I wrote a dissertation. I know a lot about prolegomena. But here I’m going to shout again:
GET OVER IT!
This isn’t an academic conference. This is the blogosphere. We don’t need to preface and qualify and relativize our commentary. We can say things about our understanding of God, and we can say them unapologetically.If a customer placed an order like that and complained, they'd get a complimentary half-bottle of eyedrops in the salad dressing. But enough hostility on my part. Let's get down to writing something substantive...
Instead of a post about God, by a blogger too throat-clearing to write oneI'm not a theo-blogger. This is a personal blog, where my work goes to get archived and forgotten and never seen again. I'm also not "progressive"; it's at once a euphemism for "liberal" (which I'm not), a subordination of American Christendom to American political categories (which are bullshit), a meaningless catch-all that distorts the meaning of everybody caught in it... and probably way to the right of me in any case. (Call me mainline. It's apolitical, and its meaning - "I sing from a hymnal, read from a NRSV, and other Christians routinely invalidate me to my face" - is not only true, but usefully specific.)
That was a waste of time to write; nobody cares, and but for my response you wouldn't know I exist. For my part, I know about as much about you; I didn't visit Theoblogy until Lent this year, to read "A Better Atonement," and I haven't spent much time there since. (Thank you for that series.)
None of that matters. Thank you, Tony Jones.
I have no idea if this was done in good faith, and in fact assumed that it wasn't when I started writing. I have no idea if you'll click the hyperlink to read this, or if you'll read the main article beyond the time it takes to set it up on Storify. If only bots ever came to visit this blog from there, I wouldn't be surprised at all. But none of that matters. Thank you, Tony Jones.
Because I'm mainline. And being mainline means that when you try God-talk, nobody cares, nobody listens, nobody believes you, nobody reports it, and nobody even pretends to. Thank you, Tony Jones, for at least pretending.