Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How Did That Happen?!?

While I'd love to write some well-informed post on the attempt by the right to improve their standing in the blogosphere (an attempt, incidentally, that I welcome, as I think that the more diverse the ideas present in any media of discourse, the better that discourse can be, so long as basic rules of civility and conversational charity are followed), I don't know enough about it to write that post.

I'm a liberal. An unapologetic liberal. I'm betting that's pretty clear from the posts that I write. Sometimes I even call myself a socialist - and I'm certainly more of a socialist than Barack Obama!

So I've got to ask:

How did I become part of the rise of the political right in the blogosphere?

Seriously, how did this happen? What did I do, and how can I undo it?

I ask this knowing full well that there are conservatives that I respect who read and comment on this blog. I'm not trying to knock them. I'm just betting that they noticed that I'm not a conservative. Hard to miss that.

Yet somehow I've ended up on the mailing list of NetRightNation, an organization that bills itself as "the Net Right's Blogging HQ," whatever that means.

I can say that their emails are polite, and well organized. Their website looks polished and professional. They may or may not be what I'd label "wingnuts," but if they are, they hide it well. Or, at least, I couldn't discover any wingnuttery in the 48 seconds I looked over their stuff.

But, whatever else can be said of them, they most certainly did not get their man here!

I feel like my seminary adviser felt when one of her books got a favorable write-up from a Bible professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school known for adherence to Biblical inerrancy: I don't know whether to be flattered, or to revisit the way I do things here!


Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Actually, Fuller changed its statement of faith decades ago dropping the requirement that faculty be inerrantists. I have taught there as a Visiting Prof. and could not find any professorial inerrantists. Most of the faculty are from the Evangelical Left--leaning toward what used to be called Neoorthodoxy. It has more faculty pacifists than does LPTS or most mainstream seminaries and its profs are evangelical feminists and liberation theologians. It DID start out as an Inerrantist school in the '50s, but that hasn't been true for some time.

Unfortunately, it is still conservative on same-sex issues (which is why I stopped going back as Visiting Prof), but there is a large student group attempting to push for changes here, too.

Sandalstraps said...


Good to know about the changes at Fuller. I'll have to pass that on to my advisor.

One thing I've noticed about LPTS is that - with the exception of Frances Adney - no one there really understands or cares about evangelicals. I may be wrong about that - I've never done anything like a formal study - but that's the impression I get. The nuances of evangelicalism are lost, leaving only a weak caricature.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Is Amy Plantinga Pauw still at LPTS? She understands the breadth of the U.S. evangelical map better than most at LPTS.

In 1986, I was a student at SBTS (before the fundamentalist takeover) and LPTS hosted an event with Thomas Torrance, the famous British evangelical Barthian scholar. SBTS folk like me showed up in droves, but the LPTS students seemed to think that Barth was just a fundamentalist with a genius IQ--and to have the same view of Torrance!

Sandalstraps said...


Amy's still here, but I don't know her well. The only classes I had with her were survey classes, where her own voice never really came out.

Barth has enjoyed renewed interest at LPTS, which is probably more conservative than it was in the 80's. At the very least, you can't escape the seminary without being familiar with Barth, and the presentation of him (by both Chris Elwood and Johnny Hill) has been charitable.

While I haven't encountered Torrance in class (I have, however, read his Theology in Reconstruction on my own, when I was more interested in neo-orthodoxy) I imagine that he, too, would have enjoyed more interest from the students if he were to speak at LPTS today. Of course, some of that interest would be in the spectacle of his resurrection, since, alas, he died last year.

In any event, the overall impression I still get - especially from the students - is that, despite some renewed interest in neo-orthodoxy, and some greater attention to dialogue with the early church, people at LPTS are simply not interested in evangelicalism. I suspect that at this point it has less to do with theology - some of the students are as conservative as I ever was, even at the height of my mostly lost evangelicalism - and more to do with culture. They simply don't like "those people" who they make no attempt to understand. In the minds of the average student at LPTS, "evangelical Christian" is indistinguishable from "neo-conservative culture warrior" or "theocrat."

So bad has the political climate become, that a friend of mine was actually told the inverse of what conservative evangelicals used to tell me, that you can't be both a Christian and a Republican.