Stinging Satire from the Babylon Bee (3)

Keeping Satire Ahead of Reality is Hard

As you have probably noticed by now I sometimes enjoy the Babylon Bee.  However, I’m concerned that it’s fighting a losing battle with reality.  Consider their dilemma. They must somehow stay ahead of the ever accelerating lunacy that is occurring in reality in order to deliver satire.  That’s hard and getting harder.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 4.29.29 AMTake the PCUSA as a test case.  Back in 2017 the Bee published a satirical piece about the PCUSA’s position on inclusiveness.

“As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us on any single issue,” Rev. Craig Barnes said on behalf of the group, speaking to church leaders gathered at Princeton Theological Seminary. “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off.”

The above excerpt’s quotes are, of course, made up and extreme for effect.  That’s simply a key aspect of satire.

PCUSA-Pastor

The Rev. Susan Rothenberg

However, a PCUSA minister recently created a public spectacle that in reality surpassed anything that the Bee could have imagined. Specifically, the Babylon Bee made up the quote by a made up PCUSA leader that “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off” while an actual PCUSA pastor screamed in public that “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!” to the President of the United States and by obvious extension to those who support (or even don’t aggressively resist) him.

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The Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge of the Pittsburgh Presbytery

As if to perfectly demonstrate in reality the entire satirical Bee imagined quote, the Pittsburgh Presbytery chose to only condemn those who objected to this behavior and tried to make the aggressor into a victim.

In an open letter titled “A Season of Travail” and published online Thursday, the Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge, the Presbytery’s general minister, expressed dismay at what he termed a “rush of anger unleashed on Facebook” at Rev. Rothenberg.

In an interview Thursday, Rev. Sorge said he was concerned by the level of animosity that has permeated emails, Facebook posts and phone messages that have flooded not only the Pittsburgh Presbytery but the church’s national office and presbytery offices elsewhere in the U.S.

The following paragraph in the same article is essential to drawing an informed conclusion about the Rev. Sorge’s response (emphasis added).

Calls have come in for Rev. Rothenberg, who currently works at a church consulting agency, to be dismissed or defrocked. And while Rev. Sorge said he is unaware of any threats of violence made, he said callers have resorted to denouncing Rev. Rothenberg in spiritual terms, telling her she can go to hell.

Yes, we can agree that a few responders saying “go to hell” is not an acceptable position.  However, if that’s the worst extreme in commentary by thousands of upset people then we can be confident that the vast majority of critical responses varied from thoughtful to angry, but were generally civil (see the end of this post for selected comments included in another article).

So, the Rev. Sorge backed his fellow cleric 100% and condemned all who voiced displeasure with her.  Is this stance any different than the Bee’s pretend statement that As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us?

Of course it’s not just the PCUSA who are making satire challenging.  So much so that the Instapundit site has created a tagline for those all too regular examples of reality challenging satirical imagination.

CNN UNVEILS NEW SLOGAN: ‘ORANGE MAN BAD.’

It’s the Babylon Bee, so it’s satire – or is it?

 

IT’S SATIRE, BUT IS IT REALLY? On Gender, Left Steps Up Effort Against Notorious Hate Group: Reality.

My theory is that this is a devious, brilliant conspiracy by the Progressive Left to destroy the Bee by making it impossible for satire to stay ahead of reality.

 



 

TheBlaze published an article on Rev. Rothenberg’s public outburst that includes a selection of comments found on Facebook.  While most are critical, not one crosses the line of civility.

The clip of Rothenberg yelling at Trump attracted over 29,000 comments on WTAE’s Facebook page since Tuesday evening. Most seemed decidedly against her yelling at the president:

  • “I guess she missed the entire point of the last few days. Hate is not welcomed or supported in Pittsburgh. She is fueling the very hate she says she’s against!”
  • “Wow are you kidding me? Leave your differences aside and stop being a disrespectful child in a time of mourning.”
  • This is not the Pittsburgh I grew up in, nor is it the Presbyterian Church I grew up in. The man wasn’t here to be with political people, but came with his family to honor the deceased and first responders, and visit those who were wounded. He did not affect you or the families of the deceased. Spewing hatred is the problem. I’m ashamed for these actions.”
  • “This lady just wanted attention. Notice her smile and cover her face than say sorry when she saw she was being recorded and getting the attention she wanted. She doesn’t care that her neighbors are trying to grieve for loved ones if she truly did she wouldn’t add to the chaos.”

But not every comment was negative:

  • “I feel her frustration. My heart aches for the family and love ones of those who were taken by hatred.”

Wow, pretty mild stuff.  But how dare the unwashed multitude criticize in any way the public behavior of a PCUSA minister!

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The PCUSA Elite Today (7)

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The Progressive Jesus Created Out of Whole Cloth by Our PCUSA Leadership

How to Respond?

I have been researching the beliefs and actions of our PCUSA leadership for over three years now.  I have also had direct experience based on my three year term as a Presbytery Commissioner.  That’s a total of almost seven years, spanning 2011 through 2018.  What has occurred over that time and how should we respond?

Since 2011 the PCUSA lost well over one-million members (1,070,777) and gained far less than a half-million (469,739).  That amounts to a net loss of over 600,000 Christians.  Over the same time period over 1,200 churches have exited the denomination or ceased to exist.  These cold statistics point to the devastation of human relationships and to the destruction of a once vibrant community of Christian faith.  These are people and churches who have given up on the PCUSA as a Christian home.  Their tragic testimony is utterly ignored, but the consequences exist regardless.

And what of those of us that choose to remain in the PCUSA who worship our Savior Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures and interpreted by our historic Confessions?  We are a shrinking minority who are expected to either bow down to the false progressive god or to silently suffer humiliation as supposed racists, homophobes, you name it or to get out already.

But there is another choice.  We need not bow to their false god or slink around in humiliating silence or get out.  No, regardless of our declining numbers or receding power we can yet trust that “if God is for us then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b).  The elite leaders of the PCUSA have not one-tenthousandth the power of the ancient Roman Empire or the current People’s Republic of China.  It thus should not require super-human faith or courage to stand up to them.  And yet we fail to do so.

PCUSA-I-Don't-Know-This-ManIts time to start confronting these self-presumed theological, intellectual and moral betters.  We should demand that they answer for their reign of denominational destruction.  Why do they ordain atheists and reward heretics?  How do they justify denying the Christian God?  How do they explain the virtually perfect correspondence between their Christian “social justice” positions and those of the secular Progressive political movement?  How do they explain the direct contradiction between Christ’s definition of marriage and their policy on Christian marriage?  Why do they continue to feign allegiance to our historic Confessions while utterly ignoring them?  Why do they exclude Scripture’s testimony? Why do they have a boutique ideologically-tainted “theology” for every identity group and progressive political position? How do they know that Jesus Christ would support each and every position of a godless secular political organization? Why do they reject Biblical truth but demand that we submit to their admitted arbitrary human “truths”? Why do they make a mockery of their ordination vows and teach others to do the same? Why do they deny Biblical sin but embrace the concept of secular ideological sin?  By what right do they pretend to a moral superiority that their actions show to be utterly unwarranted?

To sum up all of the above apostasy, dishonesty and destruction, why do they pretend to be pious, orthodox Christian leaders?  If this seems extreme then you are living in a state of denial.  For, if a PCUSA member can get through the above material (which only scratches the surface) and still trust that our leadership has the slightest loyalty to orthodox Reformed Christianity then the only option is denial.

The fact that the Rev. Kershner so openly rejected the Christian God suggests that she believes the denomination to now be comprised only of supporters or deniers.  Thus she brazenly made her statement in the sure knowledge that no one in Fourth Presbyterian, the Presbyrery, Synod or General Assembly would rise to object.  And, that silence would allow her to go on pretending to be a pious, orthodox Christian pastor doing her level best to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I single her out not because her’s is an extreme case, but rather because she is a contemporary and unmistakable representative of our denominational leadership.

Well, I object, and will not silently accept any of this.  I don’t care if no one or thousands join me.  My responsibility lies in being true to what Jesus Christ has done.

I understand that each of us has only so much time, energy, knowledge and skills.  I contribute in what I believe to be the best use of the gifts that God has given me.  Others will choose to contribute in their own ways.  But the point is that we are called to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as God has given us the specific gifts to so do.  If we, each in our own way and time, choose to stand on that holy ground then we can remain in the PCUSA without shame or fear.  And, by God’s providential power we will make a difference even if we don’t see it in our lifetimes.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 11:39 – 12:3 (NIV)

 

The PCUSA Elite Today (2)

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Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago IL

The Rev. Shannon Kershner Interview (1)

In the previous post I presented information on actions or lack thereof by our elite leadership that allows the drawing of credible inferences regarding their beliefs.  For example, when the Presbytery of the Cascades ordained an open atheist to PCUSA ministry and the denomination rewarded them with the honor of hosting the 222nd General Assembly, we can confidently infer that all Biblical and Confessional standards for Christianity have been erased from our elite leadership’s minds.

Although evidence based inference is a valid and necessary tool, it’s best to find instances in which our elite leadership explicitly states their beliefs.  The previous post included the explicit example of our leadership publishing an article affirming the heresy of Gnosticism.

The most recent opportunity (of which I’m aware) for explicit information on our elite leadership’s thinking is the March 7, 2018 Sun Times interview of “The Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner, pastor of historic Fourth Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s Mag Mile,” headlined: Prominent Presbyterian pastor: ‘God’s not a Christian . . . We are’.  Although the headline statement is by far the most shocking and disturbing, there are numerous other statements that provide important insight.

The Sun Times article includes audio of an almost 44 minute “Face to Faith” interview with the Rev. Kershner. Therefore I have carefully listened to the interview in order to gain understanding of the scope and context for her remarks.

It is difficult to overstate the place of Fourth Presbyterian and thus its senior pastor in the PCUSA elite.  Fourth Presbyterian is the second largest church (~5,500 members) in the denomination and has been an acknowledged leader of the PCUSA’s (dominant) progressive theological  wing.  Thus, when this church’s senior pastor speaks we are provided with a unique opportunity to observe what our elite is thinking and how they communicate those beliefs.

The Rev. Kershner is an articulate, welcoming, humorous, modest, talented and highly motivated individual.  Many of her comments are within what most PCUSA members would find to be reasonable.  She resisted making political statements on hot-button issues like abortion and gun control.  I’m convinced that she is a thoughtful, nice and kindly person with whom I could have an invigorating conversation.

However, the issues sundering the PCUSA are not about “niceness.”  In fact, so completely have we succumbed to superficial sentiments that we have ignored central Christian theological issues rather than risk appearing to be disagreeable.  And, when our elites stride well beyond the bounds of anything approaching Christian orthodoxy while yet claiming the moral authority of Christian leaders we must risk seeming to be disagreeable by clearly and openly disagreeing.  To do otherwise is to admit that we value others thinking that we are “nice” over the truth about what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has done for us.

Occasional Confirmations (2)

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Political Islam Replacing Gays at the Progressive Pyramid’s Topcurrent-top2

In a February 21, 2017 post on The Progressive Pyramid of “Moral Authority,” I stated that:

There can be legitimate debate on when Political Islam was raised to the Progressive pyramid’s top position.  However, in 2016 the reality of this elevation became crystal clear.

After having given the issue great thought and carefully considered the evidence, this conclusion did appear to be “crystal clear” to me.  However, I had some apprehension as to if my readers would agree that the evidentiary bar had indeed been exceeded. After all, as I admitted:

In fact, even the holders of the 2000+ pyramid’s peak were gobsmacked when events revealed that this demotion/promotion had certainly occurred.

Thus, if actual members in top standing of the Progressive Pyramid had not seen this event coming, then there was enough ambiguity to make an objective observer wonder.

2010-11-22-iran_gayexecutionI no longer have these doubts.  For, a bisexual man (and thus a man who identifies as gay), has come into direct conflict with Political Islam’s murderous treatment of homosexuals, and was put in his place by a Progressive “Pyramid positioning officer“.

A bisexual male student at the University of Texas–San Antonio said during an informal conversation outside class that he was uncomfortable with Islam because people still receive the death penalty for being gay in 10 Muslim-majority countries.

For expressing this thought, the student—Alfred MacDonald, who no longer attends the school—was instructed to meet with the chair of the philosophy department, Eve Browning. Prof. Browning told MacDonald in no uncertain terms that he had committed the crime of “offending” someone, and she warned him that his habit of saying what he thinks could bring down the entire program. She threatened to call the Behavior Intervention Team and refer MacDonald to counseling. She did everything but send him to Room 101.

Unfortunately for Browning, MacDonald secretly recorded their conversation. The transcript, first publicized by Gay Star News, is incredible.

Note that it is not some conservative organization that has reported on this incident, but rather the Gay Star News.  I also pointed out this appalling situation early in the series of posts leading up to my conclusion regarding Political Islam’s top pyramid position.

Professor Browning, as a Progressive elite in good standing, made it absolutely clear to this bisexual student that he had no right to state a fact that might offend adherents of the Muslim faith.  Although there is a complicating factor concerning the context for the student’s statement, there is no doubt about the outcome.  Here’s a key point in the transcript:

ALFRED MACDONALD: Nothing. I wasn’t talking about the engagement to the Muslim. I was talking about Islam in that particular moment.

EVE BROWNING: Well, let me just say that kind of thing is not going to be tolerated in our department. We’re not going to tolerate graduate students trying to make other graduate students feel terrible for our emotional attachments.

The issue isn’t the truth of falsehood that Political Islam commits practicing homosexuals to death in at least ten countries, but rather the impact of stating that fact on the feelings of a Muslim person.  In fact, as the conversation continues, it becomes clear that the student will submit to this Progressive idol without question or need to understand (emphasis added).

EVE BROWNING: Those are things that would get you fired if you were working in my office. The Islam comment would get you fired.

ALFRED MACDONALD: …Would it really get me fired to say that I could be killed somewhere?

EVE BROWNING: In that situation as you’ve described it, absolutely yes.

ALFRED MACDONALD: How?

EVE BROWNING: Don’t even ask. It’s clear you’re not taking my word for it. I don’t care to convince you. If I can’t persuade you that it’s in your interest to behave in ways that other people don’t find offensive and objectionable, then at least I’ve done my job.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well I know that it’s in my interest. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning.

EVE BROWNING: You don’t have to.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well, this is a truth-seeking discipline!

greenNote that this transcript also confirms (that’s two!) my belief that Progressives’ primary strategy for getting their way is by intimidation as opposed to persuasion.  Thus, this incident is now a “dual-confirmation” event.

greenNo, Mr. MacDonald, you are terribly mistaken to believe that Professor Browning is part of a “truth-seeking discipline.”  She is a member in good standing of the Progressive hyena pack, a heartless enforcer (wow, that’s three confirmations!) of whatever is currently the Progressive party-line.  However, I salute your foresight in recording this discussion and your courage by daring to share it in spite of the certain Progressive mob blowback.  Perhaps you will eventually draw conclusions as to who actually supports humane policies and who only pretends to in order to achieve their true ends.

And finally, I’d like to acknowledge Professor Browning’s incredible achievement of confirming not one, not two, but three of my conclusions regarding Progressive ideology and practice in a single amazing incident.  It’s hard to imagine someone ever managing four such significant confirmations.  Your achievement casts an impressively dark shadow over human decency and wisdom.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (14)

King Saul and David (1 Samuel 18)

In the previous post I introduced the concept of narcissism.  Perhaps a working definition is needed prior to  proceeding:

extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

John_W._Waterhouse_-_Echo_and_Narcissus(1903)

Echo and Narcissus* – John W. Waterhouse (1903)

The Narcissism of our Present Age

The core conceit of current narcissism is this:

The evidence-less presumption that I and my like-minded comrades stand at the absolute pinnacle of human virtue.  Therefore, anyone who deviates from my worldview, regardless of if they are my contemporaries or lived centuries earlier, can be motivated only by a combination of inexcusable stupidity and evil.

man-selfieAlthough the above description is useful in a general sense, there remains a significant gap between it and a compelling explanation of its application to our particular time and place.  I finally ran across a passage, from a piece discussing the current situation in France (by Christopher Caldwell) that excellently fills this need (emphasis added):

Upwardly mobile urbanites, observes Guilluy, call Paris “the land of possibilities,” the “ideapolis.” One is reminded of Richard Florida and other extollers of the “Creative Class.” The good fortune of Creative Class members appears (to them) to have nothing to do with any kind of capitalist struggle. Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them. The immigrants with whom the creatives share the city are dazzlingly different, exotic, even frightening, but on the central question of our time—whether the global economic system is working or failing—they see eye to eye. “Our Immigrants, Our Strength,” was the title of a New York Times op-ed signed by London mayor Sadiq Khan, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo after September’s terrorist bomb blasts in New York. This estrangement is why electoral results around the world last year—from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump—proved so difficult to anticipate. Those outside the city gates in la France périphérique are invisible, their wishes incomprehensible. It’s as if they don’t exist. But they do.

Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that these “fortunate people” are deluded to a degree that is nothing short of scandalous.  That they occupy the pinnacle of power in our nations can only be explained by a monumental failure of the temporal Christian church, parenthood, government, education and media, among others.  This is what civilizational failure looks like.  In the following post I will address the central delusion that has resulted in this sorry situation.



*Echo and Narcissus is a myth from Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, a Latin mythological epic from the Augustan Age.

Why Can’t You be Nice Like Christians are Suppose to Be? (Part 2)

How did you respond to the previous post’s questions?  My answers are:

  1. Only in the first scenario did the wife demonstrate love for her spouse
  2. In the second scenario, the wife demonstrated the opposite of love, which is not hate or anger, but indifference

When we are angry with someone it means that we care enough to respond strongly to what we consider to be their wrong beliefs and/or behavior.  However, when we are indifferent to someone, when we have no feelings one way or the other about what they believe and/or do, we are showing that there is no care in our heart.

The wife in the second scenario was so indifferent to her husband that she raised no opposition to his self-destruction.  The wife in the first scenario cared so much that she engaged her whole self in an attempt to prevent that same self-destruction.

When I engage in criticism of the PCUSA leadership it is a sure sign that I care about them and about what they are doing to the church.  I believe that their beliefs and actions are causing destruction to themselves and the church, and thus must be opposed.

Were I to cease this criticism and move on to other things, that would be indifference.

The question now is how did we arrive at an understanding of Christianity that has led to practical indifference to virtually anything that others believe and/or do, which I believe is the exact opposite of love.

Why Can’t You be Nice Like Christians are Suppose to Be? (Part 1)

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Opening Comments

I’m certain that some who read this blog are uncomfortable, if not off-put, by my deep, broad and sustained criticism of the PCUSA leadership.  This reaction may be independent from the merits of my arguments.  That is, there is a powerful presumption that the defining characteristic of a true Christian is that they are always nice to everyone.  I’m going to explore this idea in the following posts.  But, before I dig into the details, I’d ask that the reader consider the following two scenarios.

Background

There is a married couple with a young child.  They have been married for three years.  The husband injures his neck, and, is prescribed pain medication.  His condition improves, but, he has become addicted to the medication.  So, he begins to obtain these and other drugs illegally, and, over time his behavior shifts markedly towards dishonesty, unreliability and selfishness.  These behavioral shift and the underlying addiction have a negative impact on all of his activities and relationships, most severely on his family.

Scenario #1

Early on the wife senses subtle but disconcerting changes in her husband’s behavior.  She engages with him in conversation, attempting to understand what’s going on in his life.  However, he is not responsive, and, over time, his condition worsens.  His wife begins to investigate this change.  She engages the husband in probing conversations, she thinks about his words and actions, seeking to find a credible motivating cause, and, she becomes progressively more aggressive about engaging her husband on this set of issues.  But, all is for naught.  As her husband descends into ever more serious deception and addiction, his job suffers, their friends are off-put and their once happy family begins to fall apart.

Finally, after having tried every other conceivable means, the wife confronts her husband directly.  She forces him to observe the wreck his behaviors have wrought.  She exposes the lies that he has told.  She points back to all that has been lost.  In this last desperate measure she is attempting to save him and all that his life had meant prior to the descent into this dark and dangerous addiction.

Scenario #2

Although the wife eventually becomes aware of changes in her husband’s behavior, she is so focused on her own personal and career issues that she doesn’t pay much attention.  Over time, as his condition worsens, she responds by taking on responsibilities that her husband had previously covered.  This added load causes increased stress, which leads her to further distance herself from her mate.  Over time, their lives increasingly separate, with him descending into ever greater addiction.  As his life falls apart she focuses on creating a new life for herself and the child.

Finally, she files for a divorce.  She puts her husband behind her and moves forward into a new life.  She loses touch with him, and has no idea if he was able to right his life or not.

Questions:

  1. In one of these scenarios did the wife show love for her husband?  If so, which one?
  2. If you said “yes” to one scenario in question 1, how would you characterize the wife’s behavior in the other scenario?