Not Cool at All

I just recently finished reading Not Cool by Greg Gutfeld. It is a book filled with astounding insights and unnecessary crassness, and all from someone who describes himself as a “troubled agnostic.”

Gutfeld sees, as few other people do, that our politics is a matter of preening, and that the whole country is a maladministered high school, one in which the cool bullies have seized all practical control. The subtitle “The Hipster Elite and Their War on You” says it all, and it is not really overstated. I wish more of our preachers could see the problem that afflicts us as Gutfeld sees it, while continuing to see what Gutfeld does not yet see. The only way out of this morass is the gospel of grace.

I thought of having this be my book-of-the-month next go round, but then I would have dump in so many disclaimers as to make the whole thing a grand exercise in pushing and pulling. So I thought I would write on just one aspect of Gutfeld’s book. He describes himself as libertarian, but I think he is more of a contrarian than anything. He leans against conservative groupthink when he is around them, and against libertarian groupthink when around them. For example, his chapter on the military was much more positive than a thoroughbred libertarian would write.

The aspect of Gutfeld’s jeremiad that I wanted to address was his chapter on homosexual marriage. He is a libertarian, so he is for it. But the chapter largely revolved around his complaints against straights who come out for same sex mirage as a way of increasing their cool quotient. He also remonstrates with all the activists who want to tag opponents of same sex mirage with “hate thoughts” — Gutfeld seeks to be reasonable there as well. Give everybody a minute, he argues. This has been a huge shift, one that has occurred in the course of just one generation, and so why are you hectoring everybody who wants to think about it for a moment? So this was a defense of opponents of same sex mirage by a proponent of it.

And while I appreciate the respect, allow me to push back a tad. Opposition to same sex mirage is a matter of principle, and not a matter of being given the courtesy of a little extra time to get with the program. We are not going to get with the program because we still know how to read, and we still have our Bibles.

Gutfeld argues in favor of same sex mirage because he thinks that men — both homo and hetero — are pigs, and that marriage helps society address this. Men need to be civilized, domesticated, calmed down. And so they do, and it is women who can do this. Just using the noun “marriage” doesn’t do it at all. Other men cannot do it. It doesn’t have the same effect. Men need a woman’s touch, not a definitional touch from a lexicon put out by all the queens of gender theory. A man who takes responsibility for a woman is learning the responsibility he must learn in order to cease being a destructive presence in society. A man who enters into the mirage state with another man is not addressing the problem — he is just doubling down on it.

And this brings us down to the real point, which is Gutfeld’s troubled agnosticism. He has all these insights, floating in the air around his head, like so many children’s party balloons with half the helium gone, and no way to gather them up. He sees what he sees, and can’t help but see it. The balloons are pretty big, and they are right there by his head. But other troubled agnostics, of the totalitarian stripe, will have no problem batting them away.

True Christianity does two things. It reveals the light, and it reveals the darkness. We have the testimony in ourselves that God is true (John 3:32; 1 John 5:10), and this is a testimony to the light. But there is a flip side to it, and that is the revelation of condemnation.

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:18–20).

Whatever happens in this next electoral go-round, Christians must agree together that they are not going to blur the distinctions between righteousness and unrighteousness, between light and darkness. We are not up against petty infractions. We are up against big sin, and there is always big mammon in big sin. Steve Deace has pointed out that there are about 4,000 abortions a day, and the price averages about $500 a hit. That is two million dollars a day, and somebody is pocketing that.

We might wonder how we can stand against such evil. I would suggest, as a mild beginning, that we avoid all alliances with it. Perhaps if we want to overthrow something, we shouldn’t call a truce on such issues.

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14 thoughts on “Not Cool at All

  1. Pastor,
     
    Does the “troubled agnostic” moniker seem a sales tactic of false humility, or do you sense a crack in the armor?

  2. Great thoughts on marriage here. But one tangential thought. Still don’t get the use of the KJV. Why not post Scripture passages in English? I mean the English we speak now, you know the language of the people. There are some the regular beautiful phrases in the KJV, but in most cases it just clouds the message.  Your recent statistical arguments for its use in your “Bible Reading” sermon didn’t really deal with the issue. Not that big a deal, but I don’t get it.

  3. DCHammer,
     
    I know that Pastor Wilson has written about his reasons for using the KJV in the past, and you can probably look that up on this very blog. And I am certainly not a KJV-only type person. For study I usually use the NASB or ESV. However, for general reading I use the KJV, and we have always read the KJV out loud to our kids since they were born. After our family Bible reading each night, we have our kids narrate something about what we read, and they all, even the 3 year old, manage to understand what the passage was saying with no problem.
     
    I think many people train children from a young age to believe that that Elizabethan English is “Old English” or that it is somehow foreign and difficult; then they nod their heads knowingly when children get a bit older and find Shakespeare a closed book. Whereas if we exposed our kids to writing from many different time periods from a young age (Spenser, Milton, Donne, Shakespeare, etc. included) we may find that the supposed language difficulty is manufactured rather than inevitable.

  4. What do those last two paragraphs even mean?  Is supporting a candidate who has/will vote(d) or sign(ed) a law to send hundreds of millions of dollars to Planned Barrenhood an alliance with evil?  How about one who promises to use your tax dollars to destroy and experiment on embryos?  Promotes abortion based on who your parents are?  I’ve always thought those were alliances with evil,  but most Christians (including here) have some verbal jujitsu that convinces them that supporting such people is OK.  So I’m trying to understand which alliances we’re supposed to avoid in this “next electoral go-round.”

  5. Thanks Rick, I think it is great that you teach you are teaching your kids KJV. They will be multilingual and much the better for it. I also am all for KJV for whoever wants to use it and read it in parallel myself on Accordance. I’m just puzzled why it is  used in public places such as a busy blog like this or in a church where there will be more people than not who don’t understand this foreign language.
    I remember once at a church I was attending in Oregon where an outside couple did an all day program for the kids there. They spent an enormous amount of time with program and crafts then used the KVJ for teaching. The kids had no idea what they were talking about. Their efforts were pretty much a waste. If you are just talking to a closed group who knows the lingo then all’s good. If you’re trying to reach the world you shouldn’t need a secret code ring.
    After I commented above, I went to DW’s next post announcing the translation of old Reformational Latin writings into English. I bet you a dollar they don’t translate it into King James’ English!
     

  6. DCHammer,
     
    Oh I absolutely agree. And I would expect that if Christ Church were to do some sort of outreach like the one you mentioned, they wouldn’t be bound to using the KVJ (I could be wrong of course). One doesn’t want to be unnecessarily opaque. But isn’t it sad that such language is considered “lingo” for “a closed group”? One could wish that schools in America would start giving kids a broader diet to stretch their tastes, instead of a steady stream of literary junk food served up by Scholastic. Wouldn’t it be great to live in  a world where authors could once again make classical and literary references and expect their readers to understand them?
     
    Anyway, that’s all off the actual topic of this post, so I’m going to be quiet now. Cheers!

  7. Wouldn’t it be great to live in  a world where authors could once again make classical and literary references and expect their readers to understand them?

    I’m not sure that world ever existed, or ever will, at least if you’re assuming that the lion’s share of people in that world will benefit from it. Yes, it used to be much more common for ordinary writing to be peppered with such references, and that was a good thing. However, it is only quite recently that people of all social and educational level were expected to find all manner of writing accessible. Literacy has been widespread for a long time, but the leisure to make use of it for a wide range of reading was not. Back when authors were freely making all sorts of allusions and using complex language in writings intended for public consumption, the proportion of the public that consumed such writing was more limited. Such references were not accessible to those who hadn’t been exposed to education beyond the 3 R’s or didn’t have much time to sit around reading or talking about the classics. If you were middle class and up, great. But that’s not everybody.

    So I think that, based on historical experience, and based on what we know about modern education, the idea that effective communication with the broad range of people can ever occur with the use of outmoded means of expression, is something of a pipe dream. That said, teaching our own children to be literate enough to read and comprehend that which is not immediately grasped by those exposed only to the most popular level of discourse is certainly a worthy goal.

  8. It is worthy, but how important?  You can’t teach kids everything, so teaching them to effortlessly understand Elizabethan English may well mean not teaching them something else.  Personally, I’d vote for teaching them an actual foreign language rather than an archaic form of their own.  Especially since it isn’t so archaic that one cannot understand it even with the help of footnotes.
     
    Not sure how much of an issue this really is though, as at least in Firefox you can highlight the verse in the post and right click “search in google” and quickly have an array of translations at your disposal. 

  9. It is worthy, but how important?  You can’t teach kids everything, so teaching them to effortlessly understand Elizabethan English may well mean not teaching them something else.

    I’m not (and I suspect Rick’s not) envisioning teaching Elizabethan English as such, but teaching a high enough level of reading comprehension and vocabulary so that unfamiliar words and constructions don’t make something like Elizabethan English inaccessible.  It’s not like it’s Chinese. And teaching a high level of reading ability is, of course, broadly useful. I’m not sure anyone said “effortlessly,” anyway; the idea is simply that it doesn’t need to be opaque. Being able to read something difficult with a bit of puzzling and the occasional need to look things up is a highly useful skill.
    FWIW I don’t advocate the general use of the KJV even though I’m highly sympathetic with Wilson’s arguments in favor of it, for just these reasons. It’s not generally accessible to the real, living, breathing, average English speaker, it’s not the tongue we/they speak. Whether it ought to be in some ideal world is really beside the point, and “well, we’ll teach our kids within the church to read it with ease” doesn’t really cut it if the principle is about the scriptures being in a language that people in general can understand.

  10. Forgot to add:  you could just as easily use “well, we’ll teach our kids to read Latin” if it actually was acceptable to have the scriptures in an arcane church language rather than that which was broadly understood by that portion of the world in which God has placed us.

  11. Missed this:

    Especially since it isn’t so archaic that one cannot understand it even with the help of footnotes.

     
    Goodness, it’s Stuart-era English (not even Elizabethan), not Chaucer! If you can read awkwardly worded modern English, and get used to the unusual pronouns and verb forms, you’re talking about having to look up the occasional archaic word. It’s not even close to Shakespeare in opacity, and even most of Shakespeare can be understood reasonably well without footnotes.

  12. Oh, apologies for that last. I don’t know how I missed the other negatives in that sentence. I totally misread you, sorry, Matt. Wish there was a delete button here!

  13. Well, this thread seems to be headed the same direction as the ‘Gaytard’ post…lol. And since it is, I will throw in my 2c on the language issue.  I remember how ‘righteous’ folks at church, when I was growing up, were careful to use “Thee, Thy, and Thou” whenever they prayed.  It sounded quite grand; it was, after all, The King’s English. Finally, someone pointed out that “Thee, Thy, and Thou” were the terms used by the common people and “You, Your, and You” were the terms only used when addressing those in a social station above oneself.  Apparently the change in common usage came about with the movement towards social equality (though I have no documentation to prove this). We young folks in the 1970′s had a chuckle for ourselves that “if the KJV was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it’s good enough for me”.  All joking aside, I truly love the KJV and all the verses I have memorized (quite a few when I think about it) are in that translation.  It is helpful to remember that good King James had the German Bible translated to common English for the benefit of the uneducated British masses. OK, what the the subject of this post again? O yes, differentiating between righteousness and unrighteousness.

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