The 7 Real Reasons Protestants Can’t Write

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Peter Leithart recently set the cat among the pigeons by claiming here and here that Protestants can’t write. He did this as a Protestant, writing, so we really should be dubious from the outset. Among the scholarly responses to this flight of learned fancy, I commend to you Derek Rishmawy and Steven Wedgeworth.Protestant Writers

But I am a simple man, and wanted to offer my own observations on the subject. Here are the seven real reasons Protestants can’t write. Not surprisingly, if you use your imagination, the kind some Protestants do have, you can see the hand of a papal cabal behind most if not all of them.

1. We abandoned the use of McGuffey Readers in the elementary grades, and it has been nothing but downhill ever since then.

2. Most Protestants have their kids in the government schools, which does to writing ability what the DMV does to the speedy processing of a new driver’s license.

3. We Protestants honor the legacy and heritage of John Knox. Consistent Protestants are in heart and spirit, if not in DNA, true Scotsmen. This makes them particularly susceptible to becoming subjects of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

4. James Joyce was raised in a Catholic culture, and a lot of us have never really gotten over that.

5. In the twentieth century, there was a rule change in the hyper-shadowy Vatican-controlled writers’ guild — not many people know this — which required all writers aspiring to the realm of the great to be hard drunkards and serial adulterers. This was seen as a calculated and preemptive move against a rising tide of pious Protestants writers.

6. All our future talented writers, thousands of them, were lured with false promises into writing screenplays instead.

7. The Intoleristas of the web, who all know who they are, use every opportunity to call upon The Gospel Coalition (not to mention everybody else) to cease dealing with me. This has had a chilling effect on Wordsmithy sales, which in turn has had a pronounced and decidedly negative effect on the ability of Protestants to write.

This, out of all the reasons listed here, has to be considered to be the most disheartening.

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Rob Steele
Rob Steele
5 years ago

Protestants are not very good readers either. There might be a connection.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Rob Steele

But hey! At least we still have a few good wise acres!????

Crowhill
5 years ago

Those are good. I would suggest another.

8. Protestants mostly read stuff from the 16th and 17th centuries and then can’t get that style out of their heads when they try to write.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Crowhill

Is that really true, when you’re not talking about Reformed theology wonks (a very small subset of Protestants.)

Crowhill
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

But those guys aren’t real Protestants, are they? :-)

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Crowhill

I only wish that were the case. I would love to encounter a heavy dose of William Law’s prose style.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  Crowhill

If you’d read Wordsmithy, you’d know that this list cannot be eight items long.

doug sayers
doug sayers
5 years ago

I think it was # 2 that got me… plus, of course, the Doobie Brothers.

Bike bubba
5 years ago

Read through Leithart’s commentary, and while (as a Baptist) I don’t totally subscribe to his arguments against anti- sacramentalism, I would concur that the sense of wonder is very often nonexistent among evangelical Protestants. A great picture of this is how all too often, “fundagelicals” are basically lost outside the epistles….the sense of wonder at God’s works is just not there. Another picture; how many will insist on someone coming to a life application from a verse or passage without the intervening steps of coming to OT/NT/Biblical/Systematic theologies. And hence we all too often have the literary equivalent of the… Read more »

Bike bubba
5 years ago
Reply to  Bike bubba

Excuse me, Leithart’s arguments against anti-sacramentalism. Missed a negative there!

Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor
5 years ago
Reply to  Bike bubba

That’s funny, from a Protestant perspective, it seems to me that Leithart is ‘basically lost [in]side the epistles.’

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
5 years ago
Reply to  Bike bubba

Truly reformed can also plant this bad seed.

Our Westminster fathers back when raised the anti-wonder Ebenezer when they dissed nature — saying it lacks sufficiency (Confession 1:1).

Capndweeb
Capndweeb
5 years ago

As a Protestant writer, I am incensed– nay, on the veritable precipice of apoplexy at such prattle! I have been told by several virtually incontrovertible sources that I, in point of fact, write real good.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Capndweeb

Like totally dude!

Tim Bushong
Tim Bushong
5 years ago

Literally laughing out loud. Doug, old friend, this is up there with O’Rourke. High praise indeed, IOW.

lloyd
5 years ago

Yeah, Leithart, bending O’Connor to your own ends is real writing.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago

“This makes them particularly susceptible to becoming subjects of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.”

This fallacy is nothing that a few well placed, well worn Kilts could not fix!

JohnM
JohnM
5 years ago

“The Intoleristas of the web, who all know who they are, use every opportunity to call upon The Gospel Coalition (not to mention everybody else) to cease dealing with me.”
Which is more or less how I found my way here.

Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor
5 years ago

13. The Protestant work ethic tends to produce more tangible fruit for the farmers table.

ME
ME
5 years ago

Ha! This was well said. There is some truth in here however, Catholics do know how to do suffering and guilt, their guilt is legendary. There are no Catholic prosperity ministers, for example, the entire and somewhat false gospel of comfort and joy is a protestant one. Good writing comes from the heart and soul and is often inspired by all that angst, misery, and woe of the human condition.

Luke
Luke
5 years ago

So, lets start with a theology that we want to change protestants mind on. How can we do this? Straight forward argument from scripture and reason have always failed us here. Traditional protestant theology always inexplicably wins in those fields. So let’s take a different tack. Let’s convince them that protestants are unable to truly be cool and artsy unless they change their doctrine in this area. Yes! Now we have it! If there is anything that no intelligent modern westerner wants to be told its that he can’t be cool and artsy! Alright, but we have a one little… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Luke

But Luke, how am I to know, if you are not really writing, and not really a protestant?
What’s our secret hand shake anyway? ; – )

Protestant
Protestant
5 years ago

Given that you are a protestant writing, we should all really be pretty dubious of this blog post…

Tom©
Tom©
5 years ago
Reply to  Protestant

Well, his list of “7 reasons protestants can’t write” was in fact a crummy commercial.

Conserbatives_conserve_little
Conserbatives_conserve_little
5 years ago

As one from the fringes of Protestant society, I can assure you we read Star Wars and romance novels in the vein of Diana Gabaldon

J. Frank Norris
J. Frank Norris
5 years ago

Peter Leithart is a Protestant the same way Bruce Jenner is a man.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago

Completely, unalterably, and incontrovertibly in every objective way, then! I don’t think I’d go that far about Leithart myself, but I’m sure he appreciates your vote of confidence.

J. Frank Norris
J. Frank Norris
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

If Bruce Jenner is your idea of a “man”, then yeah. I think you’re confusing “male” with “man.”

Bruce Jenner may be a male, but he’s no man.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago

Bruce Jenner is a man. That’s what God made him, and that’s what he will be as long as he lives. He’s just not a very admirable one, not one who lives up to his calling as a man.

Biblically speaking, men are supposed to act like men, because they ARE men, not because failing to do so, makes them not men.

Malachi
Malachi
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Entirely well said… I get Norris’ point, of course, in that he was taking a short cut for saying Jenner is not behaving as a man should by drawing a particular distinction between “male” and “man.” But there is no real confusion between these terms unless we first assume they are interchangeable except for connotation. Thus, your counterpoint is spot on. He IS a man, despite what his depraved mind thinks, despite what feminine attributes, appearances, or appellations he chooses to display, and despite what the rest of the world, pagan OR Christian, has to say about it. God man… Read more »