World Aflame: Or, Business as Usual


This will be a sort of "miscellany" post.

The Olympic Games have begun, the quadrennial celebration of the unity, peace, and brotherhood of the world. It's all a sham, of course, as the armed camp known as "Olympic Village" will attest.

Persecution of Christians continues throughout the world today. Mobs "rampaged through the streets of Egypt looting, burning, and destroying property belonging to Christians."

Oh, sorry. The date stamp on that news report occurred exactly one thousand, seven hundred and sixty-four (1,764) years ago, A.D. 248, in Alexandria, Egypt. This is the news today, as Muslims yesterday rampaged throughout Cairo attacking Coptic Christians and torching their property. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Yesterday was Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day here in the United States. You can read the background in my post here, which, incidentally, was a post that brought the most unique visitors to my blog I've ever had. Some squishy Christian writers wrung their hands over this; the predictable and unusually "tired" Rachel Held Evans feels more and more "out of step" with her religious community and even declares, unironically, that "my faith has lost its bearings." Yes. More reflection on that, please. And take some Ambien, so that you won't be so "tired of fighting" culture wars. Christians have been fed to lions, crucified, had their loved ones arrested, tortured and killed, their property torched to ashes (as they were yesterday in Cairo), yet a little unpopularity causes Rachel to "hang by the tips of sweaty fingers on the ledge of faith." Seriously?

Barnabas Piper views the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of people choosing to eat at Chick-Fil-A yesterday a "bold mistake." Some people might not like us. Or something. Michael J. Kruger, whose book on the biblical canon I cannot recommend highly enough, thoroughly debunks this as nonsense. Kudos to him, because I really didn't want to bother.

I watched a really stupid movie last night. It had Brendan Fraser in it, which makes that sentence something of a tautology. Speaking of Brendan Fraser, as an actor he fulfills a very unique and needed niche in the film industry. You can read about that in this post by a man I consider to be one of the greatest living writers: Joe Posnanski. Okay, Joe is really a sportswriter, the greatest sportswriter alive, but I would rank him as a great writer period (For example, try reading this classic and finishing with dry eyes).

Oops. I always get distracted when I start thinking about Posnanski's greatest hits. Back to Brendan Fraser and bad movies. They're not all awful: Blast From the Past remains one of my all-time favorites, although surely Sissy Spacek and Christopher Walken had something to do with that. Last night I turned on Bedazzled, a tale of a lovesick loser selling his soul to the Devil in a Faustian bargain. It has its funny moments, Elizabeth Hurley's costume changes are fantastic, and the story completely flops at the end when we discover that "god" is just the mystical force binding all things together and that one can find redemption by committing a self-sacrificing, altruistic act (we're all Christs, you see). Interesting to see Pelagius portrayed on the big screen!

The Faustian bargain is that Fraser's character, Elliot Richards, gets to ask the Devil (Hurley) seven wishes, and each time he discovers that he didn't... well, wish the right thing. Such as wishing that he were married to the woman of his dreams, but doesn't specify that they would actually be in love. In one segment, Elliot asks the Devil to make him "the most emotionally sensitive man in the world." The result is absolutely, gut-bustingly hilarious. Go ahead; click and watch it. The results of this sensitivity are not what he envisioned, to put it mildly. Despite what they write in their diaries, apparently women do not really want men who are sensitive to the point of being emotional basket-cases. Interesting that what Elliot really loses is... respect.

Our therapeutic, feel-good, tolerant, relativistic culture tempts us to think that what non-Christians really want and need is Christianized versions of Elliot Richards, most "emotionally sensitive man in the world." Christians so focused and intent on not "offending." Christians who think there is no disagreement that cannot be massaged away by attending to others' feelings. Christians who take the soft, "middle ground" on any and every disagreement. Christians who think that everything is a negotiable "conversation" and that real conflict and confrontation doesn't exist. Christians like Rachel Held Evans (Really: read this piece.) I believe the long-term result is a loss of respect. Squishy, emotionally sensitive, chameleon Christianity that prizes feelings to the neglect of Truth engenders contempt, not respect.

You can let down your guard, give in, and go to bed with the world. It won't respect you in the morning.

The number one, go-to weapon of anti-Christian, Christophobic activists is make Christians feel alone, isolated, aberrant, backward, "on the wrong side of history," outnumbered, outgunned, hopeless, and helpless. They boldly pretend that pro-traditional marriage forces are the distinct minority. They blithely ignore the fact that every time marriage laws are put to a vote, same-sex "marriage" advocates lose. Big time. Such activists absolutely love it when Christians cower into embarrassed self-loathing. They do not "respect" such opponents: they mock them.

This is why a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day is a bigger thing than it might seem. It is a visible reminder that Christians are not alone, isolated, aberrant, backward, "on the wrong side of history," outnumbered, outgunned, hopeless, and helpless. I am encouraged by a massive number of Christians and like-minded well-wishers who oppose government "thought police" standing up instead of cowering. Mark Hemingway's final take on the day is well worth reading.

Mitt Romney got into some trouble last week for suggesting that the economic differences between Israel and the Palestinians is due to culture. This was taken by some intelligentsia for racism, which just shows how incredibly unintelligent our intelligentsia really are. What do they want him to say? Israel is prosperous because they are Jews, and Jews are genetically superior to Arabs? The whole point of pointing to "cultural differences" is to suggest that the reasons are not biological or inherent in nature. Citing "cultural differences" is the opposite, in other words, of racism. Not to mention that Romney was right, and Victor Davis Hanson explains why.

My oldest brother and his family arrive in Big Sky Country today, a trip they do not often make. I am looking forward to a family reunion, which has become less and less frequent as life moves on. We'll be spending some of the weekend in Absarokee, Montana, at my younger sister's soon-to-be home on Rosebud Creek, which will, no doubt, be supplying its bounty to me and my fly-rod. And I'm sure we'll get the usual family Wiffle-Ball game in, as well. Don't worry about this causing conflict: we Mattsons aren't competitive at all.

We're the most emotionally sensitive family in the world.

Brian Mattson