[Update] Jeff Sharlet and Rob Brendle discuss the Harpers essay here.
After reading the first column in the Toilet Paper by associate Pastor Rob Brendle of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, recently reported on in Harpers, I was curious. He didn't seem like such a bad guy. Even liberal at times when he spoke of not believing the Bible to be the inerrant word of God or when he said that he supported government getting out of the marriage debate altogether, certifying only civil unions and leaving the rest to churches. I decided to hear his Saturday night talk titled, "The Power of Ideas."
Rob has the mad intensity of a meth-amphetamine addict, but is far more articulate. He does a great job of staying with his train of thought during his frenzied rants, and when he goes astray he always backs up and gets on track.
Rob tells about what he learned on his trip to India.
Firstly, he gives a rundown of how India is a culture of chaos. He goes on for a long time about how crazy the traffic is. It's obviously a scene he's not accustomed to, but he's funny. He used term, "culture of chaos" repeatedly to describe the country.
We don't want to make fun of anther culture.
But we do need to understand that all the stuff we're fed by politically correct America, that it's not right or wrong, it's just different, celebrate diversity? It's good to celebrate diverse people, but to celebrate culture in diverse people simply because it's diverse if foolishness. I'll tell you what, I'm not celebrating much of what I saw over there.
I'm not celebrating chaos.
Why is it like that? Did the people that live over there instead of forming a nation that makes sense decide one day, "hey, lets form a nation based on chaos?"
He goes on to blame the chaos in the country on Hinduism.
Where does the chaos come from? It comes from polytheism.
At this point I'm beginning to feel ill. I wish Rob would visit Ecuador to see where his logic is based on insane crap. There, basically everyone is Christian, they are far more religious than America, but it is just as bad and chaotic as India. They don't even have the economic growth that India has. Nobody listening to him would stand up and say, "Rob, you are so full of shit that it is coming out of your ears, and you stink. Boo! You're an arrogant fuck!"
He goes on to explain why Indians have low regard for human life because, "at best you can come back as a cow. How much would you value human life if at best you could come back as a cow?"
He talks a bit about the terrible poverty he saw.
He says that the poverty in the country stems from inefficient government. He tells a story about how silly the whole country is while talking about getting his lost luggage returned. He says he ranted about how silly having to sign for his bags were with the officials that were returning them. The audience is rolling at this point. "it was so frustrating." Rob says their government has it all wrong.
Awe gee Rob, everything is not all smooth and wonderful like we have it. Must be because they are polytheistic. While you are a very smart guy, I'll give you that, you're mean spirited and narrow in your perception. Maybe India is poor because they lack natural resources, and because they spent decades being oppressed by Christians. Maybe they are overpopulated and their problems are too big to solve with your simple solution of ideas. Maybe ideas alone don't do shit.
"None of these problems came about by chance. All of these problems, all of these cultural flaws, are the direct consequence of bad ideas."
Brendle begins a theme about, "Bad Ideas"
He goes on to rag on Darwinism for a bit. He says that Stalin killed millions due to Darwinism.
He has this creepy thing he does where he makes a statement and then says, "Everybody say bad idea," or "Everybody say good idea," as if he's asking for a affirmation, or more probably he's making everyone chant their agreement with him.
Flying home on the plane, Rob decided to spend some time thinking about why we in the US live the way we do.
Why do we live in nice apartments or single family houses? Why do we eat generally what we want to eat? Why are we free to drive around, and why do most of us own our own vehicles? Why do we have safe streets? Why do we have institutions that protect us rather than subjugate us, and those Indian people live the way they live?
Are we just better?
We are living the product of some peoples good intentional ideas.
He goes on to say that we live differently from people in India because our ideas are different.
He talks about our economy, and how with seasonal exception it is always moving upward. Has he even looked at what India's economy is doing? It is #21 for growth globally and we're not in the top 50. (*The Economist Pocket World in Figures 2004)
In the United states the standard of living is higher than almost anywhere in the world, and in the United States People are treated as Equal."
In the United states people generally follow the rule of law, and when they don't we have a very efficient system that deals with them.
Rob continues, and brings up a book he's started reading about how Christian ethics have changed society, and how powerful ideas are.
He's still on the plane thinking,
What does that mean to us, I was grabbing my heart
He begins to plug away about how Christianity has the right ideas.
We are all running some sector of Gods delegated authority.
Rob rambles on about healthy and dysfunctional families and businesses. Lack of vision leads to dissonance. Agreed. This goes on for a while.
His whole rant starts to get really general and while it does make some sense it sounds like something he wrote before his trip to India that he integrated post trip. I don't see the connection to India anymore. He's saying to have good families, which I totally agree with, but I no longer see much connection other than India is chaos, don't be chaos at home.
What truths does your family hold to be self evident?
That sounds corny, and is. Though the topic is not.
He talks about saying to his kid, "To be a Brendle means you never talk bad about the body of Christ," while his kid drools carrot baby-food down his face. Funny.
Brendle talks about how his life doesn't revolve around his children, while they are important, Christ is numero uno.
He continues on about Paul talking about how being married can make you primarily concerned with more than being with the lord.
On Monday is Family day.
But I work hard six days a week.
He says if he is away on a Monday he reschedules his family day. Cool that he spends dedicates one day out of seven with his family though. While that might seem a bit lean it is more than some bother to set aside.
An immovable priority order is an unmistakable chain of command.
He does sound like a good guy, and other than all the ranting/brainwashing he's probably not a bad father. By ranting/brainwashing I mean that he doesn't seem to sound like he'd consider his kids views on things. I always consider my kids view. Almost all of the time she's wrong, but there are rare occasions when she makes a good point and I explain to her why it is a good point.
Just then he becomes Mr. Assclown.
There must be an unmistakable chain of command.
He then talks about the man leading. He quotes 1st Timothy 2:12 saying:
"I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. She must be silent."
It's not good for the woman to be in authority.
My Physicist mom, who is smarter than myself or even Mr. Brendle if here, would have then kicked Brendles ass, literally!
There is nothing more pathetic or dysfunctional than a home, trying to claim to be a Christian home, that's lead, at least in theory that's lead by a de-pants man.
it doesn't work!
I'm having a harder and harder time seeing what this has to do with India. He continued that the man is supposed to be nice to the woman, like Christ, but I'm feeling woozy.
Authority Jesus model is simply a system of order.
Rob is sounding just like a promise keeper. This is much more interesting than anything I expected to hear here.
The last idea I want to suggest is an unswerving commitment to discipline.
And with our children I know it has become fashionable to seek alternative methods, and I know it has become a subject of pressure from the outside, well.... from the secular world, not to practice corporal punishment, that's spanking. But the Bible has some pretty clear things to say. In proverbs 24:13 it says he who spares the rod hates his son, everybody say, "I do not hate my son." (crowd says it) Then don't spare the rod. But he who loves his is careful to discipline him. Not spanking your child, the bible says, not taking the rod to his little booty, is hating him.
He speaks about his friend who gave him a rod of correction, inscribed with proverbs that drove fear of the lord into kids.
if that is true, then our children are born not with a heart of good bound up but with a a heart of folly bound up in their heart. How do you get it out? You spank it out.
it's not that hard!
It's interesting to point out that nowhere in the proverbs or nowhere else in the bible does it point out that the the timeout chair imparts wisdom.
(more big laughs)
He then attempts to tie the whole thing together by briefly saying that everyone is forming a country of sorts, and that discipline and choices make it healthy.
Oh well. While I really tried to listen to Rob and learn to like him he has a hard long slog of repentance ahead. Never have I heard so much arrogant, narrowminded talk come out of one mouth that obviously has a brain attached to it. The way he travelled to India and was instantly able to summarize the whole problem over there as a problem of ideas was grotesque. He then continued to offend the very functional and thought provoking family that raised me. Shame on you Rob. Shame on you for judging almost a billion people as suffering because they don't share your powerful ideas.
[Update] Jeff Sharlet and Rob Brendle discuss the Harpers Article here.