Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year’s Resolutions for 2006

I remember many years ago when I made a bunch of New Year’s resolutions about doing open air evangelism, going door-to-door with surveys, plastering my car with Christian bumper-stickers, and destroying all my rock-and-roll albums. It didn’t work out too well. Nowadays I’m tempted to heckle outdoor preachers, I ignore the doorbell when I think a religious survey-taker may be ringing it, and my rock-and-roll CD collection barely fits in my house. (That reminds me: I need to renew my subscription to Monster Chops guitar magazine!) But it dawned on me as I noticed 2006 approaching that resolving to have some goals for the New Year might help me update my image. So here goes:

This year I resolve to find something crucial to evangelicalism, re-define what it should mean, and then write a book about it that will hack a lot of people off, but also get me invited to speak at conferences and such.

I resolve to season my writing with self-deprecating remarks transparently designed to disarm critics while emboldening sycophants.

In my writing I resolve to make a lot of outrageous-sounding statements calculated to make certain people’s blood boil, and then make them read a ways further or examine the footnotes to find all my disclaimers and qualifications.

To make myself feel better about the previous resolution, I’ll rhetorically shrug that—hey!—even I find some of the stuff I write a bit offensive, so how can I blame anyone who stops reading?

I resolve to compare opponents who keep reading beyond my warnings to some sort of nasty insect. (How about hornets? ... Seriously—I’m not bitter. Really!)

I resolve to brush with broad strokes, and when somebody points out that I painted over the truth, I’ll just say, “Oops!” and refer them back to my disclaimers.

I resolve to build an army of straw men and then defeat them in a monumental battle between sloppy caricatures and gross over-simplifications.

I resolve to reduce some major doctrine to its biblical metaphor, and then exchange that metaphor for one more to my liking the way people get rid of eyeglass frames that are no longer in style.

I resolve to completely dismantle the central tenets of someone else’s orthodoxy and call it a “slight revision.”

I resolve to de-emphasize the personal, individualistic aspect of salvation. It would probably help if I simultaneously de-emphasize the doctrine of hell.

I resolve to bring together mutually-contradictory positions by using the slash key (“/”) on my keyboard, and before anyone has a chance to point out that they’re utterly irreconcilable I’ll start talking about “moving beyond” both options to “a generous third way.”

I resolve to generously sprinkle positive-sounding words and phrases like “generous,” “enriched,” and “less rigid” into descriptions of my opinions, while spiking contrary views with words like “defensive,” “preoccupied,” and “nauseating.”

I resolve to be more like my friend, Chester.

I resolve to be more embarrassed by traditional evangelicalism than I have been in the past.

I resolve to forget or distort a lot of recent church history in order to fulfill the previous resolution.

I resolve to watch more “Christian” television so I know what I’m supposed to be embarrassed about, and then go around suggesting to evangelicals that that’s what they actually look like.

I resolve to be generous with my orthodoxy, but never to the point of giving it away in the form of a tract, because then someone might confuse being missional with making absolute truth claims.

But knowing me, by mid-February I’ll have blown every one of them. (Sigh!)

31 comments:

Pontius Pilate said...

Why don't you just answer the question?

Anonymous said...

I resolve to watch Monty Python's "Life of Brian" again this year!

Chester said...

Got any Cubans?

Jason said...

Dear Ishmael - Quite a dlightful entry! I enjoyed reading it. As another resolution, maybe you could have your name changed to "Brian." :0)

Liz said...

I saw a book by Brian McLaren at Barnes and Noble the other day and thought of you. Your resolutions (like all your posts) are very, very clever.

chris corwin said...

i'm getting close to resolving to give up on all this stuff. :D


happy free new years!

robb said...

very good! thanks for passing along the link.

Dwayne said...

Thanks for the comments on my site, and for the laugh about your blog's name. I've always been a Clouseau fan. Maybe I'll even make a few resolutions of my own.

jledmiston said...

love your blog.

Weekend Fisher said...

So -- don't hide what you really think -- you're a closet McLaren fan, aren't you?

Bwahahahaha...

Charlie said...

I'm not sure how to respond to your post... I've got to say that I think your reading of McLaren is way off. That is if I understand your sarcasm correctly, but this is my first time visiting your blog so I don't have much context to go with. Maybe I just don't understand you... although admitting that probably is just a ploy I use "designed to disarm critics while emboldening sycophants."

Evan and Julia said...

I resolve to replace true intellectual pursuit for pith and call it a blog. But seriously I'm sorry that you have missed (in your reading of McLaren) a good understanding of the Holy Trinity and how the church models it. I really can't assume a whole lot about your reading however, as it is wrapped up oh so neatly in irony. But hey, good use of irony to hyperbolize a legitimate claim.

Call Me Ishmael said...

Here at the intersection of Faith and Culture, I’ve learned that in order to provoke road rage, you don’t have to do much more than say, “Hey! You’re going the wrong way!”

surrendered said...

thanks for stopping by my blog. i like your wit and use of irony. haven't read generous orthodoxy, but plan on it in the new year...

grace...

Mike Clawson said...

So I'm curious... does this blog have any purpose other than to take cheap shots at the emerging church?

Call Me Ishmael said...

If someone asks a rhetorical question in the wilderness and there is no one there to hear it, aren't we all better off?

Twyla said...

Ha!! What a great way to start 2006....stumbling over here and reading this comical/biting little list. I must say, it didn't make my blood boil, but it did make me spit coffee all over my keyboard.

Gavin Brown said...

witty and true! I'm going to link my blog to this post.

Gavin Brown said...

i read the other comments to this post. it appears that the emergent village has infiltrated your comment section...have they asked you for money yet?:)

david rudd said...

funny stuff. thanks for stopping by my blog.

i'm away right now, so i only read your resolutions. my interest is raised, though, so i'll be back to read more.

i find this very amusing, though. i'll likely link it.

Steve said...

Wow! This was great. Thanks

art said...

That is awesome!

kerri said...

My New Year's resolutions may find some competition with yours. So perhaps we won't be friends, but competitors for those invites to the conventions and such.

I resolve to put to pen the new/ancient/lost arts of spiritual disciplines not yet mentioned by already successful psychologist/ministers. I have some theories that tie in candles, music, chants,doing childhood hand clapping games while walking the labrynth.

Wait, has that one already been covered?

Thanks for an entertaining blog, I enjoyed my visit.

Happy New Year~

Jeff Downs said...

Great entry!

Who are you??? :)

Jeff Downs said...

This video clip on evangelization will be of interest.

Jason Clark said...

great post :-)

Justin said...

gandalf,

If the point of the blog is to entertain, then he's doing a very good job. :)

David Sanders said...

I don't know what to think about this blog, but I have to say it made me think/laugh, etc. It was witty, true, and philosophical. By the way, I love the Clouseau reference!

Nate Babcock said...

Well, all I can say is that I did not read "A Generous Orthodoxy" in the way that you apparently have. Of course, maybe I was predisposed to like the book because I believe deeply in the unity of Christ's Church and that the majority of the walls that evangelicals/protestants have erected between themselves are unneccesary and harmful to the witness of the church. That is not to say that Christians cannot have differences when it comes to doctrine, only that I think that most doctrinal differences need not create division among sincere followers of Christ.
As for McLaren's style of writing, I find it refreshing. He writes honestly and boldly and I think that in "A Generous Orthodoxy" he is genuinely trying to find something good (from his perspective) in many of the great Christian traditions. And yes, he says some stuff that will get others riled up, but so did Jesus, if I recall the Gospels correctly (not that I am putting McLaren on the same level of Jesus, I am only pointing out that the practice of "stirring the pot" among the "religous" is not necessarily without precedent).
As for tracts and absolute truth claims - I am not sure about what the two necessarily have in common. (Does the noun "truth" need the adjective "absolute"?). Well, I am rambling. Thanks for checking out my blog. Your blog is interesting and I will return to it again.

Nate Babcock

Call Me Ishmael said...

You can ramble here any time, Nate.

Chad Toney said...

Add pinch of swagger and this post would be near perfeck.