I have a problem when these privileged few summarily discount the experiences of those not so fortunate. . . . ‘Popular’ is a term of disdain.
Gavin Rumney has published a hard hitting post directed at those theologians and other biblical scholars who are accustomed to looking down their aristoctratic noses upon efforts by ex-fundamentalists to contribute ideas emerging to some extent from muddy experience. He has titled it Theological Feudalism.
I’d love to be able to wrap the entire post and place it prominently on the desks of a few erudite scholars who have made no secret of their disdain for certain outsiders who have passed through the wrong side of town.
Here are a few lines . . . .
Ex-fundamentalists (a tribe to which I belong) often get a lot of stick from the theoristocrats, those who have attained a tenured place at the top table in Christian discourse without acquiring the deep scars that come from living through a biblicist nightmare.
These theoristocrats (a term that isn’t entirely new, though the usage I’m putting it to may be) are invariably decent, much studied, perceptive sorts. They rightly appreciate that ‘truth’ is a nuanced concept, and that one person’s truth may not be another’s. They also tend to dialogue among their peers rather than bothering over-much with the common herd. Indeed, many eschew entirely the ‘popular’ contributions to their field even when those attempting this feat are as qualified as themselves. ‘Popular’ is a term of disdain. . . .
‘Popular’ is a term of disdain, Amen. One detail: Next time you see one of them sniggering at what he or she read in Wikipedia (ignorant of its its real status beside, say, Encyclopedia Britannica), ask them why they did not deign to dirty their fingers by adding a helpful correction to that body of knowledge.
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The ‘common herd’ obviously make up the overwhelming majority of Christian believers. So those ex-fundamentalists or ex-evangelicals are not reacting to a straw man or a caricature of Christian faith, as is often implied. They’re reacting to what is increasingly the most common, most virulent form. And that’s not only their right, it’s their responsibility. . . . .
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This is a world the ivory-towered theoristocrats seem in denial about. They’re highly reasonable individuals, all too often willing to smile down benignly, paternalistically, on the eccentricities of the hoi polloi . . . .
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The problem arises when there is no concomitant responsibility to communicate effectively in plain English (or German, French or Swahili for that matter) to the stakeholders who underwrite the whole enterprise . . . .
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So when those who have survived the abusive, intellectual ghettoes speak out, they deserve much more than snootiness in return. . . .
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If those at the top table were doing their job rather than enjoying their sinecures there would be less need for the ex-fundamentalist voice to be heard. Until that occurs (sometime the other side of the Second Coming I expect) that voice will – and must – continue to be raised.
Do read the full post. It’s a theme I’ve touched upon from time to time (in part, it’s even one of the reasons for this blog) but never as eloquently as Gavin has done. It’s not too long. And disseminate it — preferably to your favourite theoristicratic theologian. Imagine how much good scholars like . . . . (it’s too easy to rattle off too many names, and probably not appropriate here) . . . could have been doing had they not too Marie Antoinettish to seriously engage with the unwashed from the moors beyond their own jealously protected family connections and fiefdom.
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