I was feeling pretty optimistic about the future of society last week. I fixed that by reading Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement by Lauren Sandler.
I'm just going to type out some overall impressions.
One of the things she described was Mark Driscoll's church, and part of the doctrine where the woman marries, stays at home, and raises the children. Preferably lots of children, so that the culture can shift to a conservative Christian one in the next twenty years or so. It's like a subdued version of the Quiverfull movement.
Women can choose whatever path they want. They can work and have children. They can stay at home and have children. They can have no children whatsoever. The path they take depends on their dreams, their desires, what they want in life. Their individuality. In Mark Driscoll's doctrine, that individuality is stripped from them. Biology is destiny. If you're born a woman, than you have one path and one path alone in life. The woman herself doesn't matter. Her individuality doesn't matter. In that movement, all women are alike because all women -- if they want to be "Biblical" -- must have lots of children and stay home with them. The only value they have is their biology, whereas the men are allowed to have more dreams than simply procreation.
And yet, he says he constantly preaches that people can "come as they are."
Uh-huh. I am more than my uterus, and yet this doctrine can't see past that one organ in my body.
The book also went into how many evangelicals are changing to the culture. Not in terms of the pre-marital sex or anything, but in terms of what kids like. They'll discuss tattoos, they'll discuss skateboarding, they'll discuss video games or wrestling. Evangelicals plug into the culture that the youth follow, and then from there, are able to sway young people into becoming evangelicals themselves. This even extends to concerts, where they'd send out fliers, and then when non-Christians attended, they'd be so emotionally overwhelmed that they'd convert to Christianity.
All of these are excellent marketing techniques. They're also incredibly manipulative, as all marketing techniques are. It uses the kids interests or emotional vulnerabilities against them, in order to have them change to what the Christians want.
The last section of the book was dedicated to the "End Times" craze, and how since so many Christians are convinced that Jesus will return any second now, it's pointless to try and help those who are homeless, suffering, end wars, work on the environment -- basically, there's no point in trying to make sure anyone has a future as that future will be gone when Jesus comes back in the next second or so. Rather, all the time should be spent saving souls (and ignoring any state of suffering said soul might be in).
I could spend blog post after blog post about how angry that viewpoint makes me. Perhaps even try and reverse Pascal Wager it: since there have been a lot of discredited "End Time" claims, why not at least work on stabilizing the future in case Jesus doesn't come back?
One of the reviews of this book at amazon said that it was "alarmist." I'm very much hoping the reviewer is wrong.