Archives For Anthony Bourdain

james_dobson_756079At a friend’s house for dinner recently, someone compared me to Anthony Bourdain or, rather, called me the Anthony Bourdain of the Church world.

Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential and host of No Reservations, brings a dark cynical eye, soul of a poet, biting tongue and sometimes bigger heart to the culinary world. Bourdain can bring crappy cooks to tears for their sloppy ways but then around and wax poetic about the Jersey sliders of his youth.

Simply put, it was the most flattering comparison any one has ever made about me. I was on cloud 9 for days.

But then came this comparison from the blogosphere, contrasting me with James Dobson, the blowhard Pharisee who heads of Focus on the Family. Dobson got his start peddling his own particular brand of ‘use the rod, beat the child’ common sense psychology and today serves as the unelected Caiphus of Texas.

As the article rightly notes, I’m not in Dobson’s league at all- but I really like the comparison.

The article is from Slacktivist, arguing that what really defines evangelicalism today isn’t biblicism or orthodox belief but strident antipathy toward homosexuality:

james_dobson.06.01.07_lrgWhite evangelicals who are like that are completely secure in their place within the subculture. They get speaking gigs, tenure, book deals and constant affirmation from throughout the larger white evangelical community. Their standing within the tribe is unquestioned, unchallenged and  not “controversial.” But those of us who aren’t like that are, at best, treated as “controversial” and only semi-legitimate members of the tribe. We aren’t usually even allowed to say that we’re part of us.

The tribe draws its own boundaries. That’s done by the gatekeepers within the tribe — not by some conspiratorial “narrative advanced by the news and entertainment media.”

Those rabidly political types who claim to represent all of white evangelicalism are allowed to do so. The tribal gatekeepers never refer to Tony Perkins or James Dobson or Pat Robertson as “post-evangelical” conservatives. Yet folks like Brian McLaren or Jay Bakker are routinely classified as no longer legitimate members of the tribe.

The message there is clear: Rabidly political evangelicals who revile LGBT people in the most vicious terms remain welcome in the tribe. Bible-quoting, Jesus-loving evangelicals who refuse to condemn LGBT people have crossed a boundary and are no longer welcome. The news and entertainment media did not create that boundary, the tribal gatekeepers did.

Or, to put it another way: Here is Jason Micheli’s response to the Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality. Here is James Dobson’s response. One of those men is an evangelical icon, was the subject of a hagiographic Christianity Today cover story, and his books can be found in the homes of millions of white evangelicals. The other is not regarded as an evangelical at all, even though he’d fit any Bebbington-style theological definition anyone would care to use.

Such theological definitions don’t matter. You will never be branded as “controversial” or banished from the evangelical tribe for insufficient biblicism. Or because your enthusiasm for crucicentrism, conversionism or missional activism is regarded as suspect. But if you’re feminist or pro-gay, you’re out. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Bebbington, schmebbington. The tribe defines itself: An evangelical is a white Protestant who opposes legal abortion and homosexuality. Period.

You can read the full article here.