Discerning how to respond to controversial works
I think the verse "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (and the fingers tweet) fits here really well. They may be trying to drive outrage (because the twitter algorithms latch onto outrage and amplify it), but they're also telling us who they are. Yes it's apocalyptic to see large swaths of American Evangelicalism openly embracing nationalism as well as racism and misogyny. It's not necessarily new (as you outline in J&JW) but there was a period where they used to be a lot more quiet about it and many of the people in the pews weren't even aware of many of these issues. But now it's all out there and the folks in the pews are either going to be embrace it or some of them will decide that it's gone too far and leave.
As for engaging or not, I got completely off of twitter back in May. As I said above: the algorithms latch onto outrage and amplify it. They're doing what they're designed to do. Engaging on a personal, face to face level is probably more what we need to aim for. But maybe instead of directly engaging the purveyors of much of this darkness, we should instead be preparing our family, friends, congregations - inoculating people against the Overton Window-shifting that the Christian Nationalists are attempting.
An interesting and timely post for me. I was becoming troubled by the fact that it seemed I was seeing mostly snarky and condescending defense Tweets from you of late. As a small-town Midwestern boy, Dordt alum (1990) and former Infantryman now living in Florida, J&JW resonated deeply with me. However, classmates, friends, and family who I respect and cherish had very different reactions. Engaging them with snark and condescension may feel good in the moment but does nothing to sway their mindset. Upon further reflection, I am hoping that my reaction is due to the fact that I only see you “responding to the absurdities” on Twitter and that you are having thoughtful dialogue elsewhere with respectful critics. I am still wrestling with how I can influence my friends and family who lean more toward a gentler form of Christian Nationalism than embracing their Christianity and working to win hearts for Christ in a secular society.
Oh my God, truly, how strident, exploitive, perverse!
This is an excellent piece. It is prescient now for multiple reasons. Thank you so much for standing strong.