Like Watching a Train Crash in Slow-Mo

Someone recently asked me about my current opinion of Doug Wilson, given that I used to be quite the ardent fan of Mr. Wilson. They were interested, given my recent public shift in views.

So I thought I’d answer this question by reflecting on my recent visit to his blog. I still pop in occasionally to see what he’s up to and who he’s been offending, and frankly, these visits are nothing short of rage-enducing. I can only go so far before damaging my own sanctification becomes a central concern and I have to close the window and go on to other things for a while.

Reading Doug’s opinions is like watching a carnival packed onto a clown train take the narrow track through the mountain pass, and go round the corner too fast and ride right off the rails and down into the valley, trailing clown shoes and colorful tents until the whole thing hits the bottom with a “wah wah waaaaaaah” trumpet noise.

Frankly, it’s amazing that I was so obsessed with his work for as long as I was. The level of worshipful following that he has is highly disturbing. Do not dare question the Wilson, or the Wilson-bots will get a sudden craving for human flesh. But any man who is so blind to reality that he thinks being a “paleo-confederate” is okay can be readily dismissed as an expert in anything.

To take a fairly mild example of how entirely he gets things fundamentally backward, take his recent comments about the Son of God movie. Now, I have no interest in this film at all, given that I had to suffer through it already as part of The Bible miniseries that aired on the History channel – which was more than enough of our generation’s attempt to cannibalize the Bible for profit.

But here’s what Wilson had to say:

Flipping this observation around, as a friend of mine recently did, we should be able to tell that a Jesus movie had been really successful in portraying the Lord if half the crowds in the theaters wanted to crucify Him — and not for being such a milksop either, but rather because He was a dangerous firebrand. A really good Jesus movie would have a bipartisan bill denouncing it — called Save the American Dream Act — passing both houses of Congress handily in a rush to get it to the president’s desk.

This sounds so witty and clever, doesn’t it? Yuk, yuk, yuk, those silly Jesus filmmakers. Now, these particular filmmakers are silly, and their bumbling attempts at making Jesus cool is also silly. But not for the reason Wilson thinks. Think back to the Gospels. Who was it that wanted Jesus crucified? Not the unwashed masses, the poor and the vulnerable. Jesus had a pretty good report with the tax collectors and prostitutes. No, who did Jesus offend? The religious and economic rulers. The Pharisees. So, in a sense, any Jesus film produced by evangelicals will always fail to offend the right people – evangelicals. A Jesus movie that did its job would piss off your average middle-class evangelical. It would enrage the powers that be and the economic interests of our empire because of its central challenge to our economic and political hegemony. What it shouldn’t do is get broken and sinful people angry, because those are the people for whom Jesus came.


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