Saturday, July 25, 2009

Totally like whatever, you know?

By Taylor Mali, cited by Mark Dever in a sermon on final judgement, ht: Colin Adams.  Listen to the poet reading it at npr

In case you hadn't noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you're talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you're saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences -- so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not -
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It's like what I've heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally...
I mean absolutely... You know?
That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like...

And so actually our disarticulation... ness
is just a clever sort of... thing
to disguise the fact that we've become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since...
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

(c) Taylor Mali, 2005


  1. The answer to the death of conviction isn't a dose of authoritarianism. That is the problem, not the solution.

    How do Christians know that their faith is true and real?

    The answer given on the alpha course is:
    -God’s promises in Scripture
    -Work of Jesus
    -Work of the Holy Spirit

    Here are some reasons Christians often give:
    1. God has acted in history, we can see what he has done. (historical/evidentialist apologetics, person of Jesus and work of Jesus)
    2. God's word is self-evidently true (bible + theology, often a conservative Christian emphasis)
    3. The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, over time, shows us what God is like and that he is real. (discipleship, character formation, often a charismatic/continualist Christian emphasis)
    4. Arguments for God (philosophy of religion)
    5. Appeals to spiritual experience (answered prayers, healings, often a charismatic/continualist Christian emphasis)

    I'm not sure if I would give all of these as my answer. I would certainly give some of them, but not others. Some are just not very good reasons for believing anything - let alone religious/spiritual beliefs)

    But what are YOUR REASONS?

  2. Er, ok. I just liked the poem.

    For one it's worth I think there is some value in all five of those reasons - and probably none is enough on it's own.

    1. God's action in history - the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection certainly give some testimony. Depends how you articulate it, and I'm not a great fan of evidentialism, but ok as part of the picture.
    2. That the word is self-authenticating, that's Calvin, though he ties that into knowing God is knowing self and vice versa. This is really about authority - and letting the authoritative witness to God be God himself.
    3. The Spirit's transformation, not convincing on it's own but a supportive argument surely? Experience proves little but lack of it would be problematic. Fairly equivilant to presuppositional apologetics, examing the life experience and thinking of others?
    4. Philosophy of religion, doubtless not all worthless though I wouldn't say I've gone far down that road.
    5. Charismatic experience, not definitive - even in the case of healings, though as part of the picture they're ok. Edwards would point us to Jesus rather than our own lives.

    What are "YOUR REASONS"?