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What Does it Take for “In Depth” to Actually Mean IN DEPTH?!?

Scott on March 20, 2008 at 3:35 pm

For the second time in as many days I find myself reading something that Ken Silva has written and shaking my head. In his post over at CRN titled Contemplative/Centering Prayer as “Christian” Meditation, he begins by saying –

This indepth feature piece at Apprising Ministries traces part of the root of the new spirituality which has now slithered its way deep into postevangelicalism from its den in the emerging church.

(SIDE NOTE: Within the first three sentences of this “missive,” Ken does his best to throw in some of his favorite, rhetorically charged playground names including: neopagan Gnostic spirituality, misguided mysticism, reimagined post-liberal theology, and rapidly apostatizing evangelical camp.)

And this is where I throw out my question – What exactly does “in depth” mean and how deep does an article or “missive” have to be to qualify as “in depth?”

I ask this because even though Ken begins by saying that his “featured piece” over at Apprising Ministries is an in-depth look at the “new spirituality,” something seems to be missing. It seems as though if Ken really wanted to present an “in depth” look at a subject he feels is so dangerous to the church, he would present more than just his own words to back up his supposition. And yet, in this article we are subjected to a battery of links – 25 links to be precise – 21 of which link back to other A.M. articles authored by Ken himself. These articles contain many other links, mainly to other articles that Ken has written, which contain even more links to even more articles by Ken which contain more links and so on and so on and so on.

In other words, it appears that in Ken’s mind “in depth” means reading everything he has written and accepting it on face value, without an expectation of scholarly research, primary sources, cross-referencing to other sources and works, quotes and excerpts provided in context, etc. So in reality, this article is not ACTUALLY “in depth” and it falls FAR short of making good on its promise to “trace part of the root of the new spirituality which has now slithered its way deep into postevangelicalism from its den in the emerging church. It is really all about Ken talking to himself about other things that he has said.

About a year ago I talked about this tendency of Ken’s to use himself as his best and primary resource. I called it “Tickling One’s Own Ears.” I can only assume that seeing his own stuff linked so many times in one article provides a sense of fulfillment for him. I guess it doesn’t matter that he is being intellectually dishonest with himself and his readers.

One last thing: I have been asked previously why it is that a guy like Ken bugs me enough (from time to time) to feel the need to call him out. Here’s my answer –

Ken Silva and others like him make things difficult for the rest of us who are trying to establish solid, positive, productive relationships with the non-Christians we live next to, associate with and work alongside every day. When people like Ken put up “in depth” articles that are in reality just ridiculously self-referring and self-inflating puff pieces, and when they claim that their words are authoritative, they simply make a case that Christians are intellectually weak and/or dishonest and can’t even handle the rigors of a straight-ahead discussion/exchange of ideas.

People like Ken claim to speak for God, and in doing so they in essence claim to represent the “real Christians,” the “remnant” whose beliefs are in line with God’s truth as revealed through their opinions.

I’ve used this analogy before – When I look at anything related to the Christian faith and how effectively we (the Church) communicates the love and grace of God as well as the sinfulness of man, I use my “Greg filter.” My brother Greg was an inspiration in my life that encouraged me to be sure that I was “on my game” when it came to being grounded in my faith, my logic and how I lived my life. He was an inspiration because he was completely and totally antagonistic towards anything related to Christianity. (There’s a whole story behind that whole thing). Over the years, he and I went around and around about faith, religion, philosophy, hypocrisy, etc. While I was able to make a lot of headway during our talks (and occasional arguments), I could never overcome the “But what about this guy” factor. He would talk to me about people he knew and worked with who claimed to be Christians but who couldn’t handle an intellectual discussion about their faith, who couldn’t explain the dichotomy between the Christian ideal and the realities of fallen humanity, who couldn’t/wouldn’t get past the wrathful “you’re going to hell” part to get to the “but God’s grace can cover all our sins,” etc. This left Greg with a lot of doubts, questions, misgivings and suspicions, and understandably so.

I say my brother Greg WAS an inspiration. I say “was” because he died from a drug overdose nearly 15 years ago. I don’t know the place that he was in when he died in terms of his relationship with the Lord. He had a lot of history with Christianity and church and with a seeking journey of sorts, but he also had a terrible life that really worked against him and twisted him on the inside with a lot of pain and bitterness and sorrow. (Again, long story). As I prayed for him over the years and tried to be open for the Spirit to use me to work in his life, I also had to deal with a lot of anger and bitterness within myself aimed at those people who sound a lot like Ken and Ingrid, people who spend a lot of time pointing fingers and passing judgments and making silly statements and claims and pronouncements while never really saying anything worthwhile at all. The only thing they accomplished with my brother was to push him farther and farther away from Christ.

Let me end with this. When I read stuff at CRN, SLICE, etc, I can’t help but conclude that they truly epitomize the flip-side of 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In this instance as with many others, I think that Ken is empty of love and comes across as a clanging cymbal that has gained and produced nothing.

So that’s why, from time to time, I bother with those who feel they need to watch us all the self-appointed watchmen on the walls. They represent the type of people that made it so difficult for me to explain to my brother that the Christian faith can be embraced with both the heart and the head. They are the type of people who give the rest of us a bad name and who make it difficult for someone like me to tell people that I am a Christian without dealing with the rolling of the eyes, the shaking of the head, and the challenges to my intellectual and philosophical capabilities.

I guess I’m done now.

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