Comments     No. 416  |  January 2014     Study     Faith 101     The Church     Politics     Life     Sisters     Keeping It Real     A Preacher's Confession     Zion     Donate

Stupid People

American Intellectualism In Free Fall

Stupid Christianity

What deeply saddens me is we see so very few Christian intellectuals. As such, popular culture seems to set faith at odds with intellect, as if the two were incompatible. All of the air is being sucked up by the Duck Dynasty guy spouting imponderably ridiculous and offensive hate-speech and equating that with scripture. And here comes media whore Sarah Palin, reduced now to not so much a parody of herself but a parody of Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin, rushing to the TV cameras having not actually heard what the man said but defending his right to say it. Palin, the poster child for Stupid People, still doesn’t understand that the First Amendment does not protect Duck Dynasty Guy from AMC’s firing him; the First Amendment protects Duck Dynasty Guy from the government censoring or prosecuting him. AMC is a business which can employ (or not) who they will. But Palin doesn’t get that, Duck Dynasty Guy doesn’t get that and, sadly, I’d guess the majority of the American people don’t get it, either. Not because we are incapable of understanding the First Amendment and not because that information is not available to us but because we're too lazy to actually look anything up and, with all of our non-stop media consumption, can’t consume anything even marginally educational. Stupid People aren’t stupid because they lack education, Stupid People are stupid because they choose to embrace irrationality and superstition.

I don’t want a Stupid Faith. I don’t want a Lowest Common Denominator Faith or an Anti-Intellectual Faith. Faith without reason is not faith at all but superstition. Nine times out of ten, when I hear people like Duck Dynasty Guy spouting scripture, I realize these people embrace scripture in a superstitious and legalistic way—don’t walk under a ladder, step on a crack, break your mother’s back. True faith, the true shibboleth, is rational. It is not paranoid. It is not polarized. True faith flows and breathes and has warmth and love in its expression. Duck Dynasty Guy’s intolerant hate speech demonstrates absolutely no love. Neither does Sarah Palin, the tongues-speaking charismatic apostolic who now, as a rule, spouts nothing but negative hate speech and thinly-veiled racism. These people don’t have faith, they have religion. Superstition says Katrina was God punishing New Orleans for being nice to homosexuals. Stupid People spout scripture and position themselves as Christian authorities while having an at best child’s understanding of scripture in any real theological or historical context. You can always tell the difference between Stupid People and Christians because Christians will demonstrate their love while Stupid People will demonstrate their intolerance. Christians will talk about hope while Stupid People speak mostly of fear, intoning God’s judgment and vengeance, thus missing the point of the Gospel altogether.

And they’re winning. What the unenlightened, uneducated person increasingly sees is this hateful face of Christianity presented by Stupid People. Which makes all of our jobs so much harder to break down suspicion by a population brainwashed, 24/7, by anti-intellectual, anti-spiritual and, truthfully, antichrist media streams and thus predisposed to cynicism and negativism. Jesus is alive. Jesus loves you. It’s an old story and, as Paul said, worthy of acceptance, that Christ Jesus died to save sinners, Stupid People, of whom I am chief [I Tim 1:15]. I do not exclude myself; I have been and often am Stupid. But I’m trying; I want more from life than that.

Stupid Christianity: Sarah Palin and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson

Life Imitates Stupid

If you actually have to be told to not stare at your smartphone while walking down the street, you are Stupid. I have no idea why we waste so much money on public service ads warning against texting while walking; if you’re stupid enough to wander into a busy intersection because you can’t or won't, for one minute, stop Facebooking, society is better off without you. Stupid People are constantly on Facebook and equate Facebook with having a life. Who do you meet on Facebook? Stupid People. Stupid People put in all of their personal information into some website or, worse, some “smart” phone, just giving it all up to advertisers and Edward Snowden and the Chinese who are certainly ganking all of your personal info off of the servers you are stupidly loading up. Just backing up your “smart” phone—in which you’ve entered not only all of your personal info but all of mine without my permission—makes you one of the Stupid People.

Stupid people are everywhere, in every walk of life. We have to deal with them, work with them, negotiate with them every day. More and more, we’re seeing grown folk behaving like children, lacking impulse control, reason and accountability, and that behavior has somehow gone mainstream. This is what’s been so sad about the last three years of our nation’s history, where the workings of government have been absolutely paralyzed by Stupid People mired in tribal ideologies refusing to compromise—most of it out of sheer, unadulterated hatred of the sitting president for no perceptible reason beyond the color of his skin. These are educated men and women, thoughtful, scholarly, behaving like teenagers. They look like adults, but “I’m going to hold my breath until you give me what I want.” Three long years, and counting, of self-inflicted crisis, billions lost, the world brought again and again to global crisis because of the abject childishness going on in Washington. Stupid People running Washington voted in by Stupid People because other Stupid People stayed home and let it happen.

Now, shockingly, the childishness we see on TV and in our leaders has become the model for society. I now routinely hear and see people on the street parroting Republican or Democratic talking points and behaving in seriously ridiculous ways.

I occasionally have the privilege of sitting, for a time, with rational, thoughtful, mature people. Again, I am not talking about education, I’m talking about people who embrace reason rather than ridicule it. Regrettably, this is not a stable environment, not a “bubble” any of us can exist in indefinitely. Sooner or later, we have to go our separate ways and resume our interaction with a culture growing increasingly more brain-dead and polarized by the day.

I do not exclude myself from being Stupid People. I’m sure I have my blind spots and my ignorant ways. But I desire to be more, and at least that’s a start.

Christopher J. Priest
29 December 2013

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