Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More McLaren

By golly, there's a sequel!

Based again on his visit to the apartheid museum, Brian McLaren is convinced that we are on the verge of some awakening as a nation. Now that we are opening our eyes, we need a new mission statement! Fantastic! Read the whole thing! Excerpts (with sophomoric commentary) below.

What if some of us began a constructive national dialogue, post-political in the sense that it occurs on a level higher and deeper than the mid-range of partisan maneuvering, geared toward a rather simple but grand project: to articulate a national mission statement for the United States.

We can commemorate the event by burning the Declaration of Independence.

This statement would tell us – and the world – what we’re about.


I thought that's what we had George Clooney and Angelina Jolie for.

It would serve as a rudder to guide us, and perhaps as a sail to energize us, and perhaps as a keel to stabilize us as well.


Or it could serve as a dry martini to make the whole sailing experience damn classy.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” had a nice ring in the Declaration of Independence,

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness had a nice ring? A nice ring? Those are your freedoms, you dimwit. Those words are beautfiul, brilliant and inspired. Do you know how many people in this world would give their right arms to live a country that observed such a statement? Do you have no sense of history or perspective at all? A nice "ring" to it. For the love of...

but frankly, it has a bit of an individualistic and self-centered ring today.


That's because it's a declaration of our freaking independence! It's not called "The Ruminations on Collective Joy".

Consider, for example, what it would mean, for example, if our nation were more dedicated to the pursuit of peace and justice than to the pursuit of personal happiness, or to a sustainable life for all creatures instead of simply unlimited prosperity for ourselves.


Sustainable life for ALL creatures? I dunno, there's some people's dogs I wouldn't mind de-sustaining, and don't even get me started on mosquitoes. On a serious note, I love that Brian sees no correlation between personal happiness and peace and justice. Nation building 101, when people aren't personally happy, there is no peace. See: Africa.

Perhaps, if we made it a five-to-ten year project, the process could be even more important than the final product.


Here is something you will never hear a Republican say.

Perhaps there could be websites where people proposed and crafted elements of the mission statement, and grass-roots gatherings in coffee shops and community centers where various proposals were evaluated.


Hmmm... So we are proposing that this mission statement will be forged principally by the unemployed and childless. "Daddy, can we play baseball?" "No, son, Daddy doesn't have time for anything tangible."

Perhaps at the right time, maybe in 2010 or 2012, such a mission statement could be incorporated in some way alongside the essential documents of our nation.


At which point, I will find a nice little gun to stick in my mouth.

It’s wonderful to have a history to give us a sense of heritage.


Ah, yes, that's what history is for... My friend Peter teaches history. Peter, you'll be glad to know that your lot in life is instilling a sense of heritage. Isn't that quaint?

But sometimes I think that our nation, like any adolescent, now needs something more:


Like, oh, I dunno.... A Constitution of some sort? Curious to compare or country to an adolescent. I'm sure Brian thinks that we elected one. What does an adult country look like? China? I'll pass, thanks.

Perhaps, in terms of Native American culture, it is time for our national vision quest, or in Christian or Jewish terms, it is time for our confirmation or bar or bat mitzvah – time for our spiritual coming of age.


Well, that statement just about parodies itself, doesn't it?

Perhaps our current national struggles will, like the struggle of South Africa, bring us to a moment of new possibility and new beginning in the not-too-distant future. That is my hope, even if it sounds naive.


To call this dreck naive is to insult naivete, which, in and of itself, is not without merit. This is condescending, patronizing tripe, written by someone who is confident that he has all the answers, but actually has none. That this man can rise to prominence within a Christian movement speaks volumes about what that movement stands for.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Thom said...

"Perhaps, if we made it a five-to-ten year project, the process could be even more important than the final product.

Here is something you will never hear a Republican say."

I don't know...sounds an awful lot like the Republican/Conservative approach to Iraq. They just say it in more words to confuse the listeners.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

How does that even resemble the approach to Iraq.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm writing from London, England and, altho American born, I feel like there must be some kind of culture clash going on when I read Kevin's writings. I have only read Brian McLaren's articles twice on Sojomail & both times there have been these vitriolic posts from Kevin. So I look up Kevin's blog & find more of the same.
Coming from a British perspective I cannot fathom the extent of personal hatred, almost, that Kevin expresses towards Brian McLaren.
What is your problem, Kevin?
I wonder if you ever travel outside the USA to sample how the rest of the world views the good ole USofA at the moment. Not well, I have to tell you.
I'm new to BMcL but I find what he's saying is resonating with me. I guess that means you'll delete my comment - so much for the great American right of freedom of speech.
I've been reading this with my 15 year old daughter & her comment about you is "What a sad man" - sad as in pathetic. I find I have to agree.
Do you think one Christian attacking another is a helpful way forward to solving any of the world's problems? Or is your rather strident pontification what's most important to you?
Delete me if you like but one last thing - if you can't stand BMcL so much - stop reading his stuff. It'll do your blood pressure the world of good.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from Australia -- and I have to agree with my mate, from England.
Also I think your interview with Beaker, is both cruel and harsh.

Beaker is a retarded puppet above reproach.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

So, you read this awful, terrible, sad post, and went to your 15 year old daughter and said, "here sweetie, read this?"

No dice.

For the record, I've lived in Australia, and I am fully aware that there is an anti-American sentiment. I am certainly not the only person who finds McLaren to be shallow, or worthy of criticism. High-minded, didactic (there you go Thom) platitudes are no substitute for real discussion.

I think the bigger problem for you is that you disagree with me. If this were an angry diatribe re: Jerry Falwell, I would escape unscathed.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

My interview with Beaker was laudatory. I hold him in the highest esteem. Have you read his latest book?

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Thom said...

Sorry, I misread the quote. The approach to Iraq has been "No matter how we screw it up, the ends will justify the means." So, you are correct, Republicans would not likely argue that the means are more important than the end.

Kick ass use of didactic!

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your reply just displays your cynical approach & assumptions.
My daughter joined me as I was reading thro your blog & asked me what I was looking at - so I showed it to her. She's old enough to be thinking for herself so she read along with me - her comment was her own, which tells me she's developing discernment.
Yes, I do disagree with you but that is not my main problem - I object to the childish way you snipe at people while, at the same time, you appear to think you're displaying some great intellectual analysis.
No dice.
Differences of opinion exist; surely discussing such differences in an open, humble, civilised way is a better approach than merely trashing someone else.
My daughter, incidently, has just joined me again and having read your reply, her comment this time is "he's just so full of himself!"
Out of the mouth of babes and all that.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Your daughter has impeccable timing.

Incidentally, my cat just hopped up on my lap. Upon reading your comment, he nodded in approval, said "that's about right" and walked away.

I hate that damn cat.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Adam Omelianchuk said...

What is with people that have their daughters read stuff they hate? Is this how the pattern of 21st century dialogue is going down?

"Oh btw, my daughter just came into the room and read what the other guy's daughter said and she said she's a bad person."

We have the DailyKos to thank for this.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

We have DailyKos to thank for so, so much.

4:04 PM  
Blogger That One Dude said...

Okay so to England and Australia, you come on a website and read a post. You don’t know the person or his character but after reading what 1 or 2 posts you write him off as trite and shallow; A self-absorbed dolt of a being who loves himself over all else. Yet in this criticism are you not also being harsh and shallow. How can you understand a person without knowing him? How can you simply write him off and allow your child to basically do the same. Do you know why everyone else hates Americans? You are bound to say that Americans are self absorbed and egotistical. But I know a great deal of Americans myself that are not. Are you just teaching your child the same things that you here have condemned? When your daughter says something like "what a sad man" how about saying some thing to the point of maybe he has a good reason to feel the way he does. Or maybe just like many people he has painted with a broad stroke but the paint fell all upon one person. How about, instead of hopping on a blog and punch in some harsh words toward a stranger, just allowing them the opportunity to vent their emotions. Maybe even say to your child that he cares a great deal about something and it shows. A man who loves something and is opinionated about it is a good thing as long as they maintain the ability to control themselves. I happen to know Kevin and if he has a problem it is that he actually cares about what he believes in. He is intelligent and very funny. I am tired of people looking at Americans and claiming that they are self righteous bastards. How hypocritical is it to judge a person like that? If you really want to battle the haterid that is out there, teach your daughter and your friends that judging people, especially as a whole is stupid and pretty dangerous. You claim Kevin is everything you are showing yourself to be and you are instilling those things in your daughter. Maybe next time you see a post you don’t like you can say something a little bit more constructive like “Hey that is an opinion. I don’t agree and neither does my daughter. Here is what I believe.” And before you get pissed. Yes I know that I am not perfect either. I know that I have much to learn. Still, I have things that I care about and things that I am passionate about. I don’t mean to offend. That isn’t my purpose.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Full disclosure: That One Dude is my daughter.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Unspar! said...

Kevin, I like to read your blog. While I haven't like many of your past political posts, these two on Mac were very well done.

I don't say this just because you're being picked on, but I guess mostly that is why I'm saying it.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My, my, someone's very touchy out there! And I'm picking on poor, defenceless Kevin. What a bad, bad lady I must be. Teaching my daughter to judge people by dragging her into a room, forcing her to read "stuff that I hate".

Grow up guys! Kevin's a big boy who can certainly dish out his opinions - I wonder why you don't like me airing mine?

Kevin's mate- "that One Dude" obviously has a lot of his own issues that he has dumped on me - I'm not offended because I'm not coming from the place you assume I am.

I didn't say the words you attribute to me below - that's what you're saying, not me- and you're his friend!:

"you write him off as trite and shallow; A self-absorbed dolt of a being who loves himself over all else"

Didn't say this either:
"Do you know why everyone else hates Americans? You are bound to say that Americans are self absorbed and egotistical"

I am an American myself - I've just had the advantage of living abroad for quite some time, in several different countries, so have a wider world view than most Americans I know.

As for this:
"Or maybe just like many people he has painted with a broad stroke but the paint fell all upon one person."

My point is that he is attacking someone he has become disillusioned with in a very precise manner - there's no happenstance about his comments on Brian McLaren.

And this:
"How about, instead of hopping on a blog and punch in some harsh words toward a stranger, just allowing them the opportunity to vent their emotions"

You know, I haven't even begun to get harsh, nor do I intend to; am I not allowed to "vent" my emotions in response?


Didn't say this either - your problem being projected, not mine:

"I am tired of people looking at Americans and claiming that they are self righteous bastards."


"You claim Kevin is everything you are showing yourself to be and you are instilling those things in your daughter."

Nope, not true. She's an intelligent girl who read Kevin's "comments" on BMcL's article & formed her own opinion - that's what I'm instilling in her - to think for herself & form her own opinions.
If you can't take criticism from a 15 year old.... you gotta get out in the real world a bit more instead of sitting writing blogs.


"Maybe next time you see a post you don’t like you can say something a little bit more constructive like “Hey that is an opinion."
You know - what a great idea! Do you think your mate Kevin might apply the same idea to his own life & writings?

I'm getting pretty bored with this now and don't intend to write any more as I have more worthwhile things to do with my time.

I'm not trying to offend anyone & am actually quite amused at all the fuss my comments have generated. But, if you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen!

6:30 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Alright, enough... It's well past midnight in your neck of the woods, so you and your "daughter" can go to bed.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

A general thought:

Who cares if people hate America?

America doesn't hold the gold medal on hatred, you know. Europeans hate other Europeans, African's hate other Africans; why don't you pop over to Japan and see what they think about China or Korea. Everyone hates everyone else - America's big fault is that people actually care and try to apologise and punish themselves for being so darn reprehensible.

Also: Isn't it a given that the thoughts expressed on Kevin's blog are in fact his opinions???

10:02 AM  
Blogger That One Dude said...

Clearly England and her daughter are smarter than me. I will run into the corner and cry.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Thom said...

Do ya need a hug, Ted?

2:04 PM  
Anonymous gary said...

The beginning of England's post was right on. There is a massive clash of cultures going on over here. In general, we like to think that evangelical aims are most in line with the pol. Right. When a member of the evangelical intelligentsia talks like this, I want to take my kids out of school and move to the wilds of Montana to live off the land.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Their pretty conservative up there in the wilds of Montana.

They like their guns...

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Australian Guy Again said...

Alright Kevin, you made your point but please dont say that Australia is Anti-America, its a slippery slope mate!
I read a lot of BMCL and I see your comments, and while I find your thought process loquacious, I also find them to be vapid and plebeian.

Lets be honest, if spirited internet debate solved anything then America would not be at War.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Didn't say that Australia is anti-America. Further, I am a huge fan of John Howard. Not sure if you can be loquacious and plebeian at the same time.

12:07 PM  
Blogger James Frank Solís said...

I have been in countries other than the U. S. Yes, there is anti-American sentiment around. I always wonder what people think they're doing to point that out. Little more than demonstrating how cosmopolitan they are. It it largely irrelevant that some people around the world don't like us. Jack may dislike Jill. But that is hardly a problem for Jill if Jack's aversion to Jill is unjustified. And if Jack is on record as being a moral relativist then he's going to have a difficult time convincing Jill that his opinion of her is justified.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

I think we tend to think of the nations of the world in black and white. We have allies, and we have enemies. To a certain extent, this is fine (North Korea, for example, is clearly an enemy).

The trouble comes when we apply absolute prinicples to these allies. If we embark on a military effort, and an ally (e.g. France) does not support it, we must therefore be in the wrong.

Anti-American sentiment as a concept did not begin in January of 2001.

4:11 PM  

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