I talked to my brother the other day on the phone and he recommended that I take a listen to comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast recorded with a guy named Kent Dobson. You can listen to it here.
In a nutshell, Kent Dobson is a friend of Rob Bell’s, the controversial pastor who lead Mars Hill church to mega-churchdom. Bell later removed hell from his personal views, maybe even heaven, and concentrated on the here and now. His blasphemy cost him his pastorship.
I read about Bell long after I had left faith. Hell was one of the first things I was able to let go of as being biblically unsound. So reading him was a little boring. Bell was late to the party.
From what I understand, Kent Dobson took over the church after Rob Bell was basically pushed out. Dobson also flew the evangelical nest and stripped lots of dogma from his perspective.
From listening to this podcast, his perspective(s) is/are hardly unique. I wished that when I was going through my own period of stripping off the dirty, wet clothing of evangelical Christianity, that I could have known more people like Kent, Pete, or anyone else who is able to leave the ideas of our youth.
It’s awesome to hear Pete Holmes and Dobson talk about the books of the Bible in a way that’s realistic. They talk about the gospels. How they were all written years upon years (decades) later by people who weren’t there. As evangelicals, we’re taught that’s “wrong.” That the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) were all disciples with their notes in hand about their experiences with Jesus. They were eye witnesses to Jesus and their words are all divine and accurate.
If Trump lived back then, he’d have popularized #FakeNews on his Papyrus Twitter account.
Once you dive in deeper to the history of the Bible, you’ll learn that not only is that not true, we don’t really know who wrote the gospels necessarily. They’re definitely not eyewitness accounts. Josephus’ account of a third party reference to Jesus has been tampered with. And it casts a shadow over the infallibility of the Bible.
One of my favorite quick references that Kent & Pete made was to Mark, supposedly the earliest written gospel. When written, it did not include a resurrected Jesus. That wasn’t originally a part of the Jesus story that mattered. It was only decades (maybe centuries) later that a portion was added. And our bibles even say, “This section was not in the original manuscript.” One has to wonder not only why it was added, but when, and by whom, what else was added, and for what reason were there things added? What was removed?
For some people (i.e. Bart Ehrman, Kent Dobson, etc.) this knowledge isn’t something to break from the mystery of god. And I kind of get that. But I think it’s contrived to hold onto a bible that’s been fussed over, changed, and recharged and think, “Yeah, this manuscript is worth my time.”
Kent Dobson & Pete Holmes both have a kind of belief that doesn’t lean on the veracity of the Bible itself, but on the concept that it points to a bigger, indescribable divinity that’s still worthy of mental real estate.
Neither believe in a Jesus who ascended into heaven. There’s a part where Dobson discusses living in Israel, to really dig deep into his faith, only to find Isreal was where a lot of it decomposed and recomposed into something “liberal.”
In Israel, Dobson was talking to another American soul searcher and they were hanging out at the Mount of Olives, the place Jesus supposedly defied gravity as he went up into the sky and into heaven.
One man said to the other, “Do you really believe the ascension happened? That Jesus, with some divine jetpack, lifted off the ground and left earth?”
No, he laughed, no he does not.
What’s left in Dobson’s world is a book of myths and stories that give a small, human-made book of 66 books that show some history and some small indications as to who the Jewish/Christian concept of God comes from.
If you made the statement to Dobson or Holmes or Rob Bell, “Well, if you grew up in Iraq, you’d be a Muslim.” They’d all say, “So what?”
I take it that they all think human experience points to a living divine in some way so therefore wherever you’re born will give you that culture’s indications and hints as to how to find the divine.
While I can appreciate that there are “thinkers” like Dobson who are doing their best to present a watered-down version of faith to thinking, reforming, de-Christianing Americans, it’s still that … watered down and as flaccid as an 110 year-old straight man’s penis in a communal steam bath with a hundred other men.
When I was shedding my Christian clothing, it would have been nice to read people like Kent Dobson. I carry a lot of shame, regret and embarrassment about my de-conversion. It weighs in hard, especially around the holidays when I’m around my family and it’s the most awkward concept that there’s one person in the room that still bows his head for prayer, but doesn’t think that there’s an ear on the other side of the prayers expect those that are within earshot.
In my head, there are times when I’ve never really felt validated for my lack of beliefs. I think I’ll forever be stuck in a zone of “not knowing.” I don’t know if there’s a god. I don’t know if there’s a heaven or hell. I can’t prove there isn’t, just like no one else can prove there is. I don’t think it’s bad to just be honest about it. Being cocksure is such a turnoff. Declaring concepts or ideas off limits for questioning is such a poor method of exploration. Being honest at the most base levels should be advocated, not eschewed.
What seems to be validating is that there’s a growing movement of kids, all with excellent Christian parents, with excellent Christian educations, who are growing up in an Internet informed world, a place where education is freedom, and they’re telling themselves that the Christian faith isn’t for them.
It’s not a fad. It’s not even a movement, it’s the result of thinking everyone will reach an age when they will accept the bullshit of the previous generation without question. It’s tough for the educated to accept blindly no matter how hard the conservatives attempt to make science and evolution about “faith.” That message was ingrained into my 16 year old head and it still is, but the percentage of kids falling for it is collapsing.
Leaving the faith means one has to embrace vulnerability. It means they have to open up about silly embarrassing ideas of curiosities … And we should forbid that. So everyone’s happy and oblivious … forever … amen.