After pretty much every episode, I regret leaving something unstated or at least under-emphasized. Even though this was a two-hour show, it happened again.
I'm not sure that I made it clear enough that I think that Evangelicalism's copulation with American patriotism is nothing less than idolatry. After the show posted, a listener emailed me about the show's relationship to the Dallas First Baptist Church "Celebrate Freedom" Rally in DC (which the great John Fea has much more intelligent things to say about than I do - click and understand). Our listener identifies the blind spot:
"After watching the rally, I had to wonder how it is that most mainstream evangelicals have no qualms about physically reverencing the flag and confessing their allegiance to it and yet are quick to denounce the Catholic/Orthodox veneration of statues and icons as idolatry."
My own sense about this is that patriotism is both more immaterial in nature as well as part of the cultural hegemony of our society. It essentially "feels natural" to the Evangelical American's cultural experience, unlike the veneration of icons, which is now largely counter-cultural in American society, and thus easier to identify.
Recall the vile Pulpit and Pen's excoriation of Hank Hanegraaff's conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy (click). Jeff Maples utter alienation from Eastern Orthodoxy's traditions (due to his own bad-faith engagement with them) turned everything he saw (and smelled, apparently) into Satanic idolatry. The middlebrow Evangelical has no such alienated perspective when it comes to patriotism and Christian nationalism. They are so immersed in it, they cannot see it.
On Twitter, another listener noted that the "Evangelical Quadrilateral" Coyle Neal and I discussed suffered in interpretation:
What Seth identifies here is a failure of imagination. If, for example, Biblicism can only and forever mean a form of literalism, then the Evangelical imagination is impoverished, thereby damaging its ability to observe and correct its own cultural assumptions.
I'm reminded of Matthew Arnold's observation about mechanical, routinized English culture:
"Where was the hope of making reason and the will of God prevail among people who had a routine which they had christened reason and the will of God, in which they were inextricably bound, and beyond which they had no power of looking?"
Perhaps the Evangelical Imagination is damaged in a similar manner?
The Sectarian Review Podcast is hosted by Danny Anderson, who is an Assistant Professor of English at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, PA.