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How to be a complete moron about Lent

Just follow Jim West’s Nadab’s advice.


  1. Jim wrote:

    now that/’s what we call a cogent, reasoned, intelligent defense of lenten practice!
    well stated!

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink
  2. Jim wrote:

    oh dude- why’d you change it from jerry falwell to nadab?

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink
  3. Halden wrote:


    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    Just like your attack on it.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  5. Jim wrote:

    oh please- at least i offer reasons. you’ve just stooped to childishness. or rather, in your case, risen to it.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink
  6. Halden wrote:

    “Reasons” like “it reminds me of hippies”? Thanks for setting the bar so high.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  7. Evan wrote:

    Your first point seems the strangest to me, Jim… presumably your logic could be extended to an assertion that we should stop saying the prayer of confession before taking the Lord’s Supper. Or, for that matter, that we should just stop taking communion or celebrating Easter at all. If set periods of time suggest a competitive relationship with more extended states of being, how do we ever actually stop to do something in any defined fashion?

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink
  8. Thomas wrote:

    “It suggests”, “it smells like…”, “those who observe lent remind me of…” and “I’ve never known anyone who…” don’t amount to reasons. I actually mistook this for a clever parody at first, a reductio ad absurdem of silly objections to Lent.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  9. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Example # 417 of why biblical scholars make poor theologians. I blame this on the current state of the theological academy more than on people like Jim West. West simply has no skill set to actually do Christian theology.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  10. aquaman wrote:

    Jim’s post raises hackles because it strikes a nerve. It’s far easier to give up chocolate or (gasp!) beer than to work for justice.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  11. Brad A. wrote:

    Jim, I have a hard time taking your critique of Halden seriously when you don’t even respond to the more substantive comments on your own blog.

    And even if your caricatures are accurate, since when did the misappropriation or mis-performance of a practice constitute the inherent value or virtue of that practice? If your own logic holds, then considering what you think of Halden’s blogging practices, you should quite blogging yourself.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink
  12. Brad A. wrote:

    *”quit,” that is…

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink
  13. Halden wrote:

    Devoting time to working for justice would be a great practice, Lenten or otherwise. Jim of course doesn’t say anything about working for justice, though. Just how he doesn’t like people who observe Lent. So I don’t think “justice” is why “hackles” are being raised. Its because Jim is saying something supremely stupid.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  14. This comes from Jim’s hyper-Zwinglianism and his complete tone deafness to metaphor and the way that symbols, as Tillich said, participate in the reality to which they point.

    We are both Baptists, but he sees that heritage through hyper-Zwinglian eyes. He has not been a part of the trans-atlantic (starting in the UK) recovery of Baptist sacramentalism. or communitarianism. Like his other hero, Rudolf Bultmann, Jim is also a complete modernist and thus has no room for things like mystery.

    It’s sad, really.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  15. Halden wrote:

    Trying to comment at Jim’s blog is rather interesting. First he denied making fun of James Merrick for offering a substantial remark to him. Jim’s response to James’s point by point comment was to say only “boy you’re an angry lentian aren’t ya!”

    So all I did was quote his prior comment and point out that that he simply makes fun of those who attempt “cogent, reasoned, intelligent defense of lenten practice.”

    And wouldn’t you know it, my comment was promptly deleted! I guess Jim doesn’t like his lies put on display.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  16. aquaman wrote:

    I only read Jim’s post because you linked to it. For me, it echoed Amos 5:24 and made me think about whether my Lenten disciplines will truly be transformative.

    I can’t comment on his broader theology, because I haven’t read his stuff. And it was wrong for me to presume to know why you (and others) were put off by what he said. Sorry.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  17. R.O., I object to the idea that biblical scholars make poor theologians. That only applies to the kind of biblical scholar who is primarily an antiquarian or grammarian, etc. But the great ones always go beyond this to wrestle with the texts theologically: George R. Beasley-Murray, Walter Brueggemann, Phyllis Trible, N.T. Wright and his friend/adversary Marcus Borg, Renita Weems, Gerhard von Rad, Brevard Childs, Ched Myers, Elsa Tamez–even Jim’s hero, Rudolf Bultmann, were/are all powerful theologians in their own right.

    Jim’s own lack should not thus be generalized.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink
  18. Brad A. wrote:

    Well Halden, referring to Jim’s rhetoric, if it works for Sarah Palin…

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  19. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Of course there are some biblical scholars that are also good theologians in their own right (though N.T. Wright is not one of them)! But, you have to agree that this is, unfortunately, extremely rare. I’m afraid Jim West (and Bart Ehrman on the other side) are more representative of the theological acumen of biblical scholars.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  20. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Again, the problem is not so much that biblical scholars aren’t capable of doing good theology, but that most of them simply aren’t trained to do theology.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  21. Halden wrote:

    I think the issue is double-edged. There are many biblical scholars that are awful at doing theology, but likewise there are countless theologians who can’t read the Bible worth a damn. This all points, in my opinion, to the larger problem of the academic split between “theology” and “biblical studies.”

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  22. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Of course, I agree whole-heartedly.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  23. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    But, this is a theology blog and you’re not supposed to admit shit like that. Now, let us resume the joy of picking on biblical scholars.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink
  24. Ichabody Peabody wrote:

    The biggest laugh on West’s blog is his current fixation on those “poor, innocent” put-upon Southern Baptist missionaries a.k.a. child smugglers in Haiti. What a loon he is!

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  25. Matt wrote:

    Well, not that it really matters, but I tried to post this comment on his blog, but he did not approve it:

    I’m very puzzled when I read this blog. Really, I’m not meaning to be needlessly snarky or disrespectful.

    Some accuse you (Jim) of not knowing x or y, when it seems plain that you are not at all unaware of x or y, just inanely dismissive and hostile.

    It’s a very strange practice to deride the practice of Lent (couched in terms of ‘just not liking it’) and then cry ‘foul’ when someone, in this case Halden, does not respond to your vacuity with sustained theological analysis. Why would that be worth his, or anyone’s time, when you’ve scarcely responded to any of the genuine questions asked?

    Reading the conversation on this blog sort of feels like stumbling into a classroom with a sign on the door reading “Bible, Theology, Church History and Modern Culture Round-table Discussion Held Here” only to crack the door open and find (to borrow DB Hart’s description of Sam Harris) a child “shrieking and holding his breath and flinging his toys about in the expectation that the adults in the room will be cowed.”

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  26. Halden wrote:

    Jim’s got have the most fragile ego ever if he can’t bear to allow a single criticism of his posts to appear on his blog. This really is starting to just get hilarious.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  27. Brad A. wrote:

    Check out his update: entirely devoid of theological engagement with the arguments presented to him. Crass, largely nonsensical, and irrelevant to the discussion.

    Comparing the practice of Lent with the Easter Bunny? Come on…

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
  28. roger flyer wrote:

    What’s wrong with NT Wright?

    And I thought there was a ban (from Hauerwas?) on qualitative descriptions (Best, better, good) of theologians?

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  29. joel hunter wrote:

    It’s always funny when a baptist gets all up in non-baptists’ faces with “Blargh! Strict Regulative Principle! Outrage!” But then the RP police pay ‘em a visit and it’s all like “Oh, that U.S. flag is totally required by local ordinance” and “not observe mother’s day lol11!!1 what you want the deacons to fire me??”

    Practicing Lent makes you snooty and self-important. Uh-huh, and your irony meter is made by Toyota.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink
  30. Danny wrote:

    Who is going to benefit from the title of this post?

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  31. roger flyer wrote:

    Wait a sec. All the Wild wild West said is “I don’t like Lent.”

    He’s a blogger, not a ‘real’ theologian, right?

    If I posted something like that on my blog and got this kind of reaction, I’d be happy-It might scratch my itch…

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  32. Hill wrote:


    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  33. Ichabody Peabody wrote:

    Reading Jim West’s blog is a “guilty pleasure”, that’s for sure. I always feel a bit dirty afterwards.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
  34. i was trying to give up hating baptists for lent. thanks a lot.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Permalink
  35. Huh. Maybe then the good doctor really is brilliantly subversive. Somehow I doubt it.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink
  36. Jeremy wrote:

    Why do people continue to engage him at all? He’s not worth it. All attention is good attention for him. Will everyone stop linking to his blog? Even F&T has his blog linked in the “Posts I’m Reading” list. Also, didn’t he make a resolution to stop blogging around New Year’s? I understand wanting to call someone on bullshit, and it is clearly deserved in this case. However, it’s obvious he’s not actually going to change his mind. It just seems pointless.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  37. Andrew wrote:

    I just read his post and he has two updates. I was confused at first because he complains about the outrage he has started yet there are mostly supportive comments on his blog, but having read this comment stream, it turns out that he is a serious comment editor.

    The best part is that in his latest update he puts quote marks around Halden’s name as if he is using some sort of pen name to hide his true identity. . . On another note, Halden, if you are actually Bill Gates and have never told me, you should definitely give up not giving me millions of dollars for lent.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  38. Halden wrote:

    And it continues to get more hilarious. This guy is really freaking fragile.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  39. Auggie Webster wrote:

    Ditto. I was trying to give up calling people “asshole”.

    Oh darn. Looks like another year when I’ll just have to give up my New Year’s resolution.

    Or I could just replace “asshole” with “Jim West” thus killing two assholes with one “Jim West”.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  40. Brad A. wrote:

    I posted the following over there. We’ll see if “Jim” lets it through.

    “I think it’s interesting, especially considering your second update, that there have been a number of attempts at reasonable and polite responses, but you’ve not allowed them to be posted here. So, they’ve posted on Halden’s blog instead: Your own behavior – crassness, name-calling, and reductionistic rhetoric – is what has escalated the tension.

    (Oh, and Halden is actually his real first name, so you can stop using scare quotes).

    Of course, I write all this fully suspecting never to see it posted here.”

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  41. Look, Jim West can be a pain and I obviously don’t agree with him about Lent or his style of “debating.” But his was one of the first theology blogs I ran into when I was lured into blogging in ’04 and he was helpful when he found out how incompetent I am with technology. (I’m a nerd, but not a geek. I just try not to be a dork.) He helped publicize my original blog.

    Further, his site is often full of good info. it’s hard to find anywhere else. Because he quotes everything in original languages (he’s either a polyglot or faking it), I’ve been forced to practice my Greek, Hebrew and German. (He never posts anything in Spanish, my other language. I have ZIPPO French or Latin.) When I was teaching, it was easy to keep those skills sharp, but now they lapse easily.

    His doctorate is from a diploma mill (though his seminary degree is from the pre-fundamentalist Southeastern Baptist Seminary, which was then an excellent school) and his books are self-published, but my publishing record isn’t so hot, either–about 15 academic and popular articles, some chapters in books, 2 books that no one bought, a pamphlet for a peace agency. So, while he may not be a legitimate scholar (at least not as brilliant as he thinks he is), I can’t kvetch about that.

    It doesn’t excuse his rudeness–but that;s not his only side. I’ll link to him with my new blog as I did with the old one and read it when I have time. But Jim is Jim. We all have flaws–and I hope mine don;t get people to write me off.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  42. adhunt wrote:

    I thought we were much higher than #417 at this point.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  43. BentAboutLent wrote:

    I will be spending the next fourty days eating chocolate and red meat, drinking cheap beer, and watching television but I won’t be calling other Christians a$$wholes and morons or obsessing over what Jim West writes.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  44. roger flyer wrote:

    I think the point in all of this is that ‘tradition’ has a much deeper significance and meaning than many ‘uneducated’ can understand.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  45. Auggie Webster wrote:

    Um, a slight misspelling there. Perhaps you didn’t understand my post.

    It’s not spelled A-$-$-W-H-O-L-E.

    It’s spelled J-I-M W-E-S-T.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  46. BentAboutLent wrote:

    Charming. Now can I get back to my beer and rerun of “Sunday Night Live with Benedict Groeschel”?

    Friday, February 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
  47. Marvin wrote:

    My own 2 cents on Jim West and Lent:

    In short, I’m not sure that West’s biblicism can sanctify time in a secular or even neo-pagan culture.

    Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink
  48. We should use his logic to then proclaim ourselves non-Christians, because:

    1- It suggests that one might actually be like Christ
    2- It smells like a bit of ‘works righteousness’ and more importantly isn’t even scriptural.
    3- Those who observe it seem to enjoy their T-shirts and bumper-stickers far more than they appreciate their salvation and sanctification.
    4- Those who are Christians remind me a bit too much of war-mongering, bigoted, prideful, jealous, sluggard hypocrites telling the world how much superior they are because they’ve “accepted Christ” in a “personal relationship” which non-Christians haven’t.
    5- But most of all, I don’t like Christians because it’s just downright silly to think that giving up your life, and everything it contains, makes any sort of substantive, lasting, theological difference. I’ve never known anyone who, after baptism, was any different than they were before baptism. It’s simply, when you boil it down to its true essence, an opportunity for people to feel better about themselves. As though the rapture, the climax and denouement of life, were about you feeling better about yourself.

    But what do I know, I’m just an Adam Henry online.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

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