29 November 2005

Ugliness everywhere

Coupla ugly items today:

The life and times of Pecadillo

Pecadillo leaves his car at the Park and Ride, and from there he travels via carpool each day to the police academy. When he returned to the Park and Ride yesterday afternoon, his car had been broken into. The steering-column key-slot was clumsily ripped off in an attempt to steal the car. The miscreant who did the deed did it so badly that it rendered the ignition switch inoperable.

Instead of stealing the car, then, the perp made off with Pecadillo's radio and CD player, the multiple-CD changer in the boot, Pecadillo's entire CD collection (about 100 CDs in a special case), and everything else of value in the car.

Well, everything except for Pecadillo's Mr. T® bobble-head, which was inexplicably left behind undamaged (perhaps because Pec has a potty-training award ribbon hanging on Mr. T's neck. Don't ask me what it means. I don't know.) So anyway, Pec is without transportation and (more tragically) his life is totally devoid of music at the moment.

Of course, he'd better not expect the folks at the police academy to cut him any slack. He won't be getting time off to sort things out with the insurance company. In fact, since Pec was involved in an incident that required a police report, he is most likely going to have a whole lot of extra paperwork to do.

It's a really good thing Pecadillo did not return to his car during the actual robbery carrying anything like a frozen meat chub. I know Pecadillo. He once challenged a seminary student with a baseball bat when the poor guy accidentally set off the burglar alarm at Carey Hardy's house and the "intruder" didn't properly ID himself. (I'll let Pec write about that at his blog someday.)

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Pec's normal instinct would be to challenge the perp, and if necessary employ said meat chub in a way that might have required some dentistry to repair the thwarted car-thief's grin. At the moment, however, Pecadillo could actually get in serious trouble for doing that. Recruit officers are strictly prohibited from intervening in any criminal incidents until they actually earn their badges. So for the next few months, Pecadillo has to be very cautious with the bad guys. One thoughtless meat-chub incident could cost him his whole career.

So it could have been worse, but it was bad enough. I hate when stuff like that happens.

The Blogwar

Regarding the Great Thanksgiving Blogwar: Yes, I agree it's really ugly. Maybe not for all the same reasons everyone else says it's ugly. But it is definitely ugly.

I'm reluctant to say anything more about it at all. I'm pretty sure whatever I say is going to get me in trouble. In fact, I haven't referred to the Blogwar in any context for some 48 hours or more—after I made a comment on one of the larger blogs trying to make a reasonable point and was angrily rebuffed by someone who, for good measure, also questioned my manhood—immediately after the fellow had bemoaned the fact that the whole thing had got too petty and personal. (I'd link to the post in question, because it was a beaut, making an impassioned appeal to Ephesians 4:29. But the author himself employed vulgar language to make that appeal. It wasn't the vilest possible profanity, but it was extremely crude and angry—and enough to violate the standard of what I am willing to link to.)

I decided at that point it would be prudent to bow out of the discussion without fanfare.

All of this is to say that the hypocrisy and histrionics on one side are every bit as ugly and blameworthy as the smug and arrogant tone those same folks are busily complaining about. It's also amazing to see so many people who claim to be absolutely outraged by public disagreement among Christians, but who nonetheless feel it prudent to dissect the whole business in an angry, slanted, and very public way.

I've watched at least two well-known bloggers publicly condemn the controversy at their own blogs, claim they were swearing off the dispute completely, and then simply carry the fight to the comments section of another blog or two where the debate was still brewing. That's ugly.

And if you want to see something really ugly, you should see a few of the private messages I have received in the past 48 hours. One person angrily declared me the chief culprit in the whole conflict, even though he admitted he hadn't actually read anything I have written. He refuses to read me because I'm too closed-minded! A number of people have begged me to join the dogpile on Frank Turk, saying it's "obvious" that he is out of control. (Presumably this is "obvious" just because of the sheer number of people who are angry at Frank.) One or two other people have written to say they are angry with me because I won't simply "drop it." Apparently, they were so busy reading others' opinions about the conflict (and writing their own diatribes) that they didn't notice I did actually drop it a couple of days ago. Still others have pleaded with me to end my silence and voice my disapproval for the way the people on "my side" of the conflict are conducting themselves.

OK, since I'm apparently going to be blamed and criticized for the whole ugly incident no matter what I do or don't do, let me offer a very brief analysis of my own. I make no claim that I am perfectly objective, but I really am trying to be.

First: the penalty points against "my side":
  1. I wasn't happy with Frank Turk's title or tone on this post.
  2. If I were Frank, I wouldn't punctuate my points with expressions like "Booyah!"—especially after so many people are already angry. The advice given in Proverbs 15:1 and 25:15 is, I think, a sounder strategy for a conflict like this.
  3. I think the Fide-O post with the dead hawgs was predictably inflammatory. I therefore would not have posted those particular pictures at that moment. At a different time, they would have been somewhat amusing. But coming when it did, that post frightened even Darlene, who is naturally inclined to sympathy for "my side" and (after 27 years with me) isn't particularly squeamish.
  4. In retrospect, since what I intended to do was add some comedic final punctuation to (what I thought at the time was) the end of a blogfight, it turns out my comic-book tribute to Frank Turk was a tad premature. I did think it was essentially neutral and non-harmful to anyone in the conflict (there was no actual brunt of that "joke"). However, I clearly overestimated some folks' ability to appreciate the joke. For any pain and anguish my artwork may have caused people whom I love (which includes all y'all), I apologize.
  5. I think "my side" probably ought to work harder to treat serious issues as seriously as possible when conflict is involved, keeping the humor to a minimum, especially when it becomes obvious that the drollery is inflaming people's rage rather than lightening the mood.

I'll say this again, however: It's my candid opinion that raw histrionics, vulgar language, hypocritical fanning of the flames, the wrath of man, the supercilious contempt of people who thank God that they are not like the "TRs" (and who cannot pass up any opportunity, no matter how cheap, to take that shot just one more time)—and a lot of the other stuff from the "other" side—is every bit as reprehensible and just as bad a testimony to casual observers as everything people rightly and wrongly judged "my side" guilty of.

And for the record, I do not think there is anything inherently or necessarily shameful in disagreement between Christians, even when it is expressed publicly and candidly. We of all people ought to love the truth that much.

That said, I appreciate the fact that Frank Turk has not once lost his temper throughout this whole imbroglio. Whether you agree with him or not (and of course, I do), he deserves credit for his patience, persistence, and even-temperedness. I also do think there's a real, significant, rational, biblical point in the stand Frank has taken this past week, and he summed it up well right here, at a point in the conflict where I confess I would have found it pretty hard to be that restrained. I'm very glad to have Frank as my friend.

Bonus points also to Jus Divinum, who joined the fray with some careful thinking and dispassionate wisdom at a key point in the discussion. Jus has probably argued longer and harder against some of my opinions than anyone else in the blogosphere, and I'd much rather have him on "my side" than arguing against me. Either way, he's usually worth listening to, and this was no exception.

I also appreciated Steve Hays's contribution, but you already knew I would. I nearly always find his thoughts lucid and helpful. He is very pithy too, and I know that rubs some people the wrong way, but I was very glad he stepped into the fray when I'm pretty sure he would have liked to stay out of it.

I'm not so naive as to declare the whole imbroglio finally over once again. I hope it is. We'll see. But I do want to add two more things:

  1. I really do think there were some vitally important points on the table at the start of this quarrel:
    • The church does not need loose-cannon critics of the perpetually-cynical variety who are driven (to a conspicuous degree) by their own passions.
    • Christians ought to evaluate everything with careful and critical discernment—but especially voices that are unrelentingly censorious and constantly shifting positions.
    • Authentic "transparency" and "vulnerability" are not best expressed in fiction pieces.
    • We ought to be wary of preachers who freely and gladly admit that their persona in the pulpit is different from the way they represent themselves elsewhere—especially when they declare the out-of-pulpit persona an honest and "vulnerable" expression of the real person.
    • A person who taunts a critic shouldn't complain when he gets what he asked for.

  2. There's also an important point I hope someone will make at the end of all this: Real discernment is not a matter of evaluating everything by how it makes us feel. Often, the truth makes us uncomfortable. That's the way it is supposed to be. One of the real, serious dangers posed by the pervasive postmodern spirit is the tendency to treat "truth" as something determined in my own mind and heart from my unique perspective. Naturally, by that measure, whatever makes us uncomfortable isn't likely to be widely embraced. That's actually a dangerous form of sensuality, and it is a grievous sin, especially in the matter of discernment. It's disturbing to see how widespread that tendency is nowadays.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Another Fracas

Speaking of pomoism, Doug Wilson and Andrew Sandlin have gotten into it over postmodernism—and it's a much more rollicking, more entertaining, and more enlightening fight than my little back-and-forth tussle with The Blue Raja in the comments threads here at PyroManiac. <joke>(Raja is bucking for a demotion to "irritating" in my blogroll, I think.)</joke> Back in July, I put up a link to the archive of Wilson's articles on pomoism, but the archive has grown considerably since then, and it's great stuff to read. A couple of side notes:
  • F. J. DeAngelis has a chronicle of Sandlin's about-face in the pomo debate here.
  • Sandlin posts an interesting quick first impression of Tom Wright's book The Last Word here.

Phil's signature


Carla Rolfe said...

Sure sorry to hear about Pec's incident with the car theif. Sure it's only "stuff" but when your stuff is broken into, it's rather disturbing all the same.

Re: the blogwar... I've already posted my thoughts on that at Frank's, but I wanted to add one thing since you brought it up. The vulgarity used by those who call themselves Christians. Absolutely inexcusable 100% of the time. There is a way to disagree without becoming profane, and if folks can't figure out how to do that, they need to get off the PC and go pray about it, until they can handle it properly. I don't care how many KnitCap-Authentic-Relelvant-Pastors use the same kind of language, it's never okay.


Forgiven Sinner said...

Sorry to here about the auto break in, had it happen to my truck in my driveway a month ago, luckily all my MacArthur, Piper, and Johnson cds were in the house.....they took off my removeable faceplate with a SCREWDRIVER but the way I look at it, the radio is easier to replace then my cd collection....some stuff is "priceless". It did give me the opportunity though to talk to the guy who works for Safe Lite Auto glass, found out he was recently regenerated and got to give him some MacArthur cd's.

It's like I told the guy fixing my window, it's a car, it can be fixed and or replaced. Besides, it's not mine, it's God's, He's just letting me use it.

Phil, is this a Thanksgiving photo of someone you know or what?

Thats not something to really be looking at this early in the morning, I havent even had my 2nd cup of coffee yet!

Matt Gumm said...

Phil--thanks for giving all involved something to think about.

And very sorry to hear about Pecadillo's car. I'd offer to send him some of our CDs, but I doubt he wants to hear Veggietales' Greatest Hits & Ultimate Silly Songs.

Bryan L. Fordham said...

Had a friend's car get broken into years ago, they stole all her christian CDs. Which is kinda funny, really, just a few steps behind stealing a bible.

As for the other ugliness: Would like to say first, good for you for being able to see that some humor may have been inappropriate, or at least ill-timed. Most people try to hide behind the "I was just joking" smokescreen.

As to the language: as someone who used to speak fluent french (*ahem*) I agree with others. It's a sign of loss of self-control, not transparency or whatever. Always to be condemned, never Christ-like.

Cindy Swanson said...

So sorry to hear about Pecadillo's car! I've really come to enjoy his blog, and I'm rooting for his police career.

puritanicoal said...

Sorry to hear about Pec's travails concerning the theft of his equipment and tunes.

As for the remainder, I think I will go back to reading People magazine's coverage of the Paris & Nicole saga.


Steve said...

Regarding those who feel it necessary to use vulgar language in their arguments: If we were to appeal to the Holy Spirit to give us the right words and wisdom to make a defense on some point, would He lead us to use vulgar words to do such?

I don't believe so.

On that point alone, I'd have to conclude the REST of the words in those arguments weren't produced as a result of walking in the Spirit. Either we're walking in Him, or we're not. We cannot do both at the same time.

chamblee54 said...

You may want to consider that not everyone agrees with you about jesus and the bible.

Andrew Jones said...


shame about all the bad stuff in the air

spurgeons (ever heard of him d:i] ) morning by morning today (thanks to macsword) had some good thoughts:

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people . . . Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him." --Leviticus 19:16, 17 Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or false, we are by this precept of God's Word forbidden to spread it. "chs

God forbid (ma genoito) that we end up in endless controversies

anyway - as you say . . its ok to disagree and i enjoy the way you present the disagreements and also use humor to lighten it up

have a great week.

and when are you going to allow anon comments so non-blogspotters can comment with their own name?


Darryl said...

Steve Hayes writes, "Then you have the nice guys. Unlike (1), they are quite sincere. By constitutional temperament and national character, they always wince and cringe and shudder at any public display of discord or raised voices. To them, this is sub-Christian, contrary to the Sermon on the Mount, and tantamount to sipping Earl Grey without a clean pair of white gloves...

since they are not the bomb-throwers, their advice is simply useless. Those who need to hear it aren't listening, and those who listen don't need to hear it since they already agree with it."

Well, I'm not quite the person that he describes, since I think conflict can be a good and necessary thing. But what if calling for a certain standard of conduct in our conflict isn't just a personality quirk, but an attempt to be obedient to Scripture?

jigawatt said...

"Recruit officers are strictly prohibited from intervening in any criminal incidents until they actually earn their badges."

Phil, I need clarification. Suppose a recruit is at home asleep in the middle of the night and someone breaks into his house, threatening his family with bodily harm. Does this mean he has to keep his .357 in its sheath and watch the criminal activity take place (possibly taking notes)?

candy said...

I am SO slow. I thought it was just a random weird post of dead boars at FIDO. I was scratching my head at the time.

Sharad Yadav said...

Truly sorry to hear about Pecadillo's loss. I'm glad to hear that you were enlightened by the back-and-forth between Sandlin and Wilson (which seems to be contrary to your previous post, which said that dialogue was predictably fruitless) - I'd be interested to hear what in particular you found enlightening. In reading their posts I think I've made a lot of the same points I've found there, and I don't think you've really responded to me in the same way that Doug has to Andrew. Forgive me for being irritating, but it seems as though whenever I mentioned any issues or made any criticisms, you just called it "pomo-speak" instead of answering them; I'm not sure how else to respond to that. At least Doug is willing to give him a debate! Perhaps full posts at my site are the proper forum for such things instead of the comments section here - so I can see how my comments might be irritating. Perhaps I'll approach it that way in the future.

Phil Johnson said...


I agree that Doug's responses to Andrew have been way better than my responses to you.

As a matter of fact, that's what I found most enlightening about reading it, and that's what I meant when I said the debate over there was a lot better than the one here. (BTW, Sandlin's replies so far seem to me a perfect example of what I mean about why dialogue with a devoted pomo can be like a fruitless ride on a merry-go-round, only not as much fun.)

Anyway, I probably should have made that clear, but it was getting late, and the post was overlong already.

Also, the remark about you being irritating was a wisecrack, not really an attempt to warn you off. (Reminder to self: use the joke tags next time.) Please feel free to keep irritating me in the comments section. When you really cross the line, I'll e-mail you a private admonishment and let you know.

Sled Dog said...

Phil wrote: "A person who taunts a critic shouldn't complain when he gets what he asked for."

I totally agree. When Imonk made his "spine" comment (in the name of honor) he basically begged for a battle.

As I read through your post I agree with some of your perspectives, disagree with others. But rather than hash it about, I believe it's time to put it to rest. Enough fuel has been thrown on this fire.

I do think the actual issues and concerns that you raise are greatly worth discussing...that in our pursuit of God's truth no stone ought to be left unturned. In fact. that's part of my frustration in all of this. Worthy topics get buried under all the personal stuff.

As for Pecadillo's plight, being a former Southern Californian, I know the annoyance of car break-in and theft, and that without the compounded pressure by the rigors of academy training. May it be resolved quickly and smoothly.

candy said...

too bad about pec's car. It adds stress to his life i am sure. My car was stolen last year. Two months later after lots of snow melted, we were turning a corner and there it was! Just a couple blocks away in the parking lot of some apartments. My husband's sack lunch was still on the seat all molded. Whoever took the car had gone through the glove compartment, so you might want to make sure that no important papers were stolen that might compromise pec's identity.

Sharad Yadav said...

Thanks, Phil. I just want you to like me. Not "like me, like me", but just like me. I'm insecure that way. No need for the joke tags - I'll just pray that my Tourette's syndrome doesn't kick in and I'll stop checking my email.

For what it's worth, I think we have some significant doctrinal agreement betwixt us.

By the way, do you still think my comparison with you (in regard to this issue) and KJV Only people is unreasonable? Do you think my comparison between you and early covenantalist disavowals of dispensationalism is appropriate? Just curious (I have a lot of doctrinal agreement with both of them, too).

Brad Huston said...


Sorry to hear about Pec's car. Please know it's not an isolated SoCal thing, as car thieves are rampant up here in the Pac. NW. Of course, they're just more conscious about littering about your car while they're stealing your stereo.

As for the “blog war” I’m sure that many here have been unhappy with own my comments and many have expressed their dissatisfaction to that end. That said, I have apologized on my blog (and do so here as well) for misstating/mischaracterizing in a recent post Frank’s earlier remark to iMonk (by stating that Turk called Michael “mentally unstable” when it should have been “emotionally unstable.”) that really got this whole affair going. I realize that there is a difference between emotional and mental, but please know that the error was one as the result of bad memory, not of malicious intent.

Here is to hoping we can put this behind us all. Though I am still a proponent of criticism when it comes to deconstructing that which is actually said, I am, however, still opposed to judgments as to what is going on in the mind and heart of the writer, that is clearly beyond what is said.


ResponsiveReader said...

That poor woman in the picture next to the Pyromaniac logo - is she the one who raided Pec's car? :-)

candy said...

I want to share a personal perspective about all of this. For over 20 years I was married to a very legalistic Christian. In fact, he was hyper-arminian or pelagian...whatever. I never felt like I could measure up to what he considered to be a good Christian wife. I have always enjoyed nature. In his eyes, I worshipped creation instead of the Creator. I was ridiculed when I read secular books. I could go on and on of my shortcomings in his eyes. Needless to say, I was frustrated, rebellious, and sick to death of his idea of Christianity. I went through a period of time appreciative of anyone who showed any sign of authenticity. I was as disgruntled and fed up as any of these emergent guys. Well, my husband ended up divorcing me and marrying a non-christian, of all things.

Post-divorce, i worked at a Christian wilderness ministry. The great debate of the summer was Calvinism vs. Arminianism. And, yep, much of the debate took place in the local tavern. It was the summer that God opened my eyes to Reformed Theology. Prior to that, I didn't even know what a Calvinist or an Arminian was. It was a healing summer and a very thoughtful summer. It took two more years for me to come to terms with that one of five points that I could not grasp.

My point is that we just don't know what God is doing in people's lives. In my summer debates, it was about theology, exposing error, espousing truth. Not one person was ridiculed or demeaned for their position. It was in the atmosphere of spirited debate that we all had fun and had to really think about things. I just don't think that attacking a person will help in that person thinking about their position. They will spend their time defending themselves.

I don't know much about BHT because I don't go there. So I can't speak for their demeanor or position. I can relate to the angst or the resentment though. God used my failures and my rebellion to show me my wretchedness and my utmost gratefulness at being chosen by Him. Maybe if we can still engage in spirited debate without trying to crunch the opposition, who knows but we may read a "confesssional" about God's revelation of grace in their lives. I certainly hope so.

bp said...

This potty training award, I wonder what place it is for. After reading Pecadillo's blog I have a hard time imagining that he could come first in such a contest. Perhaps he got the "Good Effort" award.

Phil Johnson said...


I think he actually stole the ribbon from the church nursery.

LeeC said...


I think he actually stole the ribbon from the church nursery. "-Phil

Oh my...a new scandal!

David & Rose Ann said...

"...and if necessary employ said meat chub in a way that might have required some dentistry to repair the thwarted car-thief's grin."

Simply brilliant juxtaposition of words. Excellent.

gaw said...

I'll have you know that I BEAT you to the word "FRACAS."

Matt Grumm may own that Broohaw word, and you are certainly welcome to use "imbroglio" (whatever that means) all you want, but FRACAS is MINE.

I'm just sayin'...

(By the way, my time stamp is CST... You're Pacific, right?)

SB said...

please forgive me for being a jerk with the last post I lfet under "Why Cant We just all Get Along"

i just posted it because i was mad-i added apart about schools that was in spite)it didnt really add anything of value and i looked around trying to figure out if i could delete it yesterday-Phil we all know you are a Godly man and most of us look up to you. The ones that don't are foolish.

The stuff I wrote on my blog I re- worked because it had an angry attitude. I tried to change it to now simply reflect my opinions and allow for the fact that my opinions may still be wrong.
Anyway if you care here's a brother who says forgive me for being angry towards you.

Phil Johnson said...


Yes, but can you properly pronounce the word without looking it up?

I heard a newscaster say "FRACK-us" just yesterday. Most people say FRAY-kus, and that's OK. But the highbrow pro-NOWNCe-ee-a-shun, according to the OED, is fra-CA.

The OED also lists an interesting Scots synonymn that someone ought to work into their monday-morning QBing on this thing: "stushie."

FX Turk said...


Can a Christian say that and still abide by James 4?

SB said...

sorry about Pec's car-- I once had all my christian cd's stolen I prayed that maybe God would do something with the good cd's among the collection(some of the whitecross cd's I hoped might be avoided from the listening ears of the thief)I think I checked the local goodwill and found a few of them-- So anyway that sucks Sometimes it's hard to apply Romans 8:28 with some of this stuff

Tony Kummer said...

RE: Whatever your just said.
Phil, you have to keep post shorter- my childlike attention span, remember?
It makes me miss the antiblog.

Scott Hill said...

I have had a lot of people mad, angry, frustrated, agitated, and some other emotions that probably don't even have names in my life. My writing at Fide-O has gone down the same track. It never really bothered me before. Somehow though the comment about your wife, whom I have never met bothered me.

I can't remove the pictures since I did not post them, but I will ask Jason to remove them, and if you would apologize to your wife for me I would appreciate it.

Phil Johnson said...


Darlene wants me to say that my remark about her being "frightened" was a huge overstatement.

She winced.

She may have gasped a little, too.

Then she said, "Oh, boy"—with one of those harried home-school mom smiles.

So she also wanted me to say that there's no need to apologize. She has a husband and three sons who manage to elicit gasps and groans from her on an almost hourly basis.

It's a wonder that she doesn't look like the woman in the picture at the top of this post, but trust me—she doesn't.

And she normally thinks you guys are pretty funny. Especially the "Good Thoughts" blog.

gaw said...

I should not have started a word stushie with a man that edits professionally... You are the word master, and may use whatever word you choose, with or without my permission.

suzi said...


What were you doing up at 2:56a.m.? Chasing mice? ;)

Carla Rolfe said...


lol, no! Phil's time stamp is west coast - it was 5:56 am (east coast) when I read this and replied. I assure you, I was NOT up at 3 am. It's debatable if I was truly up at 6 am when I did write that.

Colin Maxwell said...

When I read your post about the car getting broke into, I thought of Matthew Henry's prayer to God after a highway man held him up:

I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.

I have heard this with a couple more *reasons* attached, but this was the only quote I could source via the Internet. Still...pretty good.

Pecadillo said...

candyinsierras said...
"I am SO slow. I thought it was just a random weird post of dead boars at FIDO. I was scratching my head at the time."

Do yourself a favor; read Frank Turk's blog everyday.


I earned that award through hard work and determination... just shy of my 17th birthday.

Brad said...

and still looking for "that non-denominational, charismatic weblog that criticizes other Christians regularly out of duty." ...because if you can't produce a name, apparently they don't exist and charismatic, non-denominational critics may have "ceased". (more sarcasm- I can't control myself now) Does Spurgeon have anything to say on what time I should set my alarm clock for tomorrow?