I have had several debates in the past few weeks about subtlety, in various forms. Generally speaking, I am a fan of subtlety. I think for the most part this has to do with my aversion to hypocrisy, which is usually associated with the more violent rhetoric, say, of Rush Limbaugh. Rush doesn’t leave a lot of room for error in himself. He’s so busy slapping ad homs and non sequitors on everyone on “the other side,” picking apart anything and everything even remotely wrong, that when he makes a factual statement in passing like “2008, that’s three years ago,” you tend to want to slam the radio off and never listen to another word. Just out of the principle of the thing.
You raise the bar that high, you gotta live up to it, G. Oh, you can’t? Gosh, wouldn’t that make you a tad bit reluctant to be that mean to everyone else?
Aversion to this type of rhetoric can produce vehicles like Beware the Believers, which garnered much debate as to whose side it was really on. Intelligent design? Couldn’t be; it was actually clever, and a touch on the crass side, which Christians would never stand for. Evolution? Couldn’t be; parse out the lyrics and the imagery.
It would be a stretch to call a rap video, even one mentioning Aristotle, “subtle.” But in its own way, in that it avoids the Limbaugh-esque vitriol present in the movie it was originally made for, it is subtle.
The cookie-cutter “Conservative Christian,” inasmuch as those exist, may have an aversion to this sort of subtlety (because it is neither damning nor pious enough), but even Jesus did this. He told parables. People didn’t get them. After hearing these parables, they debated whether or not he had a demon, actually.
And as Walker Percy has suggested in his explanation of good news from across the sea, “in these times everyone is an apostle of sorts, ringing doorbells and bidding his neighbor to believe this and do that. In such times, when everyone is saying ‘Come!’ when radio and television say nothing else but ‘Come!’ it may be that the best way to say ‘Come!’ is to remain silent. Sometimes silence itself is a ‘Come!'”
One thought on “Right Subtlety”
Thanks for linking to the “Beware the Believers” video–that was great stuff. It’s so funny in the linked forum discussion how incapable some of these atheists are of having a sense of humor–or if they’ve got one, of recognizing the possibility that a believer might also have one.