Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A voyage round our fathers?

I have never before encountered Chuck Colson. As enforcer for Tricky Dicky, Mr Colson became deeply embroiled in the Watergate scandal and was imprisoned. Remarkably converted, he went on to found Prison Fellowship. Among US Conservative Evangelicals he is something of an Elder statesman. I was looking forward to his talk because I was intrigued by his personal story, and endorse his advocacy for restorative justice.

Actually, his presentation was hard work, not only for me but for all of our group. Many others around us were respectful, but noticeably less plugged into this talk than the others. Mr Colson gave some helpfully provocative sound bites — “we have bought into a lie, and transferred our allegiace from truth to therapy” sticks in the mind as a challenge to consider.
In the main however, his talk was a syllabus of errors, defending a Protestant version of what Roman Catholics used to call integralism — everything about God, propositionally stated, hangs together as an unquestionable whole. Any compromise and the whole trickles away. No duck/rabbits or wave/particles for Mr Colson then. And why his particular whole package, not Pio Nono’s? Don’t suppose I’ll ever know.

This was a curiously unsatisfying talk, with its logical-positivist style — Dawkins stood on his head? Its knockdown arguments took us on a slightly clunky trip around the circle line, whilst most everybody else is up on the surface, strolling in the park these days. Perhaps whipping ideas together to force compliance from the unwilling is what good party enforcers do best. If ever I feel we need that doing, I'll know where to come, I suppose.

5 comments:

Andrew Brown said...

The only time I heard Chuck Colson speak was at a Christian Booksellers' Conference in Blackpool, where he solemnly lectured us on how Britain had always preserved the values of Christianity, freedom, and capitalism. The monasteries, he explained, had survived the Dark Ages, by trading their illuminated manuscripts with the Vikings.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Blimey! Thanks, Andrew. Looks like I got off light...

FranIAm said...

Oh dear, I've been silently reading all along and now I comment twice in one evening...

Deep sigh. Chuck Colson. He spews a lot - and I do mean a lot, of Catholic-laced stuff. It is not in a good way, as I see it. (and I am Catholic, albeit of a more progressive vein than some.)

There is a podcast here that is worth listening to. Colson likes to go all Augustinian and so forth, but then weaves it back into his own thing, as you mention in your post.

I am not a fan, that is for sure!

nlnh said...

Oh well, there's no way someone could spend that time around Nixon without some of it rubbing off on him.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Hmm. Sounds disturbingly as though I thought I was getting the worst of the guy, and actually it was the best!

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