(Photo above a screenshot of this video about Appalachian Christianity.)
This Twitter thread is making the rounds, deservedly so. It starts like this:
And includes this:
But then he changed his mind. Click here to read the whole story, and to see some amazing documents.
I thought about this while reflecting on something a former occultist, now Christian, told me when I interviewed him for my new book. He said that having come out of a very, very dark place, he realizes now that the fundagelicals he used to make fun of in his pre-occult youth are actually far better judges of the dangers of the occult’s dangers than the sophisticated Christians he used to admire before becoming an occultist. After he began openly and willingly to serve the dark side, he used to laugh at the sophisticated Christians as no threat at all to the designs of him and his co-religionists. The ex-occultist, who has an advanced education, even told me that as crude as he is, old Jack Chick, with his crazypants pamphlets, was a lot closer to the truth of what the occult is than are many more sophisticated theologians (and it’s not harder to be more sophisticated than Chick). A characteristic image from a Chick tract:
I’m reminded too of what the late Polish Cardinal Stefan Wyszyinski, the spiritual leader of Poland during most of its Communist oppression, did to ensure the survival of the faith under the Communist yoke. The Blessed Stefan (he was beatified last year) understood that the new Communist rulers of Poland would try to subdue the Church and secularize the Polish people by winning over intellectual elites. So he strongly promoted Polish folk piety, judging that the faithfulness of the simple people of Poland, which entailed some pious practices that were shallow and sentimental, were a stronger bulwark against the totalitarians than intellection. (If you read Czeslaw Milosz’s The Captive Mind, about the surrender of some Polish intellectuals to Communism, you can understand why).
The point of all this is not to praise ignorance in Christian pastors. Not long ago I encountered a low-church Christian who didn’t know what he didn’t know, and who made a number of bad judgments based on his ignorance, which for him had become a form not of humility, but of self-righteousness. Pride may take different forms, but it’s still pride. No, the point is not to praise ignorance per se, but rather to say that in some ways, the ignorant-but-faithful are much wiser than those who look down on them from a mountain of books, but who have lost something vital in their intellectual assent. May God bless Michael Clary for his testimony. He has given me a lot to think about — as has this ex-occultist with whom I spoke.