This is my growing collection of anecdotal exchanges and musings about the perception and the reality that outspoken champions of Calvinism are douchebags. The most active social circles of a staunchly archconservative New Calvinism and the Reformed tradition nowadays attract and retain a distinctly high concentration of insufferable jerks.
Me: It’s illuminating how everyone I meet in American Christianity knows precisely what I mean when I say “dickishly Reformed” to describe the flavor of Reformed Christian that I don’t want to be. The cure’s as horrid as the disease when it comes to archconservative Reformed people pushing back against anything and everything. It looks a lot like people ruled by emotion to me. On both sides.
Friend: It’s because “Reformed” is just a brand of consumerized Christianity that means Christianity for mildly autistic, reasonably well-educated, middle-class assholes. Almost no one I know who is Reformed whose parents (or grandparents if they are young people in a Reformed family) were Reformed. It’s a commodified consumerist brand as much as evanjellyfish megachurches.
Me: I’m stealing all of this for a new blog post. 😀
Friend: Why does Reformed theology attract more than its fair share of argumentative men, especially young men? You know what I mean.
Me: I’ve said before that the archconservative Reformed camp is a personality enclave. It may not be a question of who it attracts as much as who it repels. One reason may be that only men who’re exceptionally high in disagreeableness and low in negative emotionality can psychologically handle the Reformed doctrine of providence and predestination and everything which flows from that. The toughest view of God may require the toughest temperament of men to bear it and defend it.
Much like law enforcement, the Reformed tradition has a blesséd tendency to attract and produce a disproportionately large number of upstanding courageous defenders of the Faith. As a result, its influence on church and culture alike far exceeds its numbers.
And much like law enforcement, the Reformed tradition has a curséd tendency to attract more than its fair share of megalomaniacs and bullies. So when you watch the Reformed online world, it’s a big fight between whose version of megalomania is going to win.
This isn’t quite dickishly Reformed, but it’s close. This is Reformed as a market brand.
Ornery Reformed men are frustrated by their lack of genuine agency in this culture. And rightly so. But what they do is synthesize a distorted and extreme performative definition of manliness. And then they attempt to live it out. In reality, they’re just LARPing through life as a caricature of manliness and fatherliness. They do this to reassure themselves and silence the ghosts of feminism and effeminacy that haunt the recesses of their minds.
As for the passionately vocal Reformed women who love this sort of man and the lifestyle he’s LARPing, I can’t help but think this is some version of a 50 Shades of Grey fantasy.
It’s the “Already but Not-Yet” of a low-grade case of Asperger Syndrome—redeemed but still undergoing heavy sanctification. Have patience. It only lasts 60 or 70 years, tops.
Self-deprecating Reformed self-commentary from the MCU. Calvinism is Bruce Banner.
Does this really require further explanation? I’d say if you get the joke, it proves my point!