Our sermon for today is on the text

The religiosity of the recovery movement is evident in its rhetorical appeals to a higher power and in the evangelical fervor of its disciples. When I criticize the movement I am usually accused of being ‘in denial,’ as I might once have been accused of heresy.

That is from Wendy Kaminer’s examination of the ‘recovery’ and self-help movements, I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional. But the reaction she describes is typical of vastly more ‘movements’ and ideological systems than just the self-help variety. In fact it’s probably fairly difficult to find a ‘movement’ or ideology whose adherents don’t resort to that tactic. If someone criticises a set of ideas to which I am committed, then that someone is doing a bad thing. I must elaborate on exactly what kind of bad thing it is that the critic is doing. Let me see. The critic is being intolerant. The critic is an elitist. The critic is arrogant and anti-democratic. The critic is an extremist and outside the mainstream. The critic believes things that most people don’t believe, or doesn’t believe things that most people do believe. The critic has Bad Motives – I don’t know exactly what they are, but I’ll hazard a guess. The critic is Eurocentric, or Orientalist, or a positivist.

It’s all pre-emption. And all based on the premise that criticism, however impersonal and general it may be, is somehow impermissible. Not just wrong, in error, inaccurate, but wicked and invidious and deserving of moral condemnation. That’s a bizarre notion on the face of it, and it will be worth pondering where it came from…

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