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The Glory of Thick Skin

Karl Giberson

Writer’s Log: Stardate 12-1-8

The strong review of The Anointed that I mentioned a couple days ago was in the print section of the NY Times today. Randall and I have been watching the Amazon ranking of our book climb steadily all day.  Its low this week was something above 100,000 but right now—Sunday evening—it is 5000.  This is actually really great for a book of this sort. It is, for example, #3 on the “Science and Religion” bestseller list.  And it will certainly never compete with Hunger Games or biographies of Steve Jobs, that occupy the top slots.  So we are pleased.

What is not so pleasant is the childish whining of Ken Ham, head of Answers in Genesis and one of the figures profiled in The Anointed. Ham seems to be a very mean-spirited person who would prefer to attack one’s faith than their ideas. According to Ham believing the earth is “millions of years old” is subscribing to a pagan religion. (I wonder what believing the earth is “billions of years old” might be compared to?)You can read his commentary here, which is really just some annotation on previous commentary—some of which is wrong, like the comment about James Dobson, who we did not claim was a young earth creationist.

Ham has been after me for years, constantly scolding the Church of the Nazarene for giving me a teaching position where I could lead college students astray. This, of course, is how fundamentalists of all stripes operate—they try to create political problems for people they oppose, rather than just engage their ideas. Ham and his ilk, which includes the motley crew that calls themselves the “Concerned Nazarenes,” have been pressuring the administration at Eastern Nazarene College, directly and indirectly, to fire me. Various college presidents over the years have had to stick up for me, gently reminding my critics that I was teaching mainstream science and that my theological ideas were in the mainstream of the denomination. There was much rejoicing in Mudville when the news broke that I was leaving, but they were quite dismayed to discover that I was walking away on my one, and not leaving on a rail, covered in tar and feathers. 

One of my atheist friends, who calls me "Uncle Karl," also posted some critical commentary about me today.  I will let you decide whether the atheist is more or less Christ-like than Ken Ham.

Writer’s Log Supplemental: Stardate 12-1-8

The review in The Times has also resulted in a nice invitation to speak in Washington, DC, and many supportive emails.