Today we left Boston and headed west to the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, where Herman Melville lived from 1850-1863. It was here in Pittsfield that Melville wrote what many consider to be the greatest of American novels, Moby Dick. Melville’s home-Arrowhead, as it is called-which functions as a Melville museum, was our sole stop for the day, but it was worth the detour from our Great Awakening theme.
Herman Melville’s writing career was unusual. His first book, Typee, was a semi-autobiographical tale of his whaling adventures in the South Pacific. Typee was an immediate popular success and brought Melville overnight fame. His second book, Omoo, picked up where Typee left off, but was still written as popular fiction.
In writing Moby Dick, Melville aimed higher. He wanted to produce great literature, rather than mere popular fiction, and so he wrote a book with thick with symbolism, many layers, and a message. Many believe Moby Dick to be the greatest piece of American literature ever produced. There is some disagreement as to the symbolism and the main theme of the book, but I side with those who believe Captain Ahab’s obsessive quest for the white whale is a symbol of man’s unholy pursuit of God. Moby Dick is packed with theological symbolism, starting with the name of the characters and carried through to the last act of the captivating story.
Our day began with a drive to Newburyport, Massachusetts that should have lasted an hour but took nearly two because of traffic and a stop at Dunkin Donuts. If you’ve not been to Boston, you may not know Dunkin Donuts has taken dominion over Boston. We counted five on a one-mile stretch on the road out of Boston, so we felt compelled to stop and see what all the fuss was about. I’m still trying to figure it out.
We went to Newburyport because that is the location of Old South Presbyterian Church (see pic above), where George Whitefield is buried. He died there on September 30, 1770, the morning after insisting on preaching the gospel one last time as he felt he was passing from this life to the next. He was buried in a crypt under the church.
Only, we made the mistake of coming on a Saturday when the church was closed, so we could only wander around outside and did not see the crypt. It was a disappointment to be sure, but with the disappointment came a surprise: the house next door was the house where William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), one of the most influential abolitionist of his day, was born.
Let me get some things out on the table right from the start. I am an Evangelical. I am conservative. I believe in small government, low taxes, and liberty. I am a one-exception (life of the mother) pro-lifer.
I think Ronald Reagan was one of greatest presidents we have ever had, and I supported Pat Robertson in the 1988 presidential primary. Except Nos. 7 and 8, I previously held all the views I criticize below.
What changed my mind was (1) deciding I was no longer going to get my political opinions from a political party or television network and (2) attempting to carry out Biblical and kingdom presuppositions to their logical conclusions. So, you can call me wrong, but don’t call me a liberal. What I hope I am is a Christian whose politics are rooted not in Fox News or MSNBC, the Republicans or the Democrats, but the Bible.
With that in mind, here are 10 things American Evangelicals are wrong about:
Should you get the COVID vaccine? I understand the concerns of those who are reluctant. I was reluctant at first, not because I knew anything about the vaccine but because I didn’t.
I’ve always been vaccine hesitant. Until last year, I never even got a flu vaccine shot. I just figured that intentionally injecting any part of a virus into my arm was something I should avoid if possible (I didn’t realize mRNA vaccines do not use any part of the virus). Besides I was young enough not to worry about the flu killing me. Also, with the COVID vaccine, I wanted to wait and see about the possible side effects.
In the end, I decided the risk from COVID-19 was far greater than the risk of side effects from the vaccine. I read the conspiracy theories and the now debunked myths about the vaccine, but in the end I made the rather unremarkable decision to trust the experts.
I don’t ask politicians for medical advice, and I don’t ask doctors for advice about my politics. If I went to the doctor because I had blood in my urine, and the doctor gave me his diagnoses, I wouldn’t say, “No offense, Doc, but I would like to get a second opinion from a politician.” The CDC, Dr. Fauci, and my doctor, all agreed about the need to get vaccinated, and just like if I got opinions from three different doctors all giving me the same diagnoses I would trust them, I decided to trust the experts on the vaccine.