I can remember the first time I saw a coffee shop attached to a book store. My parents had to take an annual trip after Christmas to a Barnes and Noble (relatively) close to our house so I could use my yearly gift certificate (not a gift card like you young folks use nowadays) from my aunt to buy books about Star Wars. These were the days of the late 1990s, and the adjoining café seemed a place where thinkers thought. Later, a free-standing joint came to our side of town, and it became a haunt of my own. All my theater friends hung out there; ergo, I spent time (and money I could have spent on Star Wars books) there as well.
If you have been a frequenter of coffee shops, you know the type: the guy who has something to say. He needs you to know it. He’s read all the books AND the articles. There are articles too. He can tell you what studies show. If we just did that one thing like they do it in Europe, man our country would be incredible. And did you know that this publicly held view is actually wrong and foolish? Listen, man. You’ve got to educate yourself!
People like this aren’t new. They come from all walks of life, from every class, creed, and color. Tell someone like this you’re a Christian or that you regularly attend church, and they’ll open their file of objections with all the pugnacious sanctimony one can harvest from caffeine and reading the first-thirds of several books.
Despite the weakness of their position, they always gain some kind of audience. Often, they co-opt a listening ear because the Christian receiving their half-baked dissertation has enough gentility and Christian character to desire not to give an offense. However, if the person is young, or at least young in the faith, he or she may have trouble separating the wheat from the chaff. Innocence like a dove already broke from the shell, but the wisdom of a snake still gestates. In such a place, someone convinced of his or her view can come off as quite convincing, and the young believer usually does not convert to such a person’s views, but he does leave the conversation confused.
Given the context in which I participated in such conversations, I submit to my readers a new series: Latte Objections. When dealing with some objections to the faith, one must sit ready to digest much information and argumentation. For example, J. L. Mackie’s 1955 essay, “Evil and Omnipotence” contains much for the Christian believer to process. Mackie’s objections (though not unanswerable) provide a sort of hearty meal of substance for the Christian mind to digest. The objections considered here do not fall into such a category. They have caffeine, excitement, and wisdom in one’s own eyes as fuel. Where a thorough thinker might ignite a house fire, the objections considered by this series find an analogue in fireworks. They might have some bright colors, but their substance flames out rather quickly. They possess all the heartiness of a latte.
Join me on Friday for our first foray into Latte Objections as we discuss the assertion that Adolf Hitler was a Christian.