Friday, January 17, 2020

Anthropology...and a clown parade of jackwagons

I never heard the terms "lower anthropology" vs. "higher anthropology" in relation to your view of human nature, in the context of faith, and today I read about these terms in 2 different places within the space of an hour.

The first place I saw these anthropology terms used was in a book I just started this afternoon, Churchy, The Real Life Adventures of a Wife, Mom & Priest, by Sarah Condon. I "met" Sarah Condon on the podcast, The Mockingcast. I love her. I love her voice. I love her Mississippi accent (writing Mississippi is fun). I love her slightly sailor mouth. I love her sarcastic, self-deprecating humor. I love her rants. I love her brash outspokenness. I love the way she emotionally blurts things out. I love the way she tells her story honestly and apologetically.

OK, I guess you have the idea. Anyway, Chapter 2 of that book (which I highly recommend), is called "Low Anthropology is my Love Language." She writes "people accuse me of being negative and depressing. They tell me human beings are inherently good." Then, I can just hear her voice as I read:
To be clear, I do not want to be negative for negativity's sake. I just have what theologians call a "low anthropology." Which is to say, my theology tells me humanity is a clown parade of jackwagons. This is the crux of  why we need Jesus to save us. He didn't come because we are all good vibes and motives. He came because we have always been a sinking ship of fools. (p, 16)
So there you go! Why did Jesus need to save us? Because we are a clown parade of jackwagons.

Higher and lower anthropology are defined in my second reading:
Broadly, we can classify anthropological theories as being either higher or lower, more optimistic versus more pessimistic. A higher anthropology tends to be optimistic about human nature and capacities. At root, we're both good and capable. Just give us room to grow! A lower anthropology, by contrast, is pessimistic about human nature. Humans are fallible, sinful, and weak. ~~ Richard Beck, from his blog, "Experimental Theology," The Gospel According to the Lord of the Rings: Week 3, A Lower Anthropology
Jackwagons is a new word for me, too. How about you? When I read it I thought it must be a less vulgar way to say "jacka**es.* But, no, it's actually a word -- slang, but still. According to Urban Dictionary, it is:
n. Slang term derived from the Freight or Chow wagons used in the late 19th century. These were often the last wagons in a wagon train, making them the least favorable to drive due to the dust, waste, and debris from the front of the train. 
When used as in insult it refers to one's lack of intelligence, implying the insultee is capable of no more than operating a Chow wagon. 
example: You're doing it wrong, you Jack wagon!
Praise God he loves us jackwagons.

Early wagon train, from Spartacus Educational

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