Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Getting over the Inspection Hurdle to Closing

Getting over the Inspection Hurdle to Closing
You’ve just accepted an offer on your home, and now you are under contract. If the Buyer of your home is paying all cash and had waived the inspection and appraisal, you have smooth sailing to a quick close.

But what if the Buyer did not waive the inspection (which would generally be a foolish thing for a Buyer to do), what comes next.

Within the first week or so, the Buyers will schedule a time with their inspector when they can get together to inspect your home. That often creates some anxiety for the Seller, even if it’s a fairly new home and no major problems are expected. Everyone has heard some horror story of a deal crashing because the inspector’s report scared off the Buyer.

There is no need to get too anxious, however, if you know what to expect. Here is the normal inspection process:

  1. Buyer, Buyer’s Agent, and inspector find a mutually agreeable time.
  2. Buyer’s Agent calls Seller’s Agent to make sure the time is agreeable with the Seller. Since the Seller and any pets should be gone for the inspection, it can get complicated to schedule a time that works for everyone.
  3. Buyer, Buyer’s Agent, and inspector are present for the inspection, which usually takes 2 to 2 ½ hours or more, depending on the size of the property and whether it’s a condo, townhouse, or single-family home. It can take a lot longer if it’s a farm or other property with multiple buildings.
  4. After the inspection, the inspector gives the Buyer (and usually the Buyer’s Agent) a copy of the report.
  5. Buyer and Buyer’s Agent discuss the report and decide what issues, if any, the Buyer wants to ask the Seller to correct.
  6. Buyer’s Agent prepares an Inspection Objection form and sends it to Seller’s Agent after the Buyer signs it. This must get to the Seller on or before the Inspection Objection Deadline (Section 3, Item 25 in the Colorado purchase contract).
    This Inspection Objection generally includes only major problems that are either safety issues or would cost a lot of money to fix. Sometimes, though, the Buyer asks for a “laundry list” of repairs: everything the inspector identifies, regardless of how trivial it may seem.
  7. Seller’s Agent reviews the Inspection Objection form with the Seller and they prepare an Inspection Resolution form together. The Seller has three options:
    1. Agree to correct every issue on the Inspection Objection, or
    2. Agree to fix some but, not all, of the issues, or
    3. Decline to fix any of the issues.

  8. Since all that is needed is an agreement between Buyer and Seller that there is a resolution of the objection issues, “a.” above will provide that resolution, while “b.” or “c.” above will require a choice by the Buyer to get to a resolution.
Buyer has three options in the case of “b.” or “c.”:

(1)    Negotiate for a different resolution, or
(2)    Agree to buy the house regardless of the Seller’s willingness to fix all the issues.
(3)    Terminate the contract, get their Earnest Money deposit back, and look for another house to buy.

If there is no resolution by the Objection Resolution Deadline (Section 3, Item 26 of the contract), the contract terminates automatically.

The first two options provide a resolution, and the contract then continues to the closing.

Seller now has until closing, or whatever time specified in the Inspection Resolution, to complete the repairs they agreed to do.

Typically, the Buyer’s lender waits until there is an inspection resolution before ordering the appraisal, so the Buyer is not stuck with paying for an appraisal ($500 or more) for a house they don’t want to buy.

Still have questions? Feel free to contact me, and I’ll be happy to talk with you. Rudy Antle, Call or Text: 303-548-6353,

Saturday, October 15, 2016

On "Making Sense of God, An Invitation to the Skeptical"

I just started reading Timothy Keller's new book, "Making Sense of God, An Invitation to the Skeptical", and it is so insightful and intriguing that I find myself taking notes and responding to it.
This series, then, will consist both of quotes from Keller's book and my own responses to it. In this sense it is not a review, critique, or a study guide; rather, this series will be my attempt to synthesize and summarize what I have studied and experienced over my life-- that is, what I have learned and have come to believe.

So, I start with these two quotes: the first from the preface where Keller defines "secular" and the second is from Chapter One, "Isn't Religion Going Away?"

"A secular person is one who does not know if there is a God 
or any supernatural realm beyond the natural world. 
Everything, in this view, has a scientific explanation."

"Strict secularism holds that people are only physical entities without souls,
that when loved ones die they simply cease to exist,
that sensations of love and beauty are just neurological-chemical events,
that there is no right or wrong outside of what we 
in our minds determine and choose."

The first quote is Keller's definition--the one he will use throughout his book--so I won't respond to it. It comes from his forty years of working in Manhatten and talking with the skeptics and seekers prevalent there, as well as with believers, both strong in their faith and those trying to maintain their faith in the materialistic culture of New York.

I, on the other hand, have only rarely had a personal conversation with someone who would admit to believing all that Keller describes in the second quote. I have, however, known some people who do hold to the second and fourth parts of  that description.

One man in his eighties and recovering from surgery, responded to my query about his readiness to die with the statement that he was ready because it would essentially mean the end of his struggle. He went on to say that he believed that this life is all there is--that once he died that would be the end of him. I was surprised at this answer since he was a fellow church member, and I assumed that he had the Christian hope of eternal life with God.

And on the fourth part of Keller's quote--the part about right and wrong--I know many people who reject biblical standards in favor of having a cafeteria approach to morality. Right and wrong are what they determine them to be. In many ways they are "good" people--some by comparison are better than I am. But on certain moral issues the word "sin" for them does not apply.

I have to say that my own life is not fully consistent with biblical standards. I must admit that I am included in this verse in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." This is why I am so grateful for the grace of God through Jesus Christ as seen in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" and in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes...".

I know I need grace and to be saved from my sinful nature. That, it appears, is what differentiates me from the "secular" person Keller describes: one who knows they need forgiveness from those they have harmed but not from a God they don't believe exists.

I do believe God exists and that Jesus Christ came not just to teach us how to live, but to make eternal life with God possible, reconciling us (and me in particular) to God by his sacrificial death, resurrection, and his presence in my life in the person of the Holy Spirit.

I'm eager to read more of Keller's book, for I hope it will help me give hope to others who are asking, "Is this all there is?"

Monday, September 05, 2016

How To Sell Your Current Home And Buy Another

"Can I find the new home I want and then sell my current home?" That is a question I get often, and my answer is always the same, "It depends."

Most of the time a client asks that question, what they really are asking is whether they can make an offer on a new home contingent on selling theirs. In most markets the answer is a definite, "No". Rarely will everything align to make it reasonable for a home Seller to accept an offer that has a home-to-sell contingency. That would just give total control of the sale of the Seller's home to the Buyer, with no guarantees and with no ability to accept another offer.

Here are the most common ways a Seller can sell their home and buy another. Almost all of them have some good features and some not so good.
  1. Find the new home and write an offer to buy it with cash. Then sell your current home. This is a non-contingent offer that requires you to have sufficient cash on hand to buy the new home. For those able to do it, this has many great advantages: you have a better chance of your offer being accepted; you can take your time moving out of your current home; and you don't have the problem of losing the house you really like because you don't have your home on the market yet.
  2. Find the new home and write an offer to buy it with a loan. Then sell your current home. This is a non-contingent offer that requires you to have sufficient down payment cash on hand and the income to get the loan. If you have a loan balance on your current home, you must have enough income to qualify for the new loan and continue making your current home's payment. This is almost as good as option #1 except that it often produces some anxiety about making two house payments.

    If you are over 62, you might have an option of using a Reverse Mortgage to buy the new home. This option has some special requirements, so we definitely need to talk about them.
  3. Put your home on the market to sell, and then write an offer on the new home when yours is Under Contract. In my experience, this is the option most move-up or move-down clients have to choose. They don't have the cash or the income to buy a home without having theirs sold first. It does allow you to write an acceptable offer though, even if your home is not closed yet. Most Sellers will accept an offer contingent on the closing of a property that is Under Contract and due to close at a reasonable date. Sometimes they require that your contract is beyond the inspection contingency date, however.
    What I generally do in this situation is start looking at homes to buy as soon as we put your home on the market. This allows you to find the neighborhood where you want to live, and to identify one or more homes that you would like to buy. Then, once an offer on your home is accepted, we go back to those homes you have pre-selected and that are still available (along with other new listings in those areas).
  4. Buying a new builder's home is a different situation. Unless the builder has an inventory home that you like, you have to plan to get your home sold before the new one will be available. This generally involves selling your home, living in a temporary home or apartment, and then moving into the new home when it is completed.
    This is very common for new builder home buyers because the builders will require a non-contingent status in their contracts. At some point in the construction schedule, they will require you to either have your home sold and closed or to sign a waiver of contingency. That means you agree to proceed with the purchase of the new home and you can demonstrate that you have the resources to buy it even if your home doesn't sell first.
Every situation is unique, so if you are thinking of moving that will likely involve selling your home and buying another one, call me. I can help you work through all the options open to you. For all my contact information, see 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Another friend from churchEvan Mazunik, posted a comment on Facebook with a link to this article, by Samuel Whitefield " Four Issues to Consider Before You Vote Trump – What is Really at Stake and said this: "I found the following article convicting & illuminating: '...a Clinton presidency is not the biggest thing at stake in this election. The biggest thing at stake in this election is the church’s prophetic voice to the culture.'"

In the article linked to, Samuel Whitefield shares his concern that “the church”, and in particular “the evangelical church” is too closely tied with politics; and again too closely tied in particular with the Republican party.

He obviously took a long time to research and write his 20 page, 9,000-word article; and I don’t have the time to react to all of it. I just have these three things to say in response:

(1)  There is no “the evangelical church”. Yes, some religious leaders or organizations have come out in public support of Trump, but evangelicals are fragmented. There is no longer a “moral majority” with political power. Even the Tea Party movement (which is not necessarily evangelical) is not unified.
    Whitefield says “Now is the time for the church to break free of every political machine in order to become a prophetic voice to the nation.”; and closely below that says “As a church we have put too little value on our call to be a prophetic witness to the nation. We have allowed the siren call of political saviors to obscure our higher calling to function in society as a voice with a single allegiance.”

To have a prophetic voice with a single allegiance, requires a unified Body of Christ. When Christians can’t even agree on what style of music leads to the most sincere worship, agreement on a highly complex political issue or candidate is a pipe dream.

(2)  America (or “the evangelical church”) is not necessarily looking for a savior. But a super majority says the country is headed in the wrong direction. The “Church” has a prophetic role to play, but it is not to inveigh against a particular candidate for president or advocate for another. Its prophetic role is to lift up Jesus as the Savior and preach that we have hope only in God leading Christians to trust in Jesus and non-Christians to see the hopelessness of trusting in any person.
(3)  Yes, there are several evangelical pastors and leaders who have endorsed Trump. They get the headlines and TV appearances. However, there is no single leader of evangelical Christians, so who does Whitefield endorse to be the “prophetic voice” that will effectively separate “the evangelical church” from the Republican party or from Trump?

In conclusion, Samuel Whitefield is a voice on the same side of the argument as John Mark Reynolds. Wayne Grudem (and others not cited) are on the opposite side. The argument is whether a Christian (or “the evangelical church”) can, should, or should not support Donald Trump. Each has an opinion, and each argument is pretty much one-sided. Each speaks for himself; none speak for me.

I’ve enjoyed the discussion, friends. Now I think I better get back to my main responsibilities.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Philosophers Argue On Whether A Vote For Trump Is Moral. I'm still left with a dilemma.

Two well-known Christian philosophy professors disagree on whether voting for Trump is a positive moral choice or a "wicked deed" that will stain any person who does so.

After reading both of them (see links below), I am still left with a dilemma: is there a Christian reason, a moral reason, to vote for Trump, Clinton, or neither?

I like my friend Ken Roberts' take on the situation--"I personally believe we have two lousy presidential candidates; but one of them will be our next president. At this point we must shift our thinking and decide which of the two parties will best represent my values."  (See his complete comment at .)

I too have concluded that I have to shift from trying to choose which of two extremely undesirable candidates would make the best president (or the least worst president) to decide which party would best represent my values. I even like that he said "my values" because each voter has to decide that for himself or herself.

The articles in question are:

I originally said that I was also a long-time fan of John Mark Reynolds, but I saw that he wrote for and I confused him with another writer, Mark D. Roberts (whom I heartily recommend).  I can hear and agree with the anguish in Reynold's post about Grudem's article concerning the moral dilemma intrinsic in this year's election. I want to agree with Grudem. And, I can't find any of Reynolds' complaints about Trump that I disagree with. So I am left with without any candidate I can vote for without feeling disgusted.

Yet, in the end, I must decide. The Supreme Court argument Grudem makes is a strong one, although it leaves me with the feeling that I'm making an "end justifies the means" choice. Or perhaps more to the point, I feel like I'm in one of those bad moral choices offered in an ethics class which presents two options that are both unthinkable--a true moral dilemma. And, unlike Captain Kirk's Kobayashi Maru test, we can't just change the rules (or "cheat") to come up with a third alternative.

Not to decide is to decide, but the lazy way to do it. Not to vote is to vote, and is also the lazy way to do it.

After my original comment on Facebook, I needed to add this. Having re-read the articles by both Grudem and Reynolds, I have one complaint about the one by Reynolds. He excoriates Trump for his character (rightly in my view) and says he is “manifestly unworthy of the office of President of the United States.” He categorically states that “if we follow Professor Grudem’s advice we will lose this election and lose all moral authority to say character counts in the White House.

But Reynolds does not, in this article, give the reader a similar critique of Hillary Clinton (or even a link to another article with a similar critique of her character). Is the reader to infer that if we vote for Clinton, or don’t vote at all, we will retain the moral authority to say that character counts in the White house?

Grudem is not balanced either—he does cite some of Trump’s “flaws”, but devotes most of his article to giving reasons to vote for him anyway, many of them tied to the current and future vacancies in the Supreme Court. Reynolds does not acknowledge even one possible reason for voting for Trump (or against Clinton); and in spite of having the Supreme Court seal accompanying his article, he does not address Grudem’s argument on this point at all. In fact, he doesn’t even mention the Court.

Reynolds, like Grudem, is a well-known author and professor. After reading his response to Grudem, I checked out his biography and some additional Patheos posts; and I’m very impressed. Had he mentioned or linked to his Patheos post from July 29, 2016, “Maybe Cyrus is Cyrus: Pray God sends Help” his one-sided critique on July 30, 2016 would be easier to accept. However, even in that blog post there is not a good answer. For this election, it does not appear that God is sending a Cyrus to save the day.

Again, I don’t find anything Reynolds wrote about Trump’s character that I can deny.

I am still left with the dilemma that Ken Roberts stated so clearly: one of them will be president. How should I vote? I will pray and I will vote.

Likely, though, I’ll not be voting for the candidate but for the party that I think will give better the country what is needed for the next four years.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FW: How To Make Content Marketing Work For You

Hi Stefanie,


Thank you so much for all your insight you shared yesterday, and for your time and interest in helping me with my business. More on that later.


You'll see in another email that I sent to Metrolist and copied you that I'm seeking an answer to your question.


In case you didn't see this in the Denver Business Journal this morning, I thought you would be interested in this article. It sounds like what you described as what you do for businesses. What do you think of his article?


Thanks again,






Nov 19, 2013, 6:00am MST UPDATED: Nov 19, 2013, 6:43am MST

Strategies: How to make content marketing work for you

Jeff Kear

When it comes to misunderstood and misused "new" marketing tactics, content marketing is probably a close second to social media.

In and of itself, the rationale behind content marketing is solid: create compelling, informative content for your target market that establishes you as a thought leader and provides more opportunities for your prospects to encounter your brand.


But just browse through the thousands of online article sites and you will encounter millions of poorly written, banal articles stuffed with keywords and anchor-text-optimized links (which search engines are now pretty much ignoring).


Why do so many people get it so wrong? Because content marketing, when done well, isn't easy. It takes time to research and coherently write an article that is unique. The returns aren't immediate, in that you may need to create compelling content for months in order to get the momentum rolling. And there's also all the online noise you have to break through.


That said, content marketing has become a vital part of many companies' marketing and advertising efforts, mainly because it:

• Positions them as a problem solver that has deep industry knowledge and answers to pressing questions.

• Makes them look approachable and easy to work with.

• Improves recall and recognition, which increases the chances a prospect will remember them when a need for their product/service arises.


What may surprise you is that it doesn't necessarily take lots of time and resources to run your own content marketing program. Here are a few tips to get you started.


1.      Implement a realistic strategy

Start simple and set achievable goals. For instance, try to produce one original, insightful article every month, and create an editorial calendar for topics you want to cover each month. If you don't have the time to devote to it, find a co-worker who has the time and the passion for this responsibility. If writing isn't a strength of yours, rough out a first draft and then farm it out to a freelance writer for polishing.

2.      Learn what's relevant to your audience

Creating content is very similar to developing a product: find out what your audience wants and supply that demand. The best way to do this is to talk with your customers and prospects to learn what issues and challenges they are facing; what industry topics interest them the most; and where they see the industry heading.

In addition, you can read industry trade publications and browse relevant websites to brush up on current hot-button topics and even create Google Alerts so you are notified when specific topic keywords pop up online.


3.      Focus on quality, not quantity


Many people think they have to blog every day and post on social media constantly in order to run a successful content marketing campaign. In fact, it's often more effective to limit your number of articles and use your time to create something original and valuable instead of hammering your audience daily with rehashed news or ideas.

Here are just a few angles you can take in creating unique content:

• Collect and report on your own data or survey results (or write an article where you research and summarize data generated by others in your industry).

• Give your expert opinion of industry developments and news.

• Provide a comprehensive look at a pressing issue.

• Write a thorough "how-to" article.

• Offer tricks-of-the-trade and strategic insights into creating efficiencies.

• Interview an expert on a subject matter or an industry luminary.

• Break down a complicated idea into easy-to-understand chunks.

• Pen a "problem solved" article that details how you or another company overcame a challenge.

• Provide FAQs for recurring questions that trip up people in your industry.

• Cover common mistakes or blunders people in your industry make and how they can be avoided.

Note: Besides writing articles, you can also create video content using these guidelines, as many people prefer watching a video to reading an article.

4.      Develop your delivery channels


Once you create your content, you need readers, and the best method of distributing your content is through your own in-house customer and marketing lists. These are people who already have a relationship with you, have opted-in and are more receptive to your message. You should also place signup forms on your website for visitors who want to receive your content-related emails and e-newsletters; this is a great tactic for growing your list.


Publishing content on your blog and then posting it to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as on LinkedIn Groups is also a reasonably effective way to distribute your message. And you should also compile a list of industry influencers and media sources and send them any content that is newsworthy.

Finally, it's important that you are consistent in creating and distributing your content, because it does take time to develop a following and build your delivery channels.

Jeff Kear, owner and lead strategist at Kear Stevens, a Denver-based branding and marketing firm, can be reached at 303-321-3451 or


Rudy Antle, CRS, SRES Broker/Owner

Antle Properties / Metro Brokers

Direct: 303-284-3609

Cell: 303-548-6353

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Case for the Moral Superiority of Freedom Over Dependency

Americans are beginning to wake up to the failure of decades of a morally declining culture--a culture that not only has become enslaved to drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence, but is becoming enslaved to ever-growing government handouts.

In John Hinderaker wrote this, introducing Jeff Sessions' speech from Saturday.
Posted on by John Hinderaker in Barack Obama, Education

Making the Case for the Moral Superiority of Freedom
Jeff Sessions, the Senate’s indispensable man, delivered the Republicans’ radio address yesterday. In it, he focused on one of his favorite themes: it is conservative policies, not liberal ones, that are compassionate toward the poor, the disadvantaged, the downtrodden. Sessions argues that conservatives need to push back harder against the smug assurance of liberals that their policies are good for people, even as they keep people dependent, deprive them of opportunities for employment and wage growth, and steal away, on every front, the independence that lends dignity to every human life, no matter how seemingly ordinary. Here is Sessions’ radio address in its entirety:
Read the entire article and Jeff Sessons' speech here:
Sessions starts with: "Hello. I’m Jeff Sessions from Alabama, Ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. It’s my privilege to speak with you today before the Senate considers a budget plan next week. Congress has an obligation to adopt a budget that does the most good for the most people."

After describing the failure of the policies that have brought us to our current dependent state and then listing some steps that can be taken, Sessions says, "These steps will empower Americans—not the government. They will promote family—not bureaucracy. And they will help create a future in which the central bonds in our lives are not government rules but the love and loyalty we have for one another."

Do you agree with Jeff Sessions? Write something here or on your own page. Do you disagree? Still you should write and state your own opinion. This is a debate that we must engage if our country is to endure as we have known it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Christian Living Out His Faith

Some people get so wrapped up in the phrase “separation of church and state” that they think it means Christians have to leave their faith at home if they are elected to public office. This is especially true of those who mistakenly think the phrase is in the Constitution instead of in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut.

Others think all politicians get caught up in going along to get along so they can’t ever exhibit moral integrity. It’s instructive then to see that Paul Ryan, the newly introduced running mate for Mitt Romney, spoke at Georgetown University (a Catholic school) about how his Catholic faith informs his policy formation.
It’s worth reading the whole speech at this site. When I read it, I saw a great summary of this very complicated topic. These four subjects in that speech are worth exploring to see how faith can be implemented: (the quotes are from Paul Ryan’s speech)
Social Doctrine—“The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it. What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding to the problems of the day.”
Solidarity—“Serious problems like those we face today require charitable conversation. Civil pubic dialogue goes to the heart of solidarity, the virtue that does not divide society into classes and groups but builds up the common good of all.”
Subsidiarity—This is the concept that those entities closest to the problem know it best and are best able to address it. So, families, friends, neighbors, cities, counties, and states should take care of issues first before relying on the national government to get involved. “Government is one word for things we do together. But it is not the only word. We are a nation that prides itself on looking out for one another—and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn’t worked.”
Preferential option for the poor—It is a moral choice to prioritize resources so that the poor can have a necessary safety net. However, “…I do not believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government.”
Ryan goes on to talk about poverty, taxes, Medicare, and affordable health care. These are all subjects that demand civil dialogue and respect for differing opinions. That civil dialogue will lead to solidarity in working to effect true social justice.
I’m with Ryan. I believe it is not only possible, but the most moral choice for Christians to put their faith into practice in the public square.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The "Chick-Fil-A Controversy"

I just posted this on Facebook, and wanted to share it here also:

It should be axiomatic that you shouldn't believe everything you see on the internet. And, one shouldn't pass along on FB or elsewhere that which is controversial unless they have researched the matter to make sure it is true.

I've read so many things here about the "Chick-Fil-A controversy". Almost none of them refer to the original article about the interview in which its President, Dan Cathy, affirmed his support for traditional marriage.

He never said anything negative. The phrase "gay-marriage" was not spoken. If those who criticize him and support a boycott of his company don't want to look like fools in the future, they may want to read the actual comments in this, the original article:

Mattingly critiques the shoddy journalism of CNN and others who jumped to conclusions and, perhaps intentionally, distorted Mr. Cathy's remarks.

"It would have been so easy for the mainstream press to have reported Cathy’s remarks accurately and, then, to have accurately reported the comments of those who were more than happy to criticize the Chick-fil-A leader’s conservative views on marriage.

That equation is par for the journalistic course. But is it fair game to actually state, as fact, that the man said things that he didn’t say?"

I support traditional marriage. That doesn't mean I hate anyone. It does mean I believe God's ideal, and the purpose for which He created us and put man and woman together as "husband and wife" in the first place, should still be the ideal for the family today.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Comments on "Bad Religion", part 2

The prologue of "Bad Religion, How We Became A Nation Of Heretics" introduces the topic of "A nation of heretics". Not only have we seen a growing political and economic mess in America, it has become apparent that our culture has declined. Ross Douthat doesn't take sides politically. He clearly and comprehensively uncovers various religious theories about what has brought on the decline; and why religious institutions have lost so much influence over the culture.

Whether it is a voice from the right that says America started as a Christian nation and, having moved away from its Christian principles, has lost God's favor, or a voice from the left that says America is in decline because it is too religious, both are inadequate explanations. Douthat says "America's problem isn't too much religion, or to little of it. It's bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of destructive pseudo-Christianities in its place."

These distortions of traditional Christianity don't have the full stream to draw from--only self-indulgent truncated copies that in the end don't have the power of the real thing. Interestingly, Douthat says that the various "experiments" or "heresies" in American Christianity's history have not been all that bad. They have been good for traditional Christianity because the push and pull of innovation versus orthodoxy have served to strengthen the orthodox stream and make the faith broader and able to serve more people.

Freedom of religion in America has in the past made the orthodox stream stronger. "In America, because orthodoxy couldn't be taken for granted, orthodoxy came alive."

The problem today, though, is that the stream itself is weaker. The so-called "mainstream denominations" have declined in membership and influence. Many, having moved themselves out of the stream of orthodoxy, are now simply ignored as irrelevant by the cultural elites who set the memes of the news cycle.

Meanwhile, although the explosion of the tributaries shows that Americans are not less religious, the don't have the unity or collective power to affect the culture in a positive direction. Instead, we're a collection of individuals who each has his or her own "choose your own Jesus" that meets the requirement of providing some personal benefits without a sense of corporate responsibility.

Douthat wrote his book with the hope that things can be turned around. "Both doubters and believers stand to lose if religion in the age of heresy turns out to be complicit in our fragmented communities, our collapsing families, our political polarizations, and our weakened social ties." He will argue for a renewal of faith in and a return to the 2,000 year old stream. And, in spite of the pessimism of much of the book, he has hope that renewal can come.

I will write my comments with that same hope. Perhaps some readers will pick up the book themselves and read along. Perhaps others will simply rethink their own relationship to the religion that forms the roots of our culture and seek some answers in those churches where the gospel message is still being taught and lived.  After all, even heretics are not beyond the reach of God's grace.

Comments On "Bad Religion", part 1

I've started reading "Bad Religion, How We Became A Nation Of Heretics", by Ross Douthat.  It is so intriguing that I've decided to write a post on each chapter to share it with my friends.

Douthat traces the decline in influence of religion on American culture since the optimistic years following WW II. He sees the problem not as too little religion nor too much religion, but as what he calls "bad religion".

From the preface comes this illustration. "A chart of the American religious past would look like  a vast delta with tributaries, streams, and channels winding in and out, diverging and reconverging--but all of them fed, ultimately, by a central stream, an original current, a place where all the waters start. This river is Christian orthodoxy."

There has always been a struggle between the stewards of orthodox Christian belief and practice and those who seek to adapt to new circumstances by experimenting with, adding to, or deleting from that orthodoxy. America, with its lack of central authority, its melting pot of cultures, and its enshrined freedom of religion has been a fertile ground for these experiments.

These "experimenters" typically have taken one aspect of the multi-faceted (and sometimes seemingly contradictory) Christian stream and emphasized it, resulting in a tributary that at first is connected, but eventually departs dramatically from its origin. The result has been a collection of "choose your own Jesus" movements. So, we have become "a nation of heretics"--still religious, but with declining influence in the American culture.