Sep 12, 2015

Off to a little Bible College in Missouri

Bible College occupies a pivotal place in the single from Josh Ritter's new album:

Mama got a look at you and got a little worried
Papa got a look at you and got a little worried
Pastor got a look and said, 'Ya'll had better hurry'
Send her off to a little Bible College in Missouri  
And now you come back sayin' you know a little bit about
Everything they ever seemed to hope you'd never figure out
Eve ate the apple 'cause the apple was sweet
What kinda God would ever keep a girl
From getting what she needs?

The school is imagined as a stop-gap measure to save faith. And the school works to shake the character's faith -- to shake her out of a certain sort of faith.

What sort of faith?

Writing at Mere Orthodoxy, Jake Meador connects Josh Ritter to evangelical apologist Francis Schaeffer on exactly this point.

He says,
For Ritter the defining problem with religion actually has very little to do with traditional theological questions about the existence or nature of God. Rather, Ritter simply cannot reconcile the thou shalt nots that he sees in Christianity with the pleasures of love.  
Were Schaeffer alive today, he'd strongly sympathize with Ritter. In Death in the City Schaeffer warned the church of what she would face if she remained entrenched in a kind of comfortable, middle-class Christianity that was closed off to the kind of questions and experiences Ritter is raising. For the middle-class Christian Schaeffer said two values had come to be paramount -- personal peace and affluence.
As Ritter's song illustrates, for many, that leaves something lacking.