Saturday night I, along with a few others, had the pleasure of having dinner with John and Wendy Wilson. As some of you probably know, John Wilson is the editor of Books & Culture, which is a periodical that I’ve enjoyed reading for many years. There’s something nice about meeting in person people whose public face you’ve known for many years. Here’s an interesting tidbit I learned: they really like Michael Pollan’s books.
They were in town so that John Wilson could give a couple of talks Friday and Saturday nights. I went to the Saturday one. It was a good talk. (Warning: what follows will, at best, only make sense to some of you, since I won’t be elaborating on the positions enough to makes clear what is going on for those who haven’t already heard about these debates.) He took on this philosophically confused position that’s become all too popular in certain Christian circles recently (thanks to books like Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller) about there being something wrong with propositional truth. Rather, we’re supposed to tell stories. As Wilson pointed out, there is nothing incompatible between stories and propositional truth. So why pick one and say the other is meaningless? Besides that point, I find the position confused in that, as far as I can tell, proponents of this view don’t seem to know what propositions are. For one thing, I’d like to see a story that doesn’t involve propositions. (And I won’t even start ranting about how silly I think it is to say that propositions are meaningless).
This is not to say that people like Donald Miller don’t have good and helpful things to say. It’s just that they unfortunately appeal to some pretty lousy philosophy to provide a framework for their discussions.