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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don Draper Runs Falwell's Seminary

Surely, beloved, you know Don Draper: the suave New York adman, circa 1960. He wears Brooks suits with skinny ties; he drinks, smokes and sleeps around with relative impunity, and when one of his floozies gasps, "This is what makes me feel alive," answers, bemused, "Funny. I don't feel anything."

The key to Draper's character, of course, is that he's not Don Draper. He stole the dog-tags from a dead soldier, turned a permanent back on his home and family, and created himself de novo. His life looks pretty good, for a moment; but viewers are reminded at almost every turn that he is fundamentally not real, that he is a liar of such profundity that, in a sense, he has no longer exists as a human being. Or, to put it in the quaint language of Carl Jung, he has lost his soul.

Draper's a TV character -- on cable, no less -- so naturally he has more depth and credibility than the president of Liberty University's seminary.

Still, we are fascinated by reports that Ergun M. Caner, whose middle name may be Mehmet or Michael, depending upon which document he is signing, has built a career around the story that he was a teen-aged Jihadist, who converted to Christianity. Well, no. What fascinates us are the emerging reports that it's a big old tissue of lies.

Caner's story -- the one he tells, not the one that appears to be true -- is the sort of radical "I once was blind but now I see" conversion tale beloved by the soi-disant "Evangelical" tradition. But if it is false, as it certainly appears to be, the story could do more than discredit Liberty University, a work of supererogation in any case. It could, just possibly, cause people to consider the likelihood that radical epiphanies are remembered and retold more frequently than they are in fact experienced. This, in turn, might lead to a reconsideration of the central myth of popular "evangelicalism," which is that authentic Christianity requires of everybody a Damascus Road experience, and it is never enough "merely" to have been baptized and raised in the faith.

Here is GetReligion's analysis of the news coverage (read the comments for some useful details). Here is a timeline of Caner's [actual] life, based on available public information.


mark said...

Hmm. Reaching in to the bin of excessively Latinate insults are we?

kc said...

let's get back to don draper & the possibility of his soul. with the reality of the caner's & bp drilling techniques does't fantasy seem to be a way to go?