All those evangelical substitutes for actual human decency

Evangelicalism has evolved a number of ways for Christians to feel like they're wonderful people when they're not.

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Hi and welcome back! Recently, Chris Pratt suffered a super-bad, awful, no-good, terrible week which he entirely deserved, in my opinion at least. To soothe himself, he relied on quite an interesting mechanism: blasting his eardrums with Christian contemporary music while he exercised. This exact mechanism interests me because it’s likely one familiar to many evangelicals having similar bad weeks. Today, let me show you why Chris Pratt chose this method and none other to deal with his cringey memories.

(Note: In this post, hopefully I adequately convey my opinion about the controversy itself. I don’t view it as a truly malicious slam. It’s thoughtless more than anything else. However, the way Chris Pratt handled it bothers me a lot. His reaction means more to me than what he actually did. I reckon that a lot of the things evangelical do are like that.)

Y’all, Poor Li’l Chris Pratt Had a Bad Week.

Last week, Chris Pratt said some really dumb, thoughtless things on his Instagram account:

Guys. For real. Look how she’s looking at me! I mean. Find you somebody that [not who — Cas] looks at you like that!! You know!? We met in church. She’s given me an amazing life, a gorgeous healthy daughter, she chews so loudly that sometimes i put in my ear buds to drown it out, but that’s love! She helps me with everything. In return, periodically, I open a jar of pickles. That’s the trade. Her heart is pure and it belongs to me. My greatest treasure right next to my Ken Griffey Jr Upper Deck Rookie card. Which if you know, you know is saying a lot. It’s her birthday in about 6 weeks. So if I don’t get her anything, I’ll tell her to look back on this post. Love you honey. [Source]

WOW. That’s just so much to unpack.

First, the statement he made compared his current wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, to a prized possession. Specifically, he said she was his “greatest treasure,” ranking alongside his favorite sportsball card. In addition, he declared that “her heart” literally belongs to him — and he paid very little for it.

Then, Chris Pratt topped his awfulness sundae by declaring that he might not give this beloved possession any gifts at all for her birthday. That weirdly makes sense. After all, we do not give our possessions presents. Even if he had literally “about 6 weeks” notice, which makes the occasion sound like it might be important to her at least, she does not automatically rate that kind of devotion.

Instead, he might point his possession to this very Instagram post. That makes the post sound really performative and transactional, like a deliberate deposit into his emotional relationship bank. (And it’s a very cheap and small-scale deposit that he clearly expects to be taken like a large, meaningful one).

That Insta post also reveals that Chris Pratt is definitely developing a Jesus Smile, too. Yuck.

Just overall, this was a really nasty set of things for a Christian husband to say about his supposedly-beloved wife. I mean, it was a completely normal evangelical sentiment for husbands, yes. But in Reality-Land it’s perceived very differently from how the denizens of the evangelical bubble take it.

But one phrase in his post really caught people’s attention.

Um, Chris Pratt Has a Son With Health Problems.

See, Chris Pratt has another kid — a son with his previous wife Anna Faris.

(Yes, he’s yet another TRUE CHRISTIAN™ with a Jesus-forbidden divorce in his past. And yes, he was fundagelical in all the worst ways before that divorce. It happened in October 2018, and was, according to rumor, entirely his choice. He delivered an unwanted evangelism speech in 2017 at the Teen Choice Awards. So that 2018 divorce was way off-limits — not that TRUE CHRISTIANS™ care! Not even a month after that breakup, he was getting with Katherine Schwarzenegger. They married in June 2019.)

During their relationship, Anna Faris and Chris Pratt had a son. This child, Jack, was born with severe problems. Jack started life as a preemie with brain bleeding and cerebral hemorrhage. Thankfully, with help Jack overcame most of his infancy challenges. He’ll always have some special needs, though, which include vision problems, a heart defect, and issues with his legs.

I’m sure it must be just a little galling to his father, the guy who gets super-ripped for movie roles and is clearly very athletic and fitness-focused, that this child will likely never be able to engage with life like he does.

Now that you know that bit of info, you might extra-notice that crack above about Chris Pratt being so thankful to his new possession-wife for giving him a new literal possession to treasure: “a gorgeous healthy daughter.”

“A gorgeous healthy daughter.” What the heck was he thinking? Was he thinking at all?

I mean, probably not. This was just boilerplate language really. I doubt Chris Pratt was deliberately slamming his son or even his ex-wife. But it just sounds really awful.

How Chris Pratt Did Not Handle This Controversy.

To my knowledge, Chris Pratt has never once apologized for sounding thoughtless toward his ex and son.

All the dude had to say was OMG, I was being thoughtless and got carried away. I’m really sorry. Obviously I love my son very much and appreciate everything my ex-wife does for him.

His entire persona consists of being a big, dumb, pushy, thoughtless, extra-privileged evangelical man-child at this point (whether he is one in reality or not), so I can’t see that sort of brief apology failing to get him entirely out of trouble.

Even his strongest critics would have to concede that yes, he’s pretty thoughtless. Seriously, I can’t see how anyone reasonable could perceive his statement as a malicious slam on his own child.

But he didn’t do anything like that.

How Chris Pratt’s Tribe Helped Him Out.

In fact, his mother-in-law, Maria Shriver, showed up on the Instagram post itself a few days later:

i want to remind you today what a good man you are what a great father you are to jack and lyla what a great husband you are to katherine what a great son in law you are to me and what a great sense of humor you have !! [. .. ] rise above the noise your kids love your family loves you your wife loves you what a beautiful life i’m proud of you xo

As she seems to want, he has only drilled down harder on his thoughtlessness.

The Blaze has commended him, of course. A couple days ago (link), they called his actual response “faith-based” and “classy.” They claim his critics “pilloried” him.

It isn’t either, and nobody actually has. But his actual response is exactly what his tribe would want to see, so of course they approve. Plus, he extra-annoyed his critics this way, which The Blaze’s readership obviously will like; their own entire persona is advanced trolls against liberals of all kinds, an enemy list which especially includes all non-culture-warriors.

How Chris Pratt Actually Handled His Controversy.

Instead of doing anything constructive or meaningful, then, Chris Pratt felt super-sorry for himself, then tried to find ways to soothe himself with a huge dopamine hit.

And thanks to evangelicalism, he found exactly what he needed.

I’m not kidding. According to Mercury News, he released an Instagram Story video this past Friday that didn’t even mention the controversy. Instead, he wished everyone a good morning, then described his feelings about how hard-done-by this snowflake felt:

He revealed he had gone to bed the night before “upset and depressed,” woke up Friday “feeling crappy” and shared his remedy for getting out of his bad mood, the aforementioned God, exercise and music. [. . .] In his video, Pratt definitely made no mention of [Anna] Faris or that he was accused of unfavorably comparing his son to his “healthy” baby girl. [Source]

Then, Pratt talked about how he solved this feeling of being all hard-done-by. Basically, he got up and went running in the woods while listening to Christian music:

He headed out to the woods to run, while listening to his favorite music and getting his blood pumping.

“Gosh was I right! It felt amazing!” Pratt proclaimed. “God sat there right next to me.”

Pratt said he doesn’t “get emotional that often,” but he got emotional in the woods, and “felt like there was another in the fire standing next to me.” He appeared to be referring to a song he had been listening to when he said, “That moment rally captured me. And so I just want to say, all glory to God!”

And his reaction and self-soothing mechanism here really caught my attention. It’s probably much the same way he reacts to any criticisms about his off-limits 2018 divorce, as well as any other criticisms he’s faced as a result of his new and aforementioned persona.

How to Deal With Controversy Like a Big, Dumb, Pushy, Thoughtless, Extra-Privileged Evangelical Man-Child.

The important thing to know about evangelicals is that they are now completely authoritarian in outlook. They also view #winning as their divinely-given prerogative and literal command.

So winning all of their stupid, mean-spirited slapfights and squabbles means Jesus extra-approves of them. Losing means he does not favor them.

Thus, conceding any kind of loss at all, even apologizing for anything they’ve done, means immeasurable vulnerability. In fact, an apology only opens them to further attacks even from their own tribemates. That’s why you will only rarely hear any authoritarian apologize, ever, even if they’re distinctly and painfully-obviously the one at fault. They’re all but constitutionally incapable of admitting fault.

(See also: Anatomy of an Evangelical Not-Pology; How TGC Dealt With Their Racism Scandal.)

Christian contemporary music makes it extra-easy to soothe oneself, too. It’s all ridiculously childish, relying on huge emotional manipulation through lyrics and music alike.

It’s no surprise that Pratt had to have that playing while he got his dopamine hit from running. Combined, it must have been a sucker-punch to his sense of shame for accidentally saying something thoughtless.

Showing Utter Disrespect to His Very Own God.

When Chris Pratt is warbling about his sublime experience of running and listening to the utter pap that passes for music in the evangelical world, all I can think is:

If your god actually got anywhere near you on that run, Chris ol’ boy me laddo me dude, he’d order you to follow his commands, not give you a toothy grin and a double thumbs-up for being a big, dumb, pushy, thoughtless, extra-privileged evangelical man-child. That specifically means not being a stumbling block for others. If something you’re doing pushes anyone away from Christianity, Paul himself commands you not to do it in 1 Corinthians 8. Similarly, if Jesus actually existed, he’d have told you to make your relationship with Anna Faris right instead of divorcing her. He’d tell you to make some big huge changes to your existing persona, without question or doubt.

I doubt Chris Pratt has any idea what Bible contains. If he knows at all, it’s because his flavor of Christianity contains a library’s worth of hand-waving meant to invalidate and negate any of the boring, demanding, or otherwise difficult-to-follow commands.

Of course, that illiteracy doesn’t make Chris Pratt a fake Christian. Even in the earliest days of Christianity, Christians were always exactly like this. He’s still a real Christian. He’s just a terrible human being who happens to have chosen for himself a religion that makes it unspeakably easy for him to be terrible.

The god he’s built for himself doesn’t resemble the judgmental being in the Bible. But that god also won’t ever get in the way of his followers’ preferred behavior patterns.

Chris Pratt Chose His Flavor of Christianity Very Well.

Evangelical Christianity works great for Chris Pratt.

It won’t ask him to change. It won’t ask him to apologize for anything he does that seems boorish or rude to outsiders. Heck, it won’t even ask him to follow the rules for Christians — even while allowing him to act like his flavor is the only correct one and has the literal only completely-correct rulebook for all human beings.

Instead, it’ll celebrate the way he chooses to act. It’ll only encourage him to act even worse — in hopes of further annoying the tribe’s chosen enemies.

Sure, his behavior will only drive outsiders further away from the evangelical banner. By now, I bet tons of people now associate his behavior indelibly with evangelicalism.

And they really should.

How Chris Pratt Helps Us All.

The tribe has overwhelmingly shown only approval for Chris Pratt’s recent antics. They seem overwhelmingly to view all of the criticism leveled at him as being about his “Christian beliefs,” not his constantly-boorish behavior.

The people he’s pandering to are all happily viewing his behavior as being completely consistent with the traits of a TRUE CHRISTIAN™. They only reward this behavior. Thus, I don’t see how outsiders could (or would even want to) separate it all out.

In years to come, the future historians of evangelicalism will consider Chris Pratt’s behavior through the lens of the decline of Christianity itself. I certainly categorize it like that. In his own weird, dysfunctional way, he’s part of why Christianity is in decline. 

Thanks, Chris Pratt! Seriously, thanks! The rest of us couldn’t escape evangelical overreach quite as easily without you!

NEXT UP: How evangelicals distract themselves from their own boorish hypocrisy through religious practices. See you then!

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...