The Achilles heel of Christianity has always been Christians. We fall far short of Jesus' ideal of the new community. Bob Briner has every right to be embarrassed by the American evangelical church over the last 50 years (though if he thought we were bad, he should have read up on the Renaissance popes). But the church has always progressed at a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back rhythm. God has to work with sinners, and it's a wonder he still manages to get the work done.

And developing a healthy subculture has certainly not hurt us. The success of the "ghettoized" Christian music industry has made it possible for new and better talent, like Jars of Clay, to emerge that can crossover to mainstream venues. The rise and success of Christian colleges and seminaries has allowed a rebirth of conservative Christian scholarship. This, in turn, is sustained by a robust Christian publishing industry that has experienced more and more success in getting books in Borders and Barnes and Noble stores. In fact, the best penetration of culture has been accomplished by those enterprises that are sustained and supported by the evangelical subculture.

Yes, evangelicals hurt themselves in the political realm, but so do all the other players. And while many of us disagree with the tactics of James Dobson and Pat Robertson, they have nevertheless become major players in rough sport. Probably the arena needing the most work is TV and movies, but it looks like the future crossover stars may already be at work on the latest "Veggie Tales" video or Focus on the Family's radio theater.

While Briner misses out on historical nuance, and commits the sin of overgeneralization often, he is at least mostly right on most everything he talks about. We can thank him for inspiring us to do better, to not settle for our comfort zones. And we can enjoy someone giving voice to the embarrassments and anger we feel when the church goes astray. But I am afraid we will have to wait for another prophet to take us across the River Jordan and move more fully into the heart of America's cultural mild and honey.