Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bad Theology and Crazy Politics (Why the Republicans Won)

One reason the Republicans won on Tuesday is because many of their supporters have already given up on this world and are waiting for the next. I know, I used to be one of them.

Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series of sixteen novels (so far) represents everything that is most deranged about religion. It also is a reason and symptom of the hysteria that grips so many "conservatives" in the Republican Party. Frankly: to borrow from Jon Stewart they do believe that these are the "End Times" not just "hard times."

My late father, Francis Schaeffer, was a key founder and leader of the Religious Right. My mother Edith was also a spiritual leader, not the mere power behind her man, which she was. Mom was a formidable and adored religious figure whose books and public speaking, not to mention biblical conditioning of me, directly and indirectly shaped millions of lives and ruined quite a few too.

For a time I joined my Dad in pioneering the Evangelical anti-abortion Religious Right movement. In the 1970s and early 80s when I was in my twenties I evolved into an ambitious, "successful" religious leader/instigator in my own right.

I changed my mind for reasons I describe in my book Patience With God (just published in paperback). I no longer ride around with the likes of Mike Huckabee (who named my Dad's fundamentalist books his favorites) "saving" America for God, nor am I a regular on religious TV and radio these days.

I still see a religious connection in public policy though that I think a lot of commentators miss -- for instance, that lots of the energy behind this mid-term election came from the ghosts of the Religious Right.

The Left Behind novels have sold tens of millions of copies while spawning an "End Times" cult, or rather egging it on. Such products as Left Behind wall paper, screen savers, children's books, and video games have become part of the ubiquitous American background noise. Less innocuous symptoms include people stocking up on assault rifles and ammunition, adopting "Christ-centered" home school curricula, fearing higher education, embracing rumor as fact, and learning to love hatred for the "other," as exemplified by a revived anti-immigrant racism, the murder of doctors who do abortions, and possibly even a killing in the Holocaust Museum.

And now that the "death panel" republicans who also claimed Obama is the Antichrist are in power, maybe its time to take a look at the religious insanity that beats at the heart of their movement.

No, I am not blaming Jenkins and LaHaye's product line for murder or racism or any other evil intent or result. What I am saying is that unless you take the time to understand the End Times folks you will never "get" the mid-term election result.

Feeding the paranoid delusions of people on the fringe of the fringe contributes to a dangerous climate that may provoke violence in a few individuals. It's also one of the big reasons that the nutty fringe is now the "center." If you believe the Bible is literal and true and that this is the "End" then the crazies look sane and the sane look crazy. Welcome to the new congress.

And convincing folks that Armageddon is on the way, and all we can do is wait, pray, and protect our families from the chaos (or from the first black president) that will be the "prelude" to the "Return of Christ," is perhaps not the best recipe for political, economic, or personal stability, let alone social cohesion. Glenn Beck cashes in on this when he sells gold on TV and survivalist gear.

But this End Times cult may also not be the best philosophy on which to build American foreign policy! The momentum toward what amounts to a whole subculture seceding from the union (in order to await "The End") is irrevocably prying loose a chunk of the American population from both sanity and their fellow citizens.

Enter the "new" Tea Party candidates.

The evangelical/fundamentalists/Republican Far Right -- and hence, from the early 1980s until the election of President Obama in 2008 and now in the mid-term lashing out, the Religious Right as it informed U.S. policy through the then dominant Republican Party -- are in the grip of an apocalyptic Rapture cult centered on revenge and vindication. This End Times death wish is built on a literalist interpretation of the Book of Revelation. .

As I explain in my book Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion Revelation was the last book to be included in the New Testament. It was included as canonical only relatively late in the process after a heated dispute. The historic Churches East and West remain so suspicious of Revelation that to this day it has never been included as part of the cyclical public readings of scripture in Orthodox services. The book of Revelation is read in Roman and Anglican Churches only during Advent. But both Rome and the East were highly suspicious of the book. The West included the book in the lectionary late and sparingly. In other words, the book of the Bible that the historical Church found most problematic is the one that American Evangelicals latched on to like flies on you know what.

Given that Revelation is now being hyped as the literal -- even desired -- roadmap to Armageddon and an American End Times "future" controlled by Republican crazies who don't even believe we have a future(!), it's worth pausing to note that it's nothing more than a bizarre pastoral letter that was addressed to seven specific churches in Asia at the end of the first century by someone (maybe John or maybe not) who appears to have been far from well when he wrote it. In any case, the letter was not intended for use outside of its liturgical context, not to mention that it reads like Jesus on acid.

The Left Behind series is really just recycled evangelical/fundamentalist profit taking from scraps of "prophecy" left over from an earlier commercial effort to mine the vein of fearsome End Times gold. A book called The Late Great Planet Earth was the 1970s incarnation of this nonsense. It was written by Hal Lindsey, a "writer" who dropped by my parents' ministry several times in the 1970s.

Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth interpreted Revelation for a generation of paranoid evangelicals who were terrified of the Soviet Union and communism and were convinced that the existence of the modern State of Israel was the sign that Jesus was on the way in our lifetimes, as Lindsey claimed. According to Lindsey, Revelation was "speaking" about the Soviet Union and imminent nuclear attacks between the Soviet Union and the United States. When Mikhail Gorbachev became president of the U.S.S.R., Planet Earth groupies claimed Gorbachev was the Antichrist, citing the references in Revelation to the "mark of the beast" as proof because Gorbachev had a birthmark on his forehead!

After everything predicted in the book came to nothing, Lindsey rewrote and "updated" his "interpretations" in many sequels, in what must have been some sort of record for practicing George Orwell's idea of "doublethink" via editorial revision of ever-changing "facts." Trying to follow the prophecy party line eventually got confusing, even for the Lindsey followers, and Lindsey faded into well-deserved obscurity.

This would be amusing, if not for the lives touched by this crazy nonsense. For instance, a good friend of mine was dragged -- at age five -- to Alaska, where his parents huddled in an "End Times" commune, a place chosen to be out of the way of major cities so that when the bombs fell, his family (and some fellow "pilgrims") could await the Lord's return in safety.

My friend's life was almost destroyed by suffering through years of a cruel and bizarre lifestyle in which his family was reduced to eating their goats and bear meat hunted (with the many guns kept by the members of this particular cult) on the "mission's" garbage dump. Of course, school was not a big concern since Jesus was on the way! Discipline was harsh so that everyone could be found "pure of heart" at the Lord's imminent return. After five or six years of this, my friend's miserably duped parents dragged themselves back to a neighborhood near ours where it happened that my wife Genie and I got to know their utterly dislocated and severely damaged children, one of whom grew to become a close friend of ours.

Jenkins and LaHaye provide the ultimate revenge fantasy for the culturally left behind against the "elite." The Left Behind franchise holds out hope for the self-disenfranchised that at last soon everyone will know "we" were right and "they" were wrong. They are waiting for Jesus to do to the world what the Tea Party just did to America.

They'll know because Spaceship Jesus will come back and whisk us away, leaving everyone else to ponder just how very lost they are because they refused to say the words, "I accept Jesus as my personal savior" and join our side while there was still time! Even better: Jesus will kill all those smart-ass Democrat-voting, overeducated fags who have been mocking us!

Knowingly or unknowingly, Jenkins and LaHaye cashed in on years of evangelical/fundamentalists' imagined victimhood. I say imagined, because the born-agains had one of their very own, George W. Bush, in the White House for eight long, ruinous years and also dominated American politics for the better part of thirty years before that. Nevertheless, their sense of being a victimized minority is still very real -- and very marketable.

Now they have "won" the election, you'll see they will still cry "victim" against the "liberal elite" even when they are in charge again.

Whether they are winning politically or not, the mostly white underclass of religious fundamentalists nurture a mythology of persecution by the "other." Evangelical/fundamentalists believe that even though they are winning, somehow they lost. It's why Sarah Palin won't give interviews to the big bad "Them" in the media.

I used to be part of the self-pitying, whining, evangelical/fundamentalist chorus. I remember going on the Today Show with host Jane Pauley back in the late 1970s (or early 1980s). I debated with the head of the American Library Association about my claim that our evangelical/fundamentalist books weren't getting a fair shake from the "cultural elites." We Schaeffers were selling millions of books, but the New York Times never reviewed them. I made the point that we were being ignored by the "media elite," which was somewhat ironic, given that I had been invited to appear on Today to make that claim.

I dropped out of the evangelical/fundamentalist subculture soon after that Today appearance (years later I was back on Today in my secular writer incarnation, being interviewed about a book of mine on the military/civilian divide, but I decided not to mention that I'd been on the show about thirty years before in what seemed like either another lifetime or an out-of-body experience.)

Others carried on where I left off. The whole Republican mid term election victory was predicated on cashing in on years of Evangelical effort to sell the Right an image of being righteous outsiders.

A host of evangelical/fundamentalist Cassandras tour college campuses reinforcing their followers' perennial chip-on-the-shoulder attitude by telling fearful evangelical/fundamentalist students to hold fast against the secular onslaught. They tell their student listeners (and those students' even more worried parents) to not let "those people" -- professors, members of the Democratic Party, moderates, progressives, and such ordinary American men and women as Jews, gays, and members of the educated "elite" -- strip them of their faith. Hundreds of books by many evangelical/fundamentalist authors could be consolidated into one called How to Get Through College with Your Fundamentalist Faith Intact So You Won't Wind Up Becoming One of Them.

What just happened in this election is that the culturally left-behind hit back.

They won but will still claim they are victims of the "liberal elite." Actually they are victims of bad theology that has tutored them for generations to accept myth for fact.

It's no wonder that these folks believe lies more easily than truth. Sure the bad economy played a part in the mid-term results, but so did bad theology that has made a virtue out of being misinformed.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion now in paperback


John said...

your analysis is so right on, and it baffles me that this is so invisible to the press. maybe you have to be on the inside to see it.

Nichole Webb said...

Mr. Shaeffer,

I enjoy your recent works. I was home-schooled in the late '80s and early '90s and your family's books were a staple in our home. I remember being 13 and playing our own version of "end times" where we were the Christians hiding in the woods and stealing food from "the others." Our little minds came up with the game ourselves. Anyhow, I am now "straightened-out" lol and I resonate deeply with all of your pieces on religion and politics. Thanks for sharing!

broschultz said...

I don't think your reasoning is correct. If people bought the imminent "end time" theory they wouldn't care who was governing. They would just fast and pray. Most Christians I know are deluded into thinking this is a Christian Nation and they have to vote "Christians" into office while I marvel at the lack of understanding of what a Christian would be and the emphasis we all place on worldly goods. You are probably better off then you were 30 or 40 years ago but I don't think you understand that many Christians are trying to raise children to be honest, caring and productive citizens while watching their children be exposed to a culture that accepts sin in all its forms as normal and in practice only uses sin to sell "news". This is a very difficult time for christians to follow Jesus. We want to feed the poor and clothe the naked but we don't want to be seen as approving of conduct that is clearly self-indulgent, whether it be slothful, greedy, gluttonous or lustful. I have never read any of your books but have read one of each of your parents. There's nothing wrong with following your heart and I pray that God blesses you in your journey towards Him.

snseattle said...

@ Frank: Well done.
@ BroSchultz: "We want to feed the poor and clothe the naked but we don't want to be seen as approving of conduct that is clearly self-indulgent, whether it be slothful, greedy, gluttonous or lustful."

It seems the rational, naturally human thing to do is the feeding and clothing. Yet you harbor an extra layer of concern for how this might 'be seen.' By whom? The invisible eye in the sky? Equally confused neighbors?

Your lack of clarity is directly driven by the 'morality' within, and internally inconsistent logic of, your religious view.

This false conundrum is painful to watch, let alone be governed by, as it drives exactly the behavior that Frank explains.

Yet you seem not to see that your religious views of morality conflict directly with the growth of humane communities that enhance well-being simply by giving you pause to worry how your actions might look.

Your hesitation to support others for fears you have from reading a book and listening to like-minded mythologists clearly shows how illogical, harmful, and ultimately pathetic religion makes a believer look.

And in doing this, you not only supported the sins, but committed them - showing yourself to be a sloth unable to move to help another, greedy for his own gains, gluttonous with his food. No doubt lust is lurking somewhere nearby.

I urge you not to repent. Just wake up.

FrGregACCA said...

I'm certainly not better off than I was forty years ago. I'm not better off now either than most of the adults I knew at that time either.

"And God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." -St. Paul

"Don't judge so you won't be judged." - Jesus of Nazareth.

"Lend and don't worry about getting paid back." - Jesus of Nazareth

Jay said...

Wow, if we could all just think like you the world would be awesome. There is a lot of generalization in this post yet I am sure that you sat down and discussed, at length, what these crazy folks are thinking within the Tea Party ranks and didn't rely on media reports or news broadcasts. You had to have taken the time to do that in order to speak so knowingly about what they think and what their motives are. If you could list their names and how long the conversations took place it would really help your credibility. Now, if by chance, you haven't taken the time to speak directly to a cross section of these folks, then I would hope you would hesitate to use such a broad brush. That wouldn't be very tolerant of you, would it? Seriously, why are you so angry? The Bible gives a clear directive: Love God, Love people. No caveats, no if, ands or buts. There will always be people walking different paths, trying to figure things out based on environment, experience and making tons of mistakes along the way. Just like you. Just like me. It saddens me when the ridicule and snarkiness from Christians overrides the love.

FrGregACCA said...

Jay, I can't speak for Frank, but as for me, I'm angry and I'm sad because I grew up with these crazy people, was largely raised by them, and I don't want them running my country. Love them? Certainly? But love requires speaking the truth.

constantinople said...

Frank -- what a deluded bunch of nonsense you spew. You have a vivid imagination, indeed, but to imply that the repudiation of Obama's big government policies are part and parcel of Rapture theology is a joke beyond telling.

G. Will says it best in his column today, "Is political power - are government commands and controls - superseding and suffocating the creativity of a market society's spontaneous order? On Tuesday, a rational and alarmed American majority said "yes." "

Its as simple as that.

Fortyniner said...

Insofar as this post goes, you did not demonstrate much of your father's exegitical and apologetical capabilities. IMO you vastly over-estimated the numbers and influence of "end-timers", and compounded that error by assuming disconnected facts as to shared political POVs that are not in evidence.
Furthermore, your intellect seems fixated on the superiority of the culturally elite peers with whom you share life styles and values. Fundamental Evangelicals of my acquaintance have far different expectations and political goals than those you lay out here. We do not want to "rule" the country. Nor do we want the country to "ruin" us. As believers we vote each election for the least restrictive and best governance choices we believe are then available, but do little to shape those options. On those occasions our selection happens to disagree with your opinion you might consider "manning up" and actually talking with some of the unwashed to find out what we think and what we believe we are doing, before you assume so much. Or you could remain in your ivory tower and sulk.

FrGregACCA said...

Well, constantinople, you and George Will are both delusional, at least on this point, and to the extent that those who voted Republican on Tuesday believe this as well, they are also delusional. I suggest you explore the history of the American economy prior to the postwar period, the former being the time when a "free market" really prevailed. The result? Constant boom and bust with the economy being in recession or depression about 40% of the time. An unregulated market is like a poker game: sooner or later, somebody has won all the chips, and then the game must stop.

Fortyniner: what makes you think the country will "ruin" you? And lots of fundamentalists want to run things or vote for people who will run things according to their liking, Constitution be damned. And where does the Bible specify "limited government"? Nothing from St. Paul about that in Romans 13.

As far as numbers go, at least 20 million Americans think that Obama may not have been born in the United States, may really be a Muslim, and indeed, may be the antichrist. Okay, well, maybe. But there is not a shred of evidence to support any of this, and plenty of evidence to the contrary (the antichrist is, admittedly, not really subject to evidence,at least in the abstract, but the antichrist of the apocalypse seems like a pretty authoritarian guy, more like a Hitler or a Stalin than like any American President. Ever). None. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Again, there is not only no extraordinary evidence for any of this, there is no evidence at all.

maddermusic said...

Ummmm...isn't it just possible that the Dems lost because most Americans don't like their policies and think they're doing a lousy job? Why the appeal to an implausible, paranoid vision of religious fanaticism?

I mean, what ever happened to Occam's Razor? You know, always opt for the simplest explanation that fits the facts? Here's the simplest explanation--most Americans disapprove of the job the Democrats are doing, and therefore voted them out in droves.

This explanation assumes that most citizens are reasonably intelligent, rational beings. Not perfect in knowledge or wisdom, but close enough to be fit citizens of a republic. I make this assumption for two reasons--one, because I think it's obviously true, based on my life experience, and two, because if it isn't true, self-government is an impossibility in any case and our civilization is doomed. Somehow I can't talk myself into believing that. Certainly not on the basis of a single election which made some of my fellow citizens unhappy.

Kansas Scout said...

I thought your post pretty much nonsense. I know as much as you do about fundies and this election had nothing to do with that. Your point is absurd. As a now liberal Christian who was once a fundie Baptist I think your off the mark. I have been out of a job for TWO years now. I don't like the so called Health Care bill and the Dem's are spending us into very possible collapse. THAT is what the election is about. Your just as bad as the fundies

FrGregACCA said...

Kansas, I don't what you really are, but you're not a "liberal," at least not politically.

FrGregACCA said...

My political memory goes back to the Kennedy assasination, and although I was very young, I remember the election of 1964 clearly. This election is unlike any in my memory. What used to be called the far right "lunatic fringe" by serious conservatives such as William Buckley is now part of the Republican mainstream,and a significant number of these psychotic, paranoid nihilists have now been elected to the United States Congress. Even the late Barry Goldwater is spinning in his grave!

Fr. John Whiteford said...

How do you suppose those rascally republicans managed to trick the democrats into taking the opposite side of so many issues that concern conservative Christians -- such as their pro-baby killing stance, pro-gay marriage, pro-pornography, anti-school choice, etc? Had they not tricked the democrats into this, conservative Christians would probably be evenly split between the parties, and none of these issues would likely be in the political debate.

49erDweet said...

FrGregACCA: OK. You asked "what makes you think the country will 'ruin' you"? My response: The government - not the country - following foolish and foreseeably faulty national financial policies - has succeeded in siphoning off about 40% of my net worth in the last three plus years. Further slippage may be likely. Since I'm old, retired, and physically unable to earn more by the sweat of my brow, if those policies continue [as the government seems to currently intend], and my share of the national debt escalates further, my nest egg could wither to the size of an M&M, and thus be unable to sustain my extensive family responsibilities - and me. That would be ruin. IMO. You'll note I'm not blaming our current president alone for this mess. Dumb politicians come in all sizes and colors, and all are not as obvious as maybe Congressman Frank.

It seems to me limited government is essential for true religious freedom to thrive, at least based on a few millennia of Judeo-Christian experience, so that's a personal choice. Reasonable men may differ but I see few successful examples of big government nurturing belief in God. History lessons from the Eastern Orthodox experience of combining governance with God certain bear that out.

I don't count myself among the 20 Million, but when you wrote "...there is not a shred of evidence to support any of this, and plenty of evidence to the contrary..." it almost made me spill my coffee. In my view there is insufficient, but certainly more than "a shred of", evidence to support a birther meme. In spite of that, what does concern me is the weird coincidence that, along with the assistance of a strangely incurious MSM, our current beloved leader was arguably the least "vetted" candidate for president in more than a century. What's up with that? That's what really worries me. And that he chooses to withhold "best evidence" proofs to the contrary adds to my concern. So IMO the issue has nothing to do with the legitimacy of his current office, but is a valid point for conjecture and discussion, and possibly illustrates something needing fixing in the future. But then that may not concern me much longer - not because I'm an end-timer, but because I'm ancient of days.

Thanks for the conversation.

49erDweet said...

FrGregACCA: It surprises me a man dedicating his life to representing Jesus would be as stuck on labels - see "lunatic fringe" - as you. Fortunately for us, our Savior sees us all as individual children, not in groups and clumps. I think you've been cloistered too long and need to be out and among the lunatics in this country for a spell. Might do wonders for your POV and your spiritual life. Or it may just be me.

FrGregACCA said...

49er: Sorry you're dropping out of the conversation: Regarding Obama's place of birth: All the evidence that is needed has been released: an affidavit from the State of Hawaii that a certificate of birth is on file. Heck, when I contact the bureaucrats in Helena, Montana, for a copy of my "birth certificate," I get exactly the same thing. Add to that birth announcements from the Honolulu paper back in the day, and what else do you need?

Regarding his status as a Mulsim: regardless of what he did or did not do as a kid in Indonesia, he now confesses the Christian faith in an Evangelical way. See "Audacity of Hope" and all accounts indicate that has an active spiritual life, even if he doesn't attend services so often.

Regarding the debt: in relation to GDP, the situation has been blown way of proportion. Right now, the worst case scenario is that the debt is 100% of GDP. It is probably more like 80%. At the end of WWII, it was 125%.

Finally, regarding vetting: I have two answers, the first being that I don't think what you say is all that true. As I sit here and think about it, I probably know more about every phase of Obama's life than I do about, say, either of the George Bush's. The problem for many, I think, is that Obama's story is so unusual. Just to start, he is, of course, biracial. But then, not only is there the sojourn in Indonesia, but there is also the time in Kansas. Talk about contrasts! His story is indeed very unusual, but in many ways, that makes it all the more American.

49erDweet said...

FrGregACCA: Re: my 6:33 AM comment and "net worth" rant, honesty requires me to add the Lord has always provided for me and I need to acknowledge Him. His ways may seem obscure and ambiguous to me, but have always provided shelter and food, so I thank and trust Him for that.

Also, a certain portion of that "net worth" was admittedly based on an exaggerated evaluation of property just because of the unwise government policies mentioned, so to allow for that overage I must scale down the percentage of losses to about 18% - still significant to me, not not as severe.

Interesting comments about Goldwater - and Kennedy. In his day the media and elitists cast Goldwater as further right than today's "lunatic fringe", but he was not. Kennedy, for whom I had the honor of providing protective service, was portrayed as a saint even when he was at his most mortal and venal, but that's politics for you.

49erDweet said...

FrGregACCA: I'm trained in reading those birth records. They don't really say what you think they say, but that's not important. You casually omit mention of the Kenyan birth document, the record of the birthing hospital in Kenya and the eye-witness statement of his paternal Grandmother. None of those are overly compelling per se, but an honest intellectual has to be at least curious.

You and I seem to share the same POV regarding his professed faith.

Regarding "vetting", reasonable men may disagree, but I believe we know quite a bit about where he went, but extremely little about what or how he did once there. It seems to me there was four times the effort put into reconstructing #43's military record than #44's scholastic. But I could be wrong.

FrGregACCA said...

49er: I've seen the document from the State of Hawaii. It looks exactly like mine from the State of Montana. Also, I don't hang out in ivory towers. I was raised in a very small town in Montana, surrounded by Birchites and fellow travelers, including my parents to some extent. I now sojourn in South Carolina. I am NOT an elitist. Above all, I am a small-d democrat when it comes to politics and economics.

Regarding the "evidence" you cite with regard to Obama's allegedly having been born in Kenya: these were reported where exactly? World Net Daily, or a similar outlet? Sorry, that doesn't fly.

Liberal media elite? Don't go there. I used to be a reporter. It's nonsense. The fact is, "truth has a liberal bias" as Stephen Colbert puts it. Goldwater was as far right as the mainstream could get in 1964. He got his butt kicked because people still remembered the Great Depression. Later, it was Ronald Reagan. Now??? OMG!

Regarding Kennedy's personal life: back then, nobody's sexual improprieties, regardless of party, got reported on. That was off-limits.

Regarding Obama's history: how far back do you want to go? He first came to prominence by becoming the first African-American to head the Harvard Law Review, and he was able to accomplish this by reaching out to members of the conservative Federalist Society. He also was a community organizer in Chicago. Well, you know, there's nothing wrong with that.

As for Junyer Bush: well, let's see: what HAD he really done that wasn't facilitated by daddy's money and/or power? I find it fascinating that so many of these latter-day hawks like Junyer Bush and Dick Cheney did not serve in Vietnam. Sure, lots of guys enlisted in the Guard or whatever, but they're now not insisting that we simply must invade places like Iraq.

We say that any American can grow up to be President, but when just any American does, especially an African-American, we freak out.

FrGregACCA said...

Well, it is interesting that you raise those issues, Fr. John. First, regarding abortion: The Republicans haved loved to beat the drum on that every election cycle (not so much this time around, however). But what has changed? Nothing. Here's the problem: being anti-abortion and truly pro-life is directly contradictory to the underlying Republican ideology which is Randian, (who was "pro-choice, BTW) unrestained free market, social darwnistic capitalism. Father, have you read Matushka Frederica's book, "Real Choices"? If not, I highly recommend you do. (Conversely, being "liberal" is contradictory to being "pro choice". Thus, abortion represents the great contradiction in American politics.)

Now, concerning homosexuality: in 2008, it was new African-American and Hispanic voters, coming out to vote for the first time in order to vote for Obama, who also voted to ban gay marriage in California. Of course, there is also the issue of Republican hypocrisy on this. Not a week goes by, it seems, that another prominent Republican doesn't announce that he's gay. (Around here, we're waiting for Lindsey Graham to come out, but that's kinda beside the point.)

Finally, in general, I don't think that these issues had very much to do with what happened this time around.

Fortyniner said...

FrGregACCA: You seem to be stuck on narratives, so I'm gonna pass on most of the opinions your 9:29 AM response engendered - except your final paragraph, which on a national level I strongly dispute.

Because of the current financial situation my bi-racial middle-school-aged grandson and his mother share our home. Of course they are both uncritical O supporters, but that's OK. However, because his father is deceased it falls to me to be the closest male parent figure concerned with his future.

My greatest personal fear all along has been the former junior senator from Illinois might fail his current job to such an extent he would become the last black president for generations to come. But after closely monitoring Tea Party and other conservative campaign activities throughout the country this past election, I can report back I no longer have that fear. In spite of the best efforts of a bankrupt media to paint his "enemies" as racist, blacks and browns of all persuasions seemed to thrive in that liberating campaign environment. So I have hope. I'm also encouraged by reading a regular dose of Thomas Sowell.

FrGregACCA said...

Oh Lord! Thomas Sowell, Alan Keyes, Clarence Thomas, Tim Scott (I'm staying in SC-1 at the moment) and then, of course, THIS guy:


Sorry, but I'm afraid the psychopathology involved is way beyond my pay grade to explain.

janotec said...

I think that the fundamentalist Christians, as pea-brained as they might be, have more in common with Orthodoxy than do one's new friends in the cultured despisers of Christianity. I am certainly not rightwing myself, and I have grown up, too, under the pall of rapture histrionics. But at least my father and mother and friends of my old dispensation were quite certain of the Holy Trinity, the divinity/humanity of Christ, the efficacy of the Cross, and the physical Resurrection. Moreover, they were not so reticent about the exclusive validity of Christianity. So they were a little bumpkinish -- still, they were a lot closer to the Nicene Creed than a lot of more open-minded, effete friends.

FrGregACCA said...

Janotec, I'm sure you've asked yourself why there are so many of the those cultured despisers, and I'm pretty sure that you are aware of the piece at the following link which, while not a panacea, answers so many questions, or at least points to the answers.


As you also know, when one refuses to live by gestalt, one's position can be pretty lonely. Nevertheless, somebody has to be called to tell those cultured despisers that yes, there really is good news.

In any event, with regard to the various Augustinians, Calvinists, and especially, Anselmians, the words of St. Paul immediately come to mind: "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Interesting to encounter you in this forum.

janotec said...

Yes, Fr. Greg, I'm very familiar with the link. Grace, or the Uncreated Light, is paradise to the repentant and corrosive to the unrepentant. If I fault Dr. Kalomiros at all, it is because I think that he minimizes the sternness of patristic calls to repentance, and to fidelity to dogma. There is more than a little warning of perdition in the Apostles and the Fathers. Our Lord Himself did not shy away from referring to the hellfire of judgment. Salvation, after all, must be worked out with fear and trembling.

Yes, the evangelical fundamentalists are abysmally stupid at best about dogma and asceticism. But at least they stay put on the divinity of Christ: cultured despisers of Christianity do not despise Christianity because of fundamentalists -- they despise Christianity because, as Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky once said, because they despise repentance.

As you know, I am not at all well received by the right wing community. But I do not agree with the sort of straw man debate that I see in these posts.

DomainDiva said...

Here's hoping the rapture happens so all of these crazies will be out of here to leave the rest of us in peace.

FrGregACCA said...

"...cultured despisers of Christianity do not despise Christianity because of fundamentalists -- they despise Christianity because, as Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky once said, because they despise repentance."

Well, I think it is both, in differing proportions, depending on the specific person. I think that Kalomiros makes the same point.

FrGregACCA said...

Also, Janotec, in my experience, and I suspect yours as well, this despising of repentance is not confined to the cultured despisers. Indeed, all too often, a "form of godliness which denies the power thereof" provides the excuse one's conscience requires to avoid repentance. "Faith" as in "justification by faith" itself becomes an idol, an excuse to avoid walking the path of the cross that repentance requires, a path that simultaneously, in secular terms, cannot be undertaken without repercussions in all the categories of the "soft sciences: psychology, sociology, political economy, and so on (For all I know, the same must be said of the hard sciences as well. The experiences of the desert fathers, not to mention Saints like Seraphim of Sarnov, would tend to bear this out).

Bob Ryley said...

Back in the early 70s I had a conservative friend who was both a "born again" believer and a member of the John Birch Society. His biggest frustration - and the biggest complaint of many Birchers at the time - was that most of the "born again" Christians distrusted politicians of every stripe. They generally didn't vote or get involved in supporting conservative candidates.

They believed in rapture "end times" religion. Politics didn't fit in to that picture. As born again Christians they were more into Christ's return than voting or anything political. In their world "good works" don't count.

Therein lies the underlying foundation of Falwell's Moral Majority and everything that's followed since. It was to take the "Born Againers" out of their religious focus and turn them into a huge voting block for Republicans.

That is exactly what's happened. The scariest part is that most of these people don't care about "real world" facts or anything else. If you are one of them you're OK no matter what you do. Think of the C Street Republicans and their sexual affairs.

Think of Bristol Palin and her child out of wedlock. She gets praised for having the baby and the incident is treated as a "no harm no foul' childhood mistake. If it were either of Obama's girls they would be branded as whores and tramps and he and his wife as lousy parents.

The fact that Republicans can generally count on a voting block that cares little about anything other than their fantasy world religious beliefs is a major threat to our political system.

magnusojr said...

It's interesting to read this column as an outsider, with absolutely no familiarity of your past or present endeavors. There's a tremendous irony here, which of course, you're absolutely blind to. You haven't "changed," you haven't "grown," you haven't "matured." You're fundamentally the same person, in every sense of the word fundamental. Just as in your old incarnation, of which you are now so ashamed, you were dogmatic, closed-minded, and bigoted against those who didn't share your beliefs, so now, you easily dismiss all those who do not share your newly acquired religious and political positions as hateful, as ignorant, and as utterly beyond the pale of reasonable human thought. I doubt this will make you stop and think. In my experience, people as boorishly dogmatic as you appear to be in my limited (one visit) exposure to you and your ideas rarely are introspective, choosing to believe that they are the sole proprietors of all that is true and just in the world, and that those who oppose them are the comic book villains of yesteryear sprung to life. However, in this echo chamber of your own making, I just wanted to drop my own judgment. As you were in the beginning, so you are now, and ever shall be, world without end. Have a blessed day.

Trinity2010 said...

I comment on this post last night and I am just checking in if it will be posted? Thanks a bunch.

Ioannis said...

One thing is clear and it is always clear. We have need of repentance and of learning humility so that we might see others rightly. It is certainly easy to "drop in" to pass judgment. A friend who partly belongs to the fearful far right asked me yesterday how I tolerate being friends with people who are in different places on the religious and political spectrum. Now, I'm the last person to be giving advice but I told her what I try to do ... and that is simply to be true to God and myself as best I can and let others self-select out if they must. When I am busy doing what I'm supposed to be doing, there's not much time left for trying to figure out "what to do" with those bad people ... who are so much like me and give me discomfort thereby. Bearing our lifelong discomfort with ourselves is part of the straightening that accompanies penance. If Christ died for our sins and their sins, we and they are of worth.