Friday, October 07, 2011

you know, maybe I’m old fashioned, but it seems to me that the level of political discourse in this country is becoming more and more ugly and rude. it has always been a process meant to leave only the strongest upright…but the definition of strength has changed dramatically, and now seems to have something more to do with accumulated wealth and religious belief, the latter being something our forefathers worked diligently to keep on a separate track from government.
that in mind, something happened last week that made me realize I had to say SOMETHING, FINALLY…president obama was speaking at the house of blues in los angeles, and this nut ball, who apparently is a local legend for outragery—and he paid dearly, mind you--somewhere between $250-1000 for the privilege, positioned himself near center front, screaming loudly over obama’s beginning remarks, that “jesus is lord” and that “you are the antichrist” and kept it up for ten or 15 seconds until security reached him and took him in hand.
obama’s response was impressive. he grinned, and agreed that jesus was, in fact, lord, and since he could see things were tense, he asked whether a coat on a nearby chair belonged to the fellow…he didn’t want him to lose it.  a lady close by  said no, it was hers and  he laughed and said “oooh, well, make sure she doesn’t lose her keys! and make sure the guy gets across the street safely!”  I felt like he brought down the temperature, just right—gently funny…
but that’s not the story…
I actually saw all this on martin bashir’s program on msnbc. he showed the event and then had a guest  explain why what had happened was a real belief for some Christians. and what the rapture is and why those christians think obama may be the antichrist, etc…in other words, he was providing the religious backstory for some of this far-right tea party stuff that seems to be behind a lot of the "religiously political" or "politically religious" talk we’re trying to sort out currently.
 it was very interesting, particularly to someone a little short on end-of-times knowledge,  and when he was done ( the guy who was explaining) either he or another man, I can’t remember which, sat and talked to bashir.
martin was asking why, in his opinion, this was happening…and the fellow said, it was “because these were Christian evangelicals”… martin’s eyes opened pretty much as wide as mine did, and he said, “YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY BE SAYING THAT ALL CHRISTIAN EVANGELICALS ARE OF THAT SORT, ARE YOU?” at which point the fellow sort of backtracked,  but I think he did that because he was on national tv and he was about to be challenged by a man who sounded VERY smart—(and IS.)
the main thing, though, is that I think, even if the guy probably didn’t want to get taken apart in front of several thousand viewers, he, and lots of people, are thinking those very thoughts, and Christians in the churches who are not satisfied to have themselves represented by the likes of michelle bachman, and sarah palin and rick perry, etc…all of whom, bathe in their christianity, better get on the stick and tell these folks to “stop speaking as if you’re speaking for ME!!”
when you don’t speak up; when you don’t defend the faith as YOU know it to be, outsiders know it only from what they see and hear—and at BEST, it makes a laughing stock of you and and saddens me in ways I can’t articulate…I CAN’T stand up for you, because it must come from YOU! to say nothing is to say: “well, it’s all true; it’s just that  we don’t like it!” and you keep turning the other cheek till you’re so dizzy, you fall down!!
This is nothing new.  There are always kooky people out there spouting off in rude and inappropriate ways that make evangelical Christianity look really bad. You seem particularly disturbed by this phenomenon. Well, and so am I. How many times have you told us right here on this blog that we need to speak up?  Now, here is one more example, but unfortunately I fear we are about to see a lot more of these in the year ahead as the presidential campaign gets fully under way. SO many evangelicals see every political battle as spiritual warfare. The problem is that when they turn it in this direction, it is remarkably simple to stir up the troops. Many folks who would never see it this way otherwise now find themselves fearful of disagreeing with the doomsayers who shout so loudly and protest their Christian faith so boldly.
There is one Christian voice out there that stirs up a lot of controversy among us. Nothing shy or retiring about him—nor hesitant to speak his mind. I may not buy everything Frank Schaeffer says, but he has at least made me sit up and take some notice.
He says that basically, today's radical Christians want to change the way things are done in this country, and are not so much interested in restoring Democracy as they are in establishing a 21st century Theocracy.  He speaks of “Religion masquerading as Politics.” I heard him speaking once of the far-right agenda working toward a sort of Christian Shariah law. The idea made me shudder! Whew!
yeah, well, I mentioned some of this to bruce (husband) and he just truly believes I should have my head examined. he says, “it can’t happen!” I say to him…down through history there have been so many things that couldn’t happen—until they DID…I think he’s right that it will be very hard for the fundamentalists to win, but not impossible; nothing is impossible.
In one of his interviews with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, Franky said the following, and I think we all need to at least give him a listen and ask God what we should think and do about it.
...Can Christianity be rescued from Christians? And that’s an open question. And when you see a bunch of people going around thinking that our President is the anti-Christ you have to draw one of two conclusions…either these are racists looking for any excuse to level the next accusation or they’re beyond crazy. And I think beyond crazy is a better explanation and that evangelical subculture has rotted the brain of the United States of America. We have a big slice of our population waiting for Jesus to come back. They look forward to Armageddon. Good news is bad news to them. ...
These people are standing on a hill top waiting for the end and this is a dangerous group of people to have as neighbors.  …they’re our national neighbors, and this is the source of all these insanities that we see leveled at the President.  ***

I read our piece here to Walt (husband) and his comment, not unlike what we’ve heard often before, "They're kooks, and I tend to just ignore them.  They think they need to defend God, and He needs no defense."  l honestly believe that is the opinion of probably 99.9% of level-headed, thinking evangelicals.
and I think that’s maybe the reason many Christians don’t speak up, somehow they assume that god needs no defense…and maybe he doesn’t NEED it, exactly…but, history is chock full of moments when he might have benefitted…you know…fill in the blanks…
***   (for the whole video interview)


Paul Yin said...

Where can I find my voice? What shall I use as my megaphone? Unfortunately, the channel of expression is mainly captured by radicals. I will avoid naming names but one thing I will say is that they have money. (It is easy to raise money when you want to do battle.) It is expensive to get your voice heard. I would like to think that many non-radical evangelicals who do not believe that Bachmann or Palin represent them well have spoken. It’s just that we didn’t hear them because they did not speak on TV. They might have “spoken” on the internet. Take me for an example. I write a column in a Chinese Christian paper (published monthly) and I do battle with right-wing radicals almost every single time because of what they say about our President. Plus, most Christians who walk with Christ in truth and grace put their trust in God to have sovereignty over such matters. I am still learning to do just that when I do battle on paper. By the way, remember Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback who partnered with our President to fight AIDS? Yeah, he got “stoned”.

From the Rim of the Box said...

hi paul, am I being arrogant by asserting that you’re megaphoning right here, for one—we’re listening; and responding, even.

I think it’s too bad that you don’t want to name names because it’s quite possible other evangelicals know who or what you’re talking about. I’m out of the loop…but I do believe that when you say: .” I WOULD LIKE TO THINK THAT MANY NON-RADICAL EVANGELICALS WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THAT BACHMANN OR PALIN REPRESENT THEM WELL HAVE SPOKEN. “ the major issue—practically the whole issue is that I think they have not spoken. there are all these folks out there—including one or two nutcakes—who are SPEAKING FOR THEM. for instance, dallas evangelical reverend Robert jeffress is all over the tv calling Mormons a cult, and telling anyone who will listen that all mainline evangelical Christians believe that to be true. each of the right wing Christian candidates has been asked to comment on this and, possibly even, to speak up for the mormons!much of the outside world regards jeffress as a minor league bigot… NOT ONE OF THE CANDIDATES was even willing to venture an opinion--on a subject that presumably they were vitally interested in…are they afraid to take a position? do they not know yet which position they're supposed to take?

maybe I just don’t get it…

and, by the way, was your last sentence to be understood as part of the whole…just one more thing I didn’t get, maybe?

but i'm trying...

Frank Nemec said...

These rants simply accelerate the trend to marginalize religion in all its forms. Is it any surprise when the spokespersons are chosen by a media workforce which already marginalizes religion?

From the Rim of the Box said...

I see some interesting things took place on this site while I was away on vacation. And now that I am home and ellen is gone, let me add a few thoughts that I think are important.
We're talking here about voices and having the courage to speak where we can and the money to speak where we'd like. Paul uses the platform his blog affords. And how many folks read it? While Frank suggests that the media out there seeks out the outrageous, incendiary voices and highlights them. Whether intentionally or not, we know this trend does tend to marginalize not only one religious faith, but the whole spectrum of religious thought in general.
Just today I had lunch with a woman suffering from cancer. She and I met in a radiation waiting room. She was angry with God, I talked about how He has sustained me through my journey. Weeks later, she seeks me out to ask the secret of my peace. Can I honestly say I am doing my part in the thing ellen is suggesting—in reaching the world with the message that not all Christians are kooks and crooks of the sort the media loves to highlight?
Ellen and I have been friends for over 10 years now, and through our friendship and those of a few other friends we have in common, she's seeing a new picture of Christianity—neither kooky nor arrogant. Has this no value in the overall scheme?Methinks that each of us is called to be busy in our own corner, wherever that may be. We are to show through our lives and the way we talk and handle today's political problems, a picture of God as gentle and compassionate, kind and patient—not just a God of anger, wrath and judgment.
It seems to me that the louder those extreme voices shout and the broader their scope of influence, the more of us common everyday followers of God's truth are needed to be busy letting Him shine through us in the small and quiet places.
And let's encourage one another in our ventures, hold one another up, read one another's blogs, speak wherever we can... Every one of us counts!