Friday, May 12, 2006

Here Comes Killer Jesus!

jcs.jpg
Obtained from here

Ok, I've been sort of down this path before with Yo! Jesus Has Arrived, and He Ain't Happy. That was about an article written by Nicholas Kristoff in the NY Times regarding Tim LaHaye and his "Left Behind" series of books (if you're not familiar with them, go spend some time at
LeftBehind.com: The Left Behind Book Series and enjoy.) Yesterday I tuned into Fresh Air
and got to listen to Michelle Goldberg, a writer for Salon.com, talk about her new book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. She's also written what appears today as the lead article for Salon.com, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism [Note: you may have to go through some advertising to get to the article based upon my recent experience - nothing too bad, and worth it to get to the content.]

I think many of us, to include myself, would like to believe that in this great society of ours, where tolerance and pluralism is an important consideration in how we shape policy and govern, that we'd never see anything like what we see in many parts of the world, but most vividly exemplified by the Islamic Taliban who are apparently undergoing something of a revival in Afghanistan as the Bush policy regarding that country continues to unravel. But we learn from Goldberg about dominion theology:

...dominion theology, which asserts that, in preparation for the second coming of Christ, godly men have the responsibility to take over every aspect of society.

Dominion theology comes out of Christian Reconstructionism, a fundamentalist creed that was propagated by the late Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony and his son-in-law, Gary North. Born in New York City in 1916 to Armenian immigrants who had recently fled the genocide in Turkey, Rushdoony was educated at the University of California at Berkeley and spent over eight years as a Presbyterian missionary to Native Americans in Nevada. He was a prolific writer, churning out dense tomes advocating the abolition of public schools and social services and the replacement of civil law with biblical law. White-bearded and wizardly, Rushdoony had the look of an Old Testament patriarch and the harsh vision to match -- he called for the death penalty for gay people, blasphemers, and unchaste women, among other sinners. Democracy, he wrote, is a heresy and "the great love of the failures and cowards of life." From Salon.com Books: "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism"

It seems pretty clear here that Rushdoony and his adherents wouldn't have a problem with a Rambo Jesus, out there clearing the world of gays, blasphemers, unchaste women, and heck, it's sort of hard for me to see how this wouldn't include a good chunk of just about any interesting neighborhood. Goldberg touches here on the Christian Reconstructionism, which she explains as follows:

Reconstructionism is a postmillennial theology, meaning its followers believe Jesus won't return until after Christians establish a thousand year reign on earth. While other
Christians wait for the messiah, Reconstructionists want to build the kingdom themselves. Most American evangelicals, on the other hand, are premillennialists. They believe (with some variations) that at the time of Christ's return, Christians will be gathered up to heaven, missing the tribulations endured by unbelievers.

I personally would like to think that reconstructivists were so far out on the fringe that no one could possibly take them seriously, but I'd be wrong. It's not just from Goldberg that I've heard his. I was aware of the fringes of this movement, though not its name, when I wrote Whether You Like It or Not, where I wrote about Patrick Henry College, a Christian right institution where the students by and large are home schooled prior to admission, and which has a primary goal of putting as many of its graduates into the government as possible. According to Goldberg in the NPR interview, PHC, an institution with only about 500 students, is matched by only Georgetown when it comes to the numbers of its students interning in the White House. Then there's Onward Christian Soldiers, Airmen, Politicians, etc. and from that piece I offer the following from Cong. John Hotstettler, Republican from Indiana:

The long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. It continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats. Don't get me wrong, Democrats know they shouldn't be doing this ... But like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians.

The Christian right, but specifically the reconstructivists talk about our being a "Christian" nation, hence our "Christian heritage", built by founding fathers who never intended for there to be anything other than a Christian focus irregardless of whatever they may have written into the Constitution, which shows up in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...

Now I personally see nothing here that says that this will be a Christian nation, but reconstructivists seem to have a unique ability to read into the minds of the framers of the Constitution which allows them to come to the conclusion that the intent was for there to be a
Christian nation, even if it's not explicitly put that way.

According to Goldberg there are many mainstream politicians who may not directly associate themselves with this movement, but they're there on the fringes, they lend tacit and indirect support to the movement, and Sen. Rick Santorum, Cong. Hotstettler, ex-Cong. Tom Delay, Sen. Trent Lott, to name but a few, are tied to this movement. But let's hit the "BIG" name catering to those crowd of late, and that's John McCain. Here in The Economist we read about John McCain's soon to happen to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University to give the commencement address. Let me quote The Economist as it certainly puts this wonderfully:

Mr Falwell is a hate figure on the left—one of the leaders of the now defunct Moral Majority and a man much given to fulminating against homosexuals (“brute beasts”), feminism (“a satanic attack on the home”) and all those whose search for an alternative lifestyle “helped” September 11th to happen [Blogger's note: does this man sound like a disciple of Rushdoony or what?]. Liberty University is a “Bible boot camp”, in Mr Falwell's words, that forbids its students to drink, smoke, dance or watch “R”-rated films and specialises in producing “champions for Christ”. Mr Falwell exhorts his students to burn the university down if it ever turns liberal. No wonder Jon Stewart, a particularly sharp comedian, asked Mr McCain whether he's “freaking out on us”.

McCain believes people like Falwell and support for issues of the religious right (creationism, anti-abortion, and supporting anti-same sex legislation, to name but three), are what's needed to build a base for his making it to the presidency. In essence, these whack jobs, who in the past we all figured were hicks who were easily ignored, are now considered king makers.

Our congressional representatives have already been involved in attempting to pass legislation that would re-define what cases courts in the United States would be able to rule on. Under this new way of doing judicial business, issues related to school prayer, state's putting in place laws respecting above all others the Christian faith (you see, per the reconstructivists, it's Congress that's restricted in its ability to "respect" an establishment of religion, NOT the individual states), and a long list of other reconstructivist issues that today are decided in our courts on the basis of there being no preferential religion, would not be admissible in court but decided first and foremost by legislators.

These people are out there, the reconstructivists and their ilk, and they want to take over, have no doubt whatsoever about this. I know myself that I'm seeing more and more of their kind and we should not kid ourselves into thinking that they're a whacko fringe that will never be in a position to impose their way of looking at the world and specifically this nation on the rest of us. Goldberg leaves us the following from George Grant, a leader of the Christian right, at the end of her article:

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.

It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ."

Gee, can you just see the Holy Rambos now? They mean it, they believe it, and they intend to make you believe it to - barring that, they'll make you live it if they have their way.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What insights, what a timely blog! Both Falwell and LaHaye lean on Thomas Ice whom they view as a great researcher, but they don't want anyone to find "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)" on Yahoo and Google. Why? Because that article graphically shows that "Dr." Ice (whose honorary doctorate came from an unaccredited crackerbox!) somehow left out 49 words while copying a short historical document - and that LaHaye's reproduction of it several years later omitted the same 49 words in the same places! Amazingly, the Religious Right's Achilles' heel of historical sloppiness combined with plagiarism - eithr one of which could topple that movement - are the very things that have been ovrlooked the most by the RR's most vocal critics! Other insightful articles on Yahoo etc. include "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal" (plagiarism in Falwell, LaHaye etc.), "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" (newly found historical documents that are devastating to the RR), and "Pretrib Hypocrisy" (proving that RR leaders often don't practice what they preach!). Great reads all! THE OBSERVER

1:59 AM  
Blogger James said...

I haven't run into anything about Thomas Ice, and if plaigarism and insufficient academic credentially was all it would take to undermine the religious right then we'd all be the happier for it, but I don't think so. The fact is that to many in this group live on specious conclusions and half-baked truth, and sometimes the only truth that matters to them is the truth they come up with on their own.

So in my mind this is a group of individuals who have little need to meet the standards of truth or anything else that most of the "real" world adheres to, and far too many people out there are all too happy to believe what they're told by these folks.

12:04 PM  

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