Alpine Summit

Monday, July 18, 2005

Thoughts from a Communist Christian

Okay, I know she isn't a communist, but she's still from California and that counts for something, right? Anyway I thought this was interesting since many liberals despise Christianity. I thought I'd comment on why I think Ms. McEntyre is wrong. Not only is she wrong, but she's wrong right off the blocks. Read her introduction:

Among those who are mournful and angry about the outcome of this election, doubtful about the integrity of the process, and opposed to the neoconservative agenda are Christians who believe the name of Christ is being pressed into service to market a political agenda impossible to align with the ethics, mission, or character of Jesus. Here are some of the identifying features of that agenda: -- suppression of authentic diversity and debate in the name of “unity” -- fearmongering and secret surveillance in the name of “safety” -- wanton military aggression in the name of “liberation” -- triumphalist rewriting of recent history to justify unprecedented economic imperialism -- use of religious language to persuade a poorly informed public to accept political control by the few -- literalistic and selective use of biblical texts to legitimate that control -- sale of government to big business to consolidate that control -- sloganeering, anti-intellectualism, and oversimplification to forestall reflection, analysis, and debate -- expropriation of public media to insure the success of all the above

God's name is not "being pressed into service" as McEntyre mentions. He has never EVER said we're going to war for the glory of God. Nor has he said anything similar. Ms. McEntyre has been fooled by someone that Bush's motives for Iraq were religious. As for her claims of a "suppression of authentic diversity..." quote, I see none of that happening either. Does she consider "he betrayed this country!" as "debate?" I certainly hope not. Fearmongering? Perhaps Americans should be afraid. These people want to kill you. Not only that, but they want to kill your family, your friends, democrats, republicans- anyone not subscribing to their ideology. There is nothing in terms of "surveillance" that is happening now that didn't happen before 9/11. It's just that it's easier for the government to perform such acts. That's it. Wanton military aggression... in the name of "liberation?!" I have absolutely no clue what she's talking about here. Our troops have been able to specifically target the terrorists while preserving countless civillian lives. Our military is using a scalpel when they could much more easily (and cheaply) use a hammer to solve this problem. I would hardly call that "wanton." I especially like the next one: "use of religious language to persuade a poorly informed public to accept political control by the few." Again, Bush has NEVER used religious language to justify the war(s). NEVER. This is a fabrication made up by someone to further criticize the Bush administration. When you can't find legitimate grievances, why not just come up with your own? I can barely go on through this introduction! The next one is a reference to halliburton I'm sure: "sale of government to big business to consolidate that control." Do I really need to point it out? I could be here all day and I haven't even gotten to the meat of her argument which involves the "religious speech" she didn't like being used to further a political ideology... hmm. Moving on (.org)!
The very public nature of Bush’s religiosity ought to be at least a yellow flag for any believer who remembers Jesus’ admonishment to the Pharisees: "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

The NIV version of Matthew 6:1 is:
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

The chapter refers to acts of goodness you perform and not to boast about them to others to make yourself look good. This in no way applies to Bush. I've never seen Bush get up and say "see how great I am? I freed all these people... you should all think I'm great now." Sure he's come out saying that he's freed the Iraqis, but it was merely in defense of himself- he didn't voluteer to start talking about it. If her interpretation applies, then the next time I see someone drop a hundred dollar bill on the ground, I better not give it back to them. I'd be better to just keep it, lest they notice me being pious. In her next citation, she repeats herself... again.
Bush’s “God talked to me” approach to political decision-making needs at least to be submitted to the test Paul sets forth in enumerating the fruits of the Spirit: if an action is truly “Spirit-driven,” it will be marked by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:23).

Bush has NEVER said God told him to go to war (as I said before). Regardless, McEntyre conveniently omits the verse just prior to 23 (which would be 22):
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

The FRUIT of the spirit. That is, what is born out of acts from the spirit. At least, that's how I read it. Because the "fruit" is the "result" in many other places in the Bible. So then, has joy, peace, kindness, goodness, etc. happened as a RESULT of the war in Iraq? I say yes.

And I wonder how those on the “Christian Right” whose rallying cry of choice is “family values” read Jesus’ admonishment to the disciples, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Or his answer to the messenger who interrupted him to say his mother and brothers wanted his attention: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? . . . whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:42). Obviously these startling “hard sayings” need to be read in context. No one claims Jesus was “anti-family,” but neither did he elevate a particular model of family life. Rather he seemed to indicate that there would be circumstances in which people would be called to leave their families, to reconfigure them, to challenge them, and in any case to understand that as members of the Body of Christ, we would have to subordinate our allegiance to all human institutions, including family. Focusing on the family can become idolatry.

This entire paragraph is nothing but a cheap shot against Focus on the Family which is a large Christian organization providing political support to Republicans- as well as helping people raise a family as Christians. Focus on the Family does not idolize or in any way assert that family comes before everything... including God. Like I said, it's just a cheap shot.

Politically, “family values” serves the purposes of Bush’s deeper agenda, all too reminiscent of the National Socialist slogan, “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” (Children, Kitchen, Church) that focused the attention of a compliant population on the domestic sphere as the locus of their proper moral concern while political power was concentrated in the hands of a violent few.

For those of you who don't know, the "National Socialist" party she refers to are the Nazis. So, there you have it; "Bush is a Nazi! Right-wing christians are Nazis!" Well, Ms. McEntyre, what does the Bible say about speaking evil about our leaders?

"Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people(Exodus 22:28).'" Acts 23:5


Her next deal is about stem cell research, gay marriage, and abortion. She cites Mat 7:3 as proof us right-wing Christians are hypocrites.

The claim that the election was won by those who voted on the “moral issues” is particularly troubling to those of us who believe in the richness and complexity of the biblical story and of the way it invites us to moral reflection. For many on the “Christian Right,” the “non-negotiable” moral issues in the election were reduced to abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research. Many thoughtful Christians recognize the moral complexity of these issues and the need for careful reflection on the contexts of biblical guidelines invoked in discussion of them. Oversimplification of these issues by members of the far Right (often in complete disregard of their socioeconomic and psychological contexts) has resulted in widespread lack of compassion for those most closely and personally affected. (see Matthew 7:3)

We aren't judging. At least, I'm not. People like Fred Phelps or the Church of Jesus Christ Christian have made judgements, but I have my own problems with them claiming to be brothers/sisters in Christ because they don't practice what the Bible teachers. More on-topic though, the idea behind abortion et. al. is that we aren't making judgements, we're recognizing an affront to God and trying to stop it within the law. Should we just do nothing and be implicitly accepting of such things? Gay marriage- and homosexuality in general- is specifically cited as "immoral" in the Bible. It's the whole reason Sodom and Gammorah were destroyed. As Christians, we are taught to love life therefore we cannot support abortion and, by extension, embryonic stem cell research. Bush has not banned research in it, either. He's merely said that the federal government would not fund such research. That doesn't mean people can't research it on their own. So far, though, the best chance and finding cures are with adult stem cells. Which are easy to harvest and don't require killing people to get them.

Most troubling of all, of course, is the fact that so many seem to restrict their concept of morality to personal actions. Where is the moral concern for the underfunding of services to the poorest among us, or stewardship of the natural world that has been put into our keeping? How can we overlook the moral obscenity that is war? Especially a war based on lies that has laid waste to the land and infrastructure of Iraq, killed well over 100,000 innocent civilians, and brutalized the psyches of our own troops as they brutalize their victims in the name of security.

"Where are all the socialist programs?!" "War is hell" and "Bush lied, children died!" Did I miss anything? First off, Jesus said we should help our fellow man, he didn't say steal from your richer neighbor to do it- which is exactly what socialist programs do. Second, war IS hell. War sucks. I doubt anyone could argue with that (who was sane). But the result of this war, contrary to Ms. McEntyre's claims, is far better. The infrastructure is taking shape, 25 MILLION people are living freer and happier lives because of this war, and it was all done by volunteers. My sister visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center and with the exception of a couple of people, she met many men who had been wounded all wanting to go back to Iraq. This included a man who lost both his legs in an explosion.

She wraps up in her conclusion, but then adds this little bit to the end:

Whatever Jesus would do, given what he did do, and has promised he will do, I don’t think it looks much like what the insulated, self-congratulatory Fox News fans on the “Christian Right” are doing.

Another little cheap shot against Fox News which, in my opinion, is the most balanced news source out there given that they hire liberals (Alan Colms, Susan Estrich, among others) AND conservatives (Sean Hannity, Brit Hume, among others) instead of left-of-center and more left than that. Nor do I see how people like me are "self-congratulatory." Whatever.