inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #51 of 142: Jef Poskanzer (jef) Sat 26 Aug 06 23:17
    
Christianity is a cannibalistic death cult.  They are also the majority
in this country.  You respect them because if you don't, they might
massacre you.  They've certainly done that enough times in the past.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #52 of 142: Elisabeth (wickett) Sun 27 Aug 06 09:32
    

Myths are the cultural medium in which we all sprout.  Myths impel 
societies, religions, and nations.  I may think that my sense of history, 
admiration for the Enlightenment, and devotion to democracy are all 
fact-based and real and, nevertheless, recognize that they function for me 
also as myth.

Without the will to respectful diaglogue among mythic cultures, we may as 
well as draw our swords, barricade our doors, and wait for armageddon.

I have the desire to learn how to speak and act effectively in this 
political environment, I simply don't know how.  I am teachable.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #53 of 142: Public persona (jmcarlin) Sun 27 Aug 06 09:35
    

> I refuse to respect so-called Christians who seem not to live the life
> that Christ preached about. Love, forgivness, and all those other good
> things...

Word. (Well-speak for "I agree").

There are Christians who attempt to live the Sermon on the Mount and such
people are worthy of respect.

Hypocrites who call themselves Christian, OTOH, should read what Jesus had
to say about them such as Matthew 7:5: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the
beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the
mote out of thy brother's eye."
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #54 of 142: John Payne (satyr) Sun 27 Aug 06 10:19
    
> Christianity is a cannibalistic death cult.

Ahem!

Without actually disagreeing with you on that point, I just want to point
out that there are several powerful dynamics at work in the origin of
Christianity...

- the Hellenization of the culture, by the remnants of Alexander's empire
- the threat of further assimilation posed by Roman rule
- the belief in a single God, given to retribution
- the belief in the special status of the Jewish people with respect to
  that God
- the belief in sin, and death as its natural consequence
- the belief in sacrifice as an atonement for sin
- and, finally, the belief that God, himself, had provided a sacrifice as 
  atonement for the sins of all who would accept it (and the associated 
  image of the self-sacrificial male, which figures prominently in the 
  popularity of the faith with women)

The significance of the symbolic cannibalism is the acceptance of that 
atonement, leading to victory over death.

But, I'll grant that if you don't share the framework it can look a lot 
like a cannibalistic death cult.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #55 of 142: Michelle Goldberg (goldberg) Sun 27 Aug 06 11:01
    
I think you can respect the place religion has in many peoples' lives
without catering to it politically. There's no denying the role that
Christians have played in most American social justice movements, and
it's clear that faith gives some people solace and meaning. The GOP has
successfully convinced a great many Americans that the Democrats hold
their traditions in contempt, and the results have been disastrous for
all of us. There's a difference, though, because acknowledging and
respecting someone's beliefs and allowing it to intrude into government
or to dictate policy. We need to convince Americans -- most of whom
are Christian -- that separation of church and state is not
anti-Christian, but in order to do that you need to cut through the
sense that Sharon describes. 

 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #56 of 142: Carl LaFong (mcdee) Sun 27 Aug 06 11:42
    
Michelle, in your research for the book, did you develop a sense of
what % of American Christians are hardcore Christian nationalists?  It
strikes me that if it's 2/3rds we may be drifting towards a Civil War,
but if it's 10% that would be a very different matter.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #57 of 142: Dave (davidwag) Sun 27 Aug 06 18:39
    
(slip)
>I refuse to respect so-called Christians who seem not to live the
life that Christ preached about.

Rick, perhaps remind them that Jesus says you have a choice:
"Knock, and I will come in."  IOW, He won't force his way in
uninvited. You have to choose to open that door.  So if He gives you a
choice, why won't they?  If only all Christians would hold that dear. 
It's not right that they force their beliefs (and laws) down peoples'
throats.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #58 of 142: Dave (davidwag) Sun 27 Aug 06 19:31
    
Michelle, I listened with great interest to your interview on NPR,
since this is a subject of great interest to me (and I remember writing
the title of your book on the palm of my hand while driving on the
freeway, heh!).

I am curious about how sincere you think the Bush administration is
about being Christian and doing God's work vs. simply using
Christianity as a means to achieve long-standing right-wing goals?
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #59 of 142: Michelle Goldberg (goldberg) Mon 28 Aug 06 06:10
    
I estimate the number of Christian nationalists at somewhere between
10 and 15 percent of the population, based on various polls about
whether people believe Christianity should be the official religion of
the United States, whether they believe Christian politicians should
ever compromise with non-Christians, and whether they consider
themselves part of the religious right. So we're not talking about a
majority by any means -- in fact, we're probably not even talking about
a majority of evangelicals, who make up somewhere between 30 and 40
percent of the population. But Christian nationalists are the most well
organized faction in American politics, and they exercise substantial
control over the GOP. And of course the Republican Party has a
structural advantage in American politics due to apportionment and
gerrymandering, meaning that Christian nationalists have outsized
influence in politics. One of the more striking figures in my book, I
think, is that in 2004, the Christian Coalition gave 42 senators 100%
approval ratings, meaning they voted with the Christian Coalition on
every issue that group considers important. (More than half of the
Senate got at least 83%). And this was before the election that brought
in new ultra-right senators like Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint. Now, 42%
of Americans clearly do not agree with the Christian Coalition about
everything, but we are being governed as if they did. 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #60 of 142: Berliner (captward) Mon 28 Aug 06 06:25
    
And that last sentence is one that should be tattooed on every
Democratic Party policy-maker's brain. 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #61 of 142: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Mon 28 Aug 06 07:02
    
Michelle, what do you think has happened on a national level to allow
the Christian Coalition to take control of the initiative like this? 

Is it careful planning and strategizing on their end, lack of
initiative on the part of the moderate right and the left, or what?
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #62 of 142: Low and popular (rik) Mon 28 Aug 06 08:48
    
They have a daunting rhetorical advantage in that criticism of them is
characterized as bigotry.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #63 of 142: Elisabeth (wickett) Mon 28 Aug 06 11:09
    

Yes.  Having defined the academy as the haunt of subversive liberal 
theorists, they readily dismiss its output as threats as well as bigotry.

They also have a compelling emotional advantage because they have all the
answers, which are simple and absolute.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #64 of 142: Michelle Goldberg (goldberg) Mon 28 Aug 06 13:49
    
The Christian Coalition is actually a pitiful shell of its former
self, but other groups have moved into the gap -- Focus on the Family,
the Family Research Council, The Center for Reclaiming America, and
statewide groups like the Ohio Restoration Project and the Texas
Restoration Project. They're all part of the same movement, and they've
been able to have such a disproportionate influence on policy because
they are extremely well organized. With gerrymandering, so many
elections are decided in the primaries, where they can be decisive.
Look at McCain -- he tried to stand up to the Christian right in 2000,
and now he's had to desperately backpedal because they're blocking his
presidential hopes. 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #65 of 142: Authentic Frontier Gibberish (gerry) Mon 28 Aug 06 13:55
    
Is the Southern Baptist Convention connected to any of those?
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #66 of 142: Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Mon 28 Aug 06 14:58
    
Michelle, your response to my post in #33 above may have been buried
in another response above. If so, would you consider summarizing it?


From #33:

>Michelle, could you compare the current situation from the right to
the earlier zeal with which Marx was believed to have all the answers.

Also, why was Marxism such an intellectual obsession?  

Perhaps absolutist thinking exists notwithstanding brains or lack
thereof.<
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #67 of 142: Michael Thomas (mthomas) Tue 29 Aug 06 11:00
    
IMO, one of the significant ways is which George W. Bush was a
“stealth” candidate was with regard to the depth and nature of his
religious convictions and their roots in modern Christian Right - his
own account of his “born again” status and the role it played in his
overcoming alcohol abuse (and perhaps addiction) was a matter of public
record, but it's my impression that outside the community of  similar
believers the nature of these beliefs and their possible policy
implications not wildly appreciated, certainty by much of the the
electorate, and probably even by many of his major financial
supporters.

Now that we have had experienced with a presidency grounded in such
belief, and some experience of the results of this sort of direct
personal appeal to divine guidance to to set and justify policy, do you
feel that this sort of religious conviction will be evaluated 
differently by the electorate, and/or by  the elites instrumental in
choosing candidates?

And if so, how?
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #68 of 142: Michelle Goldberg (goldberg) Tue 29 Aug 06 13:05
    
In response to the question about comparisons between Christian
nationalists and Marxists, the similarity comes from believers'
conviction that they have discovered a system that unlocks the puzzle
of history and offers the definitive answer to every social and
political question. There's a certain kind of personality that craves
this absolute certainty -- a certainty liberalism can never provide. 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #69 of 142: Cogito, Ergo Dubito (robertflink) Tue 29 Aug 06 14:35
    
>There's a certain kind of personality that craves
this absolute certainty -- a certainty liberalism can never provide.<

May we assume that such cravings are "natural" and are expressed
through whatever absolutist doctrine appeals?  If so, does intellectual
development militate against such cravings or, possibly, reduce the
attraction of the absolutist doctrines?  

I don't recall much intellectual challenge to Marxism years ago. 
Perhaps it was the "scientific" claims that muted criticism.  

I'm glad to hear that liberalism presents no threat in the way of
absolute certainty.  
 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #70 of 142: Rick Brown (danwest) Tue 29 Aug 06 14:38
    
absolute certainty can be the way of the lazy. Let's face it, it's
easier to follow a party line, be it religion, sexuality, whatever.

Howver; if people actually were absolutly certain, they would not seem
so insecure. 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #71 of 142: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Tue 29 Aug 06 16:40
    
Michelle, one of the reasons we have never had another Civil War in
this country is that so far no major conflict has developed along
geographic lines.  It almost seems like we're now heading back into a
new geographically aligned conflict -- only this time between the two
coasts (and some blue islands) and the huge but much more thinly
populated hinterland.  When reading about Christian nationalists in
Ohio and Kansas, I felt no more connected to them as human beings than
I'd feel reading about people living on another planet.

If there really is an unassailable cultural divide between us
cosmopolites and the 10 or 15% who are hard core Christian
nationalists... and the nationalists effectively control the
government... well, any thoughts on where all this is headed?
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #72 of 142: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 29 Aug 06 17:52
    
Remember, most of that territory is stil just slightly redder purple.
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #73 of 142: you had it, you blew it, move over (smendler) Tue 29 Aug 06 19:20
    
I'm sure that lurking at the back of many people's minds is the 
"Handmaid's Tale" scenario...a relatively small fundamentalist force 
taking over the government, and the majority being cowed into submission 
by violence. Jef alludes to it in <51> ("massacre") and Mark gets closer 
to it in <71>.

I don't think that we'll see armed divisions singing "Onward Christian 
Soldiers" as they march on Berkeley, Austin, or Cambridge, but we might 
well see small bands of guerillas harassing or disappearing people... 
particularly as they see their "way of life" being more and more "under 
attack".... to what extent is that possibility hinted at or mentioned?  Or 
do they expect to be hunted down themselves?
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #74 of 142: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Tue 29 Aug 06 20:15
    
>Howver; if people actually were absolutly certain, they would not
seem so insecure.<

Nor would they need a group to reassure themselves. OTOH, absolute
certainty and security may be somewhat confining for some members of a
species that displays curiosity, creativity and restlessness as well as
dogmatism.  Perhaps it serves a species well to have a great variety
of impulses and great variety in the expression thereof, at least as
much as reasonable social order can tolerate.  

I tend to doubt the durability of any movement that strives to limit
individual choice for the glory of god, science or the intellect. 
  
inkwell.vue.280 : Michelle Goldberg, "Kingdom Coming"
permalink #75 of 142: Jef Poskanzer (jef) Tue 29 Aug 06 20:28
    
I wasn't talking about science fiction, I was talking about history.
Christians have a long history of massacre, genocide, and general
unpleasantness.
  

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