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A whore that sitteth on many waters...Joe Bageant!
January 10, 2006 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Joe Bageant's observations on people and politics in today's America are insightful, savage, and hilarious.
posted by nevercalm (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Haven't read anything yet, but I like his titles.
posted by brundlefly at 2:27 PM on January 10, 2006


Excellent author. Readable and erudite straight from JesusLand. Willing to discuss in detail kookmeister "end times" beliefs widely-held in the red states, which few coastal authors seem ready to do.
posted by telstar at 2:38 PM on January 10, 2006


Thanks, nevercalm. 'Tis duly bookmarked.
posted by maryh at 3:23 PM on January 10, 2006


This is great, nevercalm. And I thought turkey baster story was an urban legend.
posted by fossil_human at 3:27 PM on January 10, 2006


Allow me to get down to the nub of this and say what urban liberals cannot allow themselves to say out loud: "Christian majority or not, the readers of such apocalyptic books as the Left Behind series are some pretty damned dumb motherfuckers caught up in their own black, vindictive fantasy." There. I said it for you. Let us proceed.

That was an excellent essay. Thanks, nevercalm.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:43 PM on January 10, 2006


Yeah, looks like everybody clicked on the "whore" one first.

So he assumes people like me don't have books. He's wrong. Stereotype much?

And for the record I have not and doubt I ever will read any of the Left Behind series.
posted by konolia at 5:59 PM on January 10, 2006


Yeah, looks like everybody clicked on the "whore" one first.

So he assumes people like me don't have books. He's wrong. Stereotype much?

And for the record I have not and doubt I ever will read any of the Left Behind series.
posted by konolia at 8:59 PM EST on January 10 [!]


That you even have a computer in your home, internet access, and the wherewithal to participate here puts you leagues beyond the type of folks Bageant's talking about, Konolia. And you know it.
posted by Chrischris at 6:49 PM on January 10, 2006


Chrischris, my son-who is presently attending the Air Force Academy-happens to be a big fan of those books.

I stick to my point which is the author of that diatribe is stereotyping Christians. Believe me when I say he would consider both me and my son (and the rest of my nuclear family) to be fundies. I have "fundie" friends, and THEY have books, and computers, and brains. Some read Left Behind and some do not.

What an arrogant article that man wrote.
posted by konolia at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2006


What an arrogant article that man wrote.
posted by konolia at 9:59 PM EST on January 10 [!]


He seems to be a leftish version of Rush Limbaugh; namely someone whose bread and butter is making angry remarks about people his audience doesn't like.


That you even have a computer in your home, internet access, and the wherewithal to participate here puts you leagues beyond the type of folks Bageant's talking about, Konolia. And you know it.

This is one of the reasons the left keeps losing elections. The fact that someone believes something you think stupid doesn't make them stupid. The left wing of the Democratic party keeps telling each other things like this, then when the Right puts together a coherent political strategy, it takes them by surprise, because they think that those "dumb Jesus freaks" couldn't possibly plan or do anything of importance. Never underestimate your opponent.

Lastly, I'm just like to point something out, then I'm out of here. Guys, moderate Christians can tell when it isn't just the fundies you hate. They can tell, and they remember when they get to the voting booth
posted by unreason at 7:07 PM on January 10, 2006


arrogantly awesome you mean, am I rite?
posted by stenseng at 7:09 PM on January 10, 2006


This guy is anything but a believer that "those 'dumb Jesus freaks' couldn't possibly plan or do anything of importance." He hits on this again and again.
posted by furiousthought at 7:14 PM on January 10, 2006


"Guys, moderate Christians can tell when it isn't just the fundies you hate. They can tell, and they remember when they get to the voting booth"

Oh Christ...(pun intended)

'Hay, we control all three branches of government, most of the major media, and represent the largest proportion of the national population, but y'know...stop picking on us!

Poor, poor oppressed Christians.

First someone goes and tacks your savior to a stick, and now this...
posted by stenseng at 7:15 PM on January 10, 2006


furiousthought, I was talking about chrischris's comments in that portion, not the article writer.
posted by unreason at 7:16 PM on January 10, 2006


konolia, your point just shows that you're missing the point. He's writing about poor people who are taken advantage of by everyone in their lives. If you read a little deeper, you'll see that his FAMILY are fundies. His brother is a preacher. He goes to these churches all the time. He lives in Western Virginia, for fuck's sake. He cares about them. Why else would he spend all his time on this?

Read more. Or some of it. Until then, go get your ire up somewhere else.

On preview, stenseng wins:
First someone goes and tacks your savior to a stick, and now this...
posted by nevercalm at 7:19 PM on January 10, 2006


Thanks, nevercalm, for articulating what I was too pissed off to say.
posted by Chrischris at 7:27 PM on January 10, 2006


MetaFilter: Read more. Or some of it.
posted by staggernation at 7:44 PM on January 10, 2006


I stick to my point which is the author of that diatribe is stereotyping Christians. Believe me when I say he would consider both me and my son (and the rest of my nuclear family) to be fundies. I have "fundie" friends, and THEY have books, and computers, and brains. Some read Left Behind and some do not.
I am a relatively conservative Christian who's read a hell of a lot of apocolyptic fiction. I worked in the Christian publishing industry for a few years, hung out with Frank Peretti, and knew more publicists and editors than you can shake a stick at. And I say this as simply and plainly as I can: Left Behind is a poorly written masturbatory spiritual revenge fantasy populated by mary sues. It is one of the ugliest and worst pieces of Christian Fiction I've ever read -- and I read Larry Burkett's books.

It is a fact, plain and simple, that fiction must be dumbed down, stripped of nuance, sandblasted free of moral complexity, and (if at all possible) filled with inexplicable and pornographic conversion sequences in order to succeed in the Christian book market. Good fiction -- well written stuff by sincere Christians who weave faith and art together skillfully -- dies on the vine. What survives the natural selection of the Christian Bookstore market is stuff like Left Behind, or chaste harlequin romance.

Franky Schaeffer's book Addicted to Mediocrity covers the topic pretty extensively. It saddens and angers me. I saw too many gifted authors languish and give up, moving to the secular publishing world where they could make an actual living writing well. They were faced with a choice between toning down the spiritual content of their work for the 'mass market' or churning out bad Christian Prarie Romance novels that would sell to a captive church audience.
posted by verb at 7:45 PM on January 10, 2006


Yeah, it's a keeper. Nice find nevercalm.
posted by Devils Slide at 9:18 PM on January 10, 2006


Well, verb, some of us don't buy books at the Christian book store. Some of us go to Barnes and Noble.

My son was down here at Christmas and was looking for a particular Christian author -name escapes me at the moment but I would classify him as an intellectual . Son was disgusted to realize the Christian store didn't stock his work. B & N did.

I'm not saying every believer is an intellectual. But any trip to a Wal-Mart will inform you that the vast majority of humans IN GENERAL are not interested in the higher life of the mind. To lump all "fundies" in that category simply because they are believers is chauvinist in the extreme.
posted by konolia at 7:08 AM on January 11, 2006


Oh, and as to verb's point, these Christian bookstores pander to lowest common denominator in order to make money. Just like the music business-both secular and Christian-do the same thing.
posted by konolia at 7:10 AM on January 11, 2006


Oh, and as to verb's point, these Christian bookstores pander to lowest common denominator in order to make money. Just like the music business-both secular and Christian-do the same thing.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
--Matthew (ch. VI, v. 24)
posted by Chrischris at 9:08 AM on January 11, 2006


Oh, and as to verb's point, these Christian bookstores pander to lowest common denominator in order to make money. Just like the music business-both secular and Christian-do the same thing.
That is correct. In this case, the lowest common denominator is the Christian book-buying public.
posted by verb at 10:25 AM on January 11, 2006


Uh, I would hazard that we are simply talking about Joe Average who happens to be Christian. Plenty of pulp crap out there bought by his secular equivalent. SOMEBODY buys People magazine, after all.
posted by konolia at 10:29 AM on January 11, 2006


Not every Christian supports the Left Behind series. Many Christians have discerned that this series is anything but Christian.

Read about this book:

http://www.libertytothecaptives.net/more_about_GOD'S_WRATH.html

All it took for me was realizing all the "Christian" characters worked for the antichrist and quite happily too, and ran around stealing everything that wasnt nailed down, to realize something was VERY wrong with this book. The last chapter too during Christ's return was shocking and appalling, I read this chapter at a library skimming through because by then I had given up on the series. A friend had told me about this travesty in the last book of the series.

And as a Christian myself {I would be considered a fundamentalist in most circles} I get tired of being stereotyped as an automatic Bush supporter, and mindless flag waver. Most of the Christians I know, are fed up with both parties--Democratic and Republican and have finally woken up to what is happening in this country--both sides working against the middle for the same agenda. I tire too of leftists like Bageant going by the most superficial knowledge of what he believes to be a Christian, borrowing his views totally from the OWNED [by the same 5 corporations media] instead of actually going out and talking to a few.
posted by Budge at 10:30 AM on January 11, 2006


unreason: Guys, moderate Christians can tell when it isn't just the fundies you hate. They can tell, and they remember when they get to the voting booth

I don't think anyone here thinks all Christians are the same (at least I don't) but I'm guilty of using the word "Christian" when I really mean "wacky fundie type". But I know it still irks many non-wacky Christians when I talk about how wacky other Christians are. Should I apologize for pointing out idiocy on the fringes for fear of offending the mainstream?

It really is a persecution complex, and I'm not sure where it comes from. I wish the moderates would loosen up a bit and realize that secular people are more like them than their fundie counterparts.
posted by jimmy76 at 10:51 AM on January 11, 2006


From that site:
Left Behind subtly promotes sins such as adultery, lying, abortion, pre-marital sex, suicide, infanticide, murder, coarse jesting, sarcasm—and more.
MetaFilter: We're All Going To Hell, Now
posted by verb at 11:00 AM on January 11, 2006


Reading these essays makes me want to kill myself. Or, at the very least, start living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle that will result in my death before I reach old age.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:07 AM on January 11, 2006


I tire too of leftists Christian apologists like Bageant Budge going by the most superficial knowledge of what he believes to be a Christian, borrowing his views totally from the OWNED [by the same 5 corporations media] instead of actually going out and talking to a few. not bothering to actually read Baguent's articles (nor, apparently, half the posts in this thread) which have made abundantly clear his family is composed of fundamentalist Christians, with whom he has daily contact, and therefore speaks from direct experience concerning the topic.

Try harder, people.
posted by Chrischris at 11:15 AM on January 11, 2006


I think I'm in love with this guy.

Thanks so much for this link nevercalm.

Best of more than the web.

Back to reading his stuff.
posted by nofundy at 11:24 AM on January 11, 2006


From the interview, you gotta read it:

One of the slickest things that ever happened was how capitalism convinced all those
working slobs they were middle class. As in, “Your car is being fucking repoed, you don’t have
any health insurance, your kids don’t know shit because their schools are shit, you are
overweight and one payday away from being homeless – WELCOME TO THE GREAT GUILDED
AMERICA MIDDLES CLASS! (You dumb nose-picking fools!) News media used to call them
the “traditional working class,” and the political left used to be right down there on the picket
lines getting their noses broken alongside the working mooks. Now the working class lives with
its mindscape wired into NFL bread and circuses and the soft little eunuchs on the political left
grope one another on the internet in interviews like this one.

posted by nofundy at 12:14 PM on January 11, 2006


Great stuff ... many thanks for the post.

I do have a few questions for konolia:

1. You mention that your son is at the Airforce Academy and that he reads the Left Behind series but you don't, but you're upset because JB lampoons people like your son. Why does your son read them? What does he think of them? Does he believe what is written in them? Does he read them because that's what everyone else is reading at the Academy (The Airforce Academy is or was under investigation for zealous Christian proselytization)?

2. When someone says colloquially that another does not have a brain or is stupid, they likely do not mean it literally. They mean that the person is misusing their brain or choosing to act stupidly. Clearly your son has a functional brain, but how can he be a fan of these books and be someone who is not prejudiced against non-Christians? Bigots obviously have brains -- regrettably, sometimes bigger brains than the open-minded, but that is not the point.

3. You mention friends of yours who are 'fundies' and you say some read Left Behind and not others. Why do these people read such misguided and poor writing? Do you hold these friends in high esteem? Do these friends find credible or persuasive the narrative of these novels?

Where I would disagree with JB is his point on Christians in this country not having sufficient education. They get the same education as people on the coasts, most of the same TV channels and access to the same Internet. These people, to my mind, are electing to go down their retrogressive path willingly and knowingly. They are insecure and want to feel that they belong to an exclusive club of the saved or redeemed. I do not understand why. I have only lived on the East Coast. Can someone explain?

Is it that they don't meet people from other cultures and religions? Is it social pressure (as in everyone in town goes to Church, or the kind of pressure as alleged in the Air Force Academy)? Is it outright chauvinism/bigotry?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
posted by Azaadistani at 2:15 PM on January 11, 2006


What happened to all the working class heroes?
posted by fullerine at 2:36 PM on January 11, 2006


This guy is very inflammatory. Maybe he should become a preacher
posted by Laugh_track at 2:44 PM on January 11, 2006


interestingly enough, joe bageant is from my hometown and is friends with my parents.

he recently had a book optioned by a publisher -- which one escapes me at this moment...

i love the guy. i've had dinner with him and sometimes when i'm back home he brings over his old taylor guitar and we've played tunes.

i don't agree with him on everything... but he is a working class proponent extraordinaire. my problem with his point of view is that even though he knows middle-class white liberals (like me and my family) have similar principles, he doesn't seem to want us involved in his blue-collar "leftneck" movement.... seems he doesn't understand that having a bit of money doesn't mean you're automatically selfish.
posted by teletype1 at 3:18 PM on January 11, 2006


These people, to my mind, are electing to go down their retrogressive path willingly and knowingly. They are insecure and want to feel that they belong to an exclusive club of the saved or redeemed. I do not understand why. I have only lived on the East Coast. Can someone explain?

I can try. First, they don't see it as retrogressive, obviously, but as righteous. You can't argue with their belief. I don't think it's that they want to feel part of an _exclusive_ club-- I'm sure most would be happy if everyone joined. And they might be insecure, but no more than anyone else. I've often felt my Christian friend (singular) seemed insecure all the time, until I realized it was just because they were around me and my pagan friends. And I don't blame him, what with all the blasphemy and dirty jokes and all. Basically, my friend eventually realized he was more comfortable hanging out with religious people, where he was sheltered from that kind of thing. It's a nice, safe club if you don't bore easily.
posted by jimmy76 at 3:44 PM on January 11, 2006


"family is composed of fundamentalist Christians, with whom he has daily contact, and therefore speaks from direct experience concerning the topic."

So what? ONE family. Lots of teenagers who grow up and hold the opposite viewpoints of Mom and Dad.
posted by Budge at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2006



So what? ONE family. Lots of teenagers who grow up and hold the opposite viewpoints of Mom and Dad.


WTF does this even mean? It was perishingly obvious from your first comment that you hadn't even bothered to read Bageant's articles, and now you are making some perverse false-equivalence statement which, in the context of your previous statement, makes no sense, unless you(and this is what I suspect, though I certainly hope you will disabuse me of the notion) are arguing that a lifetime spent cheek-by-jowl with Fundamentalists is somehow not qualification enough in your eyes to write about them. Is this what you are trying to say?
posted by Chrischris at 4:17 PM on January 11, 2006


I don't think it's that they want to feel part of an _exclusive_ club-- I'm sure most would be happy if everyone joined.

My own experience with fundamentalists is that the vast majority of them are willing to settle for the polite fiction that everybody is a part of their club. Also, a predilection for fundamentalist beliefs doesn't particularly map to piety or even reverence. I suppose this makes little practical difference in their politics, but it's been my experience.

Also, in the "plural of anecdote is not data" dept., I know at least one educated, liberal, hates-Bush Christian who's been reading the Left Behind books. Who am I to judge her? It's not as though I haven't read my share of terrible fiction.
posted by furiousthought at 4:53 PM on January 11, 2006




I do have a few questions for konolia:

1. You mention that your son is at the Airforce Academy and that he reads the Left Behind series but you don't, but you're upset because JB lampoons people like your son. Why does your son read them? What does he think of them? Does he believe what is written in them? Does he read them because that's what everyone else is reading at the Academy (The Airforce Academy is or was under investigation for zealous Christian proselytization)?


I assume he reads them because everything else he reads is so heavy duty-not just his required reading, as he reads systematic theology books for fun. And don't believe what you read about proselytization at the Academy. It is NOT a bastion of Christian right wingedness, at least at the cadet level. I can tell you that every hot button issue in the last few years ther has been incredibly overblown. It would be funny if it wasn't so stupid.



2. When someone says colloquially that another does not have a brain or is stupid, they likely do not mean it literally. They mean that the person is misusing their brain or choosing to act stupidly. Clearly your son has a functional brain, but how can he be a fan of these books and be someone who is not prejudiced against non-Christians? Bigots obviously have brains -- regrettably, sometimes bigger brains than the open-minded, but that is not the point.

First, he knows the books are based on dispensational theological endtimes teaching, which I personally do not expouse. Again, to him it is mindless reading. We do however think that being reconciled to God is a good idea, and am sorry that you believe that equates with prejudice against those that have not made their peace with Him yet.



3. You mention friends of yours who are 'fundies' and you say some read Left Behind and not others. Why do these people read such misguided and poor writing? Do you hold these friends in high esteem? Do these friends find credible or persuasive the narrative of these novels?
I don't judge my friends on their leisure reading. (Ever heard of beach novels? Harlequin romances?) Actually the two people I know who are the biggest fans of the book are my aunt (dad's sister) and my mom. Mom is a very nominal believer if that much-she isn't a churchgoer-and my Aunt is a basic Sunday churchgoer who is active in her small country Baptist church. The folks I know at my church aren't that into the series that I can tell. Many are military -a lot of them Special Forces-and their intellectual chops aren't too shabby at all.


Where I would disagree with JB is his point on Christians in this country not having sufficient education. They get the same education as people on the coasts, most of the same TV channels and access to the same Internet. These people, to my mind, are electing to go down their retrogressive path willingly and knowingly. They are insecure and want to feel that they belong to an exclusive club of the saved or redeemed. I do not understand why. I have only lived on the East Coast. Can someone explain?

That has to do with people's choices on how deeply they choose to think about things. I vehemently disagree that simply because they are believers that makes them idiots.
Exclusive? Well, I am a Republican. Does that mean I can assume that Democrats see themselves as exclusive?

Is it that they don't meet people from other cultures and religions? Is it social pressure (as in everyone in town goes to Church, or the kind of pressure as alleged in the Air Force Academy)? Is it outright chauvinism/bigotry?

Well, here in our town I have met Koreans, Germans, Russians, Thai, Hispanics (from various locations), English, Greek, etc etc plus we have lots of transplanted Yankees. There is a mosque in town, as well as a synagogue, and if I am not mistaken there is a Buddhist temple one town over. I know for a fact we have plenty of Wiccans here locally.

Maybe it is simply that some of us have found that there is something-make that Someone-much bigger than ourselves, and that He is worthy of all worship. And this God is one who is not particularly impressed with the intellectual or with the rich or with the beautiful, but loves people even if they are rednecks or they like cheesy bad novels or even if they shop at Wal-mark. God isn't a snob.

As the saying goes, God must love common people since He made so many of them. The point I have tried to make over and over is that in the saved and in the unsaved camp, the majority of folks in either category will always be from the "great unwashed." I get irritated beyond belief when the intellectuals who are too cool for God want to paint every Christian as a brainless drooling robot simply because he or she is a Christian.

Hope that was helpful to you.
posted by konolia at 5:26 PM on January 11, 2006


konolia writes "I don't judge my friends on their leisure reading. (Ever heard of beach novels? Harlequin romances?)"

Most Harlequin romances don't glorify genocide. If I saw a friend reading The Turner Diaries I'd waste no time judging them. Unless someone is reading the Left Behind books out of morbid curiosity, I can't see defending them. Sorry.
posted by brundlefly at 6:26 PM on January 11, 2006


Right on, brundlefly. Under any other circumstances, Left Behind would fall into the "hate literature" category. But since it's Christian, it's snapped up hungrily and never really thought about critically. Poor, picked-on Christian minority my ass.....
posted by nevercalm at 2:22 PM on January 12, 2006


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