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April 27, 2008 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Matt Taibbi goes undercover in one of pastor John Hagee's "Encounter" weekends. Yes, the Hagee who recently endorsed John McCain. Published in Rolling Stone, and a part of Taibbi's forthcoming book The Great Derangement.
posted by JHarris (133 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I should probably add this....

I found this fascinating because, up until about the age of twelve, my family attended a church that believed in personal demons and speaking in tongues. The simularity between the tongue-speaking represented in the article, and that I heard in our old church, make it clear that there has been little innovation in that field in the years since.

In any case, I was well out of that place.
posted by JHarris at 7:05 PM on April 27, 2008


My name is Matt. My father was an alcoholic circus clown who used to beat me with his oversize shoes.
You know, that's just how I've always pictured Taibbi.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:12 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I laugh about it now, but once he chased me, drunk, in his Fudgie the Whale costume. He chased me into the bathroom, laid me across the toilet seat and hit me with his fins, which underneath were still a man's hands.

"Again no reaction from the group, aside from an affirming nod from José at the last part — his eyes said to me, I know what you mean about those fins. "

....Gold!
posted by humannaire at 7:15 PM on April 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Hagee Repeats Charge that Katrina Result of Gay "Sin"
"One of the more eye-opening statements made by controversial Christian fundamentalist Pastor John Hagee -- and Sen. John McCain supporter -- was that Hurricane Katrina was the result of God being angry at the residents of the city because of a scheduled gay parade. Hagee originally made the statement to NPR's Terri Gross. (Hagee has also made lots of disparaging comments about other groups he doesn't like - Catholics in particular.)"
posted by ericb at 7:29 PM on April 27, 2008


Hagee Repeats Charge that Katrina Result of Gay "Sin"

It's important to note that the "gay" areas of New Orleans were the only ones that survived dry and unharmed. Just sayin'.
posted by ColdChef at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2008 [14 favorites]


Flip-flop. Uh, yeah. Right.

Hagee Retracts Katrina Comment
“The Rev. John Hagee, whose endorsement of John McCain has caused headaches for the presumptive Republican nominee because of some controversial statements he has made, retracted one of them this evening.

Hagee, who has also been criticized for his remarks about the Catholic Church, suggested this week that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for a planned gay-pride parade. ‘What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God,’ the Texas televangelist told a radio show host. ‘It was a city that was planning sinful conduct.’

‘As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses,’ Hagee said in a statement issued through his public relations firm. ‘But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.’”
posted by ericb at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2008


a few scattered weather-beaten black folk in secondhand clothing whom I immediately pegged as in-recovery addicts

Context? I know Rolling Stone wants edginess to be their literary métier, but this seems to take LOLRACISM a bit far. I mean, I'm glad I'm white so when I wear my torn flannel people won't think I'm an addict.
posted by mindsound at 7:32 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


From the article: "In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!"

Well, at least that one worked.
posted by ColdChef at 7:33 PM on April 27, 2008 [34 favorites]


It's important to note that the "gay" areas of New Orleans were the only ones that survived dry and unharmed. Just sayin'.

Exactly. Bourbon Pub, Cafe Lafitte In Exile, Good Friends and Oz weathered the storm in the French Quarter.
posted by ericb at 7:34 PM on April 27, 2008


Does anyone have a link to some of Hagee's "Israel must be destroyed for Jesus to come back" lines?
posted by Pants! at 7:34 PM on April 27, 2008


I'm glad I'm white so when I wear my torn flannel people won't think I'm an addict.

As long as you're not hanging around Seattle 15 years ago.

Also, the whole "endorses McCain" angle is silly. McCain has already disavowed this guy and said, very rightly, that he can't control who endorses him. This feels like a weak attempt at a get-back for the Obama's Pastor thing.

There are more than enough real things wrong with McCain, without reaching for junk like this.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:36 PM on April 27, 2008


Hagee Repeats Charge that Katrina Result of Gay "Sin"

That would explain why God fearing old ladies who had gone to church every sunday since they were little girls, and who prayed every day for their family and community would spend the rest of their lives trapped in their own attics waiting for help. *fumes*
posted by nola at 7:41 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought this article went a little further than the usual LOLXTIANS only because of 2/3 of the way through he hit upon what really is the power of these kinds of religious gatherings: peer pressure and mob mentality.

When the church leaders wanted to get their big final exorcism going, all they really had to do was have a few plants start puking and speaking in tongues, and before long, everyone was doing it. And as much as we'd like to think we're invulnerable to that sort of groupthink, we fall for it all the time.

(Just reading drjimmy11: You're wrong. McCain sought out his endorsement. He doesn't disavow him, he welcomed his endorsement just last Sunday on Stephanopolous.)
posted by fungible at 7:42 PM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]




So we have food riots. We've got 120 dollar a barrel oil. Oh and fundamentalists speaking in tongues knee deep in politics.

Paging Neal Stephenson.
posted by wuwei at 7:48 PM on April 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


McCain sought out his endorsement. He doesn't disavow him, he welcomed his endorsement just last Sunday on Stephanopolous.

McCain Struggles To Explain Away Hagee Connection [with video | 03:50].
posted by ericb at 7:49 PM on April 27, 2008


You simply cannot go wrong praising God in this world; overdoing it is literally impossible.

This really struck home for me. My patients attribute everything - every. thing. - to the not always invisible hand of God. I've had that same sentiment quite often, that I could just go around blaming every mishap and fortune of each day on God and people would just give me a pass and a wide berth instead of the lithium I really need.
posted by docpops at 7:50 PM on April 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Gentlemen, we cannot allow a crazy pastor gap.
posted by Artw at 7:52 PM on April 27, 2008 [13 favorites]


Also, the whole "endorses McCain" angle is silly. McCain has already disavowed this guy and said, very rightly, that he can't control who endorses him. This feels like a weak attempt at a get-back for the Obama's Pastor thing.

Wrong.

McCain solicited Hagee's endorsement.
posted by Poolio at 7:56 PM on April 27, 2008


McCain solicited Hagee's endorsement.
STEPHANOPOULOS: "...you solicited and accepted [Hagee's] endorsement?

MCCAIN: Yes, indeed. I did...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're going to hold onto his endorsement? Your own campaign acknowledged that you should have done a better job of vetting Pastor Hagee.

MCCAIN: Oh, sure...

MCCAIN: I'm glad to have his endorsement.*
posted by ericb at 8:00 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


> This really struck home for me. My patients attribute everything - every. thing. - to the not always invisible hand of God.

You should read Under The Banner Of Heaven (which is about Mormons, but still), wherein two guys who killed their brother's wife spend the whole book attributing their decisions to messages they get from God, as in straight from the source ("God is telling me to take a right at the next intersection," etc.).
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:03 PM on April 27, 2008


You do not "join" the church like he said he did. Not after just a few weeks. He lied and decieved those people and is not a credible journalist. He went in biased and came out biased due to his underllying non-belief in the first place. This will come out that he made up most of the story. Hagee is a good guy despite what you think of his faith or politics.
RS will be embarrassed.
posted by shockingbluamp at 8:06 PM on April 27, 2008


BTW..I fully expect my psot to vanish soon because MetaFilter is not abou exchange of free ideas but the current mood--biased opinios of the webmaster. I paid to be on here and I know they will block these posts because they don't conform to the opinions of said webmasters. This is not a free speech post and they ( webmasters) will prove me out.
posted by shockingbluamp at 8:10 PM on April 27, 2008 [46 favorites]


You do not "join" the church like he said he did. Not after just a few weeks.

So, the indoctrination process is of even greater length and more radical than Taibbi described?
posted by yertledaturtle at 8:11 PM on April 27, 2008


Who's close-minded? "Block these posts"? No, Matt will likely leave your post on here so we can openly mock you.
posted by notsnot at 8:12 PM on April 27, 2008 [11 favorites]


TBH if they really hated you they'd leave it up.
posted by Artw at 8:12 PM on April 27, 2008


shockingbluamp: So how do you join their church? Are you questioning whether Taibbi went to the encounter weekend at all - are you saying he couldn't have gone if he wasn't a member? Which parts do you think were made up?
posted by frobozz at 8:14 PM on April 27, 2008


BTW..I fully expect my psot [sic] to vanish soon because MetaFilter is not abou [sic] exchange of free ideas but the current mood--biased opinios [sic] of the webmaster. I paid to be on here and I know they will block these posts because they don't conform to the opinions of said webmasters.

I'll bet you a hundred dollars you are wrong in your assessment. Your posts will stand.
posted by ericb at 8:14 PM on April 27, 2008


No. Any church...no matter denomination REQIURES a period thet they seek out your verasity. You go to class and they take a look at you...to weed out ppl who are not what they seem to be. Call ANY church..any..I dare you..they will tell you excaly the same.
posted by shockingbluamp at 8:15 PM on April 27, 2008


Metafilter: I fully expect my psot to vanish soon.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:16 PM on April 27, 2008 [11 favorites]



No. Any church...no matter denomination REQIURES a period thet they seek out your verasity.

I would agree that most churches will want you to talk with the minister and perhaps take classes and attend for a few weeks before becoming a member. What evidence do you have that Taibbi didn't do this?
posted by frobozz at 8:17 PM on April 27, 2008


I paid to be on here

May I suggest you also invest in a spell-checker?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:21 PM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Max Blumenthal went undercover last summer to Hagee's "Christains United for Israel" Conference (attended by Tom DeLay, Joe Lieberman, etc) and if you've not seen it, it's an absolutely must-watch video
posted by ornate insect at 8:21 PM on April 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've been to a couple of churches that are pretty wild, the ones I went to weren't nearly as frightening as the one in the post, but they were intimidating.

Everything is just going along fine, everyone's shaking hands and smiling and talking. Then POOF the lights go out, a couple of candles around the perimeter come up and everyone starts chanting "Jesus Jesus Jesus" over and over. A few minutes of this, the lights came back on, everyone went back as if it had never happened. I thought I had gone insane. This was not some little 50 pew church, this was 600-800 people in the middle of nice bright Sunday Afternoon, in suits and ties and long dresses chanting it up. The whole experience really messed with me, I was 12, and for a long time I wouldn't step foot in a church if I didn't see big clear windows.

I've never understood the draw of such things. It was all so very primal and dark.
posted by M Edward at 8:21 PM on April 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would agree that most churches will want you to talk with the minister and perhaps take classes and attend for a few weeks before becoming a member. What evidence do you have that Taibbi didn't do this?
The evidence is irrefutable: His psot will vanish. Explain excaly how that could be if the minister sought out Taibbi's verasity.
posted by Flunkie at 8:25 PM on April 27, 2008


No. Any church...no matter denomination REQIURES a period thet they seek out your verasity. You go to class and they take a look at you...to weed out ppl who are not what they seem to be. Call ANY church..any..I dare you..they will tell you excaly the same.

As one of the few pastors on Metafilter, I can tell you that this is complete nonsense. Many churches do, many don't. And even if there were some kind of orientation, it wouldn't be hard to fill out the forms and say the right words. Most churches like having new members, and it's not like there are many people angling for membership who aren't sincere about it. Churches aren't set up to smoke out undercover journalists. It just doesn't work that way.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:25 PM on April 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


I've never understood the draw of such things.

People get addicted to all kinds of shit. Drugs, booze, pornography, being told what to do...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:25 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


You really think all churches screen people before letting them attend church events? That's fucking crazy. Normal churches don't do that. Now, if you want to get baptized, sure they make you take classes, but they don't "screen" people.
posted by empath at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2008


Hagee is a good guy despite what you think of his faith or politics.

Is this like that quote I remember from the Indianapolis Star when I lived there? Some dude murdered his family or something and one of his girlfriends was quoted as saying, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with (name) except that he killed a couple of people." I shit you not.

So Hagee is a good guy except for his racism, anti-Catholic bigotry, and homophobia? Gee. Does he love his mom too?
posted by Justinian at 8:27 PM on April 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


He went in biased and came out biased due to his underllying non-belief in the first place.

So only Pentecostal Christians are allowed to write editorials about Pentecostal Christians? Really? Not believing in God makes you tell lies about Christianity -- automatically?

Also, I'll go a step further and bet you $1000 that your posts will not be deleted.
posted by Avenger at 8:28 PM on April 27, 2008


Call ANY church..any..I dare you..they will tell you excaly the same.

Okay, when I get to the office tomorrow, I'll call my secretary and have her connect me to me. I'll ask myself and get back with you. But I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to say. I guess I could be surprised, though.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:28 PM on April 27, 2008 [51 favorites]


Does he love his mom too?
I doubt it.
posted by Flunkie at 8:28 PM on April 27, 2008


DO I HEAR $10,000?
posted by Avenger at 8:30 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]



BTW..I fully expect my psot [sic] to vanish soon because MetaFilter is not abou [sic] exchange of free ideas but the current mood--biased opinios [sic] of the webmaster


Those crafty Webmasters already vanished a letter 't' and a letter 'n'. They do it like that so nobody notices. It can take days and sometimes even weeks.
posted by Tuatara at 8:30 PM on April 27, 2008 [17 favorites]


I wouldn't go too far out on a limb there. I could very well see this whole thread getting deleted, particularly since it's about to turn into a giant pile-on.
posted by empath at 8:31 PM on April 27, 2008


ONE *ZILLION* DOLLARS!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:32 PM on April 27, 2008


I was an evangelical xian from the ages of 16-19 roughly. I went through all that shit. Speaking in tongues, casting out of demons, death of the ego. He underplays it.
posted by unSane at 8:34 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


there's a lot of people in zimbabwe with gambling problems, aren't there?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:41 PM on April 27, 2008


No. Any church...no matter denomination REQIURES a period thet they seek out your verasity. You go to class and they take a look at you...to weed out ppl who are not what they seem to be. Call ANY church..any..I dare you..they will tell you excaly the same.

So, Jesus said verily unto thee- let me zee your papers?
posted by yertledaturtle at 8:42 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fascinating article. When I was in journalism school, I tried writing articles like these, in the spirit of P.J. O'Rourke and Hunter S. Thompson, where you just show up in a strange place with strange people and start writing shit down. These are the kinds of things that not only can't you make up, you don't need to make up. Reality is comical enough.

So I don't think this was embellished at all -- I've seen some light Christian craziness that was just a hop, skip and a jump from this kind of thing.

I fully expect my psot to vanish soon.

I bet docpops or ikkyu2 could prescribe some cream or ointment or something that would clear up your psot in a few days...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:42 PM on April 27, 2008


No. Any church...no matter denomination REQIURES a period thet they seek out your verasity. You go to class and they take a look at you...to weed out ppl who are not what they seem to be. Call ANY church..any..I dare you..they will tell you excaly the same.
posted by shockingbluamp at 8:15 PM on April 27


In my experience, that's not always the case.

In 1992, I moved to Athens, GA to work in a UGA lab. I had no friends and was dealing with some tough health issues at the time. One Sunday, I decided to step into the Baptist church with the big aluminum spire on Broad Street. I sat in the back pew, having arrived late.

At the end of the service, after the altar call, they asked for anyone who was ready to commit to formal church membership. I, rather impulsively I admit, joined the two people who stepped forward to the front of the congregation. The pastor asked if I'd done the necessary vetting and contemplation, prayer and so forth, and I said yes. He then asked the congregation whether anyone objected. "And of course, there is none," he swiftly said, smiling. And he then told me I was a formal member of the church, with all the privileges and responsibilities related thereto.

The first of which I was to encounter when one of the Deacons stopped by my apartment the next Saturday to hand off a set of donation envelopes, with my name printed on them, "so we know you've donated", as the deacon told me.

Now, I've been on two Elder Boards, responsible for a church and in charge of significant missionary efforts around the world. I've seen a lot of "inside baseball" in churches and religious groups. But the place I went to that one day had the fastest newcomer-to-member transition program I've ever seen.

(Just to be clear, I do not always live up to the Christian ideal, and am struggling with what are serious doubts which may well spell the end of my faith. So I can't claim to have an active, healthy "spiritual life" from a Christian perspective. I'm just offering my experience of one church that had no compunction about making a complete stranger a formal member, and then, less than a week later, handing him a stack of donation envelopes that could be tracked back to the donor.)
posted by darkstar at 8:44 PM on April 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


darkstar--when I lived in Athens around that same time I hade two churches: The GA Bar and the Globe.
posted by ornate insect at 8:47 PM on April 27, 2008


Ornate, it's too bad we didn't get connected. Having a friend during that time would have made a big difference in my life at that stage.

I'll never forget those beautiful azaleas.
posted by darkstar at 8:51 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't go too far out on a limb there. I could very well see this whole thread getting deleted, particularly since it's about to turn into a giant pile-on.

Good goddess, I hope not. I was raised in a Pentecostal church and by raised I mean that one of my earliest childhood memories is of people at church dancing, falling down, writhing like snakes and speaking in "tongues." We went to church four times a week. We went to "tent-revivals" 3 or 4 times a year. These Encounter weekends sound a little too close for comfort to the summer camps I was sent to every year. The pastor of our church had only an 8th grade education, hated all intellectual inquiry (or questioning of any kind) and excommunicated anyone who went to college (including one of his own sons). He, more than once, at the pulpit, told his congregation for whom they should vote.

My point, if I have one, is that these places, people and ideas DO exist. The evangelical ideology, the rolling on the floor, the puking in a bag... yeah, it's out there. People are doing it, living it, believing it. Taibbi is not making ANY of this up.

And the more people that know about and see the inside workings of that wickedly insane right wing conservative evangelical puke inducing machine, the better, IMHO.
posted by blessedlyndie at 8:59 PM on April 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


I'd find American Christians far less annoying if so many of them didn't seem to absolutely cherish their fantasies of persecution.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:21 PM on April 27, 2008


Seems to me the mods stand to make a tidy sum, assuming shockingbluamp is game.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:21 PM on April 27, 2008


Mark Matt Taibbi's article strikes me as a less-shocking written version of Jesus Camp, what with the prayers for George W., the macho-albeit-tearful Southerners, 'Harry-Potter-is-teh-Satan', and of course immanentising the eschaton.

On preview: much like what blessedlyndie describes above.
posted by cosmonik at 9:23 PM on April 27, 2008


Since you feel so hard done by, shockingbluamp, I'll personally refund your $5 if you if you can explain in just what way an intolerant, homophobic, misogynistic, bigot is a "good guy".
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:27 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


don't feed the shockingblutroll
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:33 PM on April 27, 2008


I paid to be on here and I know they will block these posts because they don't conform to the opinions of said webmasters. This is not a free speech post and they ( webmasters) will prove me out.

Look, shockingbluamp, if you want to take issue with how Matt and Jess and I do our job—a job whose demands are just about completely orthogonal to your personal beliefs or your personalization of your own involvement with the site—then write us an email or start a Metatalk thread. This kind of drive-by in-effigy accusation stuff is a pile of crap, and you should know better by now.
posted by cortex at 9:37 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Taibbi did not claim to have "joined" the church. He's not trying to unveil some secret cultish spectacle only available to members of the church. He attended Cornerstone for several weeks, and then signed up for this Encounter weekend that the church offers. The brochure available on the church website states no requirement of membership to attend. I would be very wary of attending a church that required membership in order to participate in their ministry programs. Taibbi's "underlying non-belief" means nothing; undercover work is a simple tactic used by investigative journalists.

As for Hagee being "a good guy," I don't know him personally, but if you call yourself a Christian leader and preach something other than "Love your neighbor as yourself," it makes me skeptical about your character.

Stepping away from the troll for a moment, the article was both interesting and worrisome. Certainly the experience was batshitinsane and I never would have imagined that it actually could occur, but it seems a trend in some liberal circles to paint all of Christianity with broad strokes drawn from articles like this. Even just generalizing that evangelical Christians are all of this stripe of crazy is not only disingenuous, but dangerous.
posted by kyleg at 9:39 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mark?

*prepares Pobornik special for JHarris*
posted by homunculus at 9:40 PM on April 27, 2008


Even just generalizing that evangelical Christians are all of this stripe of crazy is not only disingenuous, but dangerous.

If all evangelical Christians aren't "of this stripe" then why aren't they coming out and denouncing this perversion of Christianity? Where are all the Christians speaking out about the hijacking of their religion?
posted by euphorb at 10:11 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was brought up in right-wing fundamentalist churches and attended Bob Jones University.

Kyleg is right. The people I associated with think that the Pentacostals are, at the very least, in error doctrinally. They condemn most televangelists as crooks. They do not speak in tongues, and they do not handle snakes.

They don't subsume their sense of logic to this sense of groupthink that Taibbi describes--in fact, they get into long logical arguments over such issues as whether or not Jesus *could* have sinned when he was tempted in the wilderness (since they teach that the Bible says that Jesus was fully both god and fully man).

They're otherwise sane people who believe a particular insane thing: that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, From that flows some of their crazier positions, like opposing evolution as a lie from Satan and condemning "worldly" music (i.e. any rock music from Elvis on) as morally degrading.

Even within my church, there's variance of opinion. Some people believe that rock music and social drinking are acceptable; some people think that I Corinthians demands that women wear some kind of hair covering in church; some people think that the Greek and Hebrew source texts used to translate the King James Version of the Bible are the "preserved" word of God and that all recent translations from more recently discovered texts are corrupt. And others don't.
posted by JDHarper at 10:13 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where are all the Christians speaking out about the hijacking of their religion?

In their churches and schools. Where else would they be?
posted by JDHarper at 10:14 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


kyleg, I think there might be a true Scotsman who'd like to discuss your point of view regarding those broad strokes.

I went to a perfectly normal church service the other weekend. There were no snakes, tongue speaking, or writhing about on the floor. Normal folks going to church.

The sermon covered the wackiness of (I shit you not) Egyptian mummification and cryogenics and then went on to say that "only Christianity had solved the problem of immortality".

This was an Easter service. Mummies and Walt-Disney-popsicles.

That record-skip sound you hear is my brain resetting itself.
posted by device55 at 10:17 PM on April 27, 2008


Euphorb, if you google "evangelical left" you'll see some of these people "speaking out about the hijacking of their religion". I've seen Jim Wallis ("God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It") on the Daily Show and Tony Campolo on the Colbert Report. Interesting guys, both of them, with a lot to say about what they see as the cooptation of Christian identity by right-wing evangelical and/or fundamentalist types.
posted by katemonster at 10:21 PM on April 27, 2008


Those two are pretty vocal and well known, but I don't see anyone calling out Pastor Hagee, whose ministry is the subject of the post.
posted by euphorb at 10:28 PM on April 27, 2008


Earlier this month, Hagee gave $6 million to Israeli causes:

"Turning part or all of Jerusalem over to the Palestinians would be tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban," Hagee said.

Among the 16 causes Hagee supported with the contributions he announced were divided the Magen David Adom emergency service and a conference center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

The fate of Jewish settlements like Ariel is one of the issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Support of evangelicals for Israel's maintaining control of all of the West Bank endears them to Israeli hardliners but troubles more dovish activists.

"If they're giving money to mainstream causes it's hard to object," said
political analyst Yossi Alpher, who edits an Israeli-Arab online newsletter.

But he added, "When they give money to extreme right-wing causes and when they direct their political support there, they are damaging the peace process."


Clearly, this man has an agenda that does not fall under the domain of your usual evangelical.
posted by ornate insect at 10:33 PM on April 27, 2008


Jesus Camp? Never saw it or even heard of it. But I've been out of the country for a number of years... wait, I'm going to look it up.

And now I don't want to. Holy shit, the comparison with Palestine (in the trailer) is telling and terrifying. Really, seriously... the more everyone knows about and sees the fundamental religious right movement and their tactics and ways, I think the better off we'll all be.

Certainly the experience was batshitinsane and I never would have imagined that it actually could occur, but it seems a trend in some liberal circles to paint all of Christianity with broad strokes drawn from articles like this.

I think that they paint themselves with those broad strokes, irrespective of paint-brush-bearing liberal circles (I'm not sure what you mean by that and would love for you to explain). And when you call the experience batshitinsane, you certainly give it the misnomer of being a one-time-crazy-fucked-up event... at least, that is what "batshitinsane" means to me. This zealotry happens every day, right here, in fraking America.

It is horrifying to me, ten years after escaping this fundamental-right-wing-movement, that people like John Hagee are endorsing candidates for the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!! And those candidates are proud to accept such endorsements?!?
posted by blessedlyndie at 10:35 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think Pentecostal culture is so easily shocking to a person who isn't used to that display of religiously attached emotion. Not that this article didn't have a great angle and completely worthwhile overview and point, the same as Jesus Camp did, but even a politically progressive Pentecostal church will have outward actions that make people uncomfortable. I equate it with a certain type of steamy drama and overwrought emotionalism originally issuing out of the South, but that's just me, personally.

I know that growing up evangelical in the Pacific Northwest, I attended only a few churches with Pentecostal leanings, and was torn between appreciation and apprehension for their fervor. The other churches I went to barely even clapped, but the Pentecostals have an entire style and philosophy that is so vividly declarative, that it's attention-grabbing no matter what they're preaching. They can have the same set of negative or positive tendencies and beliefs as other congregations, but by God, they'll express them so much more...hysterically.
posted by redsparkler at 10:37 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd find American Christians far less annoying if so many of them didn't seem to absolutely cherish their fantasies of persecution.

Well then don't let them read threads like this on Metafilter!
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:48 PM on April 27, 2008


a politically progressive Pentecostal church

Where is this wondrous thing? I'm not being snarky. I would really love to know.

overwrought emotionalism originally issuing out of the South

That's called gospel and really has absolutely NOTHING to do with Pentecostal churches...

if I'm wrong, please, please tell me...
posted by blessedlyndie at 10:49 PM on April 27, 2008


I really think it's time to end tax exempt status for churches.
posted by empath at 10:51 PM on April 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Euphorb, if you google "evangelical left" you'll see some of these people "speaking out about the hijacking of their religion".

Those two are pretty vocal and well known, but I don't see anyone calling out Pastor Hagee, whose ministry is the subject of the post.

Yeah, but are you a good shepherd of your flock, a good pastor to your congregation, or are you a crusading (pardon the pun) do-gooder that's fighting against people who do terrible things under color of authority?

Wallis and Campolo and Jimmy Carter and all the rest are doing their part, but I would imagine that the 'silent majority' of left-leaning evangelicals pastors are busy tending to the needs of the sick and poor in their community and trying to lead lives, and help others lead lives, in accordance with their principles - which is hard enough. I'm sure there are a good number of reverends who see the kind of crap that these snake-oil salesmen spew, shake their heads and think "One step forward, two steps back."
posted by eclectist at 10:59 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


GABBA GABBA GOOOOO!
posted by homunculus at 11:01 PM on April 27, 2008


I'm certainly not saying this is an isolated event. The man and his ilk terrify me. But some time ago I saw a feature on Hagee on Bill Moyers Journal. The things Hagee was saying were astounding, and investigated making a post to MetaFilter about the topic. I didn't because I feared it would degenerate into "LOLXIANS." The fact that we have two variants of the tag seems to indicate to me that yes, these broad strokes are being used. I'm not necessarily condemning the trend, merely observing it.
posted by kyleg at 11:06 PM on April 27, 2008


Jesus Was a Communist
posted by ornate insect at 11:08 PM on April 27, 2008


This is not a free speech post and they ( webmasters) will prove me out.

Don't you have small children to eat?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:08 PM on April 27, 2008


Perhaps they're not speaking out specifically on Hagee's Encounter Weekends, but Campolo was one of many evangelical leaders to sign an open letter making clear their disagreement with Hagee over the Israel/Palestine situation that was sent to Pres. Bush in 2007. And I think their broader argument in favor of a more liberal form of evangelical Christianity is relevant to the subject of this post, even if they don't call Hagee out as specifically as you might like.
posted by katemonster at 11:13 PM on April 27, 2008


Well then don't let them read threads like this on Metafilter!
Absolutely! It's really a good thing that the Constution protects religious groups from people thinking they're strange and the horrible fate of someone, somewhere on the internet, saying mean things about them.
posted by verb at 11:41 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's ironic is that we have a post on the holy rolling Pentecostals (who are condemned and mocked) at the same time we have a post lauding Tibetan Buddhism and meditation.

Sometime, listen to some people speaking in tongues, and then to a Buddhist (or Shinto...) chant. The chants are of course structured. But then again, Americans really don't care for formality.
posted by wuwei at 11:49 PM on April 27, 2008


Okay, when I get to the office tomorrow, I'll call my secretary and have her connect me to me. I'll ask myself and get back with you. But I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to say. I guess I could be surprised, though.

Like if the first "you" was actually an impostor - a journalist only posing as you?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:57 PM on April 27, 2008


What's ironic is that we have a post on the holy rolling Pentecostals (who are condemned and mocked) at the same time we have a post lauding Tibetan Buddhism and meditation.
Having spent the better part of two decades as one of the holy rollers, this doesn't strike me as odd in the least. I've yet to encounter a Tibetan Buddhist who wanted to drag me to a big ol' mediation meeting where a couple thousand people would whip themselves into a dog-barking fervor of and try to sell me VHS tapes about how Rome would cause Armageddon. Pentacostals? Yeah, been there. Done that.
posted by verb at 11:58 PM on April 27, 2008


No. Any church...no matter denomination REQIURES a period thet they seek out your verasity. You go to class and they take a look at you...to weed out ppl who are not what they seem to be. Call ANY church..any..I dare you..they will tell you excaly the same.

So, is this an example of someone posting in tongues?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:05 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's ironic is that we have a post on the holy rolling Pentecostals (who are condemned and mocked) at the same time we have a post lauding Tibetan Buddhism and meditation.

Sometime, listen to some people speaking in tongues, and then to a Buddhist (or Shinto...) chant. The chants are of course structured. But then again, Americans really don't care for formality.


So talking in tongues is akin to meditation, and all religions (and their sub-branches & representatives) are interchangeable, or of equal value?

That is your point, isn't it?
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:09 AM on April 28, 2008


No UbuRovias, I didn't say that all religions are of equal value or are interchangeable. It's a difference of degrees , not of kind. I think it's easy for a lot of people to sneer at Pentecostals and their desire for ineffable experiences, shared in communion with others. But, this basic human desire is no different than that which motivates Buddhist chanters...or kids at a rave rolling on E.

Quiet sitting meditation is one way. But there are other skillful means that you might find in Buddhism, Daoism and all the nice trendy "Eastern" philosophies that are so beloved by many who are quick to mock the Pentecostals. You might be surprised to know that spontaneous movement , speaking in tongues ,etc. are also found in Chinese folk religions as well.

I'm not here to make relative value judgments over which religion is better. What I can say though is that a lot of the mass Pentecostal ceremonies I've seen on youtube do disturb me because I think they are literally playing with fire, without being aware of the emotional and spiritual consequences. Take a look at some of the literature on qigong psychosis and you'll see what I mean. I am deeply disturbed that people like the ones profiled in Tabibi's article and in Jesus Camp are so close to the levers of power.

However, I think that if we want to actually address the issue of Christianist extremists in the US, we have to start with understanding that their basic desires are not all that different from the examples I gave.
posted by wuwei at 12:47 AM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why, exactly, should this type of Pentacostal extremism - along with a large part of homegrown American fundamentalism - contuinue to be considered Christian at all? Apart from using the name of Jesus a lot, it seems from Taibbi's (and others) descriptions to be some kind of primitive second century mystery religion that got side-tracked away from the developement of normative Christiantity (which in itself was a sidetrack away from second century Judaism.)

The US has a history of inspiring strange religious-political movements that veer from normative Christianity into the Eminently Wierd Zone. As Mitt Romney discovered, and McCain is about to discover, you can fool some of the people some of the time...
posted by zaelic at 1:49 AM on April 28, 2008


UbuRoivas: Blackalacka hoosh gagaga hamahooie zozota oom baluluwee blashablasha doodoo.
posted by zaelic at 1:52 AM on April 28, 2008


Sorry if I got Taibbi's first name wrong. I was kind of in a rush when I wrote the post.

empath: I don't see why what a thread -might- become should determine that it should be deleted. Maybe you could argue it has to do with my intent, but I don't think my intentions are what you think they are. I didn't use the lolxtian tag, nor batshitinsane. These people DO believe what they say, and they act on those beliefs. This is a serious matter, even if the article is written in a humorous style.

Anyway, god knows there are enough other pile-ons on Metafilter that don't get deleted; posts on Scientology nearly always turn out that way. It is important that this stuff be known, for like it or not, these are the people driving the nation.

katemonster: Euphorb, if you google "evangelical left" you'll see some of these people "speaking out about the hijacking of their religion".

My personal favorite is the slacktivist, Fred Clark, who is quite liberal in outlook yet an evangelical Christian. His chapter-by-chapter dissection of the Left Behind books are great.
posted by JHarris at 1:52 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's easy for a lot of people to sneer at Pentecostals and their desire for ineffable experiences, shared in communion with others. But, this basic human desire is no different than that which motivates Buddhist chanters...or kids at a rave rolling on E.

Ah, I think we're on the same page here. You could add Sufism as well.

However, inducing a trance-like or transcendental state through sound & bodily movement is a bit of a different kettle of fish to the neuroscientific studies of meditation discussed in the other thread, so I don't think people were really doing such a "Buddhists good; Pentacostals baad" thing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:25 AM on April 28, 2008


What's ironic is that we have a post on the holy rolling Pentecostals (who are condemned and mocked) at the same time we have a post lauding Tibetan Buddhism and meditation.

Oh shit dude! Do not piss off the meditators.
posted by srboisvert at 3:59 AM on April 28, 2008


I am a charismatic who has been to a few rather wild pentecostal meetings in my past.

For what it's worth the Bible instructs that speaking in tongues-except when a translation is provided-is supposed to be a private prayer language. The Bible literally says that if an unbeliever or uninstructed person walks into a meeting and everyone is speaking in tongues out loud, the unbeliever will think they are nuts. (It's okay to do it quietly, if one must, but the Bible teaches that tongues edifies oneself while prophecy, etc edifies others and in a public meeting we are to edify each other.)

But as to the practice itself, it is Scriptural, has a purposes, and since we are talking about the Holy Spirit when we are talking about it (it is also known as praying in the Spirit) it is something that one is not flippant about.
posted by konolia at 5:45 AM on April 28, 2008


Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 AM on April 28, 2008


...and everyone is speaking in tongues out loud, the unbeliever will think they are nuts.

...and everyone is speaking in tongues out loud, the nonbeliever will know they are nuts.
posted by ericb at 6:18 AM on April 28, 2008


Taibbi fuitti, oh rudy?
posted by notsnot at 6:21 AM on April 28, 2008


The Bible literally says that if an unbeliever or uninstructed person walks into a meeting and everyone is speaking in tongues out loud, the unbeliever will think they are nuts.

Cite please? There is talk about awe and confusion, but I don't recall any mention of going mad.

Also, you're supposed to do it for unbelievers:
1 Corinthians 14:22

So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers (New American Standard Bible)

Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not (King James Bible)
posted by languagehat at 6:36 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


The people I associated with think that the Pentacostals are, at the very least, in error doctrinally. They condemn most televangelists as crooks. They do not speak in tongues, and they do not handle snakes.
Why do they not speak in tongues or handle snakes? That, along with being unharmed by poisons, is exactly how Jesus said you would know that they believe in him.
posted by Flunkie at 6:38 AM on April 28, 2008


ColdChef: Obviously you know nothing about the logistics of the wrath of God!

If the Westboro Baptist Church has taught us anything, it's that God doesn't punish gay people directly—he'd much rather take it out on soldiers, victims of school shootings, and the workers in the World Trade Center.

The Lord is funny that way.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:43 AM on April 28, 2008


Languagehat--

Given the larger context of 1 Corinthians 14, in which Paul is trying to rein in some of the excesses of tongue speaking, many interpreters think that verse 22 is describing current Corinthian practice, not what Paul wants them to do. It's as though the verse begins with "But for you guys...." I lean toward that understanding, because it fits with the verse konolia was thinking of, which immediately follows:

So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?


When you look also at 14:2-5, it's even harder to say that 22 is Paul's approval of speaking in tongues around unbelievers:

2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.


Right or wrong (I think right), konolia's understanding of the implications of the chapter is pretty mainstream these days.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:52 AM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Pater—that makes sense. My Sunday School days are far behind me.
posted by languagehat at 6:57 AM on April 28, 2008


Mark Taibbi goes undercover...

I think you mixed up your apostles. His name is Judas Taibbi, amirite? (*accepts high fives from the pews*).
posted by pardonyou? at 7:17 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"What's ironic is that we have a post on the holy rolling Pentecostals (who are condemned and mocked) at the same time we have a post lauding Tibetan Buddhism and meditation."

When's the last time you saw a Tibetan Buddhist:

a) justify the invasion of foreign countries as "god's will"
b) testify publicly that all homosexuals are going to hell
c) spend millions of dollars to assure the political victory of reactionary zealots
d) react to disasters such as 9/11 or Katrina by publicly stating that the victims deserved it due to their evil ways
e) sing music that's bad to the point of EVIL
f) wear laughably bad suits (Chogyam Trungpa wore some bad suits, but that was the '70s)

Tibet was pretty reactionary in its own way, before China annihilated it, but I think the answer to your question is that in the modern West, Tibetan Buddhism is generally perceived as a practice that promotes universal kindness and tolerance, while Pentecostal Christianity is generally perceived as a practice that promotes right-wing intolerance, American imperialism, and, again, really bad suits.

I'm as against cruelty and marginalisation as anyone, but I see mockery of the Christian Right as an act of SELF DEFENSE. These wing nuts wield incredible political power, and they need to be opposed. I'll stop mocking them when they stop condemning people who don't believe their fairy tales, and stop deluding vulnerable people as in the posted article.

I'm sure if I had been at the weekend I would have puked too.

But maybe for slightly different reasons.
posted by crazylegs at 7:21 AM on April 28, 2008 [9 favorites]


I've traded in my 'Our God is an Awesome God' t-shirt for a new one that says 'Puke in a Bag for Jesus'.
posted by crazylegs at 7:42 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Most (obviously not all ) dominionist types are cessationists (believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to include tongues, passed with the original apostles.)
posted by konolia at 7:54 AM on April 28, 2008


I'd like to echo the sentiment above that thing like this article and Jesus Camp do an awful job of explaining what charismatic Christians do and why. I'm not a charismatic Christian, but I do know some (liberal granola) charismatic Christians, and the way tongues and prayer and worship as portrayed in Jesus Camp seems purposefully out of context so as to provoke a 'Those Christians are ca-razy!' reaction. How many reviews and discussions of the movie referred to it as a horror film?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:59 AM on April 28, 2008


I grew up in a charismatic environment and still have strong ties to it (many members of my family remain involved) and I just want to say that as nice the granola liberals may seem, what is offputting about the belief system is its underlying, fiercely held and irrational proposition that if one must choose between the truths of the bible and the reality of the world, one must always choose the bible and personal faith. This becomes destructive the more one believes it and the farther out from reality one gets. Tabbi's description of his dawning "duality" was very familiar to me. It is not for the country that I am concerned however, but for everyone who lives in this manner and eventually encounters some hard, real, insurmountable problem which their faith cannot surmount. They do not break but they frequently become unreal depressed, even if secretly, for years.
posted by matthewstopheles at 8:22 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Instead of "surmount" I should have written "overcome."
posted by matthewstopheles at 8:23 AM on April 28, 2008


I'd far rather see an insightful, above board investigation into whether members of churches like Cornerstone and World Harvest and Thomas Road actually agree with the political positions espoused by their leaders or if the spiritual benefits they attain from being a part of such a congregation (which often has little to do with the Sunday sermon and even less to do with what the pastor says on his TV show or to the news media) are their reason for being a part. (Doing such an investigation, I might add, would not require sarcastic or mocking commentary on anybody's ethnciity, body size, or clothing.) A look at whether these people are, in fact, toeing the line and voting the way that their pastors' out-of-the-pulpit commentary would suggest that they do.

I think it's really very sloppy and dangerous to work from the presumptions inherent in Taibbi's "exposé" and this thread. Conflating Hagee's political commentary with the doctrine of Cornerstone or even the regular teachings (given that the majority of spiritual development in a megachurch is not top-down at all) is as dangerous and fallacious as believing that everyone at Trinity United Church of Christ is a radical black nationalist or that all Catholics who legitimately believe in transubstantiation are cannibals.
posted by Dreama at 8:49 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


fiercely held and irrational proposition

This proposition is the definition of fundamentalism, not of charismatic Christianity. The two overlap plenty, to be sure, but you don't have to be a fundamentalist to believe in spiritual gifts, wave banners in church, etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:49 AM on April 28, 2008


It's Matt Taibbi, according to his byline.

There are four Taibbim: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and OJ.
posted by Mister_A at 8:53 AM on April 28, 2008


But there are other skillful means that you might find in Buddhism, Daoism and all the nice trendy "Eastern" philosophies that are so beloved by many who are quick to mock the Pentecostals.

crazylegs has deconstructed this fairly thoroughly, but enough of the stench of false dichotomy lingers to oblige me to make sure it's completely debunked. Your choice of terminology - Eastern philosophy - is telling (I presume unintentionally so), and points diretly at the reason why Buddhism et al. are cut so much more slack by your average secular Western liberal.

You see, wuwel, even in the very inner sanctum of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, surrounded by walls plastered in the images of a spectacular pantheon of demigods and demons, the most reverent of Buddhist monks understand their belief system to be the philosophy of a flesh-and-blood man who once walked the earth. It is not revealed Truth; there is no such thing as heresy. It is open to (often vigourous) debate among even its most devout practitioners. It demands the denouncement of no other faith and the hatred of no other subsect's interpretation of the Buddha's teachings, and it generally stays the fuck out of the bedroom and smiles compassionately on the communal comforts of pop culture (this save for a handful of basic precepts about "right" livelihood, most of which are more akin to your doctor telling you to stay away from junk food than anything in Leviticus).

For all of this - because, in the short version, Buddhists don't interfere with anyone else's program in the pursuit of theirs - they are more beloved by nonbelievers than the Pentecostal holy rollers generally are.
posted by gompa at 9:14 AM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd like to echo the sentiment above that thing like this article and Jesus Camp do an awful job of explaining what charismatic Christians do and why.

Yeah--I have no reason to think that the article and Jesus Camp don't do a fair job of depicting the specific events they chronicle, but it would be a mistake to associate every charismatic Christian with those fringe examples. They are interesting because they document excesses. I don't know where you would have to go to find a book or article that endeavored to fairly depict the entire range of charismatic expression.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:14 AM on April 28, 2008


I've been thinking about this article, and what bothers me is this line:

It was a testament to how dysfunctional the group was that my story flew more or less without comment.

The story about the clown and the shoes and the beating was supposed to be funny but it wasn't because it was in the context of people's vulnerability where snark wasn't going to cut it. I don't think that the group bought into the story, I think that they didn't want to rock the boat in a situation where questioning authority wasn't going to do them any favours.

Hagee is indefensible, but I wonder whether a slightly different compassion/snark ratio might have resulted in a more interesting story. (Is the woman at the beginning really carrying a bag of cheeseburgers? We never find out. What seems important is that she's fat and she smells, so we can feel superior to her.)
posted by unless I'm very much mistaken at 10:24 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pater Aletheias, what does the "charismatic" in charismatic Christian refer to?

Speaking as someone who dislikes charisma, especially since the henchmen rules have been absent from the game since 2nd edition.
posted by JHarris at 10:27 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's also a point at which giving context and explanation becomes necessary for doing a fair job of depicting something. As I grew up in the Evangelical church and know some charismatics, I watched Jesus Camp and my first reaction was: Boy, I'm tired of these fundies taking over my religion. It wasn't until I talked to other people about it, people who had no context for tongues and the militant-religion angle, that I realized how crazy and dangerous those people appear to be in that movie (not that I agree with them or their actions). But really they mostly just have a far different view of how church and worship function than most people are used to hearing about. (The same goes for the part of Borat where he stumbles into a charismatic church.)
posted by shakespeherian at 10:28 AM on April 28, 2008


For what it's worth the Bible instructs that speaking in tongues-except when a translation is provided-is supposed to be a private prayer language.
Except for the fact that the story of Pentacost -- the single blinking-neon-lights incident of speaking in tongues that scripture recounts -- is the story of a bunch of Christians going into the middle of the city square and speaking in tongues. It's the story of them converting a bunch of foreigners passing through, because their "tongues" were actually foreign languages and they were (without realizing it) preaching the gospel in languages they did not know. Even today in the charismatic/pentacostal circles I grew up in, apocryphal stories about Pentacost-like events are everywhere. "Mary's uncle's friend who was a missionary said he recognized Sally speaking in Zulu at church today... And the girl had never even heard of Zulu!" etc. etc.

Paul's later attempts to get the Corinthians to chill out may be a bit more comfortable to read, but it seems disingenuous to suggest that his statements are What Scripture Says about speaking in tongues.

Speaking in tongues , followed by prophecy, is the uncomfortably sleazy uncle of modern-day Protestantism. Inside the family, everyone talks about how great of a guy he is, and how he's really the life of the party. Out in the real world though -- or when friends are visiting -- everyone's on pins and needles hoping no one notices him.
posted by verb at 10:33 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


JHarris—

'Charismatic' means, roughly, that you aren't a cessationist— you don't believe that the 'gifts of the Spirit' (prophesying, speaking in tongues, supernatural healing) as depicted in the book of Acts ended with the 1st-century apostles: that we can still do these things today. Some charismatic Christians believe that it's necessary that you exhibit these gifts— not that your salvation is dependent upon it, but that if you aren't exhibiting them, it's a pretty good sign that you aren't really saved. This leads to fairly raucous church services, lots of shouting, arm-waving, loud speaking in tongues, people prophesying (saying often-vague-sounding biblical-ish things about what God wants, sometimes phrased as to sound like God is saying them directly through the person's mouth), dancing in the aisles, waving banners and flags, etc. Some info on Wikipedia.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:35 AM on April 28, 2008


I am late to the discussion as usual but...

When Christians who feel persecuted by these LOLXIANS posts appeal to my liberal sensibility for tolerance -- they really aren't getting the point. I come from a large family of extremely devout Christians who believe in a strict interpretation of the bible but who are also basically good, tolerant people. When I read about Hagee or Robertson or even Phelps, it's obvious to me that these men do not reflect the views of all conservative Christians. That's *not* the discussion we are trying to have.

And that really shouldn't stop us from airing the crazy out. Because people like Hagee are angling for more and more political power and it simply invites opposition. We wouldn't be having this conversation here if Hagee wasn't trying to influence national politics. There are obvious reasons why good, rational, tolerant people might be concerned about Hagee. I don't his narrow interpretation of the bible to influence the way my taxes are spent or the laws that I am subject to. This notion that Christians are misunderstood, that they are unfairly being persecuted and they need more protection and more understanding is way off base.

I think there's a direct analogy that is useful to consider. Around the world, many people think that all Americans are greedy, gluttonous, blood thirsty war mongers. Of course that's not true, but should the fear of being misrepresented squelch the discussion of Bush's plans for invading Iran? We can criticize the things done in our name and advance people's understanding of us at the same time.

If Christians were seriously being persecuted, I would certainly be defending their right to speak the loudest. Of course we should be vigilant about this. But if you really think that when people point out how disconnected evangelicals/fundamentalists are from reality, it taints *your* brand of conservative Christianity then *you* should be the one shouting about it the loudest.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:41 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"unless I'm very much mistaken," this is all part of the Rolling Stone funny journalist style, dating at least to P. J. O'Rourke, who back in the day was genuinely funny: Holidays in Hell is great. It's a case where the writer considered the need to be funny and engaging to be more important than the need to be sympathetic. Not defending it, but it is interesting to read, and funny probably because of the indiscretions of its style.

(And thanks matthowie for fixing Mack Tehbibble's name in the post!)
posted by JHarris at 10:42 AM on April 28, 2008


Pater Aletheias, what does the "charismatic" in charismatic Christian refer to?

The Wikipedia article shakesperian refers to is pretty good. It doesn't mean charismatic in the sense of charming or magnetic in personality. It's rooted in the Greek word charis, "gift" and basically refers to people who believe that all the different gifts of the Holy Spirit referred to in the NT (esp. 1 Corinthians) are still present in the church.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2008


shakespeherian, now that you describe it, I remember this explanation from my own kid-in-church days. Never connected it with the word "charismatic" though, just generally what they did.
posted by JHarris at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2008


Except for the fact that the story of Pentacost -- the single blinking-neon-lights incident of speaking in tongues that scripture recounts -- is the story of a bunch of Christians going into the middle of the city square and speaking in tongues. It's the story of them converting a bunch of foreigners passing through, because their "tongues" were actually foreign languages and they were (without realizing it) preaching the gospel in languages they did not know.

I don't think that what Paul describes in Corinth and what Luke recounts in Jerusalem were necessarily the same thing--but even if they are, Paul would have approved of what happened, because the message was intelligible. That's the whole point of the tongues in Acts 2--so the very diverse crowd could all understand--and understanding was the big point for Paul.

I'm not sure why you think that this was happening without the speakers realizing it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2008


People who get all worked up about speaking tongues are wasting their time, in my opinion.

I couldn't care less if people want to speak in tongues.

I couldn't care less if they want to gather in large groups, pretend that there are demons inside of them and puke into paper bags.

I couldn't care less if they want to believe that accepting the divine nature of a troublemaker who was tortured and murdered 2,000 years ago is going to save them from eternal damnation.

I find it all quite fascinating and entertaining, and I would never dream of telling them they shouldn't be doing it.

I care very much, however, when people utilize these wacky beliefs in order to a) enrich themselves at the expense of gullible people b) demonize subcultures with whom they disagree, and c) use their political power to try to bring on the end of the world so they get to go to heaven.

Stop and think about it. There are many very powerful people in the USA who believe that the result of nuclear war or some other worldwide holocaust would be that they are physically levitated to heaven where they will live in paradise forever.

This is clinically fucking insane. Let them speak in tongues all they want. BUT KEEP THEM OUT OF POLITICS.
posted by crazylegs at 10:52 AM on April 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


The crowd murmured affirmatively, apparently knowing what it was to have a crushed normal.

There is nothing worse than having a crushed normal. I mean, all you're left with is your strange and you are sitting there thinking? "Well, WTF am I going to do now?" And your strange says something, it's hard to hear and a bit indistinct, it might be 'Go to a church, find God', but it could just as equally be 'Get really drunk, buy a dog'.

Since it's your normal is laying there, pretty fucked up, and your strange is the only one offering advice, you decide to follow it.

And boy am I glad I did.

*sips bourbon, pets dog*
posted by quin at 10:59 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is clinically fucking insane.

if it makes you feel any better I think most fo them are going along with peer pressure and faking it. No, it does not make me feel any better.
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on April 28, 2008


Pater Aletheias—

I've wondered for some time where the 'prayer language' meaning of speaking in tongues came from. It seems pretty clear that all the talk of tongues in the NT refers to extant languages (in 1 Cor. Paul says that tongues are for unbelievers, not believers, and the gobbeldygook prayer language stuff pretty clearly does not impress unbelievers). Any idea?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:00 AM on April 28, 2008


I would guess that it comes from glossolalia being much easier than learning other languages.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I said, 'Do you have a copy of Harry Potter?' And he said yes. And I said, 'That's your problem.' So I told him to go get that copy of that book, tear it in half and throw it out the window. So he does it, and guess what? Both of those kids stood up completely recovered, just like that."

Well, there's proof right there. You'd have to have God on your side to be able to rip one of those monsters in half.
posted by crazylegs at 11:44 AM on April 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


I just want to comment that some of the most fascinating conversations I've ever had on religion have been with a Pentacostal student of mine (not all charismatics/Pentacostals are anti-education, it seems; she's working on a Master's Degree).

We discussed mystical experience once; her viewpoint was as a Pentacostal, mine was as a one-time Quaker. I pointed out that I felt some groups of Quakers I had been around (not all; one in particular) were so rational that the Spirit might have a hard time getting through to them in meeting. These were the Quakers who, in silent worship, would stand up and give an essay on the latest political situation, as if channeling Noam Chomsky rather than the Divine. (Note: I'm not saying here that Chomsky isn't divinely inspired. That's another discussion to be had some other time.) But, for the most part, I said, I found the concept of Quaker discernment ("Is this message really coming from God?") to be a valuable one. Her viewpoint was that she felt her fellow Pentacostals were so into the experience that they could have USED more discernment to see if their glossolalia, etc really came from the Spirit. We had things, it seems, to learn from each other's beliefs.

To me, discussions like this with individuals who differed from me in their belief systems have been a breath of fresh air in a religious atmosphere made murky by dogma.
posted by lleachie at 1:57 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think that what Paul describes in Corinth and what Luke recounts in Jerusalem were necessarily the same thing--but even if they are, Paul would have approved of what happened, because the message was intelligible. That's the whole point of the tongues in Acts 2--so the very diverse crowd could all understand--and understanding was the big point for Paul.
I would agree -- but the functional distinction is lost on the folks that I have known. I don't really feel like reliving the theological tug of war that was the Torronto Blessing, the Pensacola Revival, and the Kansas City Prophets, but I'll just say that I've been down the hair-splitting road with this stuff as I'm sure that you have.
I'm not sure why you think that this was happening without the speakers realizing it.
My apologies -- it was clumsily worded, and I meant to convey the idea that the speakers did not otherwise understand or speak the languages that they spoke during Pentacost. IE, if a French teacher speaks in French, no one is startled. If someone who doesn't know or understand French starts evangelizing in fluent French, that is a 'Pentacost-style' case of speaking in tongues. And those are the kinds of incidents that are retold and shared in the charismatic/pentacostal circles I grew up in.
posted by verb at 3:45 PM on April 28, 2008


Okay. Article made me laugh hysterically, half from recognition and half from glee that I got out.

It's too bad that so many people feel so disenfranchised from what else is ocurring in the modern world, and have to look for these antique answers anymore. I think this is, if anything, a letter not to ridicule the right, but more to figure out Is the allegedly compassionate, empathic left has left so many people behind that they seek their answers in pseudo-psych babble couched in non-Christ-related non-sequiturs.

How are the Focus on the Family crowd's answers better? Is it only the certainty of faith? Is it time for me to look for a research grant to explore this issue??
posted by palindromic at 7:00 PM on April 28, 2008




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