Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'. Kenan Malik's
essay is awarded 3 Quarks Daily's
Top Quark for politics & social science by judge Stephen M. Walt
: "Soldiers in today’s culture wars believe 'European civilization' rests on a set of unchanging principles that are perennially under siege—from godless communism, secular humanism, and most recently, radical Islam. For many of these zealots, what makes the 'West' unique are its Judeo-Christian roots. In this calm and elegantly-written reflection on the past two millenia, Malik shows that Christianity is only one of the many sources of 'Western' culture, and that many of the ideas we now think of as 'bedrock' values were in fact borrowed from other cultures. This essay is a potent antidote to those who believe a 'clash of civilizations' is inevitable—if not already underway—and the moral in Malik’s account could not be clearer. Openness to outside influences has been the true source of European prominence; erecting ramparts against others will impoverish and endanger us all."
Some lives are exemplary, others not; and of exemplary lives, there are those which invite us to imitate them, and those which we regard from a distance with a mixture of revulsion, pity, and reverence. It is, roughly, the difference between the hero and the saint (if one may use the latter term in an aesthetic, rather than a religious sense). Such a life, absurd in its exaggerations and degree of self-mutilation — like Kleist’s, like Kierkegaard’s — was Simone Weil’s.
- Susan Sontag [more inside]
Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. [SLYT]
Via BigThink, "A knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world."
"If they simply professed unusual beliefs, movement leaders wouldn’t be remarkable.
But what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take 'dominion' over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the 'Seven Mountains' of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an 'army of God' to commandeer civilian government. In Rick Perry, they may have found their vessel. And the interest appears to be mutual." Previously. Via.
A released FAA investigation describes how in October last year, Senator James Inhofe
(R-OK) deliberately landed his plane on a closed runway, and then caused the plane to "hop" over terrified construction workers and their vehicles. More recently, Senator Inhofe has taken to the Senate floor
in praise of his friend (and friend of C Street
), deposed Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo
In a five part series he wrote a few years ago, blogger J. Brad Hicks breaks down how, in the mid-1960s, the Republican party made a conscious decision to rebrand themselves as the party of Christians, and in doing so, how they had to shift the ideology of the churches to what he calls a "false gospel
". [more inside]
"This may truly be the most important new painting of the twenty first century."
The McNaughton Fine Art Company
presents "One Nation Under God" [cache]
, an... interesting
take on American history in a nifty zoom interface. Artist John McNaughton
, who calls himself "the only living artist in the world today"
to practice the Barbizon School
of French Impressionism, has an extensive body of less opinionated work
for you to admire. Interview
. Character list
"Church was not part of my family life, and I don't think I ever expected to find myself being a Christian or, as I used to think of it, a 'religious nut.'"
grew up an atheist. One day she went into a church
, took communion and had a moment with God. She's now a Christian that has made it her mission in life to feed the homeless
. She's started a food pantry
in the slums of San Francisco that feeds over 450 hungry families every week.
She's also a lesbian
who is outspoken for gay marriage
and considers herself a liberal but doesn't really care for liberal guilt
Thomas Muthee, the witch-hunting prayer warrior who anointed Sarah Palin, is part of a much larger movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. Researchers at religious watchdog site Talk2Action have released a 36 page report on the NAR (part 1
, part 2
, part 3
). Learn about Palin confidant Mary Glazier
, the Queen of Heaven
, the Christian Emergency Network
and much, much more.
the youth arm of the Christian Reconstructionist (also called Dominionist
) movement, is holding a rally in Philadelphia
this weekend. They've already had events in San Francisco
. Create your own Battle Plan
or just chat
with other soldiers in God's Army. But not everyone
is happy about it
The Other Christian Activists "Any Christian who believes that homosexuality is a more important issue than justice for the poor just hasn't read his Bible straight."
- David Hilfiker
"If you are waiting for a religious left to emerge to offset the power of the religious right, it may already be in your own neighborhood at a local church or synagogue."
- Ira Chernus
Challenging Christian Zionism
"We are a group of evangelical pastors, academics and mission executives who have been disturbed by the growing influence of Christian Zionism on the political scene in America..." Detailed critique of the Christian Zionist movement
includes a look at Hal Lindsey
, "the Father of Apocalyptic Christian Zionism
How evangelical churches are borrowing from the business playbook - "The triumph of evangelical Christianity is profoundly reshaping many aspects of American politics and society... This year, the 16.4 million-member Southern Baptist Convention plans to 'plant' 1,800 new churches using by-the-book niche-marketing tactics. 'We have cowboy churches for people working on ranches, country music churches, even several motorcycle churches aimed at bikers', says Martin King, a spokesman for the Southern Baptists' North American Mission Board... Many of today's evangelicals hope to expand their clout even further. They're also gaining by taking their views into Corporate America. Exhibit A: the recent clash at software giant Microsoft
. Tony Blair's new Education Secretary Ruth Kelly
is almost certainly a member of masochistic Catholic cult Opus Dei
, as featured in The Da Vinci Code
Creating Bush's God Talk
by Michael Gerson
, Bush's chief speechwriter
. According to University of Washington professor David Domke
of "God Willing? Political Fundamentalism in the White House, the War on Terror
", here's how Bush's God-Talk Is Different
("When Bush speaks of God, he positions himself as a prophetic spokesperson rather than a petitioning supplicant".)
Bonus: "On What Did They Solemnly Swear?
Which president opened his inaugural Bible at random in haste? Which didn't swear at all?". Test your knowledge of presidential inaugural Bible use with this quiz.
And: Prayers of the Presidents
-- From George Washington to George W. Bush, a sampling of personal and public prayers of America's presidents.
Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif School? WTF?
That's what I thought when I first read it. I read more and again I said: WTF? This can't be right! So, I looked around a bit and I realised some people had already a different perspective on this.
Born-again liberal Christians.
Do you think that mainline denominations are hemorraging members? Wrong. Fundamentalist Christianity is the way of the future and all US Evangelicals worship the same political party? Not so fast
, buddy. Many scholars
think that it's time for liberals to take Christianity back. Oregon State
's Marcus J Borg
, for example, argues that Christianity "still makes sense and is the most viable religious option for millions". He contends the earlier paradigm, based upon a punitive God
, simply doesn't work anymore for too many people.
It is an argument for an alternative to the literalist and exclusivist tradition
that has dominated Western Christianity in the modern era. According to Borg, "So different are these two views of Christianity that they almost produce two different religions, both using the same Bible and language
. A time of two paradigms is virtually a tale of two Christianities
There is, for example, an alternative view to the Resurrection Narrative not as report of an actual, physical event
but as means for Jesus' early followers to express the miracle of his continuing spiritual presence
among them, after his execution
. It is in short an 'emerging paradigm which has been developing for over a hundred years and has recently become a major grass-roots movement within mainline denominations'.
Just don't be afraid
to ask questions
. Not even about the dogs beneath the Cross
. More inside.
"How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side? How do we protect the soul of democracy against bad theology in service of an imperial state?
OVER THE PAST few years, as the poor got poorer, the health care crisis worsened, wealth and media became more and more concentrated, and our political system was bought out from under us, prophetic Christianity lost its voice. The Religious Right drowned everyone else out. And they hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth and proclaimed, 'The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.' The very Jesus who told 5,000 hungry people that all of you will be fed, not just some of you. The very Jesus who challenged the religious orthodoxy of the day by feeding the hungry on the Sabbath, who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the outcast, who raised the status of women and treated even the tax collector like a child of God. The very Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple. This Jesus has been hijacked and turned into a guardian of privilege instead of a champion of the dispossessed. Hijacked, he was made over into a militarist, hedonist, and lobbyist, sent prowling the halls of Congress in Guccis, seeking tax breaks and loopholes for the powerful, costly new weapon systems that don't work, and punitive public policies."
Bill Moyers on democracy excruciate.
Globalized fundamentalism versus tradition.
This report for the Society for International Development
describes the efforts of foreign funded Christian evangelists
to gain converts in Sri Lanka
, which the author views as an assault on traditional Sri Lankan culture. There is a backlash
, which some say is leading to the suppression of religious freedom
and state sponsorship of Buddhism
. [Via Plastic.]
It's getting worse
: As part of their "Operation Potomac" The National Reform Association
, a Christian Reconstructionist group, is starting a political action committee to groom political candidates at the federal level. House Whip Tom DeLay is highly involved. They've already had meetings with Ashcroft's staff in the White House
. Truly frightening.
Anti-bullying vote blocked by Christian Conservatives
The Washington State bill would have required school districts to set up policies against harassment, bullying and intimidation. Christian conservatives that blocked the vote claim "it amounted to censorship of their right to condemn homosexuality." There is no mention of homosexuality in the bill at all. So this leads me to the conclusion that these Christians condone "harassment, bullying and intimidation." How far from the Golden Rule can you stray and keep a straight face?