"Away with your noisy hymns of praise
September 23, 2020 8:49 PM   Subscribe

I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living": How a Sean Feucht worship service convinced me I am no longer an evangelical
posted by clawsoon (61 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Following the words of Christ often requires one severs ties with the familiar. Jesus basically said as much, even while gathering his disciples. This person is on a good path, and I'm glad to have read about it. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 9:03 PM on September 23, 2020 [20 favorites]


Mother Mary lost a son to state violence

That line made me (a diligently agnostic, occasionally quasi-observant Jew) go cold all over with the sheer power of it.
posted by some_kind_of_toaster at 9:59 PM on September 23, 2020 [66 favorites]


Thank you for sharing. The despair that I feel for those who are so close and thus so far from the Jesus of the Bible! It is hard and I feel so caught in the middle sometimes.
posted by freethefeet at 10:18 PM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]


Unpopular opinion that will probably get deleted: Jesus as described by the Bible is a gigantic jerk. I was legit shocked at how horrible he is the first time I read it. He's HORRIBLE. Prior to Jesus, the concept of hell as eternal punishment for failing to believe unbelievable stories does not exist. Jesus came up with that. He's awful.
posted by smcameron at 10:34 PM on September 23, 2020 [9 favorites]


smcameron, I, an atheist, had a similar experience when reading the Bible, but I think this is neither germane to nor appropriate for this discussion. I don't really understand what it's like for people of faith to struggle with the conflicts in their religions, but I've come to realize that I have much more in common with the Rev. William Barbers of the world than the Richard Dawkinses, and the David Silvermans are no more my fellow travelers than the Mike Pences are. It's more important to me that people like the author of this piece find strength in their religious convictions to fight for social justice than it is that I understand whether their views on their religion are more or less compatible with their own holy texts than those of the Christo-fascists trying to take over our country. I don't share their beliefs, and in normal times we could maybe have friendly discussions or arguments about them. But right now we're allies in what is quite literally a life-and-death struggle, and I personally have no interest in picking away at their theology if it gives them strength and intellectual tools for fighting the White Nationalist theocrats right now. As an atheist, I'm proud to stand alongside the Christians and other people of faith who feel called to serve all humanity and advance social justice, regardless of whether I understand how they got to that point. Debating the morality of the New Testament is something that can happen another day.
posted by biogeo at 11:05 PM on September 23, 2020 [123 favorites]


If you can ignore the umpteen admonitions in the New Testament to love the poor and marginalized, but manage to find a few verses to justify being greedy, you are less Christian than an atheist in a soup kitchen.
posted by benzenedream at 11:12 PM on September 23, 2020 [29 favorites]


Jesus as described by the Bible is a gigantic jerk. 

I wouldn't go that far but I see where you're coming from. I recall he cursed a fig tree one time. Who goes around cursing at shrubbery? Jerks.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:12 PM on September 23, 2020 [16 favorites]


[Warning: the usual comment section blockers don't appear to work on religionnews.com. Don't scroll down too far, unless you want to lose your faith.]
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:45 PM on September 23, 2020


It is a nice article - and the comments are actually not too bad, with a few troll-y replies mentioning Portland - but I do take issue with the author’s lack of awareness about the Evangelical Christian faith. No brand of Christianity is nastier, more thuggish in it’s opposition to change, or more harmful to minorities, and if it took some Trump fans at a Christian rock concert to point that out to you then I am agog.
posted by The River Ivel at 12:17 AM on September 24, 2020 [10 favorites]


No brand of Christianity is nastier, more thuggish in it’s opposition to change, or more harmful to minorities, and if it took some Trump fans at a Christian rock concert to point that out to you then I am agog.

To be fair, it's really hard to see this from the inside, especially for someone like the author who has been trying to promote change from within for years.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:07 AM on September 24, 2020 [17 favorites]


It can take a while (years to a lifetime ) to realise the toxicity of fundamental movements (from personal experience), for those born in to one, even longer.
posted by unearthed at 1:54 AM on September 24, 2020 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I thought that was fairly tame for a comments section on an article related to politics or religion.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:30 AM on September 24, 2020


Prior to Jesus, the concept of hell as eternal punishment for failing to believe unbelievable stories does not exist. Jesus came up with that. He's awful.

I'm not quite as sure that those bits are "Jesus came up with that" so much as they're "Paul said Jesus came up with that". Over the years I've found that a lot of the the stuff I give a side-eye to in the New Testament are things Paul had a hand in somehow, and he was a bit of a jackass.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:45 AM on September 24, 2020 [52 favorites]


Yeah I'm not happy with my comment on re-read.

What I meant: it's so tough sharing values with people who don't share and mock my faith, and sharing a faith with people who on a surface level do, but really don't share my values.

I feel caught in the middle.
posted by freethefeet at 4:22 AM on September 24, 2020 [11 favorites]


Jesus as described by the Bible is a gigantic jerk. I was legit shocked at how horrible he is the first time I read it. He's HORRIBLE.

Wow, I hope somebody did something about that.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:33 AM on September 24, 2020 [13 favorites]


Christ; what an asshole
posted by Kosmob0t at 4:46 AM on September 24, 2020 [84 favorites]


IIRC, Jesus mostly condemned two groups of people to hell: People who didn't believe he was All That, and people who ignored the poor. Not just people who actively mistreated the poor; people who ignored them, walked by them.

Oh, and goats. He really wasn't a fan of goats.
posted by clawsoon at 5:13 AM on September 24, 2020 [6 favorites]


Given that it's well documented that modern evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity was founded on racism, I'm kind of surprised how surprised the writer is.

Add to that the increased emphasis of ignoring the teachings of Jesus in the evangelical community in favor of a fictional warrior Christ and you get the current worship of Donald Trump. He's the apotheosis of all their beliefs: authoritarian, racist, belittling the weak, and supporting the current power structure against any attempt at equality.

I'm friends with people who describe themselves as evangelicals and are pretty far to the left. I used to think that people like then could save the evangelical movement. These days I see them as members in a completely different movement. The rest of the evangelicals have reverted back to their roots. My default for anyone saying they are evangelical these days is assume that they're at best a Hindenburg (willing to cosy up to fascists to avoid losing power) until proven otherwise.

I'm glad the scales have fallen from the writer's eyes and I wish her all the best going forward. It can't be easy to see that your community wasn't the group you thought it to be.
posted by Hactar at 6:08 AM on September 24, 2020 [19 favorites]



Unpopular opinion that will probably get deleted: Jesus as described by the Bible is a gigantic jerk. I was legit shocked at how horrible he is the first time I read it. He's HORRIBLE. Prior to Jesus, the concept of hell as eternal punishment for failing to believe unbelievable stories does not exist. Jesus came up with that. He's awful.


Uh, no. The concept of Hell as described in Hellenistic Jewish terms predates him and can be found in the Mishnaic writings. He was using the similes and terms of the era, and if anything was toning it down. Hell for disbelief, however, is a Pauline thing.
posted by ocschwar at 7:12 AM on September 24, 2020 [38 favorites]


Prior to Jesus, the concept of hell as eternal punishment for failing to believe unbelievable stories does not exist. Jesus came up with that. He's awful.

Not quite sure this is super accurate, but I'm not a biblical scholar. I was told that he borrowed these from hellenistic and roman traditions. That was pop culture at the time. I always got the vibe he was saying "No, it's like in the new avengers movie..." and unfortunately that shit got canonized.

Folks living in 2020 have a really hard time putting the bible into proper context; people spend their whole lives trying to do that in a scholarly fashion. I (failed out of) a bible college, and was surprised at how many jokes there are in the bible.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:14 AM on September 24, 2020 [18 favorites]


Given that it's well documented that modern evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity was founded on racism, I'm kind of surprised how surprised the writer is.
This is well understood outside but that’s not the story they tell themselves. It’s the same mechanism where millions of Americans grow up believing we live in the land of equality and opportunity, where anyone can become rich if they work hard, and not everyone learns how much that narrative omits.
posted by adamsc at 7:21 AM on September 24, 2020 [12 favorites]


The origins of hell: https://www.vision.org/does-hell-exist-626
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:39 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


There is an important detail that often gets lost when topics in this range crop up on the blue. Pretty much every description of the problems of evangelicalism in this article/thread, REALLY REALLY needs to be qualified as "white evangelicalism".

Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week. I can't speak for other BIPOC churches, but don't paint Black evangelicals with the sins of the white ones.

With that proviso though, I thought it was a great article. Thank you for sharing it.
posted by bcd at 8:23 AM on September 24, 2020 [31 favorites]


The author is one of today's lucky ten thousand except instead of mentos and coke it's that everything she was raised to believe is a lie. Let's be kind to her.
posted by agentofselection at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2020 [23 favorites]


From the article:

I can no longer call myself an evangelical, because what defines a white evangelical in the United States has become a longing for an authoritarian state where Christianity is prioritized and privileged.

This kind of Christian nationalism is entirely at odds with the gospel of Jesus, who told us right from the beginning that he was going to be good news to the poor, the imprisoned, the sick and the oppressed — and that he would be bad news for people who longed to clutch at power and safety and affluence at the expense of their neighbor.


sounds like an ally. I look forward to drinking red wine with him, listening to old U2 albums and discussing our differences after the revolution.
posted by philip-random at 8:37 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


I went to high school in Chicago, at a time when the social life to be had mostly revolved around Evangelical youth groups. So I do have a view into both sides of the fence here and I do see a lot of things that Mefites keep missing, and vice versa.For example, the Northern Evangelicals I was around had no idea (and largely still don't have any idea), just how much their very existence was being used to provide a respectable cover to Southern Evangelicals, people who were still fighting to preserve segregation and white supremacy in new guises.

For another example, I see so many liberals mocking evangelicals for standing behind Trump when he is personally so vile and when his life makes an utter mockery of their faith, but that's beside the point when you're talking about a faith that revolves around "all have fallen short of the glory of God." The issue with Trump isn't that he's vile. It's that his career has revolved around selling people the fantasy of being him in every sense, if only for a moment. Part of the fantasy of being him is having access to sexual pleasure from beautiful women in an openly transactional way. That applies to his marriages, which were never more than prostitution on a long term retainer, and his affairs, and the literal honest to goodness soft core porn video he made in the 80s. The problem with Trump isn't that he's degraded. It's that he sells the degradation to one and all. If you let yourself be influenced by him, your bracelet sooner or later transforms into WWDJTD.

And that was something I wound up seeing for myself last February. Trump had a rally in Colorado Springs. That's seriously Evangelical country. And during the rally he goaded his audience to perform a 2 Minutes Hate against, of all people, Greta Thunberg. Watching a mob of Evangelicals jeer at her name at the behest of a soft core pornographer was my moment to break with all the people I knew from my teenage days.
posted by ocschwar at 8:54 AM on September 24, 2020 [27 favorites]


Not quite sure this is super accurate, but I'm not a biblical scholar. I was told that he borrowed these from hellenistic and roman traditions. That was pop culture at the time. I always got the vibe he was saying "No, it's like in the new avengers movie..." and unfortunately that shit got canonized.

Jesus was more of a poet than a systematic philosopher. He embedded his teachings in stories and metaphors.

Unfortunately, a whole lot of human beings think in stunningly, blindly literal terms. This includes quite a few of his self-professed followers, who miss his points quite spectacularly when it suits their prejudices to do so.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 8:54 AM on September 24, 2020 [12 favorites]


I was raised Lutheran and stopped believing when I was 12, but I am out of patience with other atheists telling me what religion is "actually" all about. My congregation took in refugees and found them places to live. My parents helped them learn English. I grew up going to their houses. My religion was never a religion of hate and I didn't leave it because I thought it was "wrong." I just didn't believe. And my family accepted that. Because they are good people. (People who have voted D their whole lives, incidentally.)

Religion is a tool that can be used for evil. It's not inherently evil. And shit like "I, a Smart Person, am unique in my ability to recognize that some parts of this wacky book contradict each other!" without acknowledging that, yeah, actual Christians have been grappling with those questions for thousands of years, because not every Christian is the braindead stereotype you think when you think "Christian" - that's just petty point-scoring that does nothing to actually help anything.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:17 AM on September 24, 2020 [55 favorites]


I know this is a bit of a derail, but I have to ask -

the literal honest to goodness soft core porn video [Trump] made in the 80s

WHAT
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


You can't really be surprised. It's Trump. It was the 80's. Nature abhors a vacuum.
posted by ocschwar at 9:41 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


(He had a cameo. He did not participate in the festivities.)
posted by ocschwar at 9:42 AM on September 24, 2020 [3 favorites]


METAFILTER: and unfortunately that shit got canonized
posted by philip-random at 10:00 AM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


The issue with Trump isn't that he's vile. It's that his career has revolved around selling people the fantasy of being him in every sense, if only for a moment. Part of the fantasy of being him is having access to sexual pleasure from beautiful women in an openly transactional way. That applies to his marriages, which were never more than prostitution on a long term retainer, and his affairs, and the literal honest to goodness soft core porn video he made in the 80s. The problem with Trump isn't that he's degraded. It's that he sells the degradation to one and all. If you let yourself be influenced by him, your bracelet sooner or later transforms into WWDJTD.

"At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Matthew 24:23-24

....I have at times, when feeling impish, Tweeted that verse in response to people on Twitter when they fervently declare that Trump was god-sent or what have you. They have yet to ever respond.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 AM on September 24, 2020 [17 favorites]


I’m grateful to her for sharing her story. I hope she helps some other people open their eyes as well.
posted by obfuscation at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


So I do have a view into both sides of the fence here

Can you clarify what the two sides of the fence are here? Like "evangelical still despite the racism/ignorant of the depth of the racism" vs. "people who have exited" or "North vs. South evangelicals" or...?

I think your point about Trump is extremely well taken, that he falls into the "sinner like all of us" + soft porn category. I highly recommend Netflix's American Gospel for a look at it. I didn't finish it yet -- it got triggery for me -- but I will summarize some of my understanding so far as a way to back up your point.

A lot of traditional churches see living as a Christian as Faith + Good Works.

But what the American Gospel achieved was a new understanding which is more like Faith = Good Works. That sounds simple but I've gradually come to understand that it is really, really not. Basically, this belief is that Jesus already died for your sins, so if you believe in Jesus, you will go to heaven. And since you believe in Jesus and are going to heaven, you will through your faith somehow intuit and be motivated towards the way of good works as you go - not as a means, but as a byproduct.

So what that does is twofold. One is, it flips what church does on its head a bit. Then you go to church to feel in community, sure, but also to renew your good feelings of faith in Jesus. So rather than going to church and having the church say "hey, do good (and maybe feel bad if you don't)" the church says "you are so great, bathed in the blood of the Lamb are you, so therefore do good." Church becomes about making the believers feel good that they are believers, not about what they did that day.*

That's why evangelism spends so much time pointing out the wicked ways of the non-believers. I mean, because you have faith surely you won't want to do wrong/commit a sin/etc. But instead of telling people "if you commit a sin you're inconsistent with a life that will lead to salvation" it's "well, you're saved, so you're good, but don't behave like the unsaved over there who are doing X."

That's where propserity gospel, which always amazes me, and a lot of other crap come in. Since your goodness is not really determined by your actions, and only you can know your heart, the only way to SEE goodness is through who is winning in current power structures.* So the best people were born white rich men. If you're rich, Jesus is rewarding you. If you're a woman, you were born in a role to be a helpmeet. If you're black well, of course, we're not racist or but if you're angry about slavery and oppression maybe you just haven't understood that all you really need to be happy and have sunshine over your life is a little more faith.

It makes sense that the US, with its myth of the self-made man and its globally laggard social mobility, social supports, etc. is the birthplace of this doctrine, and confuses structural inequity with reward for faith. Just like the workplace, which will reward those who really have passion.

I mean this is not only evangelicals who came up with this; the RC Church was really good at this with its (in comparison) ham-fisted plenary indulgences where rich people just bought their way into heaven.

But the way it is everyone who can be rich with Jesus on their side, all evidence to the contrary, and yet the rich people are just a little more godly, that is pretty American. And that's where Trump comes in. He's rich, he looks right, he's Republican, and he's supposedly against abortion. Surely he would not be where he is without divine support.** And anyway, it's between him and Jesus. (And Jesus has been quietly telling me to vote Republican my whole life because abortion.)

I think this author is suffering that she does believe in aligning her actions with her faith, and good for her for getting out.

*It always seems to come down for me to, you can see God as omnisicent, omnipotent, or loving - pick two. So much of Christianity seems to be about trying to reconcile a loving God with human suffering.

** And frankly although I am not a Christian and don't believe that, sometimes you have to think it's a trickster god who has guided Trump to his position of power, no? I mean can Earthly considerations really explain it?
posted by warriorqueen at 11:08 AM on September 24, 2020 [17 favorites]


Not quite sure this is super accurate, but I'm not a biblical scholar. I was told that he borrowed these from hellenistic and roman traditions. That was pop culture at the time. I always got the vibe he was saying "No, it's like in the new avengers movie..." and unfortunately that shit got canonized.

Folks living in 2020 have a really hard time putting the bible into proper context; people spend their whole lives trying to do that in a scholarly fashion. I (failed out of) a bible college, and was surprised at how many jokes there are in the bible.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:14 AM on September 24


I'm not qualified to speak about where the ideas came into Judaism (Hellenization is definitely what I've heard too), but it's definitely a current in Judaism outside of Jesus's teaching at the time. Josephus gives both the Pharisees and Essenes as believing in some kind of afterlife of punishment or reward. These are obviously differently expressed that what you get from Jesus (or Paul), but it's there.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:54 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


It's interesting how that works. I went to Cornerstone in the mid 90s and heard actually cool rock bands not whatever this Kid Rock lookin Militia dude is...

I listened to Fluffy, Argyle Park, Believer, Vengeance Rising and many others of the harder variety that preached a punk/street cred.

Interestingly - some members of all the above band eventually realized this hypocrisy and either outright renounced / moved away from organized Religion (Chris Colbert from Fluffy & Buka from Argyle), Believer went a more Transhumanist/Technodystopian philosophy, Roger Martinez from Vengeance Rising became a "Satanist" (last I heard, IDK).

It heartens me to see that some of the folks I listened to ended up seeing the same hypocrisy and that it wasnn't capable of being reformed, and that maybe they didn't actually believe these things anyways. And that the "moral" teachings were more important than a professed avowal to a specific deity.

All the more shame to see these opportunistic hacks leach on to the dominion of satanic, egotistical charlatans like Trump and the violent warmongering LGBTQIAA+ phobes and racists he enables.
posted by symbioid at 12:18 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


Can you clarify what the two sides of the fence are here? Like "evangelical still despite the racism/ignorant of the depth of the racism"

Disclaimer: I am in no way an evangelical. But: this article on 'what is an evangelical' by the Atlantic is sparse, but discusses the difficulty in definitions. It brings up the 'Bebbington quadrilateral'

Biblicism: a high regard for the Bible
Crucicentrism: a focus on Jesus’s crucifixion and its saving effects
Conversionism: a belief that humans need to be converted
Activism: the belief that faith should influence one’s public life


So it's entirely possible to have some very, very different churches within that enormously broad umbrella.

This article also talks about the difference between evangelicals of color and white evangelicals and the rebellion occurring in that (enormously broad) faith group.
As Harper and Humphreys saw it, the fundamentalist emphasis on individualism had allowed many white believers to distance themselves from the needs of their community. By contrast, they told me, black evangelicals can’t avoid the oppression within their communities. “One of the strengths of the black church has always been there wasn’t this false dichotomy between personal piety and civic engagement,” Humphreys said. Since the nineteen-forties, black evangelicals had been actively fighting for equality within the church.
posted by corb at 12:22 PM on September 24, 2020 [3 favorites]


"..sometimes you have to think it's a trickster god who has guided Trump to his position of power, no?"

I'd respect modern Evangelical Christians a lot more (well ok, a *little* more) if they saw Trump as God's punishment, a la Job. That he removed his protection from America for its avarice (and thus, in a comedic twist, let the most avaricious and egoic spiteful man to be the leader) but no....

It's not just some ironic "joke" - they believe it's not just removing protection, but actively PUSHING TRUMP, and not as a punishment but as a salvation.

The messianic fervor around Trump is unbelievably disturbing.

I wanted to put a billboard up in the Fox Valley WI that said "Trump Bless America" and see how many religious leaders would call it out and how many would end up aping it. Not just that God sent Trump to bless it, but that Trump himself has the power to bless it, talk about heresy. What would it take for them to actually admit they're blaspheming the God they claim to follow?
posted by symbioid at 12:30 PM on September 24, 2020 [5 favorites]


It brings up the 'Bebbington quadrilateral'

Bebbington, schmebbington: Fred Clark (slacktivist) on how white evangelical gatekeepers define evangelicalism. Short answer:

...theological definitions don’t matter. You will never be branded as “controversial” or banished from the evangelical tribe for insufficient biblicism. Or because your enthusiasm for crucicentrism, conversionism or missional activism is regarded as suspect. But if you’re feminist or pro-gay, you’re out. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200... The tribe defines itself: An evangelical is a white Protestant who opposes legal abortion and homosexuality. Period.

posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:42 PM on September 24, 2020 [14 favorites]


I totally get anyone who is put off by Jesus's part in the adoptions of ideas about eternal punishment, because that doctrine makes no sense to me. But he (and/or the Gospel writers) also had some pretty wonderful bits of moral insight.

Like when the guy says, "I'm supposed to love my neighbor? Okay, but really, who is my neighbor? How big do I have to draw that circle?" And Jesus responds with the story of the Good Samaritan:
Imagine you've been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Imagine your countrymen pondering whether you count as someone they're obligated to care about. How will you feel when they decide you don't count as one of their neighbors and pass you by? If a foreigner stops, will you refuse his help because you're not really his neighbor?
That shift in perspective from "How many people do I have to care about?" to "How many people would I want to care about me?" is so desperately needed. And so threatening that the story almost always gets neutered into holding the Samaritan up as an example to follow rather than identifying with the guy that needs help.
posted by straight at 12:50 PM on September 24, 2020 [14 favorites]


I'm glad Seattle Parks & Rec closed Gas Works Park before that virus-spreading dingus Feucht could hold another illegal gathering. I'm surprised the author quoted Amos when Matthew 6:5 says it all about this attention-thirsty fool.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:58 PM on September 24, 2020



"..sometimes you have to think it's a trickster god who has guided Trump to his position of power, no?"

If ever there was a time to be a god(dess)-fearing Discordian...
posted by The otter lady at 1:02 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


I'd respect modern Evangelical Christians a lot more (well ok, a *little* more) if they saw Trump as God's punishment

I maybe could if Trump wasn't doing the most harm to the people that God would be punishing us for neglecting.
Come now, you rich, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation.
(from the books of James and Amos)
posted by straight at 1:12 PM on September 24, 2020 [8 favorites]


Personally I'm having to reevaluate my personal belief in a non-existent (Benevolent) God.

1. Trump single handedly stopped this country's slide to the Right. Without him (I believe) we would have had a "milder" Romney as President. And with the way the whole country was going (right-ish) the Republicans would have had a lock on Congress and the Presidency for who knows how long. (Decades?)

2. The Covid virus characteristics and the timing was perfect to shred the Republican Party.

The combination has me shaking my head...

We just have to deal with the collateral damage, terrible as it is.
posted by aleph at 2:02 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


Personally I'm having to reevaluate my personal belief in a non-existent (Benevolent) God.

There was a great joke here a couple of weeks ago. The former racist government introduced laws forcing people to shake hands with members of the opposite gender, and prohibiting Muslim women from covering their faces. And then God introduced Covid-19. As a fourth generation fundamentalist atheist, I'm with God on this one.

It's funny/weird that being an atheist is easier here in a country with an official state religion than in the US, where the lack of a state-financed social safety net almost forces people to be part of a religious community.
posted by mumimor at 2:19 PM on September 24, 2020 [3 favorites]


warriorqueen: But what the American Gospel achieved was a new understanding which is more like Faith = Good Works. That sounds simple but I've gradually come to understand that it is really, really not. Basically, this belief is that Jesus already died for your sins, so if you believe in Jesus, you will go to heaven. And since you believe in Jesus and are going to heaven, you will through your faith somehow intuit and be motivated towards the way of good works as you go - not as a means, but as a byproduct.

Paul wrapped himself in some theological knots to get his theology to this point. There's some disagreement from James. Luther broke hard for the Pauline version.

I was raised in a place where Evangelicalism was the less racist part of society. I still see it on Facebook with friends from the little town I grew up in. I say "less racist" rather than "not racist" because "we should wipe out Indigenous culture and replace it with Christian culture" is at least marginally better than "it would've been better if they weren't around any more at all."
posted by clawsoon at 2:52 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


The messianic fervor around Trump is unbelievably disturbing.

You know there is one personage in the bible that Trump unquestionably resembles, and it's not Christ. Quite the opposite, in fact.
posted by JHarris at 3:12 PM on September 24, 2020 [5 favorites]


When I saw the picture I thought, "Where have I seen this tool before?" And then I remembered this bit of local news that was making the rounds about a week ago: Christian musician Sean Feucht cited at Edgewater Park with gathering of more than 500.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:36 PM on September 24, 2020


warriorqueen - there are other historical examples of some of the "prosperity gospel". My mother comes from a part of Europe where cynicism and irony are supped daily. The story goes that when Dalmatia had its own king, there was a famine and the king ordered that the grain from his granaries be distributed to help the people.

Complaints came back to the king about how the distribution was being done, so he called his servants to give him an account of what had been done.

His servants said, "We followed God's judgement, so that those to whom He has been generous, we were generous too. And those whom God chose to give nothing, we gave them nothing too."
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 4:13 PM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't go that far but I see where you're coming from. I recall he cursed a fig tree one time. Who goes around cursing at shrubbery? Jerks.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow


Aha!

I wasn't aware of that, but for a long time I've suspected the whole business of the Gadarene Swine, in which Jesus casts a demon out of a man and into a herd of swine and they promptly run off a cliff, was meant to provide a specifically Christian basis for abjuring pork, and thereby remove a barrier to attracting Jewish converts to the early Church – I'm sure other people have thought this as well but I've never looked. And if it ever was a thing it didn't take, obviously.

So when I read your comment, I remembered that figs are pollinated by wasps and often contain dead wasps and wasp larvae, and I thought this curse might have a similar function in making conversion easier. It turns out the wasps are an issue in the question of kosher status for figs, but the modern approach appears to be that if you cut them open and inspect them, you're fine.

But that it's a concern now makes me think it could have been back then too, and that the curse on figs does make it look more likely the Gadarene Swine story was indeed an aid to conversion.
posted by jamjam at 4:31 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


"I wasn't aware of that, but for a long time I've suspected the whole business of the Gadarene Swine, in which Jesus casts a demon out of a man and into a herd of swine and they promptly run off a cliff"

I have actually written about the Greco-Roman pigs of the foreign oppressors here before!

Tl;dr keeping pigs in a delicate desert ecosystem makes you the Koch brothers of the ancient near east.

"remove a barrier to attracting Jewish converts to the early Church"
The early church was Jewish; Gentiles were the converts. (And Gentiles eating pork is addressed in the New Testament.)

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:52 PM on September 24, 2020 [5 favorites]


jamjam: I wasn't aware of that, but for a long time I've suspected the whole business of the Gadarene Swine, in which Jesus casts a demon out of a man and into a herd of swine and they promptly run off a cliff, was meant to provide a specifically Christian basis for abjuring pork, and thereby remove a barrier to attracting Jewish converts to the early Church – I'm sure other people have thought this as well but I've never looked.

Interesting idea. I thought it went the other way around - the early Christian converts were basically all Jewish, and the church had to give up some important things to attract more Gentile converts - but I'm not deeply versed in any of this.
posted by clawsoon at 5:14 PM on September 24, 2020



Can you clarify what the two sides of the fence are here? Like "evangelical still despite the racism/ignorant of the depth of the racism" vs. "people who have exited" or "North vs. South evangelicals" or...?


The divide I was thinking of was Mefite groupthink versus Evangelical groupthink. I remember seeing firsthand a protest group chanting "racist, sexist antigay, born against bigots, go away," at a church that certainly merited some of that, I knew first hand the epithet racist did not apply. This was the very early 90's, pre-google, and yes, the umbrella term "Evangelical" covered Northern congregations making an active effort to organize multilingual Sunday services, and congregations financing Southern segregation academies, and so yes, the former were giving respectable cover to the latter, but there was no way your average Chicago churchgoer would know about this.
posted by ocschwar at 6:09 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


I once asked my boss (this guy) what would happen to the conservative movement if evangelicals became, you know, real Christians. He just laughed and walked away.
posted by No Robots at 6:19 PM on September 24, 2020


I was in the Baptist church long enough to develop a fondness for some real noisy hymns of praise.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:34 PM on September 24, 2020


Saying the early church was Jewish seems to me to further the point, Eyebrows. They were Jewish people who became Christians as well, in that case, but in order for people to be willing to become Jewish Christians, Christianity had to retain features of Judaism the absence of which Jewish Christians would have found hard to stomach — in a very literal way. The need to recruit Gentiles may have led to the abandonment of dietary restrictions Gentile converts weren't willing to live under.
posted by jamjam at 6:47 PM on September 24, 2020


The noisy hymns of praise I had during my years in a rather conservative Presbyterian (PCUSA) church which underwent a bit of an internal Evangelical-bend during my time there were by people like Petra, Michael W Smith, Amy Grant, Rez Band, Steve Taylor...

I still have quite a bit of music from those years in my iTunes library ripped from CDs. Some of it I listen to. A lot of it I got rid of a long time ago, but I'm happy to retain what I do still have. Especially the Leslie Phillips album The Turning. Not noisy hymns of praise. Quiet songs of doubt and exploration and questioning, struggling with faith in song. Brilliant stuff.
posted by hippybear at 7:05 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


"They were Jewish people who became Christians as well, in that case, but in order for people to be willing to become Jewish Christians"

Right, no, but early Jewish Christians were considered to be bound by both (much of) the Old Covenant* and by the New Covenant. Gentile Christians were only bound by the New Covenant, as they were not Jewish. Theoretically, if there were any Jewish Christians still around (Jews for Jesus don't count, they're just evangelicals with an annoying name), they'd still be obligated to keep kosher.

(*And also noting that calling it the "Old Covenant" is offensive to Jews.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:25 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


Ms. Mayfield, welcome to the light. You sound like one of us, those who have devoted our entire adult lives to social justice. A few of us wear the cross necklace, many do not, but what motivates us, and you it appears, is not necessarily the judgement of a bearded dude in the sky, but the idea that social justice is objectively the right thing to work for, that it makes the entire world, including our own lives better. As a side note, we are all well aware of what the Jesus would think of our work, but it doesn’t really motivate us much more, it just fuels the disgust we feel towards the racist prosperity evangelicals who don’t do shit.

I grew up with a liberal Jesuit education and I feel like I understand the Bible deeply and in detail. I don’t much hang my hat on the idea of a supernatural magical god, but I am moved by much in the gospel. Jesus was a human. The gospels make this emphatically clear, a human who embodied “godliness” however you choose to define that. I choose to interpret that as understanding peace and how to live in harmony with all people and having ideas about how we all might enjoy peace and harmony, ie how we might bring about “heaven” right here, right now. To say he “died for our sins” is to say he preached that we all have faults (we all sin according to the rules of established religion) but it ok, we are forgiven and we should forgive ourselves and despite our human fallibilities we can still each do our part to bring about a heaven on earth. This idea that we aren’t subject to eternal damnation for coveting our neighbor’s wife so upset the powers that be who would divide us and shame us in order to maintain their own power, they killed him. Yet Jesus believed strongly enough in this idea that he was willing to die for it. “Hell” is a description of the world for those who live in constant fear and reject the idea of loving one another.

I too rejected organized religion as a teen with a deep and contextual understanding of the Bible, because it seemed pretty obvious that organized Christianity had become exactly the kind of hierarchical judgy “us vs them” purity test that Jesus railed against. I also found similar messages coming from every other world religion and realized that this idea of spirituality cannot be monopolized by any one group’s orthodoxy. Nevertheless, I have come to know and work closely with people who strongly identify as “Christian” who get it and if their faith provides personal strength without costing them exclusivity, more power to them.

But what I really wanted to say is SEAN FREUCHT IS A COLOSSAL ASSHOLE. See, we live a couple blocks away from Gas Works Park, it’s our neighborhood playground. My wife and I are in the middle of the COVID19 battle, specifically treating those who are victims of the health inequities of our system. I’m also struggling with two mixed race children who are scared to death of police terrorism and who are losing their childhood, stuck inside and missing summer camps and school and friendships because FUCKING ASSHOLES like Freucht show up in our neighborhood as guests, bringing in hundreds of unmasked rednecks from out in the sticks, after the city politely asked them not to do this in a center of population density, just to make some ignorant political point. All these blissed out “Christians” parking in front of my quarantined household gathering to feel superior to me and play their shitty Christian rock music which kept my kids awake, was literally the most audaciously ignorant and un-Christian thing I’ve directly witnessed in my life. Fuck every single one of these fucking hypocrites.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:59 PM on September 24, 2020 [20 favorites]


I actually think about the Greco-Roman pigs of the Roman oppressors a lot lately, relating to BLM in particular. In 2012 I noted that "Jesus saves two Gentiles from demons even though they're consorting with pigs, because he saves everybody, even if they're Gentiles, even if they're pig-keeping Gentiles; that when he saves them, he also relieves them of their pigs, allowing them to come into harmony with the community around them instead of remaining part of the oppressive, murderous regime they're a part of."

And I think a lot about that (and I think the author of this piece is doing the same, in different words), and how I'm a part of an oppressive, murderous regime -- how do I, as a white American, come into harmony with my community? There's nothing so convenient or simple as literal demons to cast out, and nothing so convenient as pigs to cast them into, but if I take seriously the teachings of Jesus, how do I cast off white supremacy (as best as I can, recognizing it's going to be the effort of generations)? How do I atone for those sins, and what other terrible sins of oppression (keeping pigs!) do I need to atone for, in an effort to come into harmony with my community?

On the one hand it's a very hopeful message -- even horrible pig-keeping oppressors who deliberately starve the poor can be saved and brought into harmony with their communities! But on the other hand, JESUS, I'm a horrible pig-keeping oppressor and howwwwwwww do I work my way out of that? And it's nothing so easy as thinking good thoughts or "getting saved" -- there's some serious shit in this story, that ends in the Gentiles giving up some major sources of wealth (destroying them completely, in fact!) in the interest of living in harmony with their community. What structures of wealth-creation do I have to help destroy? What systems of oppression? What pigs am I keeping that I don't even know about?

Anyway I contemplate that a lot.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:23 PM on September 24, 2020 [13 favorites]


« Older Exit Mundi   |   Remembering Cat Bordhi Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments