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November 28, 2005 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Talk To Action and Mother Jones mag team up for e-conference tomorrow: ...a day of thoughtful reflections on, and vigorous discussion of the role of religion and government -- as intended by the framers of the constitution, and the situation we face today. (MoJo's December issue is all about the role of religion and government, including this on Reconstructionists: A Nation Under God.) New and old media officially collaborating to highlight specific issues and futher debate--a first?
posted by amberglow (15 comments total)
You might as well all flag this for deletion because it's pretty clear that no matter what non-Christians say on the subject, we are wrong and should not even have the option of discussing it.

I think the religious right should just do whatever they want and I will sit here and take it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:34 AM on November 28, 2005

...A first?

There was a time when radio and TV were the new media. I'm sure they have collaborated with newspapers and magazines before.

As for other collaborations involving newer media and print, there was probably something like this between A magazine and Channel A.com way back in the day...If any two sites were created to highlight specific issues, I think they are likely candidates.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:43 AM on November 28, 2005

I was just having a nice read of that MoJo issue on the can. It's good on-the-can reading. In this issue they've done a good job of going back to basics and portraying (correctly) America as an intentionally secular state from the moment the Constitution was penned. I'm glad to see that MoJo had grander ideas in mind with this idea than just one church-and-state issue of the mag.

MoJo can be kind of shrill sometimes, and this issue is no exception. They're very good at talking to their lefty base, which I appreciate, and I think that's about it. I think my friend Kyle puts it best: MoJo is a magazine that you can pick up and read for five minutes and end up pissed off for the rest of the day.
posted by gurple at 8:47 AM on November 28, 2005

. . . because we all understand how much "vigorous discussion" makes things better.
posted by spock at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2005

gurple -

Well, what specifically is shrill ? I'm curious because "shrill" means many different things to many different people but as a label it doesn't actually impart any information. In my experience such labelling can serve to evade confronting new information - and reacting to it.

I think Humans are really - however they think of themselves - quite conservative in that they take to new perspectives rather slowly, and some never do. The old adage is that new scientific perspectives tend not to triumph over old ones ( and, sometimes prescientific ideas recrudesce to displace accepted scientific theory - in the public mind anyway ). But new theories don't triumph over old ones as much as that proponents of old theories simply die off.

However in this case the territory is far from new, and Frederick Clarkson wrote what is considered the definitive article on Christian Reconstructionism back in 1994 :

Here is an excerpt from the conclusion.

" Much has been made of the "stealth tactics" practiced by the Christian Right. Whereas the Moral Majority, led by Jerry Falwell, was overt about its Christian agenda, many contemporary Christian Rightists have lowered their religious profile or gone under cover. In fact, these tactics have been refined for years by the Reconstructionist movement, as Robert Thoburn's education strategy suggests. Gary North proposed stealth tactics more than a decade ago in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction (1981), urging "infiltration" of government to help "smooth the transition to Christian political leadership. . . .Christians must begin to organize politically within the present party structure, and they must begin to infiltrate the existing institutional order." Similar stealth tactics have epitomized the resurgence of the Christian Right, as groups like Citizens for Excellence in Education and the Christian Coalition have quietly backed candidates who generally avoided running as overtly "Christian" candidates. The Christian Coalition actually proposed something similar to Gary North's notion of "infiltration" when its 1992 "County Action Plan" for Pennsylvania advised that "You should never mention the name Christian Coalition in Republican circles." The goal, apparently, is to facilitate becoming "directly involved in the local Republican Central Committee so that you are an insider. This way," continues the manual, "you can get a copy of the local committee rules and a feel for who is in the current Republican Committee." The next step is to recruit conservative Christians to occupy vacant party posts or to run against moderates who "put the Republican Party ahead of principle."......

......Central to the Christian Right's strategy is to exploit the national pattern of low voter participation by turning out their constituents in a strategically disciplined fashion and in greater proportion than the rest of the population. An important vehicle for achieving this goal is the ideology of Christian Reconstructionism or its stripped-down root, dominionism, which at once deepens the political motivation of their constituency and widens that constituency by systematically mobilizing a network of churches, many of which were politically uninvolved until the early 1990s.

....it could be argued that the Christian Coalition would not have been possible without Reconstructionism, and that Operation Rescue would not have been possible without the Reconstructionist-influenced philosoper Francis Schaeffer. In the 1970s, Pat Robertson was an apolitical charismatic televangelist, and Randall Terry a would-be rock n' roll star.

....Christian Reconstructionism's ultimate moment may or may not arrive; however it has had tremendous influence as a catalyst for an historic shift in American religion and politics. Christian colleges and bookstores are full of Reconstructionist material. The proliferation of this material and influence is likely to continue. Christian Reconstructionism is largely an underground, underestimated movement of ideas, the rippling surface of which is the political movement known as the Christian Right. "

[ from "Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence" ]

OK, turn the clock forward 11 years..............

It is notable and laudable that Mother Jones has devoted an entire article to the Christian right Theocratic movement : but, at the national level that is only a beginning in terms of addressing the threat of the movement to American constitutional democracy.

The odd thing is that the epiphenomenon of the movement - fallout in terms of public controversy over its attacks on gay rights, reproductive rights, Evolution and science in general, etc., - routinely has the Metafilter community in an uproar. I'd think more here would be tempted to look to the source of those campaigns. They are not random or accidental.


spock - aren't you supposed to make logical arguments ?
posted by troutfishing at 11:41 AM on November 28, 2005

Oh, yeah, well, ^C ^V to you, too! :)

By "shrill" I mean that MoJo's voice is consistently grating and annoying to anyone who isn't already a far-left nutjob. Thankfully I am a far-left nutjob, so it's a great magazine for me. But MoJo isn't about "discussion" or about connecting with mainstream America. MoJo's voice is much like the voices of most of the radio personalities on Air America. They're great for mobilizing and the base, and there's definitely a great need for that. But they're pretty useless for persuading anyone who isn't already persuaded. In this respect they're kind of like the Rush of the left, except that, by virtue of their being on the left, they're correct (tongue firmly in cheek).

That's the way I see them. Like I said, I've got no problem with what they are, and I think they're completely necessary. But you can only take them so seriously when they talk about "vigorous discussion". A discussion with (essentially) oneself can only be so useful.
posted by gurple at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2005

I'm rather astounded by your comparison of Rush Limbaugh and Mother Jones. You call yourself a "nutjob", so maybe you can't make finer distinctions ( hey, you said it, not I ) but Limbaugh has repeatedly been caught and publicly outed for wholesale inventions and flat out lies.

So - simply on that basis, questions of veracity - what specific points of fact discussed in the Mother Jones issue referenced do you contest ? Can you name any ?
posted by troutfishing at 12:14 PM on November 28, 2005

I'm rather astounded by your comparison of Rush Limbaugh and Mother Jones. You call yourself a "nutjob", so maybe you can't make finer distinctions ( hey, you said it, not I ) but Limbaugh has repeatedly been caught and publicly outed for wholesale inventions and flat out lies.

troutfishing, perhaps you should read what I wrote. I made it nice and short. I said this:

In this respect they're kind of like the Rush of the left

"this respect" being that they're not trying to cater to people in the middle. Rush on the right, and MJ on the left, both talk straight at their respective bases. I also said this:

except that, by virtue of their being on the left, they're correct (tongue firmly in cheek)

There's your veracity. My tongue is in cheek because I consider my beliefs to be fallible and therefore I do nott present myself as an authority on what is objectively "correct". But for myself, in general, I find MoJo startlingly, dismayingly correct. They comment well on a lot of issues. They just do it in a way that concentrates on shoring up the liberal base, rather than reaching out.

I don't think we really disagree, troutfishing, certainly not about the church-state issue at hand. I'm just pointing out that a lefty magazine (which I like) championing a lefty cause (which I believe in) to lefty readers (of which I am one) is all well and good but not indicative of a sea change in mainstream views of the issue.
posted by gurple at 12:29 PM on November 28, 2005

I'm just pointing out that a lefty magazine (which I like) championing a lefty cause (which I believe in) to lefty readers (of which I am one) is all well and good but not indicative of a sea change in mainstream views of the issue.

but what defines a sea change? and isn't it good that 1 plus 1 equals 2? what made things change in the past? do we need to burn like the women locked in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory? do people need to be lynched? what?
posted by amberglow at 8:29 PM on November 28, 2005

gurple - Well, I agree with you on the futility preaching to the ( converted ) base because that implies as opposed to, say, solidifiying the base.

But in this case the base doesn't know especially much about the theocratic Christian Right : if they did they would actually turn off their televisions, leave their sense of shock, dismay, and despair behind, and go out to do some good old fashioned political organizing.

Further, the base isn't especially well organized - the Christian right now is far more competent than the left's base at the basics of electoral democracy. There's a a difference between telling the left's base things which further drives it into political apathy, and equipping that base for political activism.

That's the real challenge at hand, and I really don't think Mother Jones is a fault in that regard. They could challenge their base, their readers, to goad and exhort them to action. Sure. But to the extent they did that they would be doing the work which rightly should have been a province of the Democratic Party - except that the party long ago walked away from grassroots organizing.

I'm not arguing for the existence of a sea change in view yet.

But any such change must start somewhere, and the mainstream institutions of our day have largely failed in acknowledging or moving in any significant way against the theocratic movement, and that's not principally because they have been subverted from within by Dominionists. The left - and its institutions - have themselves largely to blame.
posted by troutfishing at 8:58 PM on November 28, 2005

Mother Jones does an extraordinary job of investigative reporting and that is something sorely missing in media today. (they have the awards and ground breaking stories to prove it, let Rush try to break ANY story AND tell the truth, never!)

That Mojo presents issues in an open and honest fashion which are important to the common person without the slant of corporatism is also very refreshing.

Thanks for the link amberglow. I think I'll join in the conversation there. Might turn out to be better than Mefi even!
posted by nofundy at 9:12 AM on November 29, 2005

amberglow, if you make that sort of comment solely for the amusement of others, that's very selfless of you. Thanks for the laugh!

troutfishing, we're in perfect agreement as to the merits of this MoJo issue. When it came in the mail I thought, "hot damn, a big fat issue on my favorite topic!" I'm a heavily-donating member of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and if I ever get off my lazy ass I'll start up a Seattle chapter (astoundingly, I don't think there is one yet). I think it kicks ass that MoJo created this handbook. Especially in a time when some Democrats seem to feel it necessary to start praying as loudly and visibly as possible, I really hope the base DOES start to see the light about how unAmerican (as well as unChristian) that kind of thing is.
posted by gurple at 9:13 AM on November 29, 2005

I actually mentioned this new MoJo and the articles on religion in a thread below.
posted by nofundy at 9:21 AM on November 29, 2005

What's your account called over at talk2action, nofundy? Seems like their discussion is slow to get going. I posted a comment over there as gurple, but I'm not seeing much action.
posted by gurple at 11:25 AM on November 29, 2005

Don't have one yet gurple.
I intend to create one in the next few days as work schedule permits.

Looks like some very interesting threads and your comment makes a very good point. We need to look at properly framing the fundy arguments.
posted by nofundy at 1:10 PM on November 29, 2005

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