Chick Tract “Christians” and why Nick Kristof is an idiot.
Let me tell you a couple of mostly-true stories, and then explain why Nick Kristof is an idiot.
First: My Mom had spent a week at an ashram in Pennsylvania and was positively bubbling over with joy. It was a traveling summer, so after her face-time with Buddah, her sojourn took her west to visit family we have out there. This particular evening she was visiting with my cousin and his family who are deeply Fundmentalist. Every other phrase out of his mouth on any topic is “Well Praise the Lord!” or “God is good.” They’re in church every few days. Bookshelves are stocked with “Left Behind” fiction. The whole deal.
In other words, Right Wing Evangelicals who spend a good part of their waking hours relentless pushing their particular, ossified version of Christianity to anyone who comes within earshot.
So my Mom is over having dinner, and Cousin Fucktard and his family are practically stuffing Chick Tracts into her pockets…and she’s listening politely to their idiotic hard-sell drivel, because that’s what nice people do. Then came a lull in the conversation, and since the topic was God, she stared to share with them her deeply moving and ecstatic experiences at the ashram, and Cousin Fucktard immediately cut her off.
“Excuse me, Aunt Driftglass,” he asked, “but do these people believe that Christianity is the only True Faith, and have they accepted Jesus Christ is their personal Lord and Savior?”
“Weeell,” she began diplomatically, “they believe Jesus was a great spiritual leader. As an incarnation of the Divine. You see, they believe…”
And that’s when Cousin Fucktard cut her off again.
“That’s what I thought,” he said. “Sorry, Aunt Driftglass, but I’ll have to ask you not to talk about that in my house. We don’t approve of blasphemy here.”
And that was that.
Second: My brother and I were at our family reunion last summer down in the wilds of Missouri. It was Red State Central, and the 2004 election was heating up, and as it happened, Bill Clinton’s autobiography had just come out. My uncle – the patriarch of the tribe – held forth these opinions, and spoke for most of the family when he said:
There was no need to read anything from Bill Clinton’s autobio, “’cause Clinton’s just a liar. Lied about ever’thang.”
The reason every right-thinkin’, God-fearin’ person must re-elect George Bush was equally simple. Bush was “a plain-spoken man, and a per’fessed Christian.”
No engagement with factual reality of any kind. No discussion of policy or nuance, or comprehension that there even are such things. A level of cultural, political, historical, global and just-plan-factual illiteracy and detachment – and a smug self-satisfaction with being this pig-ignorant -- that was absolutely Medieval.
This was when I figured that Bush would probably win. Because these members of my family – and millions of other Conservative Evangelical Fundamentalists – have no higher reasoning functions with which you can engage. They don’t believe facts. They are cultists who have been relentlessly programmed to believe “Liberal = Satan” and “Republican = Christian”. Period.
Now on to this slice of simpleton cheese from Nick Kristof:
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: May 15, 2005
Even aside from his arguments that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and that St. Paul was a self-hating gay, the new book by a former Episcopal bishop of Newark is explosive.
John Shelby Spong, the former bishop, tosses a hand grenade into the cultural wars with "The Sins of Scripture," which examines why the Bible - for all its message of love and charity - has often been used through history to oppose democracy and women's rights, to justify slavery and even mass murder.
This book is long overdue, because one of the biggest mistakes liberals have made has been to forfeit battles in which faith plays a crucial role. Religion has always been a central current of American life, and it is becoming more important in politics because of the new Great Awakening unfolding across the United States.
Yet liberals have tended to stay apart from the fray rather than engaging in it. In fact, when conservatives quote from the Bible to make moral points, they tend to quote very selectively.
"Can we really worship the God found in the Bible who sent the angel of death across the land of Egypt to murder the firstborn males in every Egyptian household?" Bishop Spong asks. Or what about 1 Samuel 15, in which God is quoted as issuing orders to wipe out all the Amalekites: "Kill both man and woman, child and infant." Hmmm. Tough love, or war crimes? As for the New Testament, Revelation 19:17 has an angel handing out invitations to a divine dinner of "the flesh of all people."
Bishop Spong particularly denounces preachers who selectively quote Scripture against homosexuality. He also cites various textual reasons for concluding (not very persuasively) that St. Paul was "a frightened gay man condemning other gay people so that he can keep his own homosexuality inside the rigid discipline of his faith."
Liberals can and should confront Bible-thumping preachers on their own terms, for the scriptural emphasis on justice and compassion gives the left plenty of ammunition. After all, the Bible depicts Jesus as healing lepers, not slashing Medicaid.
Apparently Mr. Kristof has never heard of the Presbyterians. Or the Unitarians. Or any of a dozen flavors of Protestantism that aren’t run by completely deranged big-haired Mussolinae (isn’t that the plural of Il Duce). Or the Liberal and/or Liberation Theologians of the Catholic Church. Or the fucking Jesuits. And he has never read any of the rich body of literature that has taken on the Christian Right over just these issues, over and over again, for at least the last twenty-years.
So since he has decided to plop himself down in the middle of this busy intersection as innocent of any knowledge of his own culture as a dung beetle is of ballistics, let me help the poor man out by hipping him to a few facts, the central two being these:
1. We are not talking about “Christians” generally, but that fiercely and proudly ignorant cult called Conservative Evangelical Fundamentalists.
2. Being “biblical literalists” – believing that the Bible is the “literal and inerrant Word of God” – means that Conservative Evangelical Fundamentalists are by definition unable to admit doctrinal or dogmatic error in the slightest degree. On a practically molecular-level they are incapable of allowing themselves to think even for a second that there are parts of the Bible that are historically absurd or physically impossible…or just poorly translated or misunderstood.
On no issue of any kind, to any degree large or small, are Conservative Evangelicals capable of or willing to engage at all. All discussion begins with the predicate that their beliefs are 100% correct in every detail, and that anyone who disagrees with them is either misguided and in need of conversion, or a minion of Satan in need of Armageddon.
Or to put it a little less abstractly, Jerry Falwell was a lying, hater-mongering, heap of wormy shit twenty years ago and no amount of engagement by anyone on any issue in any venue on any topic has succeeded in budging his fat ass one micron.
Ditto the rest of the Heroes of Evangelical Ignorance: Pat Roberston. James Dobson, Don Wildmon., Paul Wyrick, Randall Terry, Phyllis Schlafly…and so on with a list that extends well out past the vanishing point.
And for the record, Nick, we had a Democratic President who was as steeped in scripture as any one of these thugs; could out-cite them all and did engage them on the spiritual as well as the policy level. And do you remember how they reacted?
The howled for his blood.
The Masters of the Antebellum South looked to the Bible to justify their fascist Plantation States and generations of the faithful fought them from the pulpit. And failed.
Further generations confronted Southern Segregationists and lynchers in the same pulpits and with the same Good Book. And failed.
Another generation fought them over interracial marriage and property rights and voting rights and civil rights. And failed
We engage them now over a woman’s right to her own body. Over stem cell research. Over fucking Evolution. And we fail.
No amount of moral suasion has ever softened the hearts or opened the minds of these motherfuckers one iota; over and over again history has shown that it is only the naked power of a religiously neutral Federal Government coming down on their necks that ever forces them to quit abusing and murdering people their perverse faith has taught them to hate in the name of White Male Privilege and actually behave like Good Christians.
Which is not really surprising; Christians of all species have been talking right past each other for, well, around 2000 years. Same book, same language, same Savior...and you still get the Reformation, the Counter Reformation, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Anglicanism, Evangelicalism. You get schismatic warfare. You get internecine murder on a massive scale. You get the Inquisition, Salem, the Crusades and the likes of the Albigensian heresy (“Kill all. God will know his own.”)
So no thank you, Nick. I’ll go right along reading my Bible for a variety of reasons, but trying to engage a Fundy in a serious discussion about faith as opposed to simply enduring a set-piece, memorized-by-rote monologue is a fool’s errand. For your own edification, I urge you to sit down one evening over a beer with a couple of Jesuits and let them tell you about Evangelicals and how thoroughly reviled and discredited their inbred-idiot-cousin version of the Gospels is among serious theologians. How their Pop-Up Hate Book version of the Bible is laughed at by anyone not in their hillbilly cult.
Finally remember that the Bible is a Big Book. A whopping great, intimidating Moby Dick of a book that scares the crap out of most people who either don’t read at all to begin with, or read only monosyllabic Twinkie news with brides running away to Neverland to fondle young boys (I’m probably getting the details wrong. Following the Twinkie news is hard work.)
And like pre-IraqWar intel, it is cherry-picked by the Falwells and the Robersons of the world to fit their pre-existing bigotries…and always will be. They only see what they want to see so Nick, to save you a little time, let me summarize what the Fundies actually look at when they read the Good Book.
The Fucktard Bible
Gen’sis. God make everything on October 9th, 4004 B.C. ‘Round 9-ish.
Ex’dis. Chuck Heston saves some good Christians, some animals and his guns.
God killin’ people what don’t look like me, which is always cool.
God hates fags.
Bunch faggity poems or somethin’
God wastes Lot’s whole family, ‘cause he’s a fag or a libril or somethin’. Sooo cool.
Buncha other stuff.
Jebus Kick’s Ass!
Stinkin’ Jews kill Jebus.
Buncha faggity stuff about “forgivin’ and camels and ‘the least of these.’”
Jebus Keeps Kicking Ass!
Letter about God Hatin’ Fags, which is Excellent.
Buncha other stuff
Jebus Comes Back and Blows Shit Up and Kills alla them Librils and Queers and ay-rabs and Jews.
And Christ wept.