Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: Billy, Beards, Beaks and Booby Traps

horus_01Roundabout 3,000 years ago, several Egyptian priests gathered at the local Nilotic zinc bar and had a conversation that went something like this:

Ahmose:  We have a problem.

Her-uben:  I know, I know.

Khu:  We’re very close to figuring out precisely where the sunrise will hit our proposed colonnade for the Temple of Karnak on the winter solstice. 

Her-uben:  Indeed.  We just need more time!  But the peasants are getting impatient; they need to see progress.  Otherwise they’ll start to suspect we’re no more important than they are.

Ahmose:  [munching on a hyena & turnip quesadilla]  I have an idea.  [munches more]  The problem is, when the Average Djo presents his oblations at the Temple of Horus, he returns the next day and sees his sheaf of grain and beer sacrifice still sitting right where he left them.  Not only that, but Horus is a rather static figure.  Djo prays and prays, but the damned bird never so much as chirps in reply.

Khu:  Hey, I know a guy named Mutnodjmet who I’m pretty sure can help us out.  He’s recently invented this amazing contraption called the “trap door.”

Pastor Pillow here.

The story above does not end along the banks of the fertile Nile.  Some 3,000 years later, while an archaeology student in Chicago, I spent several visits at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute in utter fascination of an ancient Egyptian altar on display.

Atop the structure stands a figure of the falcon god Horus; the lower part of the statue’s beak was designed to move up and down with the aid of a stick lever.  At the altar’s base there is a false bottom, presumably for making sacrifices to the winged deity “disappear.”

While my Ahmose, Khu and Her-uben are of course imaginary figures, there is no denying that some conspiracy was at play to fool sad sack Egyptians, thus perpetuating the superiority of the Amun-Ra priesthood.  (Ancient Egypt hardly had a monopoly on spinning divine knowledge into gold.  If you have the time, spend a few minutes reading about the Pythian Cult at Delphi.)

Eventually in the 14th century BCE, a pharaoh named Akhenaten ascended the Theban throne and declared phooey to Egyptian polytheism.  He tried and ultimately failed to get his nation to buy into a new, monotheistic cult based on worship of the sun god Aten.

Following Akhenaten’s death, the traditional polytheistic cults were reinstated, and great efforts were made to execrate Akhenaten’s religious revolution.  It didn’t help that Akhenaten’s successor son died while still a teenager, before he could perpetuate his dad’s work.  Perhaps you’ve heard of him:  Tutankhamun.  (Akhenaten’s wife was the equally famous Nefertiti.)

One could possibly make the case that with the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten one sees the birth of the “Judeo-Christian” tradition.  After all, what’s more Judeo-Christian than monotheism?  (Other than Lambeau Field, of course.)  Also, biblical scholars date the life and times of Moses to somewhere in the range of the reign of Akhenaten.

We may never know why Pharaoh Akhenaten rejected the traditional cults of ancient Egypt.  Scholarly theories range from genuine religious experience to Marfan’s Syndrome and everything in-between.

But there’s some part of me that really wants to believe that Akhenaten was just plain fed up with the purposeful falsehood and deceit of organized religion—that he was disgusted by all the booby traps and searched earnestly for a more authentic explanation for human origins and purpose.

Nothing has changed, really.  The priests of every cult across our globe continue to misguide the simple supplicant in order to maintain their powerful statuses.  But now more than ever, it’s a two-way complicity:  the supplicants are desperate for enemies and divergent lifestyles to hate, and the priests of fundamentalism remain as happy as ever to deliver.

There’s a fine line between authentic religious and spiritual experience and all the moveable beaks and false-bottom floors.  In our nation, Christian fundamentalism has erected a Statue of Liberty-sized Horus Altar to which nearly one-third of the national population blindly offers daily oblation.  Christians, it would seem, are much more interested in preserving their fatted-calf empire than in evening the global playing field—no matter what that fellow Jesus suggested.

While you munch on Teriyaki wings and celery during this afternoon’s Horus-like matchup between the Cardinals and Falcons—preparing your ka, of course, for this evening’s 5:30 p.m. service—take a few minutes to contemplate these things, as well as consider what the Radical Right Christian priests have been up to this past week.

As ever, honest to God, I am not making up any of this stuff.

5.  Christians Cheer Broken Obamacare Website, Hope it Portends Disaster for Poor & Needy, via The Christian Post“Analysis: ‘Obamacare’ Website Problems Could Bring Down All of ‘Obamacare’”

I’m not going to hang the title of Christian Post reporter Napp Nazworth’s article on him.  Instead, I’m going to assume that this blame falls squarely on the editorial board of “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website.”

Like my imaginary conversation above, I think it’s pretty clear that the editorial board at The Christian Post sat around this past week and tried to imagine an article that would help its fundamentalist readers find spiteful comfort in the wake of the failed Government Shutdown.

Editor-in-Chief:  Well, because our hopes to establish an earthly Christian Kingdom under Caliph Cruz have failed, we may as well fall back on our old hat trick of making Obamacare seem like the edible panties of the Whore of Babylon.

Politics Editor:  I know, I know.  Hey, why don’t we ask Napp to write an editorial about Obamacare, then come up with an article title that suggests the website problems will render the law null and void?

Editor-in-Chief:  Perfect!  Someone get Napp on the line.

I am just so sick and tired of this bullshit.  Yes, Napp is correct.  If people diagnosed with Ebola or rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctate were the only ones to sign up for health insurance via the health exchanges, this element of the Affordable Care Act would probably fail.

But what this has to do with the healthcare.gov website technical problems is beyond me.  Moreover, what also is beyond me is WHY THE HELL the Christian Post doesn’t seem the least bit interested in supporting the idea that every human being in this nation deserves the best possible access to health care.

There is no other Christian position.  Period.  End of story.

Everything else is biblical booby traps.

Also, I’m going to shove my fist up the false bottom of the Christian Post’s “statement of faith” and extract this little ditty:  “We believe in the Holy Spirit, whose work includes the conviction of sin.”

To the editorial staff of the Christian Post:  Feel free to feel convicted for every anti-universal health care article you have ever published.

4.  Billy Graham, Held Captive by Son Franklin, Prepares Final Crusade, via Christian Examiner:  “22,000 Churches to Participate in My Hope America with Billy Graham”

With every ounce of my being, I want to believe that Billy Graham is actually behind the “My Hope America with Billy Graham” project.

I’m skeptical, though, especially as the video promoting this national November event reads more like the trailer for the next Avengers film.

If you missed it, this week Frank Schaeffer, son of religious icon Francis Schaeffer, delivered a timely invective against the Tea Party priesthood’s usurpation of the Billy Graham “brand.”  Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, who more or less has taken over the helm of his 94-year-old father’s ministry, yanks down in the neighborhood of $1 million in non-profit salary and has become buddy-buddy with none other than Christian soldier Sarah Palin.

(By the way, when you read this statement by Franklin Graham defending the honor of the former Vice Presidential candidate, don’t you find it a bit odd that he references “remote villages” in Alaska?  Don’t we usually refer to such places in the U.S. as “towns”?)

I myself responded to Mr. Schaeffer’s letter with an open letter.

Anyway, when the Billy Graham Experience hits the media in a few weeks, let’s all listen very carefully to the words of the great evangelist and do our very best to pick out and toss the bullshit Tea Party trappings that will doubtless accompany.

3.  A Directory of Pseudo-Scientist Creationists Who Should Be Stripped of their Doctorates, According to Answers in Genesis:  Creationists Perform Good Research Too”

You know, it’s not too often that you actually can find a directory of the handful of doctorate-bearing individuals silly enough to call themselves creation scientists.  Yes, real live men and women who engaged in the rigors of a terminal degree in science, only to fart it all away when they took a job with the ultimate Evangelical Christian boondoggle, the Creation Museum.

Keep this weblink on file.  You never know when you might need to call any of these individuals to help with your next research project to verify that Planet Earth is just barely older than some of the world’s most ancient olive trees.

Really, though, you should read this article just to feel bad for the allosaur skeleton that was recently donated to the Creation Museum as “evidence of Noah’s flood.”

Please do not ever let my bones fall into the hands of religious fundamentalists who wish to use them to deceive tens of thousands of people about absolute cosmological hogwash.

(I do actually find some comical comfort when entering “age of universe” into Google.  It replies flatly:  “13.8 billion years.”  I only wish that when I entered “creationism” it would tell me “soon to be extinct.”)

2.  A Taste of Christian Fundamentalism to Come:  Islamic Women Brave the Global Tea Party for the Right to Lotus in a Lexus, at The Guardian:  Islamic Ruling Bans Malaysia’s Muslims from Practising Yoga” and “Dozens of Saudi Arabian Women Drive Cars on Day of Protest Against Ban”

There is a country on our Little Blue Planet where women are forbidden to drive.

Let me repeat:  There is a country on our Little Blue Planet where women are forbidden to drive.

Oh, I’m sorry.  I misunderstood:  “Though no specific Saudi law bans women from driving, women are not issued licenses.”

Thus, let me correct myself:  There is a country on our Little Blue Planet where chicken shit assholes don’t have the balls to make a law against women driving but simply won’t issue them driver’s licenses.

Why?  Because driving a car is harmful to a woman’s ovaries.

You know what also harms a woman’s private parts?  FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION!

Also, elsewhere in the world of fundamentalist extremism, Malaysian women aren’t being allowed to practice yoga.  The same council that issued this edict also warns that pants cause lesbianism.

I guess they’re right:  I’m wearing pants as I type this, and I am extremely attracted to women.

Folks, wake up.  This is what happens when the fundamentalists take the helm.

More booby traps!

1.  The Ban on Discussing the Government Shutdown and the End of Civilization Continues at Christianity Today:  “The War Over Christian Beards”

Usually we like to end on a positive note.  Here’s a hair-brained article that might fit the bill.

Maybe I’m just not very adroit with a mouse, but it appears that for a fourth straight week Evangelical Clarion Christianity Today would like to pretend that the Government Shutdown never occurred.  While Russell Brand’s Planet of the Apes-like “chimps in razor-sharp suits” are overtaking our world, the editors at Christianity Today remain content to keep on issuing banal reviews of films like Carrie and The Fifth Estate.

When it comes to actual news, sure, Christianity Today is willing to poop out an article or two about the harbinger of “Arabic Christian TV,” but actually COVERING THE NEWS is just not their thing.

All the same, this little survey of the beard down through Christian history is both educational and entertaining.  Also, it’s relevant to this column:  bet you forgot that Christian colleges banned beards for faculty in the 1970s as a protest against the anti-war movement.

Um, had they forgotten what this guy looked like?  Possibly, as they seem to have forgotten his teachings.

Sigh.  It’s enough to make you jump in the ocean, hop in a little yellow raft, and paddle away from it all.

Well, that’s a wrap!

And just why do we present the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up each week?

According to Forbes, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) alone brings in nearly $300 million per year in revenue. CBN isn’t alone in the 9-figure Radical Right Revenue Game. According to the website Ministry Watch, CBN is dwarfed in comparison to the nearly $900 million raked in annually by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

But TBN and CBN are mere bright stars in a galactic empire of hundreds of Christian news and media organizations. If you have a few minutes to spare, review the membership lists of the National Religious Broadcasters and the Evangelical Press Association.

Each and every one of these Christian media organizations have one thing in common: they report news to members of the Christian Right across the Fruited Plain.  And the Christian Right account for nearly one-third of America’s voters.

Not only that, but here’s a list of what’s on the line in November 2014:

—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives

—33 seats in the U.S. Senate

—46 State Legislatures

—And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.

Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, but if that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.

See you next week.

And a final message for people everywhere, don’t forget:  the November 2014 election is this many days away.

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!

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