Our morning service opens with a Kierkegaardean Either/Or “Choose Your Own Adventure” worship program.
Either embrace the light and open your hymnals to No. 829.
Or raise your right arm stiffly and bellow the “Horst Wessel” at No. 109.
Yeah, the former song’s a bit schlocky, and might even require that you stand next to Kenny Loggins or Tito Jackson on a choir pew. But consider the latter, which involves swastikas and goose-stepping.
In this life, you either decide to be “part of God’s great big family” (regardless of creed, or lack thereof) or you Marschier’n im Geist in unser’n Reihen mit. (If your German’s a bit rusty, that translates roughly to “March in spirit within our Holocaust-generating ranks.”)
All across our Little Blue Planet this past week, human beings made Hitlerian hymnal selections. Sadly, Buddhists, Boilermakers and Bengalis alike all chose paths of violence, destruction and, as the Nazi Anthem declares, to “clear the streets for the brown battalions.”
(Man, there’s nothing more depressing than knowing there’s so much violence in the world at any given moment that you can make an alliterative list of murder sites any time you want.)
When is violence the correct answer to any human problem?
Not even if my President orders me to pilot a drone plane and strafe a wedding party?
Hey, man, I’m just defending the U.S. Consti—
NEVER! (Sorry, airman, your 20% discount at local restaurants comes at a spiritual price.)
At the turn of the 19th century, Leo Tolstoy found himself in a philosophical conundrum. In his essay “On Anarchy,” he wrote that it was clear in his mind that “there could not be worse violence than that of authority under existing conditions.” Then again, the revolutionaries of his day insisted that the only way to secure a new world order and justice for the common man was via violence.
Tolstoy was not a fan of tit-for-tat.
Many readers will probably be shocked to learn that Gandhi and Tolstoy not only corresponded with one another, but that Gandhi cited the great Russian author as one of the three most important influences in his life. In a 1928 speech, Gandhi also stated that after studying Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You, his own “lack of faith in non-violence vanished.”
Anyway, think twice before the next time you poke fun at War & Peace. If you think things on Planet Earth are bad, just imagine our world without the influence of Mahatma Gandhi. And by the great Bapu’s admission, we all owe a debt to the cantankerous Russian Count.
But back to “On Anarchy.”
Faced with the decision that violence itself is an unacceptable reaction to an unjust system, as well as “joining the ranks” of the system itself, Tolstoy came to the conclusion that the only thing he could do was start a revolution in his own heart.
Here’s what Tolstoy had to say, perhaps the most important, least-known sentence ever penned:
“And yet in our world everybody think of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
This indeed is where revolution starts. On the INSIDE.
So with the pigskin season mostly behind us, you have no excuse but to think on these things all throughout this blessed Sunday. (For Peyton’s sake, don’t tell me you actually plan on watching the Pro Bowl!) Head on down to your local house of God today and listen carefully to the voice of your inner revolution. Civilization depends, more than anything, on you.
The choice is yours.
Here’s the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up!
5. Idiotic Texan Pastor—Oh, Fuck it, just Read the Article, according to Christian Post: “Experts Weigh in on Robert Jeffers’ Remarks That Obama’s Policies ‘Pave the Way’ for Antichrist”
Robert Jeffress is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Yeah, as you might imagine, it’s all downhill from there.
Pastor Jeffress has been making a name for himself lately by claiming that President Obama’s support of same sex marriage is rolling out the red carpet for the Antichrist, the Whore of Babylon and the whole Apocalypse of St. John End-Times Gang.
The only reason I’m including this article is because the venerable pastor and the zillions of fundamentalists who follow him continue the centuries-long foolishness of trying to lay odds on the Antichrist. (Vegas long ago gave up on this wildcard after losing big on Henry Kissinger.)
To quote myself: “In the past millennium, not one generation has gone by without Christians insisting that the Book of Revelation points to Christ’s imminent return, and that all of the text’s cryptic references can easily be mapped to the current political world. And every single generation has been spectacularly wrong.”
But I need to give the Christian Post a little credit. At least they reached out to theologian Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary, who addresses Jeffress’ outrageous claims as follows:
“Believers are to keep watch and be alert, but given the poor track record of such predictions, I am very hesitant to make such points.”
In my humble opinion, Pastor Jeffress is nothing more than a fanatical supporter of a hetero-homologous “Horst Wessel” Evangelical fundamentalist worldview, hell-bent on stirring eschatological fears nationwide with a view toward the Midterm Elections. Or else he’s a nutjob who can’t tell a hermeneutic from a whole in the ground.
Progressives, are you listening?! Did you need another reason to head to the polls on November 4, 2014?!
Final thoughts: Dr. Bock, next time, could you possible lead with something a little stronger than “I am very hesitant to make such points”?
God might actually be reading your words.
4. World in Shambles, but Evangelicals at the Movies MUST GO ON!, over at Christianity Today: “Why We Review R-Rated Films”
There are two sides to this cinematic coin. Every now and again, I poke fun at Christianity Today for its “prescient” reviews of Hollywood films. What can I say? It amuses me darkly to think that while the world is being overrun by Gordon Gekko wannabes, the world’s premier Evangelical publication has time to throw back a tub of buttered popcorn and fancy itself an apostolic Roger Ebert.
Or as Alissa Wilkinson, CT’s chief film critic, explains: “[T]his is a complex issue that a lot of people have been thinking about for years, and so it’s going to take a little time to answer it.”
Eight web pages, in fact!
I promise you, though, that Wilkinson’s article is likely in response to hundreds of letters and emails to CT headquarters in Carol Stream, Illinois, that read something like this:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am apocalyptically appalled that your publication would ever deign to review a film that shows a boob. As you and I well know, Jesus might be the Creator of every nipple that ever was, but He Himself never looked at boobs. And He certainly didn’t think of mammary glands while on the Cross. Until your magazine starts reviewing films that show women without boobs, my family intends to spend its hard-earned Christian dollars somewhere else.
So just this once, Christianity Today, I’m cutting you some slack.
I think your ultimate answer is a valid one:
“Why do we review R-rated films? Because we want to raise questions, not give answers.”
Now I just wish you would turn your interrogative attention equally to the U.S. military industrial complex. Or perhaps to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ being slaughtered left and right.
No, seriously, continue munching those Milk Duds and slurping your ICEE. I’m all ears for your upcoming thoughts on Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage.
3. Meanwhile, Christian Media Once Again Fails to Question the Second Amendment, so says Pat Robertson’s News Rag: “Three Dead, Including Gunman, in Mall Shooting”
When is a “Christian” media publication ever going to cover a public gun massacre with any sense of righteous indignation?!
Jesus did not die on the Cross to protect the Second Amendment!
So, because the Christian Broadcasting News refuses to tell you, I will:
Take a look at the firearm homicide rate per 100,000 individuals in the following countries:
- United States 3.6
- United Kingdom: 0.04
- Japan: 0.04
- South Korea: 0.04
Until our supposedly “to-the-Republic-for-which-it-stands” God-fearing nation does what the UK, Japan and South Korea have done—which is more or less eradicate firearms across the board—we are going to see articles like this every day. FOREVER.
By the way, below is a list of the times God ever approved of a fellow human being popping a cap in another fellow human being.
Yep. Short list.
If God endorses a political platform, it’s this: REVERENCE FOR LIFE.
(Shout out to my good friend, KH, in Racine, Wisconsin, for inspiring this response.)
2. Against All Possible Odds, Another Conservative Leader Breaks the Law, via Christian Examiner: “Dinesh D’Souza Indicted for Violating Election Law”
A conservative activist (who was also the president of a fundamentalist Christian college) made illegal campaign contributions?! And engaged in a hypocritical sexual relationship while married?!
Well, throw me over a city wall and let wild dogs lap the blood of my carcass.
Either I make another Midterm Elections reference, or you can all just join me in beating a dead horse.
We like to end every week on a positive note.
In this case, thank God we can all agree to judge the 40 million-plus African-Americans in the United States based solely on the trash-talking hype of an NFL cornerback.
Oh wait. More seriously, I have to give some props to Kelly Boggs, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Office of Public Affairs.
Rather than perpetuate the national quilting circle “thug” condemnation of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman following his NFC Conference Championship game interview with sideline reporter Erin Andrews, Boggs decided to do a little research and make a public confession.
Boggs discovered that Sherman is a 3.9 GPA Stanford graduate, with “hardworking blue collar folks” for parents. Sherman is also the founder of a charitable organization that provides school materials for needy students.
Boggs admits: “My initial judgment of Richard Sherman was wrong. Had I heeded the admonition of Jesus I would have withheld judgment until I had more facts.”
My thought: Until the day a professional athlete anywhere thanks God for his team losing (as they all seem to think God is worth thanking for a victory), I don’t care what any athlete has to say on the playing field, period.
Sports is theater. What Sherman said that day is no different than what Justin Bieber might say on the red carpet.
And I don’t give a damn.
That said, I’m much more interested in knowing why Peyton Manning (a member of one of the strongest unions in the world) can stomach sharing space in a commercial with Papa John’s owner, John H. Schnatter, who could give a fig whether his employees have health care.
That’s a wrap!
One last hymn. Put on your rose-colored Bono shades and turn your hymnals to No. 510.
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.
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