Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: On the Road to Damascus with President Obama

Conversion-on-the-Way-to-Damascus-Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s “Conversion on the Way to Damascus”

All work and low pay makes Pastor Pillow a socialist. All work and low pay makes Pastor Pillow a socialist. All work and low pay makes Pastor Pillow a socialist. All work and low pay makes Pastor Pillow a socialist.

Pastor Pillow here.

Labor Day is nearly upon us, fellow saints and sinners!  Of course, no matter that we Americans celebrate human labor a mere four months after the rest of the planet.  Better late than never.  Besides, it’s the American way to buck sensible global movements, from the Kyoto Protocols to the Metric System.

Then again, just yesterday the White House pulled a fast one on the global community, including the Right Wing Christian Media, when it sent the consideration of military obliteration of Syrian citizens to Congress.  Just goes to show that we live in an unpredictable age.  Who knows?  Any day now, Franklin Graham might join Justice Ginsburg in a jointly officiated same-sex wedding, or perhaps Pope Francis will permit nuns to trade in their wimples for collars.

Before we head down the road to Damascus this week with the Apostle Paul and President Obama, let us offer a brief paean to Henry Dunant, a man who impacted the global peace movement more than almost anyone.  In June 1859, the Swiss Dunant found himself in the northern Italian city of Solferino and a witness to a bloody military encounter that left tens of thousands of French and Italians soldiers and citizens wounded and dying.

Dunant’s actions to provide aide to those suffering, plus his later efforts, which included publication of the pamphlet Memoir of Solferino, resulted in the creation of the Red Cross as well as the First Geneva Convention.  Dunant was ultimately awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

There have been four Geneva Conventions plus three Geneva Protocols, each of which establish supposed “rules of war”—the equivalent of putting a padded pillow between the global military industrial complex and the human beings it targets for mincemeat.

Does anyone else find the establishment of rules for war or the creation of red lines, like the global prohibition of chemical weapons, a bit arbitrary?

God apparently thought so.  That’s why he came up with a somewhat simpler protocol:

Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Then again, the fundie militarists over at the Tombstone Gun Range and Training Center might disagree.  They argue that Psalm 144:1 is a biblical mandate for a lil’ faith-based urban rifle training.

I’m guessing the folks at Tombstone would not sign on to my suggested Fourth Geneva Protocol Aimed at Correcting the First Three Protocols:

If nations simply cannot avoid war, they shall only be allowed to battle using Nerf butter knives.

At any rate, Tutti fratelli! to you all.

While you permit your grilled meat-begutted stomachs to settle prior to this this evening’s 5:30 p.m. service, here’s the Weekly Round-Up Report of the top stories in the Right-Wing Christian Media to bide the time.

As ever, you who are nothing but cannon fodder to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing, honest to God, I am not making up any of this stuff.

5.  The Straight Poop on Syria via The Christian Post:  “Obama Seeks Congressional Approval to Bomb Syria”

Once upon a time, Saul of Tarsus headed to Damascus in order to round up some newfangled followers of Jesus of Nazareth and throw them in the clink.  Along the way, Saul was knocked off his donkey by a bright light.  A voice that went by the name of Jesus made him see the errors of his way.  Soon thereafter, the Persecutor Formerly Known as Saul changed his name to the Apostle Paul, and the world was forever changed.

President Obama was similarly knocked off his air-to-surface missile burro on the way to Damascus.  And the world, including the Christian Right-Wing Media, was simply beside itself and puzzled by the light that apparently appeared to the man named Barack.

In fact, we’ll give The Christian Post a rare A+ for simply reporting this one by the book.

We only pray—literally—that Congress sees a similar light.

As for Bashar al-Assad, is it moral to pray for myocardial infarction?

4.  Lunatic Racist Christian Counselor Calls the United States a “Rancid Bed of Sodom,” Predicts Destruction of Country, according to The Christian Observer: “The Annihilation of America – God’s Decree of Judgement”

While occasionally the Radical Right media gets it right, most of the time it simply falls on its face, as in this classic waste of cyberspace that must be sheer embarrassment to any critical thinker with a connection to the Reformed Church or PresbyterianismThe Christian Observer, which apparently is run out of Virginia and Kentucky—though may in fact be operated from an alien vessel beyond the Kuiper Belt—is about as despicable as Christian journalism gets.

As we approach the 2014 national election, we must continue reminding ourselves that these people are out there, and they have followers by the hundreds of thousands.  You must vote—even if you live in North Carolina and your local election board forces you to walk down a dirt path against a steady flow of highway traffic to make you do so.

On a lighter note—if that’s even possible—I find it somewhat ironic that The Christian Observer claims to follow the Chicago Manual of Style while at the same time issuing sentences like this:

“This nation has become the Rancid Bed of Sodom the Festering Wound of Gomorrah where evil is nurtured in the highest levels of leadership, giving rise with stark clarity, to the Beast Of The Sea (Apostate Political Power rising from the sea of fallen humanity) in the unholy trio of tiers to this Government which will increasingly be emboldened to attack Christians, as our Men have been effeminized by the Apostate Pastorate which has stolen the Law from them, from cradle to grave, for the past 160 years in this chamber of horrors.”

I think the Chicago Manual might have grounds for a lawsuit here.  As for me, I’m rushing straight out to the local party store to see if I can get a Rancid Bed of Sodom or Festering Wound of Gomorrah costume for Halloween this year.

3.  Finding Feminism East of Eden, from Christianity Today“What About Eve?”

Also along the lines of Christian Media contributors who hit close to the mark—must be a blue moon this month—check out Rachel Hekman’s theological survey of fig-leaf feminism.  Even if you find the Garden of Eden fanciful spiritual allegory, as do I, Hekman’s article is an interesting stroll down Theology Memory Lane.

It is curious to consider why Church Fathers discounted half of the human population for centuries just because one member of the female sex allegedly held out a piece of fruit to a man.  I suspect there is a much deeper root to theological misogyny than low-hanging fruit, and I hope Hekman discovers and reveals it to us during her budding theological career.

Hekman’s article is a welcome effort of Evangelical feminism and parsecs in advance of any number of articles that make their way into this column.  That said, one must be cautious to pin a literalist tail to the Genesis donkey.  It is an exegetical minefield to identify Adam and Eve as historical beings—though Hekman withholds her ultimate position on the subject.

Finally, I’m curious to learn more about Hekman’s opening sentence regarding “a research project on original sin.”  Just what on earth are they growing in Petri dishes in the laboratories at Calvin College these days?  Hopefully the folks at Lockheed Martin never find out.

2.  Mark Levin and the Movement for America 2.0, whooped up at Pat Robertson’s CBN News“Saving the Constitution from ‘Liberal Destruction’

We are compelled to address this.  Mark Levin’s book, The Liberty Amendments, is a NY Times #1 bestseller, and Evangelicals are flocking to it like flies on stink.

Levin’s call to rewrite the U.S. Constitution and institute stricter congressional and Supreme Court justice term limits; more state’s rights; limitations of the commerce clause; congressional ability to overturn Supreme Court decisions; and, no surprise, a 15% taxation cap is gaining considerable traction in Tea Party circles.  Of course, progressives would like to reopen the Constitution themselves and incorporate some serious Track Changes revisions to the Second Amendment.

Here’s an interesting critique of Levin’s theories from David Davenport of Forbes.  But Davenport has no interest in a theological critique of Levin’s political philosophy.  The question I’m really interested to ask is:  what does Christian fundamentalism stand to gain from rewriting the Constitution?

Could there ever be a more a rhetorical question?

1.  Another Christian Media Publication Nails the Situation in Syria, in The Christian Examiner: “1 million Syrian refugee children gripped by bloodshed, upheaval”

We always like to end on a positive note.  However, this week we should probably clarify that by “positive” we mean “equitable.”  Nothing about the situation is Syria is positive.

“The pastor, weeping, quoted the prophet Jeremiah, ‘Oh that my head was water and my eyes were pools of water, that I may cry for the dead of my people.’”

The history of the Middle East is complex.  This article made major Internet rounds this week.  If you have not read it yet, you should.

There is no doubt that Bashar al-Assad is an asshole beyond reason.  Who suffers as a result of his cold, evil heart?  Children.  Women.  Men.  Human beings.

Yet even were Assad to be deposed, would the Islamic fundamentalists who would likely fill the power vacuum make life any better for the people of this land?

Another rhetorical question.

Sometimes there are no simple answers.  My heart reaches out for anyone working to accomplish goodness in that land.  And my heart aches that there are human beings who would harm their fellow human beings, anywhere.

In times like these, I consider the life and times of Archbishop Óscar Romero.

We are human beings!  We are human beings!

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.

See you next week.

And a final message for Syrians everywhere:  Our prayers for peace are with you.  May our actions be as well.

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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  • Erik Madison

    This column is the greatest thing to hit Sundays since newspapers began coloring their comics!

    • The Author

      Thanks! I stand humbly in the background of Ziggy, Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes.

      • Pipercat

        Definitely more interesting, and factual, than Rich Lowry…

  • Charles Vincent

    “I’m guessing the folks at Tombstone would not sign on to my suggested Fourth Geneva Protocol Aimed at Correcting the First Three Protocols:
    If nations simply cannot avoid war, they shall only be allowed to battle using Nerf butter knives.”
    1) We don’t live in a utopia.
    2) Considering #1 it’s unrealistic and slightly delusional to think people will follow the rules.

  • Lyola M Roeske Shafer

    This is really hard anyway to look at it. I stick with,”No more war.” But will not raise hell about our President.