The Covert Kingdom
Thy Will be Done, On Earth as It is in Texas
“Thank you Gawd for giving us strawng leaders like President Bush during this crieeesis. Praise you Lord and guide him in this battle with Satan’s Muslim armies.”
Religion: The Pop Prophets
Faith and Fiction: Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are an unlikely team with a shared evangelical fervor–and America’s best-selling writers (authors of “Left Behind” series)
“Who’s buying? Jenkins recalls a puzzled Chris Matthews asking a “Hardball” guest the same question. “I’m sure I don’t have the quote exact, but it was something like ‘Certainly not the people in the cities and the suburbs.’ And I’m thinking, ‘What does that leave? Barefoot people in the hollers handling snakes?’” Jenkins takes issue with a previous NEWSWEEK piece that called “Left Behind” a “Red State” phenomenon, but statistics from the publisher, Tyndale, bear this out: 71 percent of the readers are from the South and Midwest, and just 6 percent from the Northeast. (Hence Tyndale’s sponsorship of a NASCAR racer, with the unlucky logo LEFT BEHIND.) The “core buyer” is a 44-year-old born-again Christian woman, married with kids, living in the South. This isn’t the “Sex and the City” crowd–which helps explain why it took so long for the media to notice that one in eight Americans was reading all these strange books about the end of the world.”
“The many critics of the series see a resonance between its apocalyptic scenario and the born-again President Bush’s apocalyptic rhetoric and confrontational Mideast policies. And they see LaHaye’s far-right political agenda behind having fetuses Raptured from pregnant women’s wombs, and making the Antichrist the secretary-general of the United Nations. Roman Catholics aren’t happy that the Antichrist’s assistant is the pope, and while “Left Behind” shows the common evangelical sympathy for Jews, they exist to be converted and to fulfill Christian prophecy. ”
OK, I’ve been harping on this for a year on the blog by now, that we are happily surrounded by people who think like us and have no idea how most Americans in the heartland think.
America is the most paradoxical nation on Earth. On one hand, the world leader in democracy, liberal thought, science and technology…and on the other, land of some of the most backward and non-thinking people on the planet. If such deep fundamentalists even exist in Europe, I’ve never heard of them, so they must be few and far apart and, most definitely, have no voice or political force whatsoever. It is difficult for me, sitting pretty in Chapel Hill, to assess this. I never even travelled to the deep rural South or Midwest, so I do not know firtshand, but I will try to use logic, and ask questions, some in the form of statements, that I want people here to respond to.
How many people in the USA are Rapturists? The article vaguely mentions millions, but how many?
Are there strata, or shades of depth of belief within that group? Are they all sooo deeply involved in just their religion and nothing else, or are there degrees?
If they believe that Rapture is coming any day now (remember Reagan’s first Secretary of State, was it, who believed this, so no environmental protection was needed?), then it logically follows that this-wordly concerns mean nothing to them. They should not care one bit about environment, energy, healthcare, education, economy, money, equality, fairness, capitalism, America, Founding Fathers, President, Congress, Supreme Court, laws, civil rights, human rights, The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, democracy, history, or anything for that matter except preparing (scorching) the Earth for the Rapture.
They should not care about marriage either, straight or gay, as Christian Church did not say a word about it until 17th century. The position of the Church until then was that, since Rapture is imminent, celibacy is the only way to go, and only those weak in their faith succumb to the call of the flesh, marry and make children.
They are prepared to suffer, perhaps eager to suffer in this world, waiting for the day they will meet their Lord. They vote against their economic and other interests because their only interest is installing global theocracy, starting with occupation of the Middle East by Israel. In Reagan and GWBush, they got exactly the leaders they wanted, people who are Rapturists like themselves, whose only interest is in starting global theocracy and preparing the Earth for Rapture. They can’t wait to get on that cloud and look down with glee at rabidly vengeful Jesus slaughtering non-believers.
If the whole structure today, from Bush down to Pfc.England are Rapturists, of course they tortured Iraqis in prison – they must be totally angry we forced them to stop!
They have no need for theologians either. Modern Christian theology has evolved over 2000 years into quite a sophisticated and quite liberal way of thinking. This is at odds with the brutal barbaric Christianity of the Rapturists. This is similar to the differences between Islamic theologicans and Islamic fundamentalists – they are polar opposites in their understadning of their own faith. The former are Nurturant Parents (God’s grace, do unto others, turn the other cheek, love thy neighbor), the latter are Strict Fathers (angry vengeful God exerting discipline and demanding absolute obedience). As we know, the Strict Father model of parenting results in adults who require EXTERNAL source of moral authority, i.e., incapable of making moral decisons by themselves. It is also based on Moral Order (God over people, men over women, whites over blacks, locals over strangers, humans over animals, adults over children, straights over gays, Christians over people of other or no faiths, etc.), – the order enforced by ruthless dicipline (sort of like party discipline within GOP).
Thus, the this-worldly concerns of the Democrats have absolutely no resonance with them. We are all Satans to them. We’ll never get their votes. We just need to know how many of them are there, and where they are so we can quarantine them until they die off. There is no talking to them – they are deluded.
Reading or listening to super-conservatives usually reminds me of Julian Jaynes and his book “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”, a strange book that suggests that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but was a learned process that emerged only three thousand years ago and is still developing.
Sometimes I feel like the conservatives are not quite conscious yet. It is like talking to a strange non-human species that recently evolved a big brain and language capacity, but is still taking the first wobbly steps towards acquiring the powers of reason, logic, and higher mental processes.
It feels like talking to a 3-year old child that is still not at a developmental stage at which one can discriminate between fiction and reality. That is better than a chimp or dolphin, but far from a fully mature adult. Unfortunately, those “children” are big, muscular and very aggressive, so it is a bit scary to talk to them and send them to their rooms. Given guns, they’ll shoot you just for suggesting they may be wrong. Sometimes I wonder if even the best designed educational system can completely eliminate the existence of a chunk of the population inhabiting this hallucinating immature stage.
To say that “this is the most important election of our times” is a huge unserstatment. Some commentators dismiss it because the phrase was uttered every four years for the past couple of centuries. But, this time it is for real.
To say that this is an election between Republicans and Democrats, like every election before, is to miss the profound difference between the GOP today and the GOP of the past. Those are two different species. This is not a clash of ideologies, this is the War Of The Worlds.
On one hand, there are 30-40 million Christian Fundamentalists (rapturists, milleniarists and their ilk), which are Bush’s base. Unfortunately for him, they are physically and mentally isolated, and so undemocratic in their mindset, they rarely bother to vote. That is why Rove tried to get their churches to get into the voter-registration action etc. That is why the Constitutional Amendment was proposed. These guys do not care for the Constitution – the Bible is the only valid document in their lives. It is essential for Rove to get these people to the polls, hence the huge veering to the Right. This is a wounded animal that will do absolutely anything to remain in power, to hell with democracy and elections, because this is not an Earthly business, this is the provenance of Heaven.
On the other hand, there are 30-40 million Brights (secular humanists, agnostics, atheists and their ilk), who are the Kerry base. Fortunately for Kerry, these are some of the most well-informed, Web-savvy, and vociferous anti-Bush activists. Kerry can safely move to the center without losing the secular Left to Nader etc.
So, what about millions in between? Many think of themselves as conservatives and Republicans because they do not know better – they never noticed how GOP got hijacked by the Christian Right. They still believe that this election is about choice between two political parties, not two planets. If properly educated and informed, they would realize that today’s GOP has nothing to do with their worldview, and that today’s Democratic party also has nothing to do with the liberal excesses of the 1960s. They would provide a landslide for Kerry. How can we inform them and educate them in less than two months?! Can we? Can we try to use Lakoff’s framing advice to sway them “real quick”, then do a more thorough job of education later?
Let’s hope Kitty’s new book does not stop at drugs, but also reveals Bush’s homosexual adventures. That would be enough for Rapturists to stay at home. That would be sufficient to defend the World from them.
All we can do is try our hardest to win this election to prevent White House, Senate, House, Supreme Court, Federal Courts, Governors’ Mansions, state legislatures, Mayoral Offices, school boards etc., to be filled with well-organized fundamentalists, which will happen if Bush gets another 4 years. They DO NOT care about democracy whatsoever. Diebold is diabolical. And we have to FORCE their children to go to public schools where we have to teach them CRITICAL THINKING. This generation is doomed, but perhaps we can get the next generation. As I wrote in the “Moral Politics” post below, this election is a monumental battle between good and evil, between Medieval Inquisition and Modernity, between 16th century and 21st century. We MUST win!