2012 election puts America’s churches in crossfire

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Nov 1, 2012 No Comments ›› Dan Bodine

Decisions, decisions, decisions (from Center for American Progress, 10-23-12)

By Dan Bodine

 

Ok, Thee Election is just a few days away  and you knew it was going to come down to this. The airways and internet are filled with the same age-old question: God is knocking at the door, brothers and sisters, what are you going do? The world’s future hangs precariously on the leanings of that gray matter silently chortling just behind your eyebrows. What’s your vote to be?

After I light-heartedly asked readers in a recent post when that newroll is called up yonder,you reckoning on being there? someone objected. You’re acting like some air-headed Democrat who thinks the party will win back control of Congress in November, was the reply’s gist. You crazy? What’s got into you?!

I’m a pragmatist, maybe. Finally. Whooo…The stars are lining up! The Conservative Right simply thought they could dominate forever and they’re getting a few whiffs now that possibly their perch is endangered. But…GOP friends have become thin-skinned in all this now?

Really? And “Keeping the Rich Comfy (is) your Job Future?” a columnist for Campaign for America’s Future asked yesterday? My ol’ my, to quote Shakespeare, what tortures we mortal fools lend ourselves to!

Yes, an ol’ poor schoolmate from yesteryears, now tidily flush with Religious Right pocket change he is [and thus loyal to the gills], got a little indignant. Still friends and all, we are; it’s just the heat of an election, is all. Hee, hee.

It’s how Americans juice themselves–by showing God’s leaning more on ‘em than others. God’s blessings (aka, money or snake oil) makes you a whappa or whappo! [from my pidgeons’ Chief Huff-Puff Whappo dance–for another blog post.]

Indeed, God and politics during an election year is like giving gut-rot wine at 4:30 a.m. back in the ‘60s to those peek-a-boo dancers at Fort Worth’s ol’ hippy hangout, The Cellar. Whoo! The sky’s your limit suddenly! Opportune Voyageurism arrived. Finally.

If answering Life’s eternal question of which direction do we take is any different now, in my opinion, it’s in the spiritual maturity we as a nation have made thru “sweat and tears” on both sides–in elevating the dimensions of the question. (To question is Thee Answer–heard that in your church yet?)

Some of you may be asking, What grape juice Bodeen’s been drinking? Hee, hee. Religion Dispatches this week blasting Gov. Romney for bearing down on his ‘prosperity gospel’ it might be. (Aka, puttin’ a chicken in ever’ pot and a car in ever’ garage.)

Yes, there’s a ‘sucker born every minute but how many times can you put old wine into new vessels and not come up with stench? Tolerating it is in attitude? May be a price to pay.

In a cross-post opednews.com piece, a respected lawyer and economist is blasting President Obama for caving in during an election year by promising Republicans tax cuts–The Great Betrayal, it is. Hee, hee.

In a neck-’n-neck horse race just before the wire, folks are getting excited, yes. But long-term prognosis? Conservativism just ain’t got the gas to be up to it, folks! Realizing that gives one new hope. And yes, there’s a cloud following it.

Found my ol’ college Political Science M.A. thesis, for one. The one on New Right conservatives bamboozling evangelicals in the 1980 elections to pad their pockets with Sunbelt gold. Like castor oil or ex-lax overdose though, this thang that’s going on now can only last so long–or how much more smoke can you get out of the end of a cigar butt in its last throes?

Conservative reform movements–aka, corrections–are “meteors in our political atmospheres.” Religious progress–this nation’s ethos–to peacefully unite the poor, lowly lamb with the rich, haughty lion will continue once the burnout occurs. Not necessarily on the same track and pace as before though. But don’t panic, thus became the message; evangelicals, once used and abused (history shows by either Left or Right–No le hace!), will continue fighting their way thru the fog toward that goal. We’re still in, Jethro! We’re still in!

A scholarly fellow blogger over at the popular Front Porch Republic yesterday had a similar comment: “…Evangelicalism has since its beginnings been a religious movement…for the most up-to-date ways of promoting Christianity” wrote Darryl Hart in ‘What’s Paleo About Evangelicalism?’ It’s not perpetually carrying crosses of gold for fat cats! Hog-tied they ain’t. They’ll scatter on ‘ya!

(Hope to have that thesis available as an ebook in 6-7 months in a revised version, readers. Kareli’s found a way to load it thru our little Cannon Lide, she claims. Warm up your Kindles; Ol’ Bo’s End of the Conservative Rainbow is a comin’! Too bad we couldn’t have had it up for this election. Hee, hee. Could’ve sold a trillion copies no doubt–enough for me to buy some extra doughnuts for Christmas! And some pet turtles to feed ‘em to!]

But the juggernaut the New Right put together once, indeed, appears to be cracking — under the divisiveness of environmental and/or civil rights issues that together define the true depth of our religious nature.

**On the issue of ”Same-Sex’ couples, for instance, when I watched what should’ve been an off-the-radar Chick-fil-A  incident (Huff Post link to one story) explode a couple months ago–all because the ‘deeply Christian’ owner wanted to showcase his indignant righteousness against same sex couples—I winced a bit.

Not cool, my friend. Don’t think God’s ever seen anyone off to hell who didn’t have a safety parachute attached! One of those people you’re damning may end up as your neighbor some day! A wantin’ your daughter’s hand in marriage! Be careful!

 But when you’re heady with wealth, you get a bit airy, yes. Which is why this coalition can’t hold together much longer, despite millions in dollars that radical capitalism’s plutocrats are throwing at it to keep it afloat.

In a country founded on a deep liberal ethos of caring for each other, the day of ‘enough is enough’ is coming. It’s only: When?

A few sample stories below point to more civil or environmental rights missteps by the commercial Religious Right. It shows a darker, gathering cloud of protests that’s worrisome, too.

**Environment/Climate Change

The British Petroleum quotes, seen in the box above left, are from a story last week in commondreams.org about documents Greenpeace environmentalists had to go to court to obtain, and hints at a possible cover-up even by the Obama administration to protect corporate oil interests.

An investigation reveals the Gulf oil rig explosion was particularly damaging to whales. But are our straits that dire? Presidential coverup? That’s what it hints. (Get more coffee and read it, mates; you got time!)

On Revolt: If President Obama is re-elected, furthermore, the street buzz is, it’ll be from moderate/middle voters who respect him for keeping the sky from falling these past few years in intense political fighting.

But in pacifying angry GOP lawmakers so much in Washington to do it, the left side of his party is on the verge of turning on him. What could happen? Here are some further nuggets:

After the Occupy! protests, it’s clear there is a wider,  coalescing political group in the world critics call the “radical middle.” Well-known labor law professor David Yamada, certainly not a critic yet, touches some on this movement in one of his Minding the Workplace blogs, for instance.

His former law student he mentions is Mark Satin, website here, who no doubt reflects a lot of the intense feelings inside Occupy! [Occupy, by the way, perhaps as an opportune standard bearer for this larger group, is going globally; and planning mass protests soon for a world-wide ‘debt (forgiveness) strike.’]

What’s building in the conservative right’s rush toward global riches is just further reactionary politics, yes, from the other side; but filled with poison that could turn fascist if not tempered though. Expect labor revolts globally in the future, at minimum.

Change, it is coming. But by abuse by conservatives? Hopefully enactments of the goodness underlying our Constitution will stop extreme violence in the U.S. as it has in the past.

But yes, criticism of  Radical Capitalism’s ventures–including the adverse effects on the climate and environment that are cropping up–do appear unending. Last week, i.e., scientists reported “A changing Gulf Stream off the East Coast has destabilized frozen methane deposits trapped under nearly 4,000 square miles of seafloor.”

Since methane is more dangerous “than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas…any large-scale release could have significant climate impacts.” Methane release also is one of the fears of the northern Arctic warming also. The Gulf Stream story is on the thinkprogress.org site.

** Environment/Climate change–Media coverage–This is a no-brainer,  especially for those of us who view from a slightly left of center position (Use to call it just being a stubborn, old-fashioned conservative Democrat, didn’t they?). But my friend back from my ol’ Cleburne days, who apparently has become one of millions of eager draftees into Radical Capitalism’s War on the Earth, no doubt sees it differently. Read and decide.

–”In 2012, Fox distorted several studies to either cast doubt on the source of climate change or suggest that it isn’t occurring.” (from last week’s “Fox News’ Role in the Climate of Doubt” story in Media Matters for America’s website. Oo-oo! Deceiving viewers? Just before Halloween, too?! Shame!!

**Abortion and women’s rights–Anyone not familiar with the ‘GOP’s War on Women’ allegation might as well stop reading and go elsewhere. You certainly won’t make it further on down to the link on President Obama’s Two Christianities that’s boxed above!

But, yes, the WoW! grew out of Republican opposition to the health care plan–with all its warts. One of them mandates employer-funded contraception insurance. Catholic bishops–who oversee the Church’s many hospitals and clinics (confronted with legalizing abortion, they are), said Yikes!

Teaparty Republicans–seeing an opportunity to recruit a new block of Catholic voters then into their War on Obama [WoO-oooo!]–interpreted the message as Hike! and commenced more stirring.

The latest on WoW! I’ve seen is last Friday’s dailykos.com story. A GOP Rape Advisory Chart color codes various classes of rape–i.e, enjoyable rape, forcible rape, easy rape, emergency rape, honest rape, legitimate rape, and (of course) gift-from-god rape.

Political activist/novelist Naomi Wolf, in an opednews.com article Friday, believes the whole WoW! between Republicans and Democrats is indicative of something else though, too, beside GOP war on ‘feminism.’ Here’s where danger in compromising arises. Listen to her.

“I would say that the call for transvaginal probes, for gagging medical providers, for sending the state to shake a finger for an extra 72 hours at a distressed woman and stand between her and the discussion she is having with her inner-most and private conscience, is all part of the larger crackdown we see on privacy, private space, freedom and personal choice,” she writes.  Fascism arising? Or is it now, fascism resistance?

**Civil War in Christiandom–Here’s where it gets personal. If Christianity, the basic version I learned as a child–with baptisms in the Nolan or Brazos rivers, and ‘brush arbor’ revivals [and even in ‘saving‘ people as I once experienced thru dealing with my sinning, worthless cousin Baldy that day beneath the hedge bush beside his house]–isn’t a collectivist religion, then folks, I’ve been brain-washed! Amen! Is there a ‘rights’ violation I can fill out for that? Where do I go to file it?!!

Indeed, what I feel is the most stressful part of this pivotal election year (if, indeed, my ol’ Cleburne buddy, that’s what this is), is the different stripes the Religious Right has painted on Christians in order to narrow the definition of true Christians.

The ‘different Christian‘ quotes above, boxed in blue, are from “The Gospel according to Obama,”  a CNN story posted last Sunday about ‘…the wrong kind of Christian,’ found here.

It starts out with a mega-church minister drawing applause by attempting to separate President Obama for his religion. To which Obama promptly replied, “There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”

Another leading conservative minister,  Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and thus head of Southern Baptists (not Baptist fundamentalists, Jethro), further delineates this ‘makeup shift’ in The Great Clarification: Fuzzy Fidelity and the Rise of the Nones, Tuesday on his blog, albertmohler.com.

In referring to the recent Pew poll showing about a third of Americans no longer identifying themselves as members of a particular religion (“None of the above”), Mohler notes not only does it mark the end of “cultural Christianity” used by generations in Survivorship 101 (i.e., in business or holding political office); but also “it marks the exit ramp of religious identity.”

Which is a positive, too, no? I think that’s where many are missing the forest for the trees in this divisive issue. Americans are still spiritual; we live in a ‘spiritual biosphere.’ It’s just that frenzied commercial morals of the greedy Religious Right have driven us away from embracing it in traditional mainline denominations, I believe.

Call the shift a new religion, as fear-mongers are wailing now; or call it a return to ‘original’ Christianity, as millions more of us ‘hard-heads’ continue to argue. But I don’t see it as abandoning the spiritual nature of religion. Something is happening, in fact, to re-emerge it. For tolerance of clearly immoral or unethical practices to line one’s pocketbook appears to’ve reached a political limit. This time around.

But why hasn’t this gotten more attention?

Eric Thacher wrote recently in Christian Science Monitor’s “Prayer and the ‘spiritual biosphere‘,”  that what’s happening in climate change alone (e.g., ice melts, extreme storms–i.e., Sandy), droughts and diminishing coral reefs– is enough to’ve triggered this gag factor in too many good folks. It’s got to spew out.

“That the biosphere is diseased is pervasive in human consciousness,” he wrote.

And what do quiet, religious-minded Americans typically do in such instances? When ‘consumer capitalism’ has extracted too much toll? Yet little is discussed of it among parishioners?

Well, ‘…there’s an elections on, silly!’

Oh.

 

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