Sunday, November 17, 2013

Everything new is old again....

But it doesn't rub off as readily as you expect

A)  Not news:

The prosperity gospel teaches, to be blunt, that you can tell how much God favors you by how rich you are. While some on the Christian right reject this idea as a tad crude, it’s still wildly popular and its adherents, like Oral Roberts, are some of the major architects and organizers for the Christian right. It’s a perfect example of how conservative ideology leads to pious Christianity. People want to believe that the rich are better than everyone else and the poor don’t deserve squat, so they find a way to blame God for it rather than own their own greed and selfishness.

People are selfish, and some Christians feed that?  Not news at all.

B)  Oral Roberts?  Is he even still alive?  His entire ministry crashed and burned decades ago.  Why not Joel Osteen?  Afraid he'd notice?  Or Rick Warren?

C)  Seriously?

 Increasingly, the only thing religion has left to justify itself is that it provides cover for people who want to have bigoted, selfish beliefs but want to believe they are good people anyway. As these social trends continue, we can expect the alignment between public piety and grotesquely selfish political beliefs to get worse, not better.
So now fundamentalist and evangelical Christians of a certain rather narrow stripe (not even all Southern Baptists agree on what it means to be a Southern Baptist)="religion"?  Even just in America?

But the graver sin is the rhetorical one:  early in the piece, Marcotte seems quite reasonable; almost, one might say, fair and balanced:

There are plenty of progressive Christians who genuinely try to live out Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself, described in the Bible as the root of Jesus’ entire philosophy. 

Well, for one sentence, anyway.  The paragraph continues:

That said, statistics bear out the sense that people who are more invested in being perceived as pious also embrace the most selfish policies. Self-identified conservatives and Republicans claim go to church regularly at twice the rate of self-identified liberals. People who go to church more than once a week are far more conservative than the rest of the population. Indeed, the research suggests how often you report being in the pews is the most reliable indicator of how you’re going to vote. (Though it may not be a reliable indicator of how often you actually go to church. In the grand tradition of showy piety, people who claim to be avid church-goers often lie about it to pollsters.)
I'm not really sure what "going to church" has to do with anything, as a matter of fact.  Correlation is not causation, and the hypocrisy she identifies:  "The image of a man piously preening about what a good Christian he is in church only to turn around and refuse the basic act of decency that is paying someone what you owe them perfectly symbolizes a lurking suspicion in American culture that the harder someone thumps the Bible, the more selfish and downright sadistic a person he is," is as old as the Scriptures themselves.  Back beyond Jesus and the widow's mite are the prophets railing at Israel for behaving piously while being unfaithful in their hearts.

It's what led to the Exile, after all.  Kind of a big deal in world history, as it turns out.

So not only is Marcotte poorly informed and woefully ignorant, but she imagines she's discovered something that's as old and common as Scripture itself.  Indeed, what she identifies in her final paragraph is the reason so many people on both sides of the political divide prefer to keep religion out of American politics.  But as for "grotesquely selfish political beliefs," at this point I want to tell Ms. Marcotte the story of the splinter and the log.....


  1. " Increasingly, the only thing religion has left to justify itself is that it provides cover for people who want to have bigoted, selfish beliefs but want to believe they are good people anyway. "

    Indeed, like those Quaker fuckers.

  2. The first people I thought of....