God's Politics

God's Politics


American Christendom, RIP (by Diana Butler Bass)

posted by gp_intern

The Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy, the Christian Right leader Rolling Stone magazine described as “the most influential evangelical you’ve never heard of,” died yesterday in Florida of complications from a heart attack. His passing, only months after the death of Jerry Falwell, signals the generational shift of leadership now occurring in evangelical Christian circles.
Unlike most people, I had heard of D. James Kennedy. In the early 1970s, he created the popular program “Evangelism Explosion International” to encourage churchgoers to be more assertive in witnessing to their neighbors. My then-congregation in Scottsdale, Arizona, used the program to great success. Kennedy was a hero to us—helping us all to be grassroots Billy Grahams and to double the size of our small church.
In 1979, Kennedy’s interests took a turn. As a founding board member of Falwell’s Moral Majority, he increasingly directed his preaching toward politics. His opinions on individual issues did not differ from other Religious Right leaders. His strongest contribution to the movement was his passionate belief that America was founded as a Christian nation and developing media to carry that message across the globe. “Our job is to reclaim America for Christ,” he proclaimed, “whatever the cost.” His preaching, politics, and public ministry flowed from this central idea: to restore Christian America.
And it is at that very point—the idea of a Christian America—that evangelicalism, along with American Protestantism more generally, is changing.
Born in 1930, Kennedy lived in a world so distant from our own that it may well have been possible to believe in a Christian America. Churches stood on every public square; members of the clergy shaped public opinion on every issue; schoolchildren uttered Protestant prayers and read Protestant scriptures daily. Many people from Kennedy’s generation remember—or imagine they remember—a vanished Christian world, an ordered society with Protestant faith at the center. Much of the Religious Right’s energy derives from a desire to restore that world, or to “reclaim America for Christ.” To that end, Kennedy mixed evangelicalism with classical Reformed theology and a kind of soft Christian Reconstruction, creating the spiritual fuel for a right-wing political and media empire that meshed with the longings of a certain age.
While Kennedy’s generation was ascendant, new Christian voices began questioning such nostalgia. “Sometime between 1960 and 1980,” wrote Methodist leaders Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, “an old, inadequately conceived world ended, and a fresh, new world began.” They recounted “the end of Christendom” in Greenville, South Carolina (the home of Bob Jones University), when the local Fox Theater opened—for the first time ever—on a Sunday in 1963. “The gradual decline of the notion that the church needs some sort of surrounding ‘Christian’ culture to prop it up and mold its young, is not a death to lament,” they claimed. “It is an opportunity to celebrate.”
The contrast between Kennedy and Hauerwas and Willimon is dramatic. Kennedy believed in Christendom, an American Christian nation divinely designed as the leader of a global spiritual empire, and in creating a Christian politics toward that end. Hauerwas and Willimon believe that Christendom, the ideal of a Christian nation, was historically wrongheaded from the start. “The church,” they argue, “doesn’t have a social strategy; the church is a social strategy.”
The contrast defines the generational shift regarding attitudes toward Christendom. Older evangelical leaders, for the most part, want Christendom back. Emerging leaders, influenced by theologians such as Hauerwas and Willimon, are less interested in “reclaiming” Christendom and more interested in strengthening a confessing church based on the model of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s alternative community in Hitler’s Germany. For younger Christians—evangelicals and progressives alike—Kennedy’s nostalgic world bears no resemblance to their own. The vision of a post-Christendom church, a community of pilgrims joined together in practices of faith and justice, energizes their hope for the future. As the Christendom generation passes away, a post-Christendom faith will, most probably, take its place. That may take some time, but it will eventually recreate Christian political theology in America.
D. James Kennedy, RIP. And while we are at it, let us bury American Christendom, too.
Diana Butler Bass is the author of the award-winning Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (Harper One). She holds a Ph.D. from Duke University—where Hauerwas and Willimon taught—in American religious history.



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Moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 12:24 pm


Posted by: Moderatelad | September 6, 2007 12:06 PM
Diana Butler Bass
D. James Kennedy, RIP. And while we are at it, let us bury American Christendom, too.
The passing of D. James Kennedy and there is passing mention of EE and the rest is blasting him for what he focused on that you disagreed with. EE has done more for the Kingdom than most of the ‘tent meetings’ of days gone by. His and others taking on the ACLU in court and winning has helped keep the balance.
There was so much about this man that could have been written that would have sent a positive message. Expressions of love and comfort to the family and Coral Ridge would have been nice. But – no – we must promote the agenda that we support even in the death of another person.
So – Fawell – Kennedy – one more this year and you will have a ‘hat-trick’.
I will continue to read your articles just to see if you can write something about what you feel passionate about without slamming someone that you see as your opposition in the process.
(can’t wait to see what you write about Dr. Graham)
Blessings –
.



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Wolverine

posted September 6, 2007 at 12:44 pm


Diana Butler Bass wrote:
Hauerwas and Willimon believe that Christendom, the ideal of a Christian nation, was historically wrongheaded from the start. “The church,” they argue, “doesn’t have a social strategy; the church is a social strategy.”
I’m inclined to think that Hauerwas and Willimon were right as far as it goes, and that Kennedy, to the extent that he believed that the church needed secular society to serve as a bulwark, was wrong.
But I don’t think that the Christian left fully gets this either. They would have the church substitute a right-of-center social strategy with a leftist one.
To the extent that the church has any social strategy I would argue that it should mostly be a conservative one because conservatism has the more realistic view of human nature and the role of the government. But for the most point the church should just be the church.
One last comment: Dr. Kennedy was a credit to evangelicalism. I can say this with confidence because until now he was rarely singled out for attention by Sojourners.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 6, 2007 at 12:48 pm


There was so much about this man that could have been written that would have sent a positive message. Expressions of love and comfort to the family and Coral Ridge would have been nice. But — no — we must promote the agenda that we support even in the death of another person.
Did it ever occur to you that Kennedy’s ideological agenda actually hurts the cause of Christ? That was Bass’s point, that the “Christian America” that he tried desperately to purport sabotaged the very Gospel, though perhaps inadvertently, that he tried to preach. Having seen his show once or twice, I’m certain that he would have seen people like me as an “enemy” to be destroyed because I’m not with him on every issue, or even most of them.



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kevin s.

posted September 6, 2007 at 12:49 pm


Well, I’ll agree with Diana on one thing. The emerging/methodist church certainly caters to the wants of its membership.



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Maplewood

posted September 6, 2007 at 12:52 pm


I will be interesting to see what happens as the Old Guard passes away, and the New step up to leadership positions. So far, from what I see, the New Guard is a breath of fresh air, and it bodes well for the faith, not ill.
As it was pointed out by some commentator, it is much better to be FOR something than ANTI something, and the New seem to have a more positive attitude about being FOR their faith and not so much ANTI the culture: less combative yet no less challenging.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 6, 2007 at 12:57 pm


Dr. Kennedy was a credit to evangelicalism. I can say this with confidence because until now he was rarely singled out for attention by Sojourners.
And that’s only because he’s now dead, not because Sojo didn’t know who he was and what he stood for. But I watched his show a couple of times, and when someone asked for my opinion of him I said, “Kennedy has his own agenda.” He was on the board of the Moral Majority, and that told me all I need to know.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 6, 2007 at 12:59 pm


Historical changes and movement occur in history on a number of fronts largely when the old guard passes from the scene. This is true of every human field of endeavor, and it’s built into the very nature of things.
The Bible itself records such passings, and often records an assessment, too.
The modern western church, with its European Catholic and Protestant denominational and theological structures largely grown out of the
religious wars of the late Middle Ages, with all their wholesale murdering over theology and earthly power, is ready for a sea change.
I belive this will be led by people committed to Biblical truth, but who are now ready to acknowledge and reject the terrible compromises that were made with the faith in order to wield earthly power and to kill each other and then others in our human family falsely in God’s name.



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Another nonymous

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:06 pm


Posted by: Wolverine | September 6, 2007 12:44 PM
“To the extent that the church has any social strategy I would argue that it should mostly be a conservative one because conservatism has the more realistic view of human nature.”
Who says Christianity has to be realistic? To me it seems self-evident that the agenda of American liberalism is derived from the Gospel, even if it has gone off the deep end in some directions. That’s what secular liberals have in common with people like Kennedy; they both envision idealistic utopias rather than playing by the rules of the “real world.” I think what Sojo is trying to do is reclaim the secular liberal vision for the church, where it properly belongs. If they are over-politicizing it, you can’t say they haven’t had good role models…



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Alicia

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:21 pm


Wolverine said:
“But I don’t think that the Christian left fully gets this either. They would have the church substitute a right-of-center social strategy with a leftist one.”
I think this is true, to a certain extent, which is one of the problems I have with Sojourners, and with leftists in my own church, who feel that “Good Christians oppose the war in Iraq,” or “Good Christians should support the ‘New Sanctuary’ movement. Making religious judgments about political opinions, as if those were the only possible judgments for a ‘good Christian’ to make.
I used to occasionally watch the “Hour of Power” from the Crystal Cathedral, which was on just before “The Coral Ridge Hour.” I liked the positive, loving message promoted by Pastor Robert Schuller.
Because “The Coral Ridge Hour” was on right after “Hour of Power” I caught the first few minutes of James Kennedy’s sermon on several occasions. I have to say, personally, the contrast with Schuller’s positive message could not have been greater. I felt, if Kennedy was animated by anything, it was hatred of liberals and all things liberal.
As a political moderate, I was appalled. Whether it comes from the Religious Right or the Religious Left, saying “Good Christians should feel this way about politics” just doesn’t cut it anymore, in may opinion.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:30 pm


I don’t think it was sign of a good things that a movie theatre in North Carolina began opening Sundays in 1963 and the community no longer had any sense of the propriety of business other than the modern 24/7 materialist frenzy.
But one must measure this apparent external outward show of balance in life by the extreme hypocrisy that was the undercurrent, the undertow that pulled us all in, as it were.
One was the racism that permeated America, but was particularly severe in the South where that Sunday lassitude was really an oppressive moral inversion that festered decade after decade.
America’s always styled itself as “good,” whether in Rockwell paintings or the high-sounding words of the rebels’ founding documents.
The fifties were the culmination of the fullness of a kind of high hypocrisy in which the tensions of reality with underlying truths were becoming unbearable.
The world was changing – atomic bombs, communists, lots of fear, and that tipped over the increasingly precarious apparent social balance.
The resultant explosion that folks like Falwell and Kennedy among many others have decried, was built on this unstable powderkeg of good intentions often gone – let us say it openly – intentionally awry.
Even at the time, it was clear to many who stewed in suburbia that there was a form of godliness, but without the power thereof, as scripture describes.
Dwight Eisenhower’s famous observation that it all rested on religion, “and I don’t care which one it is” shows how contentless it all was except for a belief in an Americanism all rolled up into consumerism, nascent militarism and church steeples.
Such a time and place grows in nostalgia. This Neverland is the “Godly America” that Kennedy, Falwell and many more (including myself for a long time) remember fondly but falsely that never really was. It’s even further in time and place than our own from that of the world of 1611 and 1776, which they would have been complete strangers in themselves, no matter how they rewrote the histories for their respective academies.
There never has been an Eden that replaced Eden.
There’s no going back. The “endless war” has been going on a long time – since the beginning and no peace was ever called – not in 1776 or 1956 – but it’s not the one we’ve been talking about lately.
New challenges emerge, and that’s why new people must meet them.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:37 pm


I belive this will be led by people committed to Biblical truth but who are now ready to acknowledge and reject the terrible compromises that were made with the faith in order to wield earthly power and to kill each other and then others in our human family falsely in God’s name.
I hope to God that this will be the case.



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History Nut

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:44 pm


I’m not clear on why Diana Butler Bass only criticizes the religious right as having misguided hope in a “Christian Nation” as I am pretty sure her time at Duke would have exposed her to the historical context of early 20th century progressives who also tended to be liberal and mainline Protestants. These Progressive Protestants were notorious for their commitment to Christian ‘civilizations’ like the U.S. and planned to bathe all of American society in a post-mil realization of Christian culture and mores.
The point is, when churches and Christians begin to conflate their belief tenets with political platforms and agendas it can go VERY wrong for both the right and the left.
It would be refreshing for Sojourners to acknowledge the truth that both conservatives and liberals have been guilty of this. It would be interesting to reopen the discussion of how should churches engage politics. To conclude the answer is to reject Falwell and Kennedy and embrace Wallis, et al seems far from a satisfactory answer.



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Payshun

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:52 pm


I really liked this article because I agree w/ it. but that’s beside the point. What she said was true. The vision of America as a Christian nation needs to go away like the dodo. it’s a dishonest, mythical vision that only hurts the people on the margins. Well that’s not true it hurts all of us. It teaches us to care more about being right, having a weaker relationship w/ God, complacency… It teaches us to make clones of each other instead of honoring the beauty of our individuality and using that to build up society.
Wolvie said:
To the extent that the church has any social strategy I would argue that it should mostly be a conservative one because conservatism has the more realistic view of human nature and the role of the government. But for the most point the church should just be the church.
Me:
Calling conservatism realistic is like calling purple pink. it doesn’t work. That did give me a good laugh though. I can own up to the naive fanciful ideas that permeate green party ideals. I wish the right could do the same. They have them, think school prayer… The only way their philosophy really works is if everyone is the same. Mine actually allows for differences.
p



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Don

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:02 pm


“The fifties were the culmination of the fullness of a kind of high hypocrisy in which the tensions of reality with underlying truths were becoming unbearable.”
You must have been reading Flannery O’Connor.
;-)
D



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History Nut

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Payshun wrote,
“I can own up to the naive fanciful idea that permeate green party ideals. I wish the right could do the same. They have them, think school prayer… The only way their philosophy really works is if everyone is the same. Mine actually allows for differences.”
I have been reading this blog and its archives for a month or two now, and I find it really interesting that it is a often assumed that only the left is “tolerant.” Tolerance is a word that is grossly misused – surely tolerance doesn’t involve “good laughs” like Payshun’s at genuine expressions of political philosophy like Wolverine gave. There is a such a thing as “realism” and “idealism” in politics and the differences between the two stances does matter.
Conservative ideas about the capacity of people and governments and how they behave is often realist just as liberal ideas about foreign policy and social reform is often idealist. Which one has more merit is a whole other discussion.
Anyways, to come back to the claim that only liberalism is pluralist is questionable (“mine actually allows for differences”) since there seems to be little room in Payshun’s philosophy for conservative, realist dissenters like Wolverine.
And besides, is Wolverine an advocate of school prayer? Just wondering, because Payshun makes what sounds suspiciously like a not-so-subtle attempt at a straw man and guilt by association swipe by raising school prayer in this context.
Please, let’s try to get past caricatures and moral superiority and have genuine discussion.



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Moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:09 pm


Posted by: Alicia | September 6, 2007 1:21 PM
I have to say, personally, the contrast with Schuller’s positive message could not have been greater. I felt, if Kennedy was animated by anything, it was hatred of liberals and all things liberal.
I have watched both for the last 15+ years as I got ready for church each Sunday. Schuller was and is positive, but at times a little shallow for me on substance. I have always gotten something from his HOP that challenged for the next week.
I have never heard a sermon out of Kennedy that was even close to hatred of anyone. He pointed out the failings and flaws of several people and organizations that he saw as very ‘anti-Chriatian’ and what we as believers need to be watchful of with these groups. I will say that I would have perfered to have heard more about what scripture had to say about the issues and less about the individuals or groups that he saw as opposing the cause of Christ. I would not have refered to these individuals or groups so not to give them any ‘air-time’.
So – who do you think will complete the ‘Old Guard Hat Trick’? Graham – he just got out of the hospotal. Dobson – he has had a heart-attack or two.
If Bill Clinton died and I was asked to write to obit. for the Star&Cykle her in MN. I would write about him being Pres. and husband and father. Highlite his accomplishments as Pres and Gov. Yes – you would have to at least mention the Impeachment. I would have quotes from friends and co-workers about Clinton. But I would never use it to advance my agenda or point out where I believe he errored. (yes – that would be a streach for me from what I have written about the former Pres) You just don’t use the passing of a person to take one last cheap shot at them – you don’t. OK – if you wanted to write an obit. about Hilter – ‘get him with your best shot!’
To the D. James Kennedy Family and the Congregation of Coral Ridge Church.
May the Peace of God our Heavenly Father be with you now and in the days to come.
Peace be to the memory of a good man. Amen.

Blessings to all –
Moderatelad –
.



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Camille

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:34 pm


I read this post here in Greenville county itself — one of the many buckles on the Bible belt — and thought, “What??! We have a Fox theatre? Am I that out of the loop??” Only to discover that that Fox was closed in 1978. My former employer up the road from me would loudly disagree with Hauerwas and Willimon’s “end of Christendom’s” declaration. The theatre’s closing must be proof of their success after all! Sigh. . . . fundies have their spin doctors as well.
Now Falwell and Kennedy have passed, only a scant 20 years after that theatre. I find great hope in the change of generational leadership, but not for the same reasons others do. Conservative evangelicalism, especially the variety that dominates my neck-of-the-woods, has failed to nuture intellects and innovators and has settled to sire patriarchs and monarchs. While fundamentalism is hardening and narrowing even further (and yes, I believe it actually has gotten worse), these young patriarchs demand spit and polish. They believe education is about correct spelling and properly knotted neckties and Christianity is about blind don’t-make-waves compliance. Their sepulchres are even whiter than their fathers and grandfathers who saw the closing of that Fox theatre. But I believe the younger generation will not stand for it. I can feel the change that’s coming.
The hackneyed left-right divisions have jumped the shark. They are meaningless. It’s just not about right and left anymore. I would agree with Hauerwas and Willimon that the death of the notion of Evangelical “take-over” is a huge cause to celebrate, but I’m not getting out the party hats yet. Other habits have to pass, other ideas have to “close” before change will come. But it is coming.



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Kevin s.

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:46 pm


” If they are over-politicizing it, you can’t say they haven’t had good role models…”
So you are saying that Sojo is using the template created by the Falwell et al.. to promote liberalism. On this we agree, but I would rather reject the template.
I think it behooves Christians to be unrealistic in their expectations of God, but entirely realistic in their expectations of a fallen mankind.



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I and I

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:51 pm


Nice, but Bill Clinton didn’t actually hurt you. Dr. Kennedy was bent on demonizing those whom he saw as threats to his vision of a “Christian America.” He came to Calvin College in 1987 to talk about “Christianity and Communism” and his rant sounded so much like something out of the McCarthy era (“they’re in our government, our universities, even our churches…”) that even the College Republicans group that sponsored him distanced themselves from the event later out of embarassment. He also told the audience that Christian college students who speak out for leftist causes (i.e. liberation theology) were “useful idiots” for the Soviet regime. Well, what do you know, that regime crumbled less than five years later.
Ah yes, my first introduction to Dr. Kennedy was sweet.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm


If this were the local paper obit column, any kind of opinions aor discussions engendered by someone’s passing would be inapproriate.
If we couldn’t make anything other than panegyrics for those who are no longer with us then studying history wouldn’t be worth a bucket of warm spit, nor would we be allowed to draw any conclusions.
I really think, (correction KNOW)
that categorising every opinion and fact into neat bins of “left” or “right” is not only misleading, it’s long obsolete.
Anything anyone comes up with first has to be sorted to figure out if it”s “left” or “right” and then be applauded or condemned appropriate to the grade.
Just what service to truth is served by using this system devised long ago around the time of the French Revolution, where the aristocrats sat to the right of the king and the bourgeoise class of merchants to the left?
I find it just allows people to divide themselves to make easy identification for soccer-fan-style confrontations and verbal melees.
Why not address or consider ideas on their merits?
As Gilbert and Sullivan mocked in long-ago music halls:
When all night long a chap remains
On sentry-go, to chase monotony
He exercises of his brains,
That is, assuming that he’s got any.
Though never nurtured in the lap
Of luxury, yet I admonish you,
I am an intellectual chap,
And think of things that would astonish you.
I often think it’s comical – Fal, lal, la!
How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal, lal, la!
When in that House M.P.’s divide,
If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too,
They’ve got to leave that brain outside,
And vote just as their leaders tell ‘em to.
But then the prospect of a lot
Of dull M. P.’s in close proximity,
All thinking for themselves, is what
No man can face with equanimity.
Then let’s rejoice with loud Fal la – Fal la la!
That Nature always does contrive – Fal lal la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal lal la!



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Moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 3:06 pm


Posted by: I and I | September 6, 2007 2:51 PM
‘…but Bill Clinton didn’t actually hurt you. Dr. Kennedy was bent on demonizing…’
So – the pulpit at Coral Ridge is more powerful than the desk in the Oval Office – correct?
I am just saying that when someone passes – you don’t use their death to advance your agenda. Ms. Bass should’ve known better. But it does give us something to look forward to. See who Sojo taps to write the obit for the next ‘old-guard’ that passes to their heavenly reward.
Ms. Bass – if you do write the one for Dr. Graham – remember to mention his association with Pres Nixon – that is always good for a paragraph or two.
Bill Clinton had more effect on me and others than Kennedy ever hoped to have.
Blessings –
.



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Payshun

posted September 6, 2007 at 3:36 pm


history nut:
Please, let’s try to get past caricatures and moral superiority and have genuine discussion.
Me:
Stop projecting. You don’t really know what my views are on conservatives and progressives living together. But since you don’t know I will tell you. In my world view conservatives can do what they want and live how they choose. They just can’t really use how they live and force it on other people. That’s the difference.
School prayer was just one issue among many that conservatives have fought for. If you want real discussion then why don’t you start asking questions instead of assuming things. I think that would help.
p



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Payshun

posted September 6, 2007 at 3:42 pm


History Nut,
I am not tolerant. That whole philopshy is a joke. Chris Rock said it best, you tolerate things you don’t like. My job as a disciple of Jesus is not to tolerate, but to love. For some odd reason you think I am one of those liberals that use tolerance. That’s funny.
p



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moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:08 pm


Posted by: Payshun | September 6, 2007 3:36 PM
School prayer was just one issue among many that conservatives have fought for.
I as a conservative am not one that is high on prayer in school. My children attend public school and there are several different faiths in our system. One of my middle childs best friends is Hindu and we have been at their home for supper.
The reason I am not a big supporter of prayer in public schools is that I don’t want anyone to believe that they are a ‘christian’ just because they were involved in an assembly and someone ‘prayed’. If the students want to have a pastor or priest offer a prayer at a graduation – fine…if that is what the students want.
I believe that Colson said ‘as long as there are tests in school – there will be prayer’.
But I also do not believe that someone should be prevented from praying – as long as it does not disturb others. I do not agree with the installation of equipment that is specific to any one religion so that they can practice their faith.
School can be faith friendly and neutral at the sametime.
Blessings –
.



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Anonymous

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Payshun wrote:
Stop projecting. You don’t really know what my views are on conservatives and progressives living together. But since you don’t know I will tell you. In my world view conservatives can do what they want and live how they choose. They just can’t really use how they live and force it on other people. That’s the difference.
School prayer was just one issue among many that conservatives have fought for. If you want real discussion then why don’t you start asking questions instead of assuming things. I think that would help.
My response:
Look, this is exactly what I am talking about. I am NOT projecting but trying to point out what I regard as some flaws and fallacies in your claims and you retort with a psycho-analysis of my critique. That doesn’t take us very far, does it? All that accomplishes is you putting me down and not really interacting with my ideas. Also your refutation of my concern that you were being unfair to conservatives just isn’t convincing. “They just can’t really use how they live and force it on other people. That’s the difference.” Are you saying that somehow in your estimation progressives are not interested in imposing their social vision on non-progressives? How would that work exactly? Why are conservatives supposedly the only side interested in convincing others to the merit of their ideas?
I hope that is enough questions to further the conversation because frankly your the tone of your response was disheartening (not hurtful! just disappointing). Don’t worry, I can take it though!



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History Nut

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Payshun wrote:
Stop projecting. You don’t really know what my views are on conservatives and progressives living together. But since you don’t know I will tell you. In my world view conservatives can do what they want and live how they choose. They just can’t really use how they live and force it on other people. That’s the difference.
School prayer was just one issue among many that conservatives have fought for. If you want real discussion then why don’t you start asking questions instead of assuming things. I think that would help.
My response:
Look, this is exactly what I am talking about. I am NOT projecting but trying to point out what I regard as some flaws and fallacies in your claims and you retort with a psycho-analysis of my critique. That doesn’t take us very far, does it? All that accomplishes is you putting me down and not really interacting with my ideas. Also your refutation of my concern that you were being unfair to conservatives just isn’t convincing. “They just can’t really use how they live and force it on other people. That’s the difference.” Are you saying that somehow in your estimation progressives are not interested in imposing their social vision on non-progressives? How would that work exactly? Why are conservatives supposedly the only side interested in convincing others to the merit of their ideas?
I hope that is enough questions to further the conversation because frankly your the tone of your response was disheartening (not hurtful! just disappointing). Don’t worry, I can take it though!



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Matt

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Man, I just had to skip and spring straight to the comment box after I read this. One question seems to me that we all need to remember no matter age would be to ask how old you are. I know some pretty crafty elders that’d say a good socialist is a damn good leader and advisor.



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Another nonymous

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:39 pm


Posted by: Kevin s. | September 6, 2007 2:46 PM
“So you are saying that Sojo is using the template created by the Falwell et al.. to promote liberalism.”
Actually yes, although Jim Wallis would claim that the template was created by liberal evangelicals in the 19th century, and I tend to agree.
“On this we agree, but I would rather reject the template.”
I understand where you’re coming from on this. Liberalism isn’t going away, though, which is why I suggest that the church needs to take it back, rather than conceding it to secularists.
“I think it behooves Christians to be unrealistic in their expectations of God, but entirely realistic in their expectations of a fallen mankind.”
I agree, but I would leave out the word “entirely.” I think the difference between us is one of temperament. I expect more of people, because I see God working through them despite their fallenness. If I had to be completely realistic, it’s hard to imagine why I would bother getting out of bed in the morning. That’s just the kind of person I am, so, human nature being what it is, it’s probably good that there are people like you and Wolverine around as well (and vice versa).



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wildrule

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:45 pm


What a childish article–using a person’s death to try and advance one’s own political agenda and beliefs. I would have expected a lot better from Ms. Bass!



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Alicia

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:54 pm


Moderatelad, you said:
“I have watched both for the last 15+ years as I got ready for church each Sunday. Schuller was and is positive, but at times a little shallow for me on substance. I have always gotten something from his HOP that challenged for the next week.
I have never heard a sermon out of Kennedy that was even close to hatred of anyone. He pointed out the failings and flaws of several people and organizations that he saw as very ‘anti-Chriatian’ and what we as believers need to be watchful of with these groups.”
Moderatelad, I agree that Schuller could be a bit saccharine, but I always had to stop watching Kennedy because I found what he had to say offensive, because it seemed so directly targeted at liberals, and it seemed rather mean-spirited.
But, perhaps he got so used to talking to the same kind of audience that he didn’t realize the kind of impression what he had to say would make on people who were trying to be open-minded. I’m not a member of the “religious left” but I think Sojourners is equally guilty of “preaching to the choir” and unnecessarily polarizing Christians.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:55 pm


I have never heard a sermon out of Kennedy that was even close to hatred of anyone. He pointed out the failings and flaws of several people and organizations that he saw as very ‘anti-Christian’ and what we as believers need to be watchful of with these groups.
You just contradicted yourself. If you’re spending time pointing out who your “enemies” are, especially in the pulpit, that’s time wasted not preaching the Good News of reconciliation and redemption through Christ.
So – who do you think will complete the ‘Old Guard Hat Trick’? Graham – he just got out of the hospital. Dobson – he has had a heart-attack or two.
Likely Dobson, who is part of that “old guard.” On the other hand, Graham, who overtly rejects the “religious right,” will be deeply, deeply mourned on this blog when he passes.
Bill Clinton had more effect on me … than Kennedy ever hoped to have.
And that says plenty about you.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:10 pm


I’m not a member of the “religious left” but I think Sojourners is equally guilty of “preaching to the choir” and unnecessarily polarizing Christians.
Oh, I don’t know about that. The conservatives have had it going for so long in evangelicalism that it seems that if any strong statement critical of the right is akin to “polarization.” On top of that, the same accusation was made about the prophets of old, who spoke truth but offended people either in power of who wanted power. I don’t know how long you’ve been on this blog, but the conservatives who frequent it have said some nasty and inaccurate things about Jim Wallis because they don’t like the way he thinks.
That said, today we do live in an age, not unlike the Protestant Reformation (although the issues are far, far different), where controversy is sometimes necessary. But you see, Kennedy had a mega-church, while Wallis has no chance of, and probably as much interest in, leading one — he’ll keep on doing what he’s doing until God calls him home.



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canucklehead

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:15 pm


I was unfamiliar with Evangelism Explosion until I attended seminary in the posh northern suburbs on Chicago in the early 1980s. After getting the forumula down pat, we’d trod out to the streets and go door to door to ask the two questions.
Problemo: most doors had communication speaker boxes (the iPhone of the ’80s!) where after the initial “who is it?” my zealous “if you were to die tonight and stand before…” was invariably met with a “sorry, not interested.” By the end of the term I was convinced that whereas EE may be very effective in Fort Lauderdale where retirees outnumber rats, not so much in average suburbia, unless God could answer one’s prayers that God in his sovereignty would enable me to corner some poor sap in a window seat wherefore I could badger him with the EE questions while impeding his escape to the restroom until he pulled the button thingie to summon a flight attendant for purposes of “get this gd religious wacko off me.”
Nonetheless, I will forever be grateful for Dr. Kennedy’s two questions since today, God has opened new doors of evangelistic opportunity for me thru the marvel of telemarketing. Now when I receive various calls from Burt’s Ministry to the Deaf or the Bank Just Down Your Street or offers of a third credit card from Victoria’s Secret, I pre-empt their query of “do you have just a minute to answer a couple of questions?” with “aha, before I do that, I have a couple of questions for you: if you were to die tonight and stand before God and he/she was to say…hello? hello? are you still? hello?…”
In 2005, I received an average of 4,623 telemarketing calls per month.
After implementing EEBusinessPlan, the number nose dived to 6/month.
Tha-hankyou, Je-suss. (And, you too, James D!)



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Eric Elnes

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:27 pm


I find your post on D. James Kennedy most helpful, Diana, and am going to post a link to it with comments on Friday on the CrossWalk America blog (http://blog.crosswalkamerica.org). I found your post neither scathing (as some of the comments seem to suggest), nor did it gloss over problematic aspects of his ministry, which is often tempting to do when someone dies (even if we disagree with them in important ways). I think you placed Kennedy in an historical context and pointed us forward in a way that is both constructive and accurate.
Incidentally, while CrossWalk America was walking across the country meeting with Christians at the grassroots last year, we certainly found plenty of confirmation that your assessment of the state of Christianity and where it’s headed is accurate. We met so many people “on the ground” who long for (and are living) the very kind of Christian faith you have insisted for years is emerging – one that is post-modern, and post-christendom, and yet is not simply defined by the era it is moving beyond but by the faith and practices it is emerging into.
Regarding Kennedy, I have found his insistence that Christians must act as “God’s vice-regents” to lay claim on every aspect of society, from education to government to entertainment to be a most unfortunate diversion from what the Spirit is trying to prosper among us right now. I’ve got plenty of complaints about how we in the progressive Christian community act on our faith (and fail to act), but I must admit that I hope you are right that Kennedy’s passing, and that of Falwell, moves us further beyond the Christendom era into the opening of another – one that is less concerned with turning America into a Christian nation and more concerned with helping Christian churches be, and become, more Christian.



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sangerinde

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:30 pm


N.M.Rod, God bless you for the G&S reference! And not even from one of the big 3 shows…I’m impressed. I’ve done Iolanthe (as Phyllis), and it gave me a huge laugh to be reminded of Private Willis’ sentry aria. Thank you, thank you!
(As I know nothing of the late Rev. Kennedy, I’d much rather talk about English operetta; sorry if I’ve been a distraction.)



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Moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:33 pm


Posted by: Alicia | September 6, 2007 4:54 PM
‘…not a member of the “religious left” but…’
I really don’t think that Kennedy ‘hated’ anyone so much as he saw what they were doing as wrong. He faught them in court and won. He had open debates on several subjects and carried the day on the issue at hand. He took issue with what they believed or sanctioned but from what I have seen, respected the person. Many times his statements were more of the sort – ‘if you are going to be tollerant – include the ‘Christians’ too’. Kennedy did not claim to be tollerant but he was respectful for the most part.
Personally – I am just looking for level ground.
Have a great evening – both my kids have soccer games tonight and I am going to catch as much of them as I can.
Blessings –
.



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Alicia

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:40 pm


Rick Nowlin said:
“I don’t know how long you’ve been on this blog, but the conservatives who frequent it have said some nasty and inaccurate things about Jim Wallis because they don’t like the way he thinks.”
I mostly lurk on this blog, and have read some nasty things directed at Jim Wallis.
Although I’ve heard Wallis preach more than once, and have read God’s Politics (and used to get the “Sojourners Magazine” way back in the late 1970’s) I find the tone sometimes a bit too self-righteous/self-congratulatory for my taste. I certainly believe Jim Wallis and the other Sojourners folk are very well-intentioned, good people. But as a moderate, I find myself “put off” by Sojourners at times.



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Payshun

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:41 pm


HN
That doesn’t take us very far, does it?
Me:
It only takes us as far as you allow it. You want your cake and to be able to eat it too. Your points for all intents and purposes were done in the same way mine were. I agree my tone could be less abrasive. But I am really tired of being gentle w/ conservatives. I am also tired of seeing conservatives be as abrasive as they want in their presentation and views. Maybe we need to learn how to communicate w/ each other and still be more respectful.
HN:
All that accomplishes is you putting me down and not really interacting with my ideas.
Me:
I am not putting you down. I have not insulted you or said that you don’t matter. I have challenged your ideas. I am sorry if you feel insulted. That was not my intent.
You:
Also your refutation of my concern that you were being unfair to conservatives just isn’t convincing.
Me:
I can understand that. Maybe I am unfair to conservatives. But then when I think about how damaging their ideology is, I tend to think not. but that may be wrong. I would like you to further explain how?
You:
Are you saying that somehow in your estimation progressives are not interested in imposing their social vision on non-progressives?
Me:
Oh no I can be honest and say in many ways we are imposing our ideas for the environment (global warming,) for social justice, and destroying the myth of the Christian nation on conservatives. As it stands you all have been clinging to certain myths that deserved to be dispelled. One major myth is that gay marriage will destroy marriage. that’s not true. the only ones that can destroy marriage are the people in the relationship.
Another is that the government can’t do anything to help people. It’s a tool just like everything else. It can help but it is not a panacea. What you fail to understand when it comes to progressives like myself is that we genuinely don’t believe the government can fix everything. But it is one of the best tools to reach as many people as possible. But people that believe like me also believe in grass roots solutions. They are the best to promote the change that progressives and green party folks believe in.
You:
How would that work exactly?
Me:
Umm well for the environment we can start by passing new legislation to cause car companies to increase the gas mileage for their engines, we can also encourage alternative ideas for eating beef and cutting down the damge our food consumption is doing to the atmosphere. There is a lot more but I think that’s where I want to end it.
You:
Why are conservatives supposedly the only side interested in convincing others to the merit of their ideas?
Me:
Yah I was wrong. both sides want to convince others of the merits of their ideas. The only difference is that many progressives (and I fit into this group) don’t believe our many of our social ideas will effect you at all. Gay marriage won’t effect you or me as I am not marrying a man. Immigrant rights could effect you but I am not sure where you live and how that impacts you.
You:
I hope that is enough questions to further the conversation because frankly your the tone of your response was disheartening (not hurtful! just disappointing). Don’t worry, I can take it though!
Me:
I know you can. that’s why we are talking. Oh and I never claimed that I am not morally superior, I did not imply it either. I am equal. That’s what I mean when I say you were projecting. If I had claimed that I was superior then I would never have made the claim that you were projecting. You all are not any less idealistic then we on the left are. But for some reason you and Wolverine believe that makes conservatism a better way for people to live. As someone that grew up in that, I can say it doesn’t.
p



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Payshun

posted September 6, 2007 at 5:48 pm


Correction:
Then I may be wrong. If so I would like to hear how?
p



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apenner

posted September 6, 2007 at 6:07 pm


I’d just like to say thank you to NM Rod for continutally infusing these threads with wisdom.



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Father Anthony

posted September 6, 2007 at 6:07 pm


Very well said comments. The one big part left out is Kennedy’s vitriolic attacks on the gay community, which were very much a part of “reclaiming America for Christ”.
The gay community celebrates his death, and the attitude of many will be “good riddance to this hateful man”. Lest I be misunderstood, I pray for him as any Christian should, but I too say “good riddance” to his hateful remarks.
And also, an interesting point is brought up about the Protestant ethic as being central in the late 40’s, and early 50’s. I attended a Catholic grammar school where we were admonished to never say “for the Kingdom etc” at the end of the Lord’s prayer, and to never even think of going to a YMCA. And now the Roman Catholic Church is in cahoots with the old line Protestants they so fought against 60 years ago.
Memories are short, and history will repeat itself in not so good ways. God help us.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 6, 2007 at 6:48 pm


I’d like to emphasize that there are plenty of us who don’t delight in either the death of the righteous, the wicked or those of us in between.
I think when we peel back the onion of our own soul’s layers we will find plenty to give us sorrow at our own wickedness, seeing ourselves as God sees us, so we have no place to stand where our own judgment won’t condemn us too. That is most often the one God uses instead of the absolute of His own – and we still fail.
John Donne wrote so long ago,
“Send not for whom the bell tolls –
It tolls, for thee.”
So when we begin to realise on our soul’s journey, trying to conform ourselves more to Jesus, that some things we used to think were so, really ain’t, it doesn’t mean joy at the death of another who still espouses or even promotes that same thinking.
That’s why, in earlier threads where some questions about the absolute evil that some have practiced in the past, I was careful to include myself in thought if not in deed, so that it was not demonisation of the other.
We must be careful not to elevate teachers too highly – after all, scripture warned that there ought to be few of them, since they have the potential for spreading false ideas as well as true ones, even if inadvertently – either in life, or posthumously. Mankind has a tendency to create Gods out of the departed which can elevate their errors as well as truths to canon.
Billy Graham has said of how people ought to remember him, “Less of Billy and more of Jesus.”
I really believe, like John Donne,
that the death of anyone diminishes me as part of the whole of the fabric of mankind.
I can disagree respectfully and vehemently when the issue is human rights, with James Dobson, who I supported in the past or with the late Jerry Falwell who believed in “bombing them all to Hell in the name of the Lord,” or recently deceased D. James Kennedy whose “restoration of Christian America” I found to be of a foundational fallacy, and still feel a loss of a precious member of the human family, however flawed they might be when they die.
I acknowledge that they were likely more personally moral than I. I myself don’t expect to be mourned, nor is that even important. I just hope without seeking personal reward to be allowed to be part of His Kingdom when this life is through.
Let good in love be done because it is what He wants, and is right, can be the sole reward – my prayer which I realise is humanly impossible! Virtue really is its own reward, even as the opposite of doing evil has contained within it its own punishment.
It is no disrespect to evaluate a man’s ideas posthumously, but is instead taking him with the consideration that anyone’s life deserves. Weigh them and see which of them is worth valuing or avoiding. It is true that sometimes the final judgment on his wisdom or folly won’t be immediately evident.
“No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”



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bren

posted September 6, 2007 at 7:28 pm


I have no views on James Kennedy, never having heard of him before now but it does strike me that the people criticizing Diana Butler Bass for her comments on what Kennedy represented are in the position of the pot calling the kettle black. You don’t like the way Butler Bass thinks, you apparently don’t like what Wallis represents–and yet you keep coming back to God’s Politics. Why do you do that?
I read God’s Politics because the people who write articles prompt me to think about things in slightly new or different ways. It’s part of my recognition that since God gave me a brain I have an obligation to use it. Is the writer a liberal or a conservative? Not in the traditional senses of those words, tho these labels seem to carry a lot of power for many Americans. Less important to me than the labels is the question: does this person have something to say that I should consider? even if, after considering it, I reject it? Usually the answer is Yes. It’s the tirades that occur in the blog comments that I can find depressing, and mystifying.
But then I read someone like neuro nurse and his experience in NO and I find his writing, too, becomes something from which I can learn.



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History Nut

posted September 6, 2007 at 8:44 pm


Payshun,
I don’t want to “have my cake and eat it too.” I am just not interested in the tired, old partisan “debates” that really don’t deal with the issues. To me, a lot of your complaints about conservatives sound fairly partisan and not based on many specifics, and it certainly doesn’t match my reality. [E.g. of your partisanship – you wrote, “But I am really tired of being gentle w/ conservatives. I am also tired of seeing conservatives be as abrasive as they want in their presentation and views.”]
I am friends with left and right, and I try to understand both positions. I am not a moderate, but I am also not what you would think of as a traditional social conservative. I do not know many conservatives who define themselves only by what they oppose. There are plenty of policies they are in favor of too. In fact, two can play that game. Why are you, as a leftist, always “opposing” issues that you consider related to personal morality? Why do you only support social programs that involve curbing other people’s economic activity (like legislation on ‘global warming’ that dictates personal choice in energy consumption) or dictating how they conduct their lives as citizens (allowing unfettered immigration without concern for cultural assimilation).
I appreciate your honesty on why you are frustrated with conservatives. [You wrote, “But then when I think about how damaging their ideology is, I tend to think not. but that may be wrong.”] I think this admission on your part might bring us to a place that would be helpful – a discussion of policies and not just debates back and forth over whose politics is God’s politics. Frankly, I have little hope of every really perfecting my Christianity here on earth and I am skeptical that I will ever have enough certitude to proclaim my political persuasions also happen to be God’s political persuasion. So when the left does that I am not clear on why that is okay, and when the right does that it is “harmful” and a “monologue” (to quote the blog home page).
I do dispute your claim that conservative ideology is damaging, just like I would dispute the claim that liberal ideology is damaging. The fact is there are merits in both systems, although I happen to find more resonance with a view of society that is skeptical of the ability of individuals and groups of individuals to hold power over others without falling prey to corruption. Right now, that happens to be a more conservative position. I am also saddened by the multitude of unintended consequences that liberal social reform has brought upon our society.
Finally, let’s stop once and for all this caricature (and yes, it is truly cartoonish) that all conservatives who happen to also be Christian are lobbying to install prayer in public schools, trying to persecute gay men and women with the marriage debate, or propagating inaccurate views of the relationship between faith and our government. Honestly, I get so tired of the conspiracy-tinged responses to Christians who aren’t leftist. There are millions of us who are disgusted by theocracy and are truly compassionate towards those whose lifestyles don’t match our own.
And finally, of course the government can help people. It does all the time on a local and national level. The gov’t provides law and order, helps ensure food and drug safety, protects our national security, helps standardize things like currency, road systems, etc. The point conservatives are making is that there are legitimate drawbacks to the position that the government is nearly always the best means of bringing about social change. Capitalism, and not federal programs, uplifted America’s poor to a very wealthy standard of living in comparison with other countries, including Europe. Furthermore, I would think that Roe v. Wade would have at least taught social activists the lesson that imposing social change upon an undesiring electorate can do deep and lasting damage to civic unity. The same goes for gay marriage.
Lastly, I am not saying that conservatism has all the answers. What I am saying is let’s stop debating which side, left or right, is closer to God’s politics and let’s start dealing with each issue one by one rather than resorting to partisanship.



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Anon

posted September 6, 2007 at 8:51 pm


Rick Nowlin,
I hope I read your comments about James Dobson incorrectly and that you weren’t implying you would mourn for Billy Graham but not for Dobson.
The crudeness of such a comment is not just offensive it is directly at odds with Christ’s teaching on loving others.
To say that lately the level of leftist hatred for the religious right is often frenzied and without moral compass is an understatement. The constant drumbeat of the tyranny of evangelical conservatives and the “injustice” of conservative stances is just a sad example of when one can’t make an argument on its own merits one resorts to ad hominem attacks and logical infallacies.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 6, 2007 at 10:24 pm


Responding to the first respondent, Billy Graham has always been a gentleman and never been a triumphalist, espousing Falwell and Kennedy’s ‘let’s impose Christianity on the world’ kind of doctrine. graham has always been Christlike and humble, offering Christ to the world as He Himself offered His Salvation. I see Christ in Graham; in Falwell and Kennedy I see something much more like the arrogant prelates, popes and bishops who were the expression of the dark side of the medieval church.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 6, 2007 at 10:24 pm


Responding to the first respondent, Billy Graham has always been a gentleman and never been a triumphalist, espousing Falwell and Kennedy’s ‘let’s impose Christianity on the world’ kind of doctrine. Graham has always been Christlike and humble, offering Christ to the world as He Himself offered His Salvation. I see Christ in Graham; in Falwell and Kennedy I see something much more like the arrogant prelates, popes and bishops who were the expression of the dark side of the medieval church.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 6, 2007 at 10:26 pm


I hope I read your comments about James Dobson incorrectly and that you weren’t implying you would mourn for Billy Graham but not for Dobson.
No, that’s not what I meant. We can and should mourn the man himself but not necessarily his legacy, and I understand the difference. If Bass made a mistake, it was in not saying or alluding to that in her entry about Kennedy. Furthermore, in the 1970s Graham came to reject the type of destructive partisanship that results in that kind of rancor you see today, especially on this blog — the folks who complain that Falwell, Kennedy and Dobson have made a living polarizing this country basically have good reasons for saying so. That’s why I say that far more people will miss Graham than the other three.
The constant drumbeat of the tyranny of evangelical conservatives and the “injustice” of conservative stances is just a sad example of when one can’t make an argument on its own merits one resorts to ad hominem attacks and logical infallacies.
If it were only so simple. But you see, I personally know what it’s like to have my faith questioned — I “accepted Jesus as my Savior” in 1979 and can quote Scripture with the best of them — and personally been patronized because I’ve never subscribed to the conservative agenda. The idea that a true, “born-again” Christian isn’t a Republican is lost on a lot of those leaders, who have long been insulated from those not like them. And besides, most of us on the other side can and do make solid arguments to challenge that agenda, but we’re still put down by the right for the same reasons. And that fires us up, certainly me, because they are insinuating that our conversions aren’t really valid.



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Moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 10:29 pm


Posted by: Anon | September 6, 2007 8:51 PM
‘…you would mourn for Billy Graham but not for Dobson.’
I believe you read it correctly.
Keep reading his posts – he excells at that.
Blessings –
.



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Richard

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:19 am


Why is it that when a Christian woman is intelligent and successful, someone must refer to her as “uppity”? She studied hard and wrote a good book. That makes her arrogant?
By the way, a person’s death is often the occasion for examining his or her legacy, such as it is. To do so is not callous, disrepectful, or insulting. It’s news.



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:58 am


“The gay community celebrates his death,”
I disagree. I know a lot of homosexuals who are able to put policy disagreements, and even outright ignorance, aside with regard to the question of whether they care about a person. This is a disgusting sentiment.
“She studied hard and wrote a good book. That makes her arrogant?”
No, and I generally consider Bass to be one of the thoughtful posters on this blog, but this does reek of arrogance.
“Keep reading his posts – he excells at that.”
This isn’t true.



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Robert Alu

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:25 am


Hi Christian leftists and rightists (whatever those terms mean),
I live among many faithful, devout, practising Muslims who would not like to live in an ‘Islamic nation’. The Quran, you see, also teaches that man was born with a free will.
Jesus taught “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” The Lord does not say which particular group of men, but if Kennedy’s ‘shining light’ caused people to praise God then he must have been a great Christian, right?
Was the late Kennedy like Pat Robertson? John Hagee? The late EV Hill? The late Bishop G E Patterson? Bill Hybels? Rick Warren? Tony Campolo? Joyce Meyer? Ted Haggard? Albert Schweitzer? Mother Teresa? Greg Boyd? Tim Scarborough? Ann Coulter? Shane Claibourne? Pope John Paul 2? Pope Benedict? Bishop Desmond Tutu? Martin Luther King?
To whom shall we compare him?
Well,
“God would rather we all go to hell WILLINGLY than drag a single person to heaven against his or her will.”
I heard that from Rev Timothy Njoya,a Presbyterian minister in Kenya, East Africa.
I believe it is very good theology. It represents a Biblically healthy view of the relationship between each of us and God. God is such that He will never take away the freedom of choice that He has given to each of us. He is not into ‘man’ipulation and coercion.
Did Kennedy teach this? I ask because, in comments on this page, I see him linked with ‘claiming back America for Christ’ etc. This is interesting …
What is the value of a ‘Christian nation’? What does the term mean? Would it be different from an ‘Islamic nation’ like, say, IRAN? Does God care so much what we call ourselves, how we defend ourselves and our ‘rights’, or is He more exacting, that is, more into examining our motives? Does God want America to be a ‘Christian nation'(whatever that means)? Would ALL followers of Jesus Christ want to live in the ‘United Christian States of America’?
Take away free will and there is no genuine following of Jesus Christ. That is the danger of a theocratic agenda. It is about political power. Christ never says “you must follow me”.
– Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Donny

posted September 7, 2007 at 7:29 am


Posted by: Moderatelad | September 6, 2007 12:06 PM
Diana Butler Bass
D. James Kennedy, RIP. And while we are at it, let us bury American Christendom, too.
\\\
M’Lad (and Ms. Bass),
Being moderate is no longer an option. Have I not been consistent in presenting what Progressives really look like under their mask?
This is a perfect example of the opposing sides of Truth. It is good to see the real face of Progressives and their rejoicing of the death of a good. Bass is just status quo.
Bass is only mouthing the true nature of progessive/liberal “core” beliefs.
Interesting to note that immorality, decadence, hedonism and “the sexual revolution” started at the time of this decline of American Christendom.
Every Christian leader from Falwell to Dobson has never veered from preaching that fact and trying to save people from it.
Now we can see the kinds of people standing in the daylight proclaiming what they did in the dark is good, and how Christians live, preach and teach is bad. The Apostles declared these people would arise throughout the Church.
The decent men of Evangelical Christian life are passing away. In their place the false-teachers see an opening. This was predicted to happen. The graet falling away of many is as certain as the words of Christ are to anger evil people.
Look at the actions of the men of Sodom directed at the Angels of God. You see that now in the Liberal-Progressives that scream and threaten and literally attack Christians today that refuse to join Libs in their celebration of debauchery. Christ spoke of these people kinds of people too.
That Ms. Bass, a Progressive would be so rude about Reverend Kennedy is no surprise. Finall we get to see the souls of the enemies of the Church speaking in public what they only did in their tenured teachers’ mettings.
The emerging Church is learning that evil people will always reject the Gospel and hate Christians that folow Christ Jesus. Jesus said to reject these people and walk away from them. The beautiful men of the real Church tried to fight against the tide of the perverted grasping rule in America.
It is time to live as Christiana and live for each other, and let the Progessives, Liberals and their common co-members go to the judgment awaiting them.
What is attempting to stand in the place of the Christian Church – this “new” Progressive movement – was not ignored by the disciples and apostles and of course Jesus spoke of it often.
From Paul on the rise of Liberal and Progressive culture within the Christian Church:
For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
It was for this He (AI)called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 7, 2007 at 8:33 am


I often disagree with anyone who puts their religious faith to make another look inferior, especially if they hold their conscience of their beliefs superior to another.
That’s the legacy of D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell, who have now gone to their reward. Bass was only trying to make light of that because their efforts have in many ways hurt the Gospel they said they were committed to. That’s different from “American Christendom.”



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Moderatelad

posted September 7, 2007 at 8:45 am


Posted by: Donny | September 7, 2007 7:29 AM
Being moderate is no longer an option.
Ones ‘convictions’ I believe can be a solid and extream as you would like them to be. But in communicating to others – a little ‘moderation’ goes a long way. Sometimes ones delivery of the message gets in the way of the meaning.
Blessings –
.



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Ray

posted September 7, 2007 at 9:42 am


What it all boils down to is one’s view of scripture. Ms. Bass clearly believes that all ways lead to God and that no one is really “lost”. This flies in the face of scripture repeatedly and justifies her trivialization (and I’m being kind in my choice of words) of EE and the work that Dr. Kennedy accomplished.
According to people like Ms. Bass, we are not fighting Satan and his cohorts as told in Ephesians 6:12, but poverty, “homophobs” ,those who would dare declare unborn children as human beings that should be protected and anything else that they label as the “religious right”.
Without a saving relationship with Jesus, we’re lost for all eternity. Ms Bass should be thoroughly ashamed of herself for slamming those who preach the gospel.



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moderatelad

posted September 7, 2007 at 9:59 am


Posted by: Ray | September 7, 2007 9:42 AM
I don’t think that I would make personal assessments of Ms. Bass like you have – put that is just me. I took issue with her use of writing an article on the death of a fellow believer, Rev Kennedy and then using it as a tool to promote her agenda of blast him for what she sees are his failings. I do not doubt Ms. Bass’ faith or commitment to Christ. She was just way out of line in her article on Kennedy. Not even a word of comfort to the wife, family or his congregation.
Shame on her.
When her time comes and she is called home – I pray that someone will write an article about her live and ministry and not use it to expose her shortcomings that they see or to promote their agenda.
Blessings –
.



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Alicia

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:07 am


Robert Alu said:
“What is the value of a ‘Christian nation’? What does the term mean? Would it be different from an ‘Islamic nation’ like, say, IRAN… Does God want America to be a ‘Christian nation'(whatever that means)? Would ALL followers of Jesus Christ want to live in the ‘United Christian States of America’?
Take away free will and there is no genuine following of Jesus Christ. That is the danger of a theocratic agenda. It is about political power. Christ never says “you must follow me”.”
Robert, you are dead right about theocracy — it is the most anti-God form of governance possible, in which men try and dignify and bolster their own desire for domination and power by associating themselves with “What God Wants.” Thank you for your excellent post.



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History Nut

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:48 am


Richard wrote: Why is it that when a Christian woman is intelligent and successful, someone must refer to her as “uppity”? She studied hard and wrote a good book. That makes her arrogant?
My response:
As an highly educated woman myself, I think it is not helpful for defenders of Ms. Bass to discredit her critics by implying their misogyny or sexism. Let’s debate the merit of Bass’ post on its content and try not to muddy the waters with the supposed protected status of being a woman.
Women are just as capable of men of being arrogant or uppity. To imply that to call a woman’s comments arrogance is inherently sexist smacks of relying on the fad of “victimhood” to protect one’s claims from criticism or examination.
Lastly, obits are typically not the place for hard-hitting criticism or critique of legacy. The question for Ms. Butler is twofold:
1. Should she have waited to critique Kennedy a few days? I mean, he had barely expired before this was posted.
2. Again, why is the left so keen on harping on the conservative devotion to Christendom when it is well-known that this was historically the position of religious progressives (Social Gospel anyone?) in the early 20th century? Ms. Bass knows this but never mentioned this inconvenient truth in her post. Maybe it will appear as an unfortunate error of the mainline church in her forthcoming church history for progressives? OR is it ok for leftists to talk about the Christian Nation but not ok when people on the right do it?



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:54 am


“Robert, you are dead right about theocracy — it is the most anti-God form of governance possible, in which men try and dignify and bolster their own desire for domination and power by associating themselves with “What God Wants.” Thank you for your excellent post.”
True, in practice, because the application of faith through fallible leadership is likely to corrupt the faith.
I think our country is nonetheless founded on a number of Godly principles, with an added emphasis on reducing the power of government. There is a distinction to be made between this and theocracy, and certainly a distinction between this and Iran.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:23 am


Again, why is the left so keen on harping on the conservative devotion to Christendom when it is well-known that this was historically the position of religious progressives (Social Gospel anyone?) in the early 20th century? Ms. Bass knows this but never mentioned this inconvenient truth in her post. Maybe it will appear as an unfortunate error of the mainline church in her forthcoming church history for progressives? OR is it ok for leftists to talk about the Christian Nation but not ok when people on the right do it?
That depends on who benefits, which always was the issue between the conservatives and the proponents of the “social gospel.” Denominations, generally the Reformed ones (I myself have a Reformed background), split in part over it conservatives believe to this day that works of service and mercy were merely ancillary to the historic faith while the “liberals” consider them essential to knowing God. Conventional wisdom holds that mainline denominations began losing their hold on the populace because they became more concerned about politics than the “Gospel.” However, I would say that, especially in the suburbs, they wanted the faith to protect their privileged status, and that’s why Kennedy and Falwell were so dangerous and Dobson still is. Truth be told, until perhaps the past couple of decades arguably the purest form of Christianity could be found in the historially African-American churches, and that was especially true during the civil-rights movement.



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Moderatelad

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:43 am


I believe that most believers know that ‘faith without works is dead’.
Just because someone has no calling to go over seas and do mission work in the inner area of Africa does not mean they are not a true believer. Just because they do not go and give of their time in a depressed urban area of their city does not mean the do not have a heart to spread the Good News. I grew up in a congregation where one of my friends parents had a very comfortable life. Home in MN and AZ, more than enough money in the bank for their retirement. All the time I grew up the Dad was working on some board at church or for the private high school our church supports. But I know that amoung other things – 100 of kids attended Bible Camp every summer funded by this man and his wife. These were kids whose parents would never have the money to send one kid much less three – yet they all went to camp and many are in ministry today. So – just because this guy would never have gone on a missions trip himself – he does not understand the idea of ‘faith and works’?
Oh – and no one ever knew who paid the way. Guess he understood the idea of ‘right and left hand’.
Blessings –
.



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History Nut

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:52 am


Rick,
The claim that “conservatives believe to this day that works of service and mercy were merely ancillary to the historic faith while the “liberals” consider them essential to knowing God.” is fundamentally untrue and demonstrably so.
Conservatives do believe that they are called to works of service and mercy, and there is a rich record that documents their devotion to this. In the 19th century alone we have middle class evangelicals (who are a far cry from liberal in politics or theology since they supported the Whig and then GOP and are followers of revivalists like Finney et al) engaging in relief work for the poor, urban reform, and lobbying to end slavery. In the late 19th century and early 20th we have groups emphasizing the duty of Christians to serve one another and in an age of industrial and urban crisis that translated into acts of compassion and relief.
Furthermore, 19th century evangelicals and their 20th century heirs were always focused on the individual’s responsibility to pursue self-improvement (another way of articulating their commitment to tangible sanctification) – that’s why you had a remarkable movement of social reform based on evangelical principles and faith accompanied by a fervent desire to uplift their surrounding culture. And no, they weren’t interested in establishing theocracy.
So, please, will someone engage my legitimate point that historically it has been the religious progressives that promoted the spread of Christendom? Based on Rick’s comments I can only conclude it ok for the left to do it because they claim it is how they commune with and know God.
Not terribly convincing test of who should be allowed to clamor for the spread of Christendom, frankly.



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Don

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:03 pm


“Ms. Bass clearly believes that all ways lead to God and that no one is really “lost”…According to people like Ms. Bass, we are not fighting Satan and his cohorts as told in Ephesians 6:12, but poverty, ‘homophobs’ ,those who would dare declare unborn children as human beings that should be protected and anything else that they label as the ‘religious right'”
“this does reek of arrogance.”
It appears that the Beliefnet monitor removed the “Diana Butler Bass your [sic] a jerk” post. I’m certainly grateful for that, but I wonder what it was in what she wrote that prompted such vitriol and, in the case of Ray’s quotes at the top here, unsubstantiated ad hominems.
Richard is correct (September 7, 2007 12:19 AM) when he wrote that the occasion of someone’s death is often a time to reflect on that person’s legacy, both positive and negative. I don’t think Diana departed from that tradition. She mentions Evangelism Explosion and remembers it positively, but perhaps this positive feature of Dr. Kennedy’s legacy is obscured by the negative: specifically, his mixing of Christianity with idolatrous Americanism. Certainly that too is part of Dr. Kennedy’s legacy. Is it really arrogant to bring that up?
As an example of what Richard mentions, the also recent death of opera starr Luciano Pavarotti has stirred both positive and negative comments about his legacy. On the one hand, he is being remembered for the quality of his singing voice and his popularizing of opera among many who might otherwise not ever have listened to it, but he is also being criticized for being too willing to “cross over” into more popular music performances. Is Diana’s rememberance of Dr. Kennedy really any different?
Peace,



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Another nonymous

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:11 pm


Don –
Good point about Pavarotti. One might say that the tenor of the reactions to his death has been decidedly mixed. (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)



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History Nut

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:12 pm


Another way to put it would be – its okay for liberal Christians to use their faith in service of their political goals but when conservative Christians do it there are scare tactics used to stoke the conspiracy theorists of the threat of theocracy or reconstructionism.
How about a conversation about the appropriate role of faith in the pubic sphere? Why is Wallis so comfortable with liberal Christians being overt about their faith in their political action but so disapproving when their conservative brothers and sisters do the same? Is it just because he like the liberal causes better? If so, then why not reframe the debate to be about which policies are superior and stop talking about the illegitimacy of conservative political behavior? The error would then be not that conservative Christians dare to be political but that they dare to reject the political proposals of the left.



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Moderatelad

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:15 pm


Posted by: History Nut | September 7, 2007 11:52 AM
Thank you History Nut!
Blessings –
.



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canucklehead

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:33 pm


I sez a public flagellation o’ yuz would be most appropriate, Ms. Butler Bass – how ’bout on the Washinton Mall tonight ’bout 8 pm?
And whilst we’re at it, weez gonna strip yuz of that double last name thingie, too – the real problem w/ the America today, and the ultimate proof that, as Donny so convincingly argued, the last daze is upon us!



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:34 pm


” Is Diana’s rememberance of Dr. Kennedy really any different?”
Yes it is. The debate about Pavarotti’s music decisions were simply part of his career. Had Diana noted that Kennedy was controversial, there would be no problem, even if she espoused her disagreement.
No tasteful person would write “we buried Pavarotti. :Let’s bury opera crossover as well.”
Further, though this is unrelated, the notion that everything in this country got better in the 60s and 70s is ridiculous. The civil rights movement was important, and we should never seek to return to that era.
But the sexual revolution has brought nothing but pain and misery. Many young people outright reject the values of their boomer parents. Our families are decaying. Fatherlessness is a huge problem. We’ve aborted almost 50,000,000 babies. How this represents an unquestionable movement in the right direction is beyond me.
If Gene Robinson died today, and someone wrote a blog chronicling his leaving his family for a man, his alcoholism, and his church’s flaunting of God’s law by confirming him as Bishop, would Diana be happy? What if that post ended with the observation that we could “bury liberal Episcopalianism with him?”



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Anonymous

posted September 7, 2007 at 1:01 pm


>>>”Furthermore, 19th century evangelicals and their 20th century heirs were always focused on the individual’s responsibility to pursue self-improvement (another way of articulating their commitment to tangible sanctification) – that’s why you had a remarkable movement of social reform based on evangelical principles and faith accompanied by a fervent desire to uplift their surrounding culture.” History NUT
Yowser, there’s nothing like some good ol’ fashioned historical revisionism, is there?
The use of the term “evangelicals” in reference to 19th and/or 20th century Christians is, of course, fraught with problems depending on a number of variables – what country/part of the world is in view, an agreeable definition of “evangelical,” etc.
That being said, and since this is an American based blog, it is irrefutable that a significant part of the 19th century American evangelical legacy was late 19th century and early to mid 20th century fundamentalism.
Accordingly, History NUT’s claim that “19th century evangelicals were ALWAYS FOCUSED on the individual’s responsibility to pursue self-improvement…..and a fervent desire to uplift their surrounding culture” is, at best, only partly true (depending on the variables) and, at worst, entirely misleading w/ regard to the North American situation.
I’m not sure how you’re using the term “self-improvement” but it smacks of what American fundamentalists referred to as “the social gospel” which most of them wanted absolutely nothing to do with; in fact, in opposition to what they perceived to be liberalism or modernism they went to great lengths to FOCUS ON theological belief as the be-all and end-all of the Christian experience.
And “…a fervent desire to uplift their surrounding culture.” Say what? Again, depending on certain variables, it could well be argued that one of the key agendas of American fundagelicalism in the late 19th/early 20th centuries was to stigmatize and criticize the surrounding culture, to cite it as a primary indicator that the last days were upon us and to do everything within their power to separate themselves from the surrounding culture!
In that regard, the fundamentalism represented by people like Falwell and Kennedy as it impacted their view of American culture, was faithfully constructed upon a curious dualism.



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Don

posted September 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm


“If Gene Robinson died today, and someone wrote a blog chronicling his leaving his family for a man, his alcoholism, and his church’s flaunting of God’s law by confirming him as Bishop, would Diana be happy?”
Why don’t you ask her? YOu presume you already know how she would respond.
So who’s being arrogant?
Later,



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Payshun

posted September 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm


HN:
To me, a lot of your complaints about conservatives sound fairly partisan and not based on many specifics, and it certainly doesn’t match my reality.
Me:
That’s because a lot of my complaints about conservatives are ideological and philosphical differences. That’s why they are more general. I am attacking the ideas behind the philosphy and practice. You are (to your credit) attempting to humanize it a little bit.
HN:
I am friends with left and right, and I try to understand both positions. I am not a moderate, but I am also not what you would think of as a traditional social conservative. I do not know many conservatives who define themselves only by what they oppose.
Me:
I too am friends w/ people on the right side of the aisle. My mentor is a devout, fundamentalist, conservative white man. He believes “evolution is a lie.” He also blames the majority of moral and political failures on the democrats. They are his scapegoat. I bring him up to point out that I love this man to life. He is an amazing friend and guide. Even though I am a contemplative, mystic black man God has united us to serve and minister together. We don’t agree on anything political. He thinks global warming is a myth. Let’s just say I don’t. That doesn’t mean we can’t work together. We do great things for the kingdom. Basically what I am saying is that I believe in the gospel of rencilation. What matters is the heart of love for people.
You are right, conservatives stand for a lot. It’s just stuff I don’t completely agree w/ like stem cell research. Conservatives stand for the unborn life of all human beings. I am against abortion but I understand it will never be completely done away w/. It can be lessened though. That’s more my goal. That and healing and being a counsellor to those that had them.
You:
Why are you, as a leftist, always “opposing” issues that you consider related to personal morality?
Me:
Because I know issues revolving around sex are a little different than other issues and judging people for how they are screwed up sexually is just dumb. We are all broken in that department so it seems kind of lame to place my moral committments to my God on others shoulders. They were my choice.
You:
Why do you only support social programs that involve curbing other people’s economic activity (like legislation on ‘global warming’ that dictates personal choice in energy consumption) or dictating how they conduct their lives as citizens (allowing unfettered immigration without concern for cultural assimilation).
Me:
Historically cultural assimilation has always meant becoming culturally white. So I am against that. I am not saying that people should not learn english but I am saying other ethnic groups should not have to sacrifice their history or ethnic identity to fit into the majority culture. That smacks of the racism that we as Christians should fight against. Of all the industrialized nations this nation pollutes the most. Since this world is for everyone, then this nation must learn to be sacrificial and I am not talking from it’s excess either. If we are truly going to lead then that is what we must do.
When you said: “I think this admission on your part might bring us to a place that would be helpful – a discussion of policies and not just debates back and forth over whose politics is God’s politics.” I think you missed the point here a little. We have been discussing policy for a while and that is not fully getting us anywhere. It can get us somewhere if your idea is for some type of consensus. I like discussing the idea behind the policy aswell. I also believe discussing ideas gets to the heart of what people believe. That’s the most important thing eternally.
If I may be so bold to say I think you are mistaken when you say: “I do dispute your claim that conservative ideology is damaging, just like I would dispute the claim that liberal ideology is damaging.” Let’s talk about homosexuality. What conservatives don’t understand is that their stances on the subject actually creates condemnation and judgement for young struggling members of the LGBTQ community. Those group are taught from jump to feel inferior. That’s unacceptable.
I also take my liberal allies to task for using relativity to crush all moral standards. I am a relativist. But relativism is a tool that is used to love people and not be judgemental. But using relativism to justify or make true evil invisible is wrong. I know plenty of liberals that do that. That makes me sick.
Both relativism and homophobia are damaging to people. It robs them of their power and the ability to love themselves and other people. That’s damaging.
You:
I am also saddened by the multitude of unintended consequences that liberal social reform has brought upon our society.
Me:
Well to be fair liberal social policy has not truly been tried. Since you are a history nut I don’t have to tell you how and why the different ghettoes were made in this country. But for those that don’t know places like Cabrini Green were designed to deal w/ the migratory patterns of moving black people. When the idea was first discussed there was the best of intentions but as they became reality there were many people behind the scenes that actively sabotaged it. So to be fair true social liberal policy has seldom been tried in this country.
You:
Finally, let’s stop once and for all this caricature (and yes, it is truly cartoonish) that all conservatives who happen to also be Christian are lobbying to install prayer in public schools, trying to persecute gay men and women with the marriage debate, or propagating inaccurate views of the relationship between faith and our government. Honestly, I get so tired of the conspiracy-tinged responses to Christians who aren’t leftist. There are millions of us who are disgusted by theocracy and are truly compassionate towards those whose lifestyles don’t match our own.
Me:
Well if they stopped acting cartoonish in opposing those values then they would not be portrayed as cartoons. There are many conservatives that want what you described above. They like persecuting gay men and women, they want the Christian nation myth. They believe it to be true when it was not and will never be.(Please notice I did not say all.) I am talking about a very select group. Unfortunately you all do a piss poor job of reigning in those elements. Oh and believe me we liberals do just as a poor a job reigning in our broken on our end.
I also know the point conservatives are trying to make. They believe churches and individual citizens can do that. I am mixed on it. Because as a green party liberal progressive I believe in citizen empowerment. Help people locally, nationally and globally. But I also know when it comes to dealing w/ being poor in this country the government is one of the best tools to deal charity and justice. It has the resources to reach many people and we can still act on our own. I just want a safety net that protects the weak and infirmed. Theologically speaking there is a lot of support for this in the Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament.)
You said:
I would think that Roe v. Wade would have at least taught social activists the lesson that imposing social change upon an undesiring electorate can do deep and lasting damage to civic unity.
Me:
Well to be fair civic unity has never truly existed at least not in this country so I think your point is a mute one.
You:
Lastly, I am not saying that conservatism has all the answers. What I am saying is let’s stop debating which side, left or right, is closer to God’s politics and let’s start dealing with each issue one by one rather than resorting to partisanship.
Me:
Well that would be fair but how? Your ideology and conservative framework define how you approach the issue. I don’t really know what that is but you are coming into this discussion w/ an opinion. I guess what I am getting at is how are you going to deal w/ people that don’t want to live by conservative ideals.
As a progressive I am almost libertarian here. I say let people live as they choose and either allow everyone equal footing under the law or remove the law (as long as it causes no harm to people, and animals that can’t defend themselves.)
p



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Anon

posted September 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm


Am I the only woman out there who thinks the hyphenated or double last name “trend” (its so 1980s really) is getting out of hand? I don’t begrudge women, or their feminist husbands who adapt these lengthy surnames, but it gets ridiculous if we think about the long-term options available to their kids.
I mean, what happens when ‘Ms. Jane Smith Doe’ marries ‘Mr. Bob Johnson Cooper’ in 2018? What should we call their children? Pity the kid who has to learn to write ‘George Smith Doe Johnson Cooper’ for their kindergarten coloring sheet.
I’m just saying satire aside, no one is criticizing Butler Bass for her double surname – I have a feeling it is easier to just type Bass.



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 1:25 pm


“Why don’t you ask her?”
I kinda did.
“YOu presume you already know how she would respond.”
I kinda have an idea.
“So who’s being arrogant?”
I don’t think this qualifies.



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Herbert James Schlesslinger, Jr.

posted September 7, 2007 at 1:40 pm


kevin s. —
what is the implication of a qualified qualifier pertaining to this article? i don’t know what you mean when you write “i don’t think this qualifies”.
Qualified qualifiers are not pertinent to complacency when it is expedient. I think there is no contest here, at least from citizens who take a median and fair position on all things equal.
HJSj



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History Nut

posted September 7, 2007 at 1:53 pm


Payshun,
Thanks for your thoughtful post.
I have a feeling we can continue our conversation in future posts.
Abortion & Roe v. Wade: I wasn’t as clear as I should have been. From my perspective (I know a few vintage New Left Hippies who agree with me
here) the cultural left seriously miscalculated when they decided to push abortion “reform” through the courts and not through legislation.
This created a major wedge issue for the country and guaranteed that many people would oppose abortion on merits having little to do with
its morality and more to do with the fundamental problem of forcibly moving society along on an issue it wasn’t quite ready for.
Homosexuality: Some of my friends happen to be gay. They also find the whole push for gay marriage a big mistake (they are worried about longterm fallout similar to the response to the overreach of Roe V. Wade). It is just too easy to claim that opposition to gay marriage is “harmful”
to gays because that doesn’t deal with the nuance of our reality. Not all gays really want gay marriage or desire to see it enforced by the
courts. It is way to simplistic to equate a very vocal gay lobby with the entire U.S. population of homosexuals.
Ghettoes/Cabrini Green: Ghettoes were not simply “made” – there is plenty of documentation of how ghettoes formed in urban areas for a multitude of reasons, with racism being one of course. Sadly, the black middle class encouraged black ghettoes as much as whites did when they engaged in intra-racial class warfare and resisted the movement of poorer black families into their “middle class” neighborhoods. (See the histories of Sugrue, Cohen on the issue of race and cities in the 20th century.) Furthermore, Cabrini wasn’t always a black ghetto. It also housed poor European immigrants too. It’s early days look
vastly different than the days following the race riots of the 1960s and 70s.
Payshun – thanks for continuing the dialogue and giving so much thought to your response.



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Moderatelad

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:08 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | September 7, 2007 1:25 PM
Still on for a beer at Blondie’s in BP – 5:00 PM on Tuesday – 11SEP07.
I am wondering – how will we know each other and then I think that we may know each other but you have figured it out and I have not.
Blessings –
.



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Anonymous

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:15 pm


Posted by: | September 7, 2007 1:01 PM
I don’t know who posted this, but I will still respond because there are too many problems that bear correction.
Uhhh, no I am not “revising” history. It is a common assumption by historians of all stripes that evangelicals of the 19th century (in America) were engaged in social reform. The marxist historians have chalked it up to a form of social control, but I doubt the Sojourners crowd would like that interpretation too much. I know I certainly don’t.
Of course using the term “evangelical” is going to be problematic. But, I was careful to note that I was talking about 19th century revivalists which is a pretty specific group whose commitment to improving their cities and towns is well-documented in histories written by historians both ambivalent and hostile towards evangelicalism in general (for starters go to Stansell, City of Women, Boyer, Urban Masses, Sellers, Market Revolution, Johnson, A Shopkeepers Millenium, and I could go on but I won’t). As for your claim that there is not continuity between the evangelicalism of the 2nd Great Awakening with the evangelicals with the late 19th and early 20th century – well, I don’t know what would support that claim since that continuity is pretty well established. The neo-evangelicals of the 20th century have distinct intellectual, ecclesiastical , and social ties to their 19th century revivalist counterparts. (See Marsden, Noll, Bebbington, etc.)
As for the issue of “self-improvement” – this is a classic characteristic of 19th C evangelicalism. The pietism of the revivalist evangelicals had very specific ramifications for evangelical social action. And, did you know that pre-1920s fundamentalist/modernist split that fundamentalists often participated in and gave support to the “Social Gospel” cause? The theological disputes were very real, but pre-fund/modernist split there was a lot of commingling and cooperation on the social and ecclesiastical level.
So, while fundamentalists post-1920s did drop their Social Gospel rhetoric to avoid association with their liberal foes, it is completely erroneous to read this development back INTO the 19th century.
The point is, there is a history of social reform that problematizes the religious left’s claim that they are the primary evangelical expression of concerns for social reform or “justice.”
Read my initial comments more carefully and you will see that your criticisms confuse things by using an anachronistic interpretation of evangelicals and political activity to dismiss my historical points.



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squeaky

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:21 pm


Kevin,
“No tasteful person would write “we buried Pavarotti. :Let’s bury opera crossover as well.” ”
You haven’t been around too many of the more snobby, competitive musicians, have you? But then again, they tend to not be tasteful people…



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Payshun

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:21 pm


HN:
Ghettoes/Cabrini Green: Ghettoes were not simply “made” – there is plenty of documentation of how ghettoes formed in urban areas for a multitude of reasons, with racism being one of course. Sadly, the black middle class encouraged black ghettoes as much as whites did when they engaged in intra-racial class warfare and resisted the movement of poorer black families into their “middle class” neighborhoods.
Me:
Well that’s not entirely true. Blacks were not allowed to move to other areas because of different laws and up until the migration happened middle class blacks lived along side their poorer brethren.
p



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:35 pm


“I am wondering – how will we know each other and then I think that we may know each other but you have figured it out and I have not.”
It would be weird if we knew each other, but not impossible. Let’s do 5:30 since you said you might be late.
“You haven’t been around too many of the more snobby, competitive musicians, have you? But then again, they tend to not be tasteful people…”
I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing the end of the crossover craze, but I would identify Andrea Bocelli as the principal offender, using the genre to mask the fact that he is not a professional-caliber singer. Which is fair game to bring up, but not in the days after his death.



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:38 pm


“I am wondering – how will we know each other and then I think that we may know each other but you have figured it out and I have not.”
I’ll wear my yellow “W” hat, in honor of 9/11…



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Moderatelad

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:42 pm


Posted by: squeaky | September 7, 2007 2:21 PM
‘But then again, they tend to not be tasteful people…’
Excuse me – I resemble that statement. (tee hee)
My favorite Christmas was in 04. I was out of a job because Sonny decided to move the organization from MN to NC. We had cut back on the presents that year because of my un-employment. My family pooled together and purchased a ticket to the Three Tenors. I could have sold that ticket for 3 times face value as I was going into the event and being out of work – I should’ve. But they wanted me to see them, I’m the OPERA buff of the family. My favorite Domingo had a slight virus in his throat so he was only singing the duets and trios – no solos. I was sitting in the way-back and Pavarotti comanded the stage – that is because he ‘filled’ the stage when he walked out. It was a magical night I will always remember. I also saw Pavarotti sing with MS. Price in her farwell year – Aida. That was almost over-load for me. I believe that there will be Opera in Heaven.
Blessings –
.



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History Nut

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:47 pm


Payshun,
The “laws” that kept blacks out of white neighborhoods were usually neighborhood covenants. Some towns did pass ordinances, but in most cases it was the “defensive localism” of working class neighborhoods (think immigrant union workers like the Detroit autoworkers in Sugrue’s Urban Crisis book) that enforced racist practices. Federal lending practices and redlining of neighborhoods did encourage white flight but could not formally keep all blacks out of white neighborhoods. That’s how a black middle class was able to move out of black neighborhoods pretty early on (pre WW2 in some cases).
Look, I think racism is horrible and the actions of the past (whites both Rep and Dem) were horrendous. But we need to be careful that we don’t get sloppy with how things became the way they are. Generalizations aren’t always easy to make when one considers the specifics of the past.
But your clarification that black middle class did still live alongside poorer blacks is definitely true.



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Moderatelad

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:47 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | September 7, 2007 2:38 PM
Thanks – hats do nothing for me – the just make me look like a ‘Weebo’ (I don’t waddle and rarely fall down)
9-11, my youngest son’e b-day.
Blessings –
.



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Anon

posted September 7, 2007 at 2:53 pm


Question: Why do Sojo posters never dip into the comments? It seems a little undemocratic and almost, dare I say, a refutation of participatory democracy for the poster to assume the role of “leader” and never engage the “followers” in the comments section.
Oh well, I guess I thought the evangelical left might have a slightly different organizational model than the evangelical right. I mean, do we really need another set of parachurch organizations led by strong personalities claiming to speak for their overlooked constituents?



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Sister Marie

posted September 7, 2007 at 3:18 pm


Our reaction to the passing of Dr. Kennedy really may be condensed to the issue of whether the Christian Church is big enough to accomodate both liberals and conservatives. Like many who have posted here, I am a graduate (and participant) of EE and I have had the pleasure of standing in the home of someone whom I had just met and praying with them to receive Christ. Therefore, I was greatly distressed when I tuned into Dr. Kennedy’s programs and witnessed him devoting so much time not to sharing the good news of the gospel, but instead preaching a very disvise message.
Now I can accept the fact that those with whom I share a pew may not agree with me politically. What I have a hard time dealing with is hearing the pastor of my church repeatedly promoting one political party while denunciating the other. Therefore, on the day following last November’s election, when he once again began his negative comments owing to the Republican losses, I made a decision to leave the church of my youth and to search for a church home where I would not be subjected to right-wing propaganda.
So in assessing the life of Dr. Kennedy, I do think that it is fair to comment on both the good things that he did and also the extent to which he divided Christians.



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 3:29 pm


“Thanks – hats do nothing for me – the just make me look like a ‘Weebo’ (I don’t waddle and rarely fall down)
9-11, my youngest son’e b-day.”
What? And your meeting a stranger for beers?
I like wearing my hat backwards cause it makes me look like a frat boy.



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canucklehead

posted September 7, 2007 at 3:30 pm


Posted by: | September 7, 2007 1:01 PM
“I don’t know who posted this, but I will still respond because there are too many problems that bear correction.” History Nut
Sorry, I inadvertently missed supplying my handle – I thot this blog/thread retained them but not always, apparently.
“As for your claim that there is not continuity between the evangelicalism of the 2nd Great Awakening with the evangelicals with the late 19th and early 20th century – well, I don’t know what would support that claim since that continuity is pretty well established. The neo-evangelicals of the 20th century have distinct intellectual, ecclesiastical , and social ties to their 19th century revivalist counterparts. (See Marsden, Noll, Bebbington, etc.) History Nut
Aha,I think where we’re differing is your “jump” (my opinion) from the 2nd Great Awakening to the NEO-evangelical era in the 20th century which was basially a post-WW2 development. In fact, part of the rise of the Neo-Evangelicals was to regain the emphasis on the “social gospel” as a valid part of historic American evangelicalism after the fundamentalist movement of approx 1880-1940 had essentially equated such w/ liberalism and modernism. Consult “The Fundamentals” and note that it’s almost excusively devoted to doctrine/belief as opposed to social action or positive engagement of secular culture. It is generally agreed that popular culture for fundamentalists reeked with the sulfur of hell and accordingly was to be avoided by real Christians.
It may be you’re not so much revising history as overlooking a very important, (albeit, comparatively brief) period – the fundamentalist era, which, I would argue, has lingering effects that are/were still evident in the thinking and behavior of modern fundamentalists like Falwell, Kennedy and Robertson



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 7, 2007 at 3:31 pm


The claim that “conservatives believe to this day that works of service and mercy were merely ancillary to the historic faith while the “liberals” consider them essential to knowing God.” is fundamentally untrue and demonstrably so.
I see no evidence that it is untrue, especially based on the amount of money and time Christians have spent more recently on political action and always on foreign missions, generally at the expense of the diaconal. This especially became the case around the Scopes “monkey trial,” which proved a major PR disaster for the evangelicalism of that day.
Another way to put it would be – its okay for liberal Christians to use their faith in service of their political goals but when conservative Christians do it there are scare tactics used to stoke the conspiracy theorists of the threat of theocracy or reconstructionism.
Those are two different issues entirely — and in fact opposite. When the “liberals” do it the issue is, at least in theory, more power for the poor and dispossessed. But when the conservatives do it, the issue is more power and authority for themselves at the expense of the poor, even partnering with Wall Street and secular right-wing activists in the process. You see, the “religious right” didn’t figure that such an all-encompassing “faith-based” agenda — which wasn’t faith-based at all, as things turned out — didn’t have the appeal they thought it did. We see today that some of those same folks who voted for Reagan did so only to benefit their pocketbooks and “faith” had nothing to do with it.
This also answers your question about Wallis’ being critical of conservative Christian activism, which rarely respects people from the more “liberal” side of the fence who are interested in more than abortion and gay marriage. On this very blog three years ago Wallis quoted Falwell as calling him “as evangelical as an oak tree,” a blatant insult from a Christian “brother,” and I’m told that Falwell never moderated his rhetoric even up to the time of his death. Two years ago I read an article in the right-wing, dominionist weekly magazine World in which Gene Edward Veith consistently badgered his interview subject Ron Sider, trying to label him as a left-wing socialist (when in fact he is nothing of the sort). And what about last year, when James Dobson basically ordered the National Association of Evangelicals to fire or discipline its honcho Richard Cizik for signing off on a pro-environmental document?



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History Nut

posted September 7, 2007 at 3:42 pm


Hi Canucklehead,
I like your handle, by the way.
I am not overlooking the fundamentalist era. I am making the point that it is bracketed by a very solid period of social reform on the part of evangelicals. Also, I must reassert my earlier point that proto-fundamentalists prior to the 1920s kerfluffle were often partners with the theologically liberal in social efforts. Unfortunately, we tend to interpret the messy era of the 1890s-1920 through the lens, ironically enough, of fundamentalists who claimed the liberals were overly concerned with the Social Gospel and indifferent to theology. Post 1920s the fundamentalists wanted to do some history revision of their own and DEEMPHASIZE or ignore their prior social engagement. And their distaste with popular culture did not preclude them from social reform. Social reformers often started from the base assumption that the culture was in the pits and required immediate and dramatic action.
I hope this helps. I have a feeling we don’t disagree that much on the history of it all, but I also want to point out that NOT all neo-Evangelicals were fundamentalists. An argument could be made that there was always an evangelical contingent (that remained in their respective denominations or independent churches) and who didn’t get too wrapped up in the fundamentalism of the mid-century. Or, that the evangelical ranks grew in the 60s and beyond as the more moderate or conservative members of the mainline left those denominations for the new evangelical churches in their area.



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Another nonymous

posted September 7, 2007 at 3:55 pm


Posted by: Moderatelad | September 7, 2007 2:42 PM
“I also saw Pavarotti sing with MS. Price in her farwell year – Aida. That was almost over-load for me. I believe that there will be Opera in Heaven.”
Hey – something we completely agree on! I’m green with envy. :-)!



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Anonymous

posted September 7, 2007 at 5:07 pm


“I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing the end of the crossover craze, but I would identify Andrea Bocelli as the principal offender, using the genre to mask the fact that he is not a professional-caliber singer. Which is fair game to bring up, but not in the days after his death. ”
I remember I heard a bit of scoffing when Bobby McPheron got the nod for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musical director. After some thought on the matter, I think the classical world is actually served by doing more cross-over than less. As much as I’d like to be a purist on it,
I would hate to see it die.
Moderatelad–
“I believe that there will be Opera in Heaven.”
But of course–how best to sing “Glory to the Lamb” and “Holy, Holy, Holy?” Of course, there will be plenty of drum solos, as well. I expect it to be a noisy place!



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squeaky

posted September 7, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Above post mine



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canucklehead

posted September 7, 2007 at 5:13 pm


Gotcha History Nut – and I should clarify that even some of those firmly in the fundamentalist camp = e.g. Moody Bible Institute, Billy Sunday, etc., did support such ministries as the Pacific Garden Mission, to their credit.



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Don

posted September 7, 2007 at 5:42 pm


“Why do Sojo posters never dip into the comments?”
Sometimes they do. And Diana has done it more than just about any of the others. I’m sort of surprised she hasn’t posted something here, especially since she’s really taken a verbal beating over this one.
Opera in heaven? I wonder if it matters that opera was invented by a bunch of Italian guys around 1600 who thought they were resurrecting Greek drama.
I loved to hear Pavarotti sing, but I never got the chance to hear him in person. Envy to those of you who did.
Peace,



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Jim Allyn

posted September 7, 2007 at 6:19 pm


Diana, you used the term, “Christian Right.” “Christian Right” is an oxymoron; there is no such thing. The agenda of the political right is absolutely antithetical to the teachings of Christ. The term “Religious Right” would be more appropriate: they do have a religion, but it is not Christianity.



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Hali

posted September 7, 2007 at 6:43 pm


“History Nut” wrote,
“In the late 19th century and early 20th we have groups emphasizing the duty of Christians to serve one another and in an age of industrial and urban crisis that translated into acts of compassion and relief.”
Yes. Those were the Progressives.



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kevin s.

posted September 7, 2007 at 7:03 pm


“”Christian Right” is an oxymoron; there is no such thing. ”
God is a Democrat after all.
“amount of money and time Christians have spent more recently on political action”
A very ironic statement in this forum.
“When the “liberals” do it the issue is, at least in theory, more power for the poor and dispossessed.”
So liberals get to resort to theory…
“But when the conservatives do it, the issue is more power and authority for themselves at the expense of the poor,”
But conservatives do not… There is nothing in conservative theory that says this is true. Whether it is true in reality (or true for liberals) is a different question.
“”liberal” side of the fence who are interested in more than abortion and gay marriage.”
I am interested in more than abortion and gay marriage (though I disagree with Sojo’s stance on both issues). I simply disagree with you about other issues. Sojo plays this game where they assume that because people do not advocate a government solution to something, they must not care about it. Except abortion, because, um, dangerous corners and stuff.
“Two years ago I read an article in the right-wing, dominionist weekly magazine”
So you’ve clearly done your research.
“James Dobson basically ordered the National Association of Evangelicals to fire or discipline its honcho Richard Cizik for signing off on a pro-environmental document?”
Perhaps it was wrong. What about when conservative Richard Cizik signed off an a pro-environmental document. All Sojo did with this was pretend Cizik was a liberal for a little while.
So do you commend Cizik’s efforts, given that he is the conservative political wing of the largest evangelical group in the United States? Or doesn’t he count because he doesn’t fit your ideal caricature of a conservative?



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History Nut

posted September 7, 2007 at 7:50 pm


“History Nut” wrote,
“In the late 19th century and early 20th we have groups emphasizing the duty of Christians to serve one another and in an age of industrial and urban crisis that translated into acts of compassion and relief.”
Hali wrote,
Yes. Those were the Progressives.
My response,
Look, the reason I decided to post on this blog was because I noticed that there was a lot of generalizations being made that just weren’t accurate. I am a little surprised at how resistant some people are to being confronted with uncomfortable details. “Progressives” of the early 20th century included religious conservatives, and there are many different examples. From William Jennings Bryan, the Populist (rural form of progressivism) who testified on behalf of the fundamentalists at the Scopes trial (he was the Secretary of State for Woodrow Wilson, a Progressive President) to the professor from Moody Bible Institute who served in the Progressive social experiment of municipal courts in Chicago.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some will go at great lengths to protect their own neat and tidy assumptions about their political “foe.”
Sure, there were Progressives who were decidedly liberal in their theology but there were also plenty of Progressives who were conservative as well.
Besides Hali, you can’t deny the late 19th century reform groups that were overtly evangelical in purpose and cause – the WCTU which worked towards temperance. The Progressives famously united with WCTU and we all know the end result of that united effort. Or maybe you don’t and that’s why you can claim “Progressives” didn’t have a conservative evangelical element. I’ll fill you in – we got the ill-fated 18th amendment which prohibited the sale of alcohol.
Also, industrialization and urbanization didn’t suddenly emerge in the late 19th and early 20th century. The early effects of these phenomena were present in antebellum America, and my earlier posts detail the primarily evangelical reform work that arose out of the 2nd Great Awakening.
MY TAKE: There are quite a few people who would rather preserve their caricatures of religious conservatives rather than be confronted with the complications of real humans and real events.



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Another nonymous

posted September 7, 2007 at 8:31 pm


History Nut –
You are absolutely right that early 20th-century progressives included religious conservatives like W. J. Bryan. In fact, as has often been pointed out on this site, Jim Wallis is a theological conservative. As I recall, he also praised Jerry Falwell, on the occasion of his death, for bringing his religious convictions into the public sphere, even though he personally disagreed with those convictions. The route back to Finney and other 19th-century “evangelicals” is pretty clear. These are the people we have to thank for the abolition of slavery and the victory of many other progressive causes. It is a proud heritage, and one that Sojo is trying to reclaim for what is now understood as progressive politics.
Diana BB seems to be trying a somewhat different tack here, which only proves that Sojo isn’t a monolith.
PS to Kevin: Bocelli really has a very nice voice; somebody just needs to teach him how to sing.



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Sarasotakid

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:46 pm


Well, I’ll agree with Diana on one thing. The emerging/methodist church certainly caters to the wants of its membership.Posted by: kevin s.
Yeah, amongst those wants is to be free of a presumptuous America-centered rightwing protestantism that has elevated nation over God. I can understand why that gets under your skin.



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Sarasotakid

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:54 pm


The passing of D. James Kennedy and there is passing mention of EE and the rest is blasting him for what he focused on that you disagreed with. Moderatelad
Well, I guess that some of don’t care for his historical revisionism (a polite word for lying). He consciously and deliberately tried to re-write American history to portray this nation as nearly being a perfectly Christian theocracy at its inception- never mind the great diversity in the beliefs of the founding fathers and the treatment of native americans and slavery. I, for one, wouldn’t want to go back to Kennedy’s gilded age.



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Jeff

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:58 pm


Salvation Army
The best example of a conservative evangelical group that was radical about taking care of the poor. Many “social gospel” groups were established in that era, most are now gone. The SA is still here. If you are interested in studying about prophets of God , do some research on William And Katherine Booth. You will be blessed and challenged.
Jeff



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:23 pm


But conservatives do not… There is nothing in conservative theory that says this is true. Whether it is true in reality (or true for liberals) is a different question.
You’re in denial, Kevin. When Jerry Falwell preached to his congregation during one of his “Old-Time Gospel Hour” programs that “we’re entitled to rule,” that said it all for me — while saying on secular TV that “we just want a voice.”
So do you commend Cizik’s efforts, given that he is the conservative political wing of the largest evangelical group in the United States? Or doesn’t he count because he doesn’t fit your ideal caricature of a conservative?
Oh, I LOVED what Cizik — or more accurately, the NAE board — did. I’m a theological conservative, after all, and have always supported “traditional values” concerning abortion, marriage and sexuality. That said, the Christian faith ought not be captive only to those issues and branch out to embrace the full spectrum of Biblical issues, which is exactly what the NAE is doing. That’s where Dobson misses the boat; leaving the hot-button issues actually will cause a drop in both his visibility and income.
This may surprise you, but I don’t have a problem with conservatives in general, only those who are more interested in saying stuff that may not be absolutely true in order to become the authority in this country, answering to no one. That is false religion, pure and simple, and I do not tolerate it anywhere; I’ve said so in conservative publications and also here.



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kevin s.

posted September 8, 2007 at 3:10 am


“PS to Kevin: Bocelli really has a very nice voice; somebody just needs to teach him how to sing.”
Funny. Alas, he seems to be above reproach, stilted vibrato and lousy phrasing or no.
“Yeah, amongst those wants is to be free of a presumptuous America-centered rightwing protestantism that has elevated nation over God. I can understand why that gets under your skin.”
Also amongst those wants are the ability to live however we choose, regardless of whether it is in line with the Bible. I expect little from this country. You don’t know, or even care to know, what I think about the proper role of government.
I would be interested to hear what you have to say in response to History Nut’s comments. She has made a compelling case that Diana is being unfair here, I think.
“You’re in denial, Kevin. When Jerry Falwell”
Jerry Falwell is in no way considered a thought leader of the conservative movement, as convenient as it might be for you to think so. He did nothing to formulate conservative theory.
“Oh, I LOVED what Cizik — or more accurately, the NAE board — did. I’m a theological conservative, after all, and have always supported “traditional values” concerning abortion, marriage and sexuality.”
Great. If you are an NAE style conservative, than we are not at all far apart. We can fine tune environmental policy.
“That’s where Dobson misses the boat; leaving the hot-button issues actually will cause a drop in both his visibility and income.”
Dobson misses the boat because he is terrible at politics. He doesn’t understand compromise, and doesn’t understand the difference between issue advocacy and ideology. His job should be to influence ideology, which is a completely respectable thing to do, and would lend him plenty of visibility and income. Moreso, he should just stick to family psychology.
“This may surprise you, but I don’t have a problem with conservatives in general, only those who are more interested in saying stuff that may not be absolutely true in order to become the authority in this country, answering to no one”
Okay, on this we agree. I would guess that every conservative here would agree with you on this. So why seek to pin us with the more sinister elements of the conservative movement? Isn’t there a better conversation to be had?



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sarasotakid

posted September 8, 2007 at 6:53 am


Also amongst those wants are the ability to live however we choose, regardless of whether it is in line with the Bible. I expect little from this country. You don’t know, or even care to know, what I think about the proper role of government. Kevin S.
I have been around this blog long enough to know what you think the “proper” role of government is- “laissez-faire” (that’s French ya’ know) in economic affairs and activist in deporting undocumented aliens (and thus separating families)and in launching unjust wars of agression, abridging civil rights, etc.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 8, 2007 at 8:14 am


Jerry Falwell is in no way considered a thought leader of the conservative movement, as convenient as it might be for you to think so. He did nothing to formulate conservative theory.
That does not concern me one bit — it’s the practice that really makes conservatism the failure that it has been shown. Besides, most ideologies have a set of unstated assumptions that its theorists don’t often share with the public, which is why it is necessarily divisive.
Okay, on this we agree. I would guess that every conservative here would agree with you on this. So why seek to pin us with the more sinister elements of the conservative movement?
Because it has that legacy, whether you want to admit it or not. Hating Bill and Hillary Clinton, for example, is one of those “sinister elements,” because it’s based on spreading gossip and believing lies that, as things turn out, have NO basis in fact. That Hillary is likely to become president 16 months from now is a sign that that anti-Clinton fervor is played out — and even some on the right are rethinking her.



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Sarasotakid

posted September 8, 2007 at 8:49 am


Kevin to Rick: “Great. If you are an NAE style conservative, than we are not at all far apart. We can fine tune environmental policy.”
NO, not so fast: You would still need to resolve this (from Rick):
“I don’t have a problem with conservatives in general, only those who are more interested in saying stuff that may not be absolutely true in order to become the authority in this country, answering to no one. That is false religion, pure and simple, and I do not tolerate it anywhere; I’ve said so in conservative publications and also here.”
It looks like there is still a pretty big divide between you and Rick, to wit the “saying stuff that may not be absolutely true in order to become the authority in this country answering to no one” pretty much applies to the attitude you display on this blog.



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History Nut

posted September 8, 2007 at 10:27 am


Who said that what “the world needed most was a direct application of the Christian law to the business of life”?
I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t Moody, Falwell, Kennedy, or Robertson. It was the Washington Gladden, the religious liberal who famously spread the social gospel.
Who claimed, “With the sanctity of the home threatened by reckless divorces and even more reckless marriages, with a generation polluted by a mania for gambling, with saloons and brothels at its door, why should the church pause to manicure its theology?”
It wasn’t Dobson or Ralph Reed. It was Shailer Mathews, the famed modernist opponent of Moody fundamentalists.
My point is twofold:
The history of religion, politics, and morality is more complex than saying the religious right have been the sole proponents of family “values” or encouraging a public enforcement of Christian “law” on the public.
And my closing treat will be courtesy of George Herron, the Christian Socialist who supported Eugene Debs – who loved to call the U.S. “the Christian State” warning Americans the civic order(the state, the government) must “be born again” so that the “divine social kingdom” (sounds like Christendom to me) could be established in the U.S.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 8, 2007 at 10:37 am


The history of religion, politics, and morality is more complex than saying the religious right have been the sole proponents of family “values” or encouraging a public enforcement of Christian “law” on the public.
We all know this. The difference, as mentioned before, is that modern religious conservatives were in cahoots with secularists, who were able to link the Gospel with certain economic principles that had little more than a tenuous link to Biblical principles. In fact, the people who opposed and later banned abortion back at the turn of the last century were the “liberals” of that day.



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History Nut

posted September 8, 2007 at 10:58 am


Rick Nowlin wrote,
“We all know this. The difference, as mentioned before, is that modern religious conservatives were in cahoots with secularists, who were able to link the Gospel with certain economic principles that had little more than a tenuous link to Biblical principles. In fact, the people who opposed and later banned abortion back at the turn of the last century were the “liberals” of that day.”
My response,
Actually Rick, one of the biggest criticism of the religious liberals of the early 20th century (other than the fact that they were too war-hungry during WWI) is that they were so closely intertwined with big business and the federal government (they were the social elite after all and all attended the same Ivy league schools and were members of the same exclusive clubs) that they eventually dropped their religious rhetoric and took up a secular social program because it suited their personal interests. The Social Gospel didn’t last very long because people were willing to discard it and its language when it was easier to talk in purely political and secular terms.
So, if your argument is that a commitment to capitalism what makes the Religious Right different than the Religious Left of the early 20th century than you should revisit that claim and read up on how it was not that way at all. Susan Curtis, Consuming Faith is a good place to start. So is Lear’s book.



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Moderatelad

posted September 8, 2007 at 3:32 pm


Posted by: History Nut | September 8, 2007 10:27 AM
And my closing treat will be courtesy of George Herron, the Christian Socialist who supported Eugene Debs – who loved to call the U.S. “the Christian State” warning Americans the civic order(the state, the government) must “be born again” so that the “divine social kingdom” (sounds like Christendom to me) could be established in the U.S.
I really like the way you write and think.
Thank You!
If you are ever in MN – I would like to take you out for a beer of drink of your choice.
Blessings –
.



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Moderatelad

posted September 8, 2007 at 3:51 pm


In all my travelings with the BGEA around the world – believers in others countries look at the US and the last Christian Nation on earth. Interesting.
We are a secular gov’t with our foundation in the Bible and Christianity. Not Orthidox Christianity, Not Catholic or Prodestant or Evangelical. Not Liberal or Conservative. We also respect the rights of other religions to practice their faith in our nation. (not always the cast in other nations)
Blessings –
ps – I find it interesting that Islam – from what I have read will allow an African to become a believer, a Hindu from India to convert. A Christian from the US to believe in Alah. But I see no place there a Jew can convert to Islam. Then again when the Muslim Holy Book declairs that Jew are the desendants of – how is it put – ‘pigs and monkeys’. Guess they do not want that type of people poluting the bloodline.
Blessing –
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 8, 2007 at 5:50 pm


So, if your argument is that a commitment to capitalism what makes the Religious Right different than the Religious Left of the early 20th century than you should revisit that claim and read up on how it was not that way at all.
I’m not saying that, because no one in his right mind opposes capitalism; that’s not really what formed the “religious right” in the first place. Rather, it was the culmination of several things: 1) Deep resentment of the Federal government’s role in the civil-rights movement; 2) A desire by many secular conservatives to overthrow FDR’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society; 3) The Cold War, primarily because of “religious freedom.” You can see all of these aspects in any speeches by a “religious right” figure.
We are a secular gov’t with our foundation in the Bible and Christianity. Not Orthidox Christianity, Not Catholic or Protestant or Evangelical. Not Liberal or Conservative. We also respect the rights of other religions to practice their faith in our nation. (not always the cast in other nations)
Theoretically, yes. Historically and culturally, definitely not, because the theological wars raging in Europe at that time were transplanted here, with most states maintaining official state churches. Moreover, Calvinist Puritans came to these shores specifically to found an explicitly Christian state; adherents to Reformed theology were run out of every European nation where they had a presence because, in those days, they believed and taught that the government should be subject to God (in practice, to them). Later, Roman Catholics faced vicious discrimination; in Maryland at one point they were not allowed to hold public office, and even as recently as JFK’s 1960 campaign for president were there questions about that.



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History Nut

posted September 8, 2007 at 6:27 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote:
“I’m not saying that, because no one in his right mind opposes capitalism; that’s not really what formed the “religious right” in the first place. Rather, it was the culmination of several things: 1) Deep resentment of the Federal government’s role in the civil-rights movement; 2) A desire by many secular conservatives to overthrow FDR’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society; 3) The Cold War, primarily because of “religious freedom.” You can see all of these aspects in any speeches by a “religious right” figure.”
Interesting response Rick. I think you nail some of the ideological underpinnings of the surge of conservatism in postwar America. I would tell the story a little differently (especially on the race angle) because I see the religious right dating back further than their supposed creation in the 1960s but that is for another post and another comment thread!
Here is my question for you though – you wrote before, “The difference, as mentioned before, is that modern religious conservatives were in cahoots with secularists, who were able to link the Gospel with certain economic principles that had little more than a tenuous link to Biblical principles.” — and I am wondering if your criticism of the religious right is that they cooperated with the secular right. Do you think it would be better if Christians supported policy that was only “Christian” in nature? If so, that sounds alot like building a political philosophy solely on Christian truth claims which would be a little too theonomist or theocratic for me!
**So which one is it? Is the religious right too hung up on making their Christianity a part of their politics? Or are they not doing it enough?
***Also, we might want to consult those back issues of the Post-American to be sure that there wasn’t “opposition” to capitalism going on!



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 8, 2007 at 7:40 pm


I would tell the story a little differently (especially on the race angle) because I see the religious right dating back further than their supposed creation in the 1960s but that is for another post and another comment thread!
Not quite. The “religious right” as we know it today had a definite starting point: 1978. According to former Nixon aide and conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie — he co-wrote a book published a couple of years ago called “America’s Right Turn” — that very year he reached out to Jerry Falwell to gather religious conservatives for Viguerie’s growing direct-mail empire; thus Moral Majority was born.
I am wondering if your criticism of the religious right is that they cooperated with the secular right.
That was a major, major problem because they ended up having the agenda set for them. And I seriously doubt that many of the secular conservatives were brought to Christ in the process. The only one I know who did was Lee Atwater, who repented of his tactics and attitude and even apologized to Michael Dukakis before he died.
Is the religious right too hung up on making their Christianity a part of their politics? Or are they not doing it enough?
The problem with the religious right was that it sought cultural authority, which should never be the Christian’s goal because it always gets in the way of the spiritual goals. That’s why it was going down eventually, as people would figure that out.



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Payshun

posted September 8, 2007 at 8:19 pm


HN,
I was a little busy w/ work and did not have time to respond to the rest of what you said.
So when you were talking about abortion I thought this:
(This created a major wedge issue for the country and guaranteed that many people would oppose abortion on merits having little to do with
its morality and more to do with the fundamental problem of forcibly moving society along on an issue it wasn’t quite ready for.)
was odd. Society wasn’t ready for civil rights either or for suffrage for women. I am by no means comparing abortion to that (but I am using them as examples of other things that society had to push the courts and everything else to make happen.) There were many women that were having back alley abortions and all manner of things to abort their unborn. It was dangerous. So many of these groups saw this danger and chose to find a way to save at least one life. I don’t agree w/ the rationale or the choice but they still chose it. I don’t judge them for it either.
I also think it is a mistake (for you or even other gay men) to think society will just allow for something amicable. That rarely if ever happens. There are very few examples of that in American history. Every ethnic group that has been discriminated against fought for what they wanted. They had to take it. It was the same for women or the poor. Ofcourse there is going to be a backlash.
But the backlash will diminish more over time until it’s really a non issue. Some examples include women working in the work place or voting or… Those are non issues for the American public even though they may be hotly debated topics w/n each gender, cultural group or marraige.
HN:
Look, I think racism is horrible and the actions of the past (whites both Rep and Dem) were horrendous. But we need to be careful that we don’t get sloppy with how things became the way they are. Generalizations aren’t always easy to make when one considers the specifics of the past.
Me:
I know that. Specifically the younger ghettoes were made to keep black people away from white people and create a wedge to control unions. When bosses (in cities like Detroit, Chicago and Dallas- just to name a few) needed to break the back of the unions they built had the government build “ghettoes” to make sure black labor could be close enough to work but never close enough to live w/. The government never planned on really helping the poor in my ethnic group. It was not their goal. They just wanted to control black migratory patterns.
The newer communities were never designed to be successful. I give Nixon a great deal of credit for successfully coming up w/ an option for America’s government to help the poorer black community. But to say that HUD and other agencies made the most of that opportunity is factually inaccurate. Not only that but American whites were still very racist. When white people saw them moving nearer to their neighborhoods they fled. More crime came…
HN:
Sure, there were Progressives who were decidedly liberal in their theology but there were also plenty of Progressives who were conservative as well.
Me:
You are absolutely right about that. Too bad that is no longer true for huge sections of the conservative tent. Even though I was not alive at the time I have done a lot of research into Barry Goldwater and that man was very progressive and conservative. (I know an oxymoron.) I did not agree w/ him on many issues but I could at least work w/ him. The same cannot be said for many of the conservatives I see today. Politically it’s too polarized. Ok I am exaggerating a bit. I have seen conservatives at some of the rallies I have gone to protesting specific injustices (ie janitors rights) so I can’t imply that all don’t care about the environment or other people. But they are so few.
I am theologically liberal and my faith has grown from the monks and seekers so I don’t want you to think that my critique only corresponds to policially conservative people. I would through conservative theology under that bus as well.
p



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Payshun

posted September 8, 2007 at 8:37 pm


Mod said:
We are a secular gov’t with our foundation in the Bible and Christianity. Not Orthidox Christianity, Not Catholic or Prodestant or Evangelical. Not Liberal or Conservative. We also respect the rights of other religions to practice their faith in our nation. (not always the cast in other nations)
Me:
Still drinking the cool aid huh? Our foundation was never really in the bible but our founding father’s sure used it to paint a mythology of what our principles are. To be fair we don’t fully respect the rights of others to practice their religion. If you doubt that then why was there such a huge deal made about the Muslim politician wanting to use the Koran instead of the Bible. It made sense to me that he should use his holy book for many Americans it did not. We allow other religions to worship and do as they please as long as it doesn’t confront Christianity. if it does then they get attacked.
p



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Moderatelad

posted September 8, 2007 at 9:27 pm


Posted by: Payshun | September 8, 2007 8:37 PM
Payshun please – there has to be better examples than the MN congressman?
Historically – any congress-person that wanted the ‘photo-opt’ on the fake swearing in has used the Bible regardless of their faith. The Islamic MN just needed to get his name in the papers so that people would notice him. (whatever) Even the Jewish Congressman from CT used the ‘Bible’ when he had a picture taken. The MN Congressman and the Bible has nothing to do with him ‘practing’ his faith.
The Federalist Papers are full of references to the Bible – Faith and why our founding documents reference God and Creator.
We allow other religions to worship and do as they please as long as it doesn’t confront Christianity. if it does then they get attacked.
I am not in total agreement with this statement. Yes I am sure that there have been times in the past when some ‘judge’ in some community got on their hi-horse and caused some limitation somewhere. By and large that is not the norm – it is a rare occasion. Some ‘judges’ are still out of touch in their understanding of the law.
I believe that when the practice of ones religion breaks our laws that have been inacted by the state and federal gov’ts – we will see some religions in fact limited in their ability to practice all their faiths ideas. That is going to be an interesting day.
Have a great Sunday!
.



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Moderatelad

posted September 8, 2007 at 9:31 pm


I know that Diana Butler Bass does read these postings and has responded to some. Will she come on and admit that she might have errored or at least offer condolences to the family, friends and congregation of Dr. Kennedy?
blesings –
.



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James

posted September 8, 2007 at 11:13 pm


Then again when the Muslim Holy Book declairs that Jew are the desendants of – how is it put – ‘pigs and monkeys’. Guess they do not want that type of people poluting the bloodline.Blessing –
Posted by: Moderatelad
Please provide a citation for that.
Until recent history at least, historically Jews received better treatment by the Muslims than by Christians. The so-called “Christian” crusaders massacred the Jews when they went into the Holy Land.



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Doug

posted September 8, 2007 at 11:39 pm


Rick,
I am not saying you are not a christian but your comments and what you believe make me wonder. Only God knows your heart. I say this with the upmost respect but you are wrong on the Clintons. Bill and Hillary are two of the most evil people ever to be in power in our great country. The mere fact that a christian could ever vote for them is beyond the pail to me. You seem to think the accusations are only rumors and falsehoods shows how much you have been lied to by the drive by media who refuses to print the truth on them. Talk to all the girls Bill raped and you just might change your tune. Just remember you reap what you sow.



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Payshun

posted September 9, 2007 at 1:25 am


Moderatelad, (it hurts to call you that.)
Historically – any congress-person that wanted the ‘photo-opt’ on the fake swearing in has used the Bible regardless of their faith. The Islamic MN just needed to get his name in the papers so that people would notice him. (whatever) Even the Jewish Congressman from CT used the ‘Bible’ when he had a picture taken. The MN Congressman and the Bible has nothing to do with him ‘practing’ his faith.
Me:
Talk about cynical. Did it ever cross your mind that the man might be genuine. That if we were as pluralistic a society as you claim we would have let him regardless of what other people would have done.
Also the early settlers (I would call conquerers and murderers) persecuted non Christians as a matter of course, any time their African slaves continued their ancient religious practices they were killed or sold off or brainwashed or forced into Christianity. Then we have our own native peoples. Our ancestors outlawed their religioucs practices. So historically speaking our nation is not accepting of other people’s views. Your idea of it is a myth.
Doug,
You give me a laugh but at the same time I feel scared for you. From what you just wrote it’s obvious you don’t really know grace that well. The Clintons are no more evil than Dick Cheney and we on the left feel similarly about him. Sometimes I have to forgive that man for all the evil and destruction he has brought onto this great land. But then I think to myself wow I don’t have the power to judge him. It’s not in my job description. So I would caution you on judging the Clintons.
p



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Moderatelad

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:30 am


Posted by: Payshun | September 9, 2007 1:25 AM
Did it ever cross your mind that the man might be genuine.
I do not doubt that he could be genuine in many ways. But you must remember that I live in MN and have seen the way his organization opperated. He has practiced his faith here with, as far as I can see, no restrictions. He also has affilations with Islamic groups that if a Republican White Male had the same type of affiliation would never have been ellected. It would be like a Rep. associating with the KKK in the year 2007.
‘…persecuted non Christians as a matter of course, any time their African slaves continued their ancient religious…’
Yes, yes this happened. But the way you write about it, everyone was doing it back then and that is not true. Many white came here because of religious perscution in their homeland. Many did not do the samething to the people that were here. Many owned slaves – but many did not and our Founding Fathers set up our gov’t for the future demise of the slave trade and ownership.
For everything there is a season – under Heaven.
Blessings –
.



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Moderatelad

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:34 am


Posted by: James | September 8, 2007 11:13 PM
Please provide a citation for that.
I am not able to site ‘chapter and verse’ on this one. But it is what my former neighbor, who is Muslim, sited to me about their belief.
Blessings –
.



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James

posted September 9, 2007 at 10:21 am


I am not able to site ‘chapter and verse’ on this one. But it is what my former neighbor, who is Muslim, sited to me about their belief.Blessings –
Posted by: Moderatelad
Doesn’t sound like adequate authority to me to portray an entire religion. Christ calls us to love our enemies and to love those who persecute us. The least we would owe to those whom we oppose would be to accurately portray how they feel and act rather than to view them from the most negative things written in their scriptures- (our scriptures certainly have some things that if imputed to us would cast us in a bad light) especially if we don’t even know if it is really there.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 9, 2007 at 2:40 pm


I am not saying you are not a christian but your comments and what you believe make me wonder. Only God knows your heart. I say this with the upmost respect but you are wrong on the Clintons. Bill and Hillary are two of the most evil people ever to be in power in our great country.
Doug — I’m in the “drive-by” media, and I thus know for a fact what really happened, and what I’ve always said on this blog about the Clintons is absolutely true, contrary to what you believe. For openers, not only was Hillary’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” accurate but one of its primary backers runs a competing newspaper in my city (the same agent that brought out the “Vince-Foster-may-have-been-murdered” non-story. I’m not going take the time to refute every instance, but what you may have heard was first promoted by right-wing media, which has essentially no credibility anymore because it has been exposed as fraudulent, not to mentioned directly connected to either the Republican Party or conservative interest groups.
But there is a bigger issue. If you prefer to listen to lies and vicious gossip about someone you don’t like, frankly I have no respect for your opinion — I know what’s been said about Bush’s character but won’t repeat it here because they’re beside the point. People on this blog, and one in particular, have slammed me for being disrespectful, but not all opinions are valid.



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Moderatelad

posted September 9, 2007 at 3:23 pm


Posted by: James | September 9, 2007 10:21 AM
‘Doesn’t sound like adequate authority to me to portray an entire religion.’
I have heard it from several sources. I also find it interesting that Islam will allow many from around the world to convert but they do not want ‘Jews’ in Islam – interesting.
Blessings –
Doug
Save your breathe – or fingers. He claims to know everything about Clintons and Iraq – and we are not to ‘argue with him’.



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Payshun

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:16 pm


Mod said:
Yes, yes this happened. But the way you write about it, everyone was doing it back then and that is not true. Many white came here because of religious perscution in their homeland. Many did not do the samething to the people that were here. Many owned slaves – but many did not and our Founding Fathers set up our gov’t for the future demise of the slave trade and ownership.
Me:
Nearly everyone was doing it in some form or another. Have you ever heard of white man’s burden. It basically says that it was the white man’s responsibility (burden ) to send Christianity everywhere, thru almost every mean’s necessary. It was a big part of American history it’s the ideology they used to conquer the Indian nations. So please don’t ignore their deaths and the destruction our ancestors heaped on people that did not deserve it.
They did not even stick to the dates they set for the erradication of the slave trade.
You:
For everything there is a season – under Heaven.
Me:
I have heard this before but this doesn’t make our country a Christian nation and the sooner you ditch the myth of that the better off you will be in terms of historical accuracy. This nation was founded on greed, not Jesus.
p



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:17 pm


Save your breathe – or fingers. He claims to know everything about Clintons and Iraq – and we are not to ‘argue with him’.
I won’t say anything about Iraq, but I do know about the Clinton “scandals.” You don’t have to believe me; just do the homework for yourself and you’ll know I’m telling the gospel truth. The question is, can you handle it?



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History Nut

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:36 pm


Payshun wrote: “Society wasn’t ready for civil rights either or for suffrage for women. I am by no means comparing abortion to that (but I am using them as examples of other things that society had to push the courts and everything else to make happen.)”
My response:
I guess in my mind there is a big difference between arguing for the moral imperative to right the horrific wrongs of slavery and the denial of full citizenship to women and the moral ambiguity of what to do with a nation that has a segment of the population that desires abortion rights and a statistically larger segment of the population that either disapproves of abortion or wants it to be a last resort. While there are people who are very PRO-abortion (there seem to be lots of pro-choice people who would like to see the number of abortions go down while it remains legal) – there does seem to be consensus that abortion is not a morally noble act.
**Your take on Goldwater is interesting. I think there is a lot of paradox in him and he is an interesting person to have been behind a lot of the New Right momentum.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 9, 2007 at 10:15 pm


Your take on Goldwater is interesting. I think there is a lot of paradox in him and he is an interesting person to have been behind a lot of the New Right momentum.
Goldwater was the very first “New Right” presidential candidate and was as much as anyone responsible for the South, then a Democratic stranglehold, eventually shifting to the GOP. For openers, he openly opposed civil-rights legislation, which white Southerners wanted to hear but on the basis that the Federal government had stuck its nose where it didn’t belong. (To his dying day he regretted that stance.) His intemperate remarks turned off most of the voters elsewhere in the country, so the conservatives retooled their message. Reagan, thus, was a “kindler, gentler” Goldwater.



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Anonymous

posted September 10, 2007 at 12:07 am


Posted by: Rick Nowlin | September 9, 2007 8:17 PM
No comment – no argument.
you really should stop – I am not going to engage you in conversation.
.



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kevin s.

posted September 10, 2007 at 12:43 am


“Please provide a citation for that.”
22:19-22 is a nice place to start, but the calls to wage war against “non-believers” (which, coincidentally was what Mohammed was doing) exist throughout the Koran. That Mohammed massacred Jewish settlements lends us to the reasonable conclusion that they are amongst the swine etc… referred to in the Muslim holy texts.
But what does it matter? It is a false religion, worshipping a false God. We have no compelling reason to respect it. We owe it to Muslims to understand that they, like we once did, believe in a lie, and not to offer judgment.
But when Muslims start putting words to action, it does not behoove us to whitewash that which is described by those words.



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Robert Alu

posted September 10, 2007 at 2:20 am


Hi all,
It was not for nothing that Gandhi claimed to love Christ but hate Christians. Many of the things we believe and do in his name are simply shameful.
Is Islam a false religion? I don’t know, as I haven’t studied it. Is ‘Christianity’ a true religion? I don’t know, there seem to be different versions of whatever it is around, hahaha …
A point to note is that, of course, our Lord and Saviour was not a Christian! However, if we are to be his faithful followers we need to rise above prejudice and act in the love that he showed/shows us while we were/are ‘yet sinners’.
Muslims, Christians and Jews are all believers in the books of the Law, make no mistake.
But,
Many American Christians might be unhappy to learn that, in fact, Christianity is closer to Islam than the Jewish faith, and that, arguably, Muslims have, throughout history, treated Jews a lot better than have Christians. They may further be shocked to learn that Muhammad considered all that he taught a continuation of Jesus’ message, not a negation.
The ‘sweetheart relationship’ that much of American CHRISTENDOM (good word) has with the State of Israel makes it very difficult for many to approach Islam objectively. A culture of adversarialism; an ‘us versus them’ mentality that I see increasingly in these pages further complicates the picture.
But,
Please do not pay any attention to me. Listen to some anti-Zionist Jews, read their works. Try to understand what might really be going on. Do we get involved emotionally in politically generated games whose genesis we do not even stop to consider, rather than be led by the Spirit of God?
Why do so many automatically imagine that
Muslims hate Jews, for instance? Does Islam have an antisocial DNA peculiar to it?
I have quoted Jewish atheist, Uri Avnery, below:
“True, Muhammad called for the use of the sword in his war against opposing tribes – Christian, Jewish and others – in Arabia , when he was building his state. But that was a political act, not a religious one; basically a fight for territory, not for the spreading of the faith.
Jesus said: “You will recognize them by their fruits.” The treatment of other religions by Islam must be judged by a simple test: How did the Muslim rulers behave for more than a thousand years, when they had the power to “spread the faith by the sword”?
Well, they just did not.
For many centuries, the Muslims ruled Greece. Did the Greeks become Muslims? Did anyone even try to Islamize them? On the contrary, Christian Greeks held the highest positions in the Ottoman administration. The Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians, Hungarians and other European nations lived at one time or another under Ottoman rule and clung to their Christian faith. Nobody compelled them to become Muslims and all of them remained devoutly Christian.
True, the Albanians did convert to Islam, and so did the Bosniaks. But nobody argues that they did this under duress. They adopted Islam in order to become favorites of the government and enjoy the fruits.
In 1099, the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem and massacred its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants indiscriminately, in the name of the gentle Jesus. At that time, 400 years into the occupation of Palestine by the Muslims, Christians were still the majority in the country. Throughout this long period, no effort was made to impose Islam on them. Only after the expulsion of the Crusaders from the country, did the majority of the inhabitants start to adopt the Arabic language and the Muslim faith – and they were the forefathers of most of today’s Palestinians.
THERE IS no evidence whatsoever of any attempt to impose Islam on the Jews. As is well known, under Muslim rule the Jews of Spain enjoyed a bloom the like of which the Jews did not enjoy anywhere else until almost our time. Poets like Yehuda Halevy wrote in Arabic, as did the great Maimonides. In Muslim Spain, Jews were ministers, poets, scientists. In Muslim Toledo, Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars worked together and translated the ancient Greek philosophical and scientific texts. That was, indeed, the Golden Age. How would this have been possible, had the Prophet decreed the “spreading of the faith by the sword”?” Column by URI AVNERY
“Every honest Jew who knows the history of his people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam, which has protected the Jews for 50 generations, while the Christian world persecuted the Jews and tried many times ‘by the sword’ to get them to abandon their faith.” Column by Uri Avnery. URI AVNERY
I hope that provides some perspective, but I still must come back to basics. Even if Muslims hated everyone and wanted to kill us all; even then, how would Jesus Christ have us react?
Why do we so quickly conclude that Muslims are violent because that is what they are taught but do not stop to consider why us Christians have been the most violent religious group in history DESPITE our Lord’s clear teachings against ‘living by the sword’?
Shalom, Ma’asalam, Maranatha!
– Alu



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Anonymous

posted September 10, 2007 at 9:54 am


Alu wrote: “I hope that provides some perspective, but I still must come back to basics. Even if Muslims hated everyone and wanted to kill us all; even then, how would Jesus Christ have us react?”
This is a nice illustration of where pacifism leads us.
Also, it takes a “true believer” to deny the reality that Islam spread by sword AND conversion. Many did convert under military pressure, and sadly the Islamic principle of allowing minority religions to live under their rule is often distorted into being some form of religious pluralism and tolerance, which it isn’t. Non-Muslim subjects were never given the same treatment as their Muslim neighbors. To claim that Muslims protected Jews by according them rights as 2nd class citizens is a laughable and outrageous claim.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:10 am


No comment – no argument.
That’s true — because you’ve already lost.



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Doug

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:19 am


Rick,
Now I understand where you get your liberal ideas from. I suppose you think that your profession is unbiased. Many studies have been done that show how biased the print and tv media is toward liberal ideas. I know that this sight is a false witness for christ when the articles on here bash Gods true followers. James Kennedy and Jerry Fallwell were great men of God who stood up for the many evils in our time. Rick you said you can quote scripture with the best of them. What does that prove? Even Satan knows scripture. Rick I don’t think you can handle the truth. Yes abortion and homosexuality are evil and are tearing this great nation down. Liberals are the enemies of God. Liberals are the ones calling good evil and evil good. This should not be a surprise since the bible said it would happen. We can disagree all we want on how to handle poverty and health care we want. Those are not moral issues. Real morality is how to we deal with the killing of innocent babies and how we deal with people destroying their lives and others thru the sexual decisions they make. Please do not throw Iraq in here as if you read the old testiment God did allow no make that commanded that evil people be taken out. Christians can not seriously think that Saddam was not evil can they?
Rick be a man and tell us what you know about Bush. Could it be what you know about him is wrong? I dislike the Clintons because unlike you I watch what they say and do and to me it is just pure evil what they stand for. They are liars and enimies of the Lord Jesus Christ.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:22 am


It was not for nothing that Gandhi claimed to love Christ but hate Christians. Many of the things we believe and do in his name are simply shameful.
Nowhere was this more true than in South Africa, where Gandhi actually lived. I was taking a membership course at my interracial, multicultural evangelical church, and the leader mentioned that, disillusioned with Hinduism, he tried to enter a church but was barred because he wasn’t white. He concluded, “These people don’t practice what they preach,” and he never again seriously considered Christianity.
To claim that Muslims protected Jews by according them rights as 2nd class citizens is a laughable and outrageous claim.
It’s also true. About two decades ago I came across a paper addressing that very subject. Because what also needs to be addressed is Jewish persecution of Christians — a dirty little secret — because many of the Arabs are Christians.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:36 am


I suppose you think that your profession is unbiased. Many studies have been done that show how biased the print and tv media is toward liberal ideas. I know that this sight is a false witness for christ when the articles on here bash Gods true followers. James Kennedy and Jerry Fallwell were great men of God who stood up for the many evils in our time.
I never said that my profession was unbiased. But I challenge your assumption — and it is that — that Kennedy and Falwell were “God’s true followers” as if anyone who disagrees with them isn’t; it is my study of the Scripture that forces me to question that. Kennedy and Falwell used Scripture as battering rams to try to beat this culture into submission, and that’s not Biblical no matter how you try to justify it.
Rick be a man and tell us what you know about Bush. Could it be what you know about him is wrong? I dislike the Clintons because unlike you I watch what they say and do and to me it is just pure evil what they stand for. They are liars and enimies of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I do not know anything about Bush; I do not have any proof as to things that have been said about his person, so repeating anything I may have heard here or anywhere else would be pure gossip (and there’s Biblical sanction about that).
I also know for a fact that most about what you said about the Clintons is absolutely, unquestionably false, despite what you believe, and that has absolutely nothing to do with ideology. If you’re going to talk about them, give me some facts, not some regurgitated garbage from right-wing radio, which has far less credibility than the Clintons. (Oh, and I suggest you check out a book called “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative” by David Brock. It’s a first-person account of the real story on the Clinton “scandals.”)



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Moderatelad

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:38 am


Posted by: Rick Nowlin | September 10, 2007 10:10 AM
That’s true — because you’ve already lost.
How can one loose when you are in the race?
Truth be told – you are quite the intellectual – seriously. I just will not dialog with you because of your know-it-all and ‘don’t argue with me’ attitude. Have a great life and there are others that you can talk to and I will not comment about you or what you have written anymore.
Be blessed – have fun – long life – Amen.
out –
.



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kevin s.

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:40 am


” Even if Muslims hated everyone and wanted to kill us all; even then, how would Jesus Christ have us react?”
He’d call his centurion friend to take care of them.
But seriously, there is no compelling reason to believe that Christ would have opposed government taking action to protect the people of his own country.
“A point to note is that, of course, our Lord and Saviour was not a Christian! ”
Why is this noteworthy? Our Lord has no need to repent of his sins. He surely believes that Christ died for ours. People always make this point, and then it usually ends their paragraph, as if there is nothing more to say about it.
“Many American Christians might be unhappy to learn that, in fact, Christianity is closer to Islam than the Jewish faith, and that, arguably, Muslims have, throughout history, treated Jews a lot better than have Christians”
You are doing a number of things here, including conflating ethinicity and culture with religion. Either way, what bearing does this have on Christians today? Mohammed was a tyrant. Christians of the past were often tyrants. The difference is that we do not hold our tyrants up as prophets.
“Why do so many automatically imagine that
Muslims hate Jews, for instance?”
Only someone who willingly ignores the obvious could ask this question.
“Does Islam have an antisocial DNA peculiar to it?”
Yes, in essence. It’s called the Koran. It is an evil, nasty book written by a despicable raping pedophile.
“But that was a political act, not a religious one; basically a fight for territory, not for the spreading of the faith.”
Then why is conversion by the sword introduced in their holy texts as a justification for Mohammed’s slaughter? As you say, you haven’t studied it, but to extricate Mohammed’s conquests from their religion is absurd. This is the man who is so flippin’ amazing that Muslims take to the streets whenever his image is reprinted. That, friend, is worship.
“THERE IS no evidence whatsoever of any attempt to impose Islam on the Jews. ”
Do you know who Rayhanah was? To be fair, most attempts at conversion were an attempt to justify Mohammed’s sexual escapades. The good prophet couldn’t be caught fornicating with livestock after all. As for the rest, it seems that they were merely slaughtered, with conversion by the sword added in as a justification for murder.
“Every honest Jew who knows the history of his people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam”
As evinced by the picture he took embracing Yassir Arafat. Look, this statement is bananas, and certainly does not represent the Jewish mainstream.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 11:49 am


Truth be told – you are quite the intellectual – seriously. I just will not dialog with you because of your know-it-all and ‘don’t argue with me’ attitude.
You miss the point. You have told outright lies on this blog, and I wasn’t going to allow you get away with it because the cause of Christ is hurt when you do. In addition, I’ve told you what the truth was and you tried to dismiss it because it doesn’t fit your ideological agenda. That said, why then should I respect your opinion?



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Moderatelad

posted September 10, 2007 at 11:52 am


Posted by: Rick Nowlin | September 10, 2007 11:49 AM
Done – finished – ended – move-on.
The End.
.



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Anonymous

posted September 10, 2007 at 12:50 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote:
“‘To claim that Muslims protected Jews by according them rights as 2nd class citizens is a laughable and outrageous claim.’
It’s also true. About two decades ago I came across a paper addressing that very subject. Because what also needs to be addressed is Jewish persecution of Christians — a dirty little secret — because many of the Arabs are Christians.”
Uh, Rick? Could we get more specifics here? I mean, you seem content with just asserting something is true or false, but for the sake of actually waging a convincing argument you might want to supply some facts to go along with your claims every now and then. I know there are different standards in the mainstream media, but outside that vocation people tend to have a pretty high standard for what passes for “proof” and support for an argument.



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canucklehead

posted September 10, 2007 at 1:19 pm


>>>”James Kennedy and Jerry Fallwell were great men of God who stood up for the many evils in our time.” Doug
I assume that’s what they call a Freudian slip??
ModLad – I believe some time ago you said you would no longer engage Rick. Then you slur him in an appended note to Doug…??
“Doug
Save your breathe – or fingers. He claims to know everything about Clintons and Iraq – and we are not to ‘argue with him’.”
Posted by: Moderatelad | September 9, 2007 3:23 PM
What? You think Rick’s not going to see that? I suggest that tactic reveals a lot about how “moderate” you really are….”moderate” compared to what, who, when?



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moderatelad

posted September 10, 2007 at 1:26 pm


Posted by: canucklehead | September 10, 2007 1:19 PM
I do appologize for that and yes I understand that ‘he’ would see it. I have posted my last to ‘him’ for the very reason you express in your post as well as others.
It is over and no more posts will happen again.
Thanks for holding my accountable and your willingness to respect the dialog.
Blessings –
.



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Doug

posted September 10, 2007 at 1:56 pm


I agree with moderatelad. I am done on this post because it is causing me to become not christ like. It just makes me sad to see so many people who claim to be speaking for God blinded by the enemy that they cannot see the truth when it is right in front of them. I do hope that the people on this site who are ignorantly doing satan’s bidding will one day wake up and see the light. I also hope they are truly are saved because in the end that is all that matters. It just makes me angry when Gods true followers are slandered. I am out. Have a blessed life and May God Bless you. I was a liberal who believed as you and saw liberlism for the evil that it really is. May God open up your eyes to the truth as well. Rick if God does open your eyes to the truth be prepared to be used mightily by him in your profession to get the truth out. God Bless you.



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kevin s.

posted September 10, 2007 at 2:25 pm


“I mean, you seem content with just asserting something is true or false, ”
Well, he did read a paper twenty years ago. Arab Christians would not be “oppressed” were it not for their Islamic leadership. The plight of Arab Christians is that they are led by those who want to eliminate Israel.



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Adamswulf

posted September 10, 2007 at 2:49 pm


Only God knows who His people are, however, as I read and learn the Bible, I firmly believe Dr. Kennedy is written in God’s Book of Life “before the foundation of the world.” He didn’t hate anyone. His aim was to warn people of the wrath to come. He believed all the Bible, not just parts of it, as so many people who support liberal theology.
His views on America as a Christian nation were not invented by him. He got it through a huge supply of original source documents from the Pilgrims and U.S. government documents up into the 20th century. A wonderful book that proves this is back in print after 140 years. It is called The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, by Benjamin F. Morris, 1864. It is available thru American Vision
Columbus, the Pilgrims, and others claimed this land for Christ. They did not come for gold, but for God. Those who follow God/Christ/’s leading today should heed His Word. We must know it and live it. It makes it so much easier to spot the errors in the theological leftists’ misuse of Scripture so generous in SoJo.
I believe it was Dr. Francis Schaeffer who said something to the effect of, “Liberal theology is just the old secular humanism using spiritual terms.” How true.
May God bless you all to His true truth.



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letjusticerolldown

posted September 10, 2007 at 3:18 pm


“Oh Divine Master,
grant that I not so much seek….
to be understood as to understand”
Our journeys have been different–a gift to the tapestry of a beloved community.
In an age overrun with information, communication, and noise–is there need for us to become those who understand? Maybe the greatest gifts God has given through Dr. Kennedy, Jim Wallis, you and me–are most constricted by a vacuum of those who can hear and understand.



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danowlin@usa.net

posted September 10, 2007 at 3:23 pm


Could we get more specifics here? I mean, you seem content with just asserting something is true or false, but for the sake of actually waging a convincing argument you might want to supply some facts to go along with your claims every now and then.
The paper was based largely on two books, “Theft of a Nation” and “Whose Promised Land?”, whose authors I don’t remember now. I did read the former some years ago, and it made a lot of sense to me.
I was a liberal who believed as you and saw liberalism for the evil that it really is. May God open up your eyes to the truth as well. Rick if God does open your eyes to the truth be prepared to be used mightily by him in your profession to get the truth out. God Bless you.
In 2000 God used me to proclaim the Gospel in the newspaper where I work, and today I lead a weekly prayer meeting. However, unlike you, I have never confused Christian commitment with ideological conservatism, and you should know that most of the people who subscribe to that agenda are NOT Christians. The Gospel is not so much about “fire insurance” as redemption, reconciliation and relationship, not just with God but also with other human beings. That’s what your brand of “Christianity” lacks, and as such I have no interest in that. This “Christian nation” jazz is also basically worthless to me.
His aim was to warn people of the wrath to come. He believed all the Bible, not just parts of it, as so many people who support liberal theology.
There are plenty of “conservative” people who don’t believe all the Bible, as evidenced by some of their ideological positions — in fact, many haven’t even read all of it! For example, more than a few “conservatives,” especially in the South, were outright racists. Still others, more recently, wanted to use their economic heft the screw the poor under the guise of “compassion.” And there are other instances I won’t get into here.
It makes it so much easier to spot the errors in the theological leftists’ misuse of Scripture so generous in SoJo.
Sojo exists precisely because of the myriad theological errors of the right, which the right refuses to address because of its own pride — it brooks no dissent and refuses even to talk to anyone who doesn’t fully agree with it. That’s a dysfunctional approach to not even Christianity but to knowing Jesus Himself.



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Payshun

posted September 10, 2007 at 3:28 pm


I laughed out loud when I read this: “I was a liberal who believed as you and saw liberlism for the evil that it really is.” As if conservatism is not evil. Your arrogance and foolishness is astounding. I pray that God wakes you up and shows you the brokeness of your true faith (conservative policy.) Unlike you none of the liberals here are conflating liberalism w/ faith in God.
p



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 3:32 pm


That last post was mine.



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Don

posted September 10, 2007 at 3:59 pm


“Columbus, the Pilgrims, and others claimed this land for Christ. They did not come for gold, but for God.”
Ummmm, yes, the Pilgrims and many others came here not for gold, but for religious freedom. No doubt about that.
But there were an awful lot of folks who DID come here for the gold, or to try and amass wealth for themselves in one way or another. We cannot excise that part of our history from the religious freedom part, much as we might wish we could. Humans are fallen, and it comes out in all kinds of ways, including the founding of this nation.
Were we a Christian nation at one time? IMO, it doesn’t matter. We have to deal with reality the way it is. And one thing that was always troublesome to me about Kennedy and some of the other religious right leaders, especially James Dobson, was their rose-colored approach to the 1950s, as if it were some kind of ideal world that we could go back to.
I think I mentioned Flannery O’Connor in an earlier post on this thread. It might do us all well to read some of the stories of this Southern Christian writer, which are set in the 1950s and in the so-called Bible Belt South. She had an uncanny ability to see through the pristine surface of that time and place and uncover the not-so pristine reality lurking just under that surface.
Peace,



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kevin s.

posted September 10, 2007 at 4:27 pm


Where has Dobson said that the 1950s were an ideal world?



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 4:44 pm


Where has Dobson said that the 1950s were an ideal world?
There were two articles in an issue of PRISM, the magazine of Evangelicals for Social Action (http://www.esa-online.org), that was published a few months ago that talk about that — not Dobson specifically, however. I’m not at home, else I’d be able to reference them better.



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Don

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:08 pm


Dobson is always talking about the 1950s as if they were some kind of normal period in history. I can’t cite any specific references, because my impression comes from listening to his radio broadcasts. I’m sure I could dig through his newsletters (my wife has saved them all from at least the last 20 years), though, and come up with some citations. Finding time to do that, however…
D



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canucklehead

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:20 pm


…”Columbus, the Pilgrims, and others claimed this land for Christ. They did not come for gold, but for God.” Adamswulf
I trust whoever is pedalling this sh, sch, schtuff, is being satirical when they suggest the Europeans came over here on a church planting mission. Read STOLEN CONTINENTS by Ronald Wright about the Catholic/Anglican explorers methods of uh, “church planting” and then try and make the same statement with a straight face.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:33 pm


… the Pilgrims and many others came here not for gold, but for religious freedom. No doubt about that.
Not exactly, because religious freedom as we understand it didn’t exist back then. Calvinists, which included the Puritans that came from England, were run out of every European country where they had a presence because they believed that, essentially, government should be subject to the church (which, of course, meant them, because in their view the church was and should be subject to nobody). You see that conviction even today in some of the laws in New England states.



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canuucklehead

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:46 pm


“Where has Dobson said that the 1950s were an ideal world?”
Posted by: kevin s. | September 10, 2007 4:27 PM
why, right here at my fingertips b/c I read it for my devotions every morning is Dobson’s newsletter dated June 1994 which contains a photo of his beaming now-wife who was her high school’s homecoming queen
“Back in the 1950s…grandfatherly Dwight Eisenhower was president…and most of our congressmen, even those who professed no particular faith understood and defended the Judeo-Christian system of values.”
From a critique of Dobson’s ministry:
“Dobson’s anecdotes consistently conjure up a picture of the 1950s in which everyone is white and middle-class and without serious problems. He doesn’t acknowledge the poverty and racial prejudice that existed then, and ridicules the “liberal historians” who paint a more nuanced pictures of 1950s life than he does. “Let me offer an eyewitness account from a teenager who was there in 1954,” he says in one letter. “It was a very good year.” To be sure, he acknowledges that there were snakes in the garden: “Every now and then, a girl came up pregnant (it was called being ‘in trouble’), and she was immediately packed off to some secret location. I never knew where she went.” Far from criticizing this way of handling pregnancy – shaming a girl, ruining her life – Dobson implicitly signals his approval. Teen pregnancy doesn’t belong in his Norman Rockwell picture, and for him that’s the important thing – the integrity of the picture.”
At one time I (yours truly) contributed to FOTF’s magazine and at one point in discussions w/ them I challenged their inclination to idealize “the good old days.”
“Those good old days,” I asked. “Was that when certain children were called an ILLEGITIMATE child – as if they had anything to do w/ the how, what, where, when of their being born? And in those good old days, was that when men went and played golf while their wives went to the hospital for hours of agonizing labor? Are those the good old days we’re talking about?”



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squeaky

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:48 pm


Doug (if you are still here),
I hope you are able to get beyond labelling Christians as “saved” or “enemies of God” based on their political affiliations. One isn’t doomed to hell because s/he is a liberal anymore than one is assured heaven because s/he is a conservative. Please try to see people as Jesus sees them, rather than sticking your convenient labels on them that stop you from truly loving others, even those you don’t agree with.



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Adamswulff

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:50 pm


The Puritans weren’t run out of anywhere. They migrated, usually due to persecution by anglican catholcs. The Pilgrims had to secretly leave England, and then voluntarily left Holland because they hoped to prevent their youth from the rampant corruption. They believed braving the unknown, and even death, was better than living where sin was so openly practiced.
The Pilgrims and the Puritans have a much better testimony than the modern history revisionists would want us to believe.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 10, 2007 at 8:11 pm


The Puritans weren’t run out of anywhere. They migrated, usually due to persecution by anglican catholics. The Pilgrims had to secretly leave England, and then voluntarily left Holland because they hoped to prevent their youth from the rampant corruption.
Uh — no. The Puritans actually ran the English Parliament for a period of about 40 years — after some of them left for the Netherlands and later what became the U.S. In fact, the Westminster Confession was commissioned by Parliament to provide what was then the “last word” on the Christian faith; however, Parliament did not ratify it. (The Scottish Parliament did, however.) They were persecuted not so much for their theology than their politics, as they believed — and John Calvin openly said — that the government must acknowledge the “sovereignty of God,” which the nobility of that day took as a veiled threat. And have you noticed that there is little Reformed presence in Europe today? Think that’s a coincidence?



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:32 am


“”Back in the 1950s…grandfatherly Dwight Eisenhower was president…and most of our congressmen, even those who professed no particular faith understood and defended the Judeo-Christian system of values.””
Okay, also from that letter,
“Looking back at who we were reveals just how far we have drifted as a nation. I would not imply that the human family was perfect in the days of my youth. The scourge of racism was well entrenched in Western countries. (The Supreme Court issued its historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954, outlawing “separate but equal’ schools.) People were afflicted then as now by other forms of sin, including greed, pride and jealousy. ”
And here is a link to the whole deal, which includes the line about being packed away (sans commentary, of course).
http://freegroups.net/library/Other_Electronic_Texts/Focus_On_The_Family/fofn9406.shtml
Nothing in his writing (which is 13 years old) says that the 1950s were an ideal world, so I’ll wait for Don and Rick to find the sources they were citing.



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canucklehead

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:43 am


And, Kevin, from the same letter.
“Can we return to the “Happy Days” of the Fifties? No. It is still impossible to back up on a freeway. As the late novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again.” But we can recommit ourselves to the biblical truths that guided our society for centuries. We desperately need a spiritual renewal that will take us back to first principles.”
The implication is that WE SHOULD return to the “Happy Days” of the Fifties, but we can’t b/c it’s impossible to back up. We can’t go home again, but WE SHOULD. …BACK UP…TAKE US BACK…
If that isn’t idealizing the good old days by implying it would be wonderful if we could return to the same, I sure don’t know what you need for proof. But then, Kevin, ever since I’ve been a part of this blog, I’ve noted that evidence contrary to your perspectives don’t really matter much to you. For you, the plea for concrete evidence is essentially a tactical diversion. I think both Rick and Don are onto that and some of the rest of us are learning that about you as well.
I reiterate my personal experience w/ FOTF and that of other writers who have related similar stories. Ozzie and Harriet are essentially beatified in Colorado Springs, as is J.D. himself.



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Payshun

posted September 11, 2007 at 2:49 am


“Columbus, the Pilgrims, and others claimed this land for Christ. They did not come for gold, but for God.”
Me:
Ah yes more revisionist history. Columbus was looking for riches. He was looking for a shortcut to India. The God stuff was a convenient cover. (it’s not cynical for me to say that.) His actions and ideology were so racist and wrong that it helped to shape the future by creating and sustaining an ideology for conquering America for Spain. Later Portugal got in the act. But please remember he came here for riches first God a distant second.
p



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Robert Alu

posted September 11, 2007 at 3:20 am


Hello,
I thank Diana for her use of the word CHRISTENDOM. It captures all, sort of like Catholic – the ‘universal church’. I think it is appropriate in that ‘Christian’ has been reduced to almost anything you may think of …
Sometimes it even means ‘follower (or disciple) of Jesus Christ’!
In an earlier posting I asked where Christ was in all our arguing, or shouting.
Now, I am NOT addressing YOU, necessarily …
But a lot of the comments here seem to imply that thoughtlessness (God forbid, even hatred!) is appropriate when a Christian of MY stripe is directing it to anyone else, Christian or otherwise! Those who think (or even just feel)like me are right and the rest are wrong – regardless of the facts, or what Scripture says.
Further, it seeems, anything one can say to try win an argument is fine …
For instance:
– Embracing Arafat was/would be wrong …
– Taking care of the poor is not a moral imperative – that only extends to sexual behaviour. Those with a different viewpoint are detestable.
– Conservatives are not Christians.
– Liberals are not Christians.
– Clinton is better than Bush.
– Bush is better than Clinton.
– Columbus (my goodness!) went to America to spread the gospel!
It is perplexing. It would all be very funny if this was not a Christian blogsite. Would Jesus take such positions?
Do we really understand how radical the Jesus of the Gospels is? Do we know what he stood for? Are we able to emulate him as Paul challenged us to? Do we really pray that his kingdom may come? Do we know what his kingdom is? Or have we become like the Pharisees, the religious big shots of his days on earth who had nothing left to learn?
But, then, again, I saw the following in the Christian Century (Sep04-07). It does clear the air a bit. It is a book review on ‘Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn’t’ by Stephen Prothero.
Enjoy!
” …surveys show that the majority of Americans cannot name even one of the four Gospels, only one-third know that it was Jesus who delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and 10 percent think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. (Hey, at least they know that Noah was associated with an ark—or is that Arc?)
Some of the details reported by Prothero are funny in a perverse sort of way (“many high school seniors think that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife”). Others are eye-opening. Prothero makes a convincing case for the claim that devout Christians are, on average, at least as ignorant about the facts of Christianity as are other Americans. Sixty percent of evangelicals think Jesus was born in Jerusalem; only 51 percent of the Jews surveyed made the same mistake. And things are not getting any better. As pollster George Barna reports, “The younger a person is, the less they understand about the Christian faith.”
When it comes to knowledge of Islam and Asian religions, the picture is even bleaker. There are now over 1,200 mosques in the U.S. and more Hindu temples than in any country other than India, but most Americans cannot name a single Hindu scripture, let alone describe basic tenets of the religion; nor can they articulate the difference between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.
“Islam is peace,” President Bush told Americans in the wake of 9/11. Muhammad was “a terrorist,” replied Jerry Falwell. Not only does one suspect that Bush and Falwell would have been hard pressed to offer any informed basis for their opposing characterizations, Prothero laments, but “Americans had no way to judge [who was right], because, when it comes to understanding the Islamic tradition, most Americans are kindergarteners at best.”
Religion is undoubtedly important to public life. One can hardly enter a debate about gay marriage without hearing an appeal to Adam and Eve or that other famous biblical husband and wife, Sodom and Gomorrah. One cannot fathom the challenges of the situation in Iraq without coming face to face with the complexities of Islam. But since most Americans don’t know Sodom, Shi’ites or Sunnis from Adam, the debate is reduced to empty sloganeering and appeals to emotion.”
(From an article, Dumbed down
What Americans don’t know about religion, by Timothy Renick, in The Christian Century)
Sad to say, but ‘empty sloganeering and appeals to emotion’ are almost integral to many of the comments on this and other pages on God’s Politics.
As I said earlier I will not pinpoint anyone, but, if the cap fits …
And this brings me to a question I asked earlier:
Why do we so quickly conclude that Muslims are violent because that is what they are taught but do not stop to consider why us Christians have been the most violent religious group in history DESPITE our Lord’s clear teachings against ‘living by the sword’?
Shalom!
Alu.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 11, 2007 at 9:01 am


I wasn’t born until 1961, but I would think that people who look so fondly upon the 1950s are indeed looking at them through rose-colored glasses. This was, of course, the beginning of the Cold War and fear abounded, especially since Americans were beginning to become more and more affluent — as much as anything, I think they feared that the Russians would get their “stuff.” I specifically remember the “fallout shelter” signs in the very first school I attended, directing everyone to the basement. (And having studied nuclear physics, I realize now that those measures would have been ineffective.)
Then, of course, also existed the conditions that spawned the civil-rights movement. I believe now that the folks who opposed it really were being, at heart, selfish because they just wanted to be in control, which jibed with the tenor of the times. Do you notice how often the “religious right” has always referred to a “them” to be neutralized or defeated? Back then it was African-Americans (and many still don’t acknowledge MLK Jr.). Later, it was the effects of the 1960s “counter-culture.” After that, “secular humanism.” When that fell flat, Bill Clinton became the bete noir. You can’t preach the true Gospel and simultaneously try to defeat enemies!



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Moderatelad

posted September 11, 2007 at 9:55 am


Does anyone really want to go back to the 50’s?
No computers – cell phones – video games – DVD’s.
(maybe we should think about this…)
I would not want to go back there, I like it here. But I believe that being ‘family’ was easier back then. With three kids, Sr. in college, Sr. in H.S. and a 7th grader. Between church, school, sports, concerts, plays and musicals, etc. The cost on ‘family time’ is difficult. I am interested in raising solid believers in the One True and Living God and His Son Christ Jesus. I also look at my kids (becoming adults) as AAA people, Academics – Athletics and the Arts, so that they become contributing citizens to soceity.
Blessings –
.



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squeaky

posted September 11, 2007 at 10:03 am


Robert Alu,
amen and amen



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:38 am


“The implication is that WE SHOULD return to the “Happy Days” of the Fifties, but we can’t b/c it’s impossible to back up. We can’t go home again, but WE SHOULD. …BACK UP…TAKE US BACK…”
For the record, Happy Days was an American sitcom set in the 1950s. Hence the reference. When someone states that you cannot do something, it does not imply that we should do something. Dobson acknowledges that the era was marked by racism, and acknowledges the underlying tensions to which Don refers.
This is important because the real reason why Dobson would be criticized for idealizing the 1950s is that he would be overlooking institutional racism and the presence of sin, which Dobson does not do in his newsletter.
If he is saying that the 1950s were better for the reason that judeo-Christian values were more normalized, that kids weren’t bringing knives to school, and abortion was not legal, then I agree with him. Had Don simply attributed this viewpoint to Dr. Dobson, then we could have a discussion.



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Moderatelad

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:45 am


Posted by: kevin s. | September 11, 2007 11:38 AM
well stated.
Blondies tonight @ 5:00 PM
Blessings –
.



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canucklehead

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:59 am


“For the record, Happy Days was an American sitcom set in the 1950s.” Kevin S.
Really? I’m sorry, but I’ll need a source for that, Kevin.
“When someone states that you cannot do something, it does not imply that we should do something.” Kevin S.
Of course. Context is always irrelevant. My bad. You are right, as usual, Kevin, as our Lord hath foreordained from before the foundations of the world.



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Another nonymous

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:15 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | September 11, 2007 11:38 AM
“If he is saying that the 1950s were better for the reason that judeo-Christian values were more normalized, that kids weren’t bringing knives to school, and abortion was not legal, then I agree with him. Had Don simply attributed this viewpoint to Dr. Dobson, then we could have a discussion.”
All right, I attribute that point of view to Dr. Dobson. I also have a somewhat different perspective on the decade of my birth. From everything I’ve heard, it was a great time for white middle-class males, especially in the South and Midwest. It wasn’t such a great time for minorities, women and former communists, to mention just a few groups whose memories of that decade tend to be less than rosy.
In short, the 50s were a time of stifling enforced conformity and barely suppressed adolescent dissent. It’s hard for me to imagine a period in our history that corresponds less to the Christian community described in the New Testament, in which people were welcomed despite their background, sex or social status, provided they were willing to commit to living in a counter-culture that was opposed to the dominant values of the broader world. The 50s were unable even to conceive of such a counter-culture, and as a result midwived the nihilistic counter-culture of the 60s.
That’s why, while I respect Dr. Dobson’s sincerity in desiring to recreate the values of what he remembers as a halcyon world, I cannot wish him success. I would much rather live in our present world, for all its faults.



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James Costello

posted September 11, 2007 at 2:01 pm


I read most of the comments before reading Bass’ blog.
I did not find her words insulting to Dr. Kennedy at all. Mostly written in the third person, her blog is more a comparison between Kennedy’s vision and those of Hauerwas and Willimon. No where does she attack him personally. And her essay is not really an obituary, nor need it be. There are obituaries out there already for those who wish to read them.
I don’t know anything about D. James Kennedy personally except from what I have read. But I find his vision for America frightening. He essentially wanted to turn America into a Christian theocracy, and he had the media savvy to present his vision effectively.
He also wanted to destroy the ACLU, a much misunderstood organization in my opinion. I watched his hour-long feature on the ACLU and, ironically, the very first two examples in it involve violations of religious freedom which the ACLU’s principles would have defended against. But the film does not mention that.
In regard to gays, read Mel White’s recounting of his attempts to speak with Dr. Kennedy in his book, Religion Gone Bad.
I watched Kennedy at times but it was difficult. He was a true zealot. But Coral Ridge lives on. You can be sure that his vision will continue in the hands of someone else. He has left a well-equipped organization.
More on Kennedy can be found in Chris Hedges’ book, American Fascism.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 11, 2007 at 3:58 pm


The 50s were unable even to conceive of such a counter-culture and as a result midwived the nihilistic counter-culture of the 60s.
On top of that, I think we forget that the “Jesus movement” began not in the institutional church but in that very same counterculture, to which normal “evangelicalism” in those days did — probably could — not speak. (BTW, did anyone notice where today’s Christian coffeehouses and mass music festivals came from?) When I was in high school youth group in the late 1970s we sang a lot of those protest songs from the ’60s (one I remember in particular was Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”).
That identifies the real problem with Kennedy and Falwell and still is with folks like Dobson. Their brand of Christianity was limited to people who thought the way they did, who believed that only their issues mattered. Rick Warren, for example, has taken a lot of heat from the evangelical “establishment,” and perhaps some of that criticism is warranted, but I give him credit for being more “radical” — in the true sense of the word — than cultural with the Christian faith. (Incidentally, in a profile in the New Yorker, Warren mentioned that he was a fan of Spurgeon, considered the “last Puritan.”)
I personally have more connection to Kennedy than the others, since I come from a staunchly Reformed background. However, those of us who consider ourselves Calvinists probably need (dare I say this?) a fresh move of the Holy Spirit that will allow us to move among believers of many different stripes and do ministry with and to them. For far too long have we tried to identify and neutralize bogeymen, and that’s no longer working.
Maranatha!



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moderatelad

posted September 11, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Warren – Dobson – Graham – Fawell – Kennedy and I will even throw in the Crouches. (Paul and his wife the walking wig) These are all people that I know many at my little church listen to on a regular or semi-regular basis. We have gone through Warren’s books TPL-church and -life. Each one of these has filled a need in the lives of many in our church – conservative and liberal. I am the only kook that reads Wallis of all the friends I have. OK – I have at least two relatives that read him but they would be on the other side of the issue most of the time with me.
God raises up and brings down leaders in our world. Both secular and religious. I believe that people listen or hear words of encouragement or admonishment from different sources at different times in their lives. If the Almighty can use a donkey to delieve a message – why not Jan Crouch on TBN. (I know – the donkey has a higher IQ – just kidding…)
Blessings on all!
.



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Steve

posted September 12, 2007 at 10:01 am


Moderatelad, the problem with religious leaders and organizations turning into political barkers is that they are putting their faith in fallible candidates/politicians who can end up doing evil things. In our state, I know of a “conservative family values” Republican endorsed by the largest church in the state, the Christian Coalition, and other organizations like Focus on the Family/James Dobson who barely lost his race but is now serving 50 years in prison for molesting and sodomizing six little girls at that very church.
Their are many candidates willing to use God to get elected and gain power.



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Anonymous

posted September 12, 2007 at 11:12 am


Posted by: Steve | September 12, 2007 10:01 AM
Their are many candidates willing to use God to get elected and gain power.
Yes there are and we live in a fallen world. If someone abuses and by doing so breaks the law – if they are found quilty – they should be in prison.
I do not know of a person in my family or church that looks to the political system and then taylors their faith to conform – doesn’t happen. They do take their faith and look for the person and the party that best fits their convictions and beliefs. Neither one is a ‘hand-in-glove’ kinda fit.
Blessings –
.



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Moderatelad

posted September 12, 2007 at 12:15 pm


Posted by: | September 12, 2007 11:12 AM
This post is mine – Moderatelad –
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 12, 2007 at 12:28 pm


I took a look at Bass’s essay again, and I saw something I didn’t notice before: The development of EE preceded the Moral Majority. And as such, because it doubled the size of her then-church, it was more of a tribute than what most people, especially those on the right, realize. No one will say that evangelism it a bad thing, only when it’s done with bad motives (and even Paul allowed for that).
The real problem comes that when “evangelicalism” becomes wedded to a particular political ideology, especially when that ideology defines who and what is a true Christian defined by “philosophy” rather than the finished work of Christ and the subsequent transformation of a person’s conduct. In that type of environment Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove (neither of which to my knowledge have confessed Christ as LORD and Savior) might be considered “better Christians” than Jim Wallis or Ron Sider. For that reason it also effectively keeps the Gospel away from most secular conservatives — because they’re not confronted with their bent toward sin.



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Anonymous

posted September 12, 2007 at 1:53 pm


“The real problem comes that when “evangelicalism” becomes wedded to a particular political ideology”
So how is Sojourners not contributing to this error by promoting the idea of “biblical” or “God’s” politics being leftist?



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 12, 2007 at 5:31 pm


So how is Sojourners not contributing to this error by promoting the idea of “biblical” or “God’s” politics being leftist?
Jim Wallis certainly is and always has been critical of the right, which makes him look left. However, it’s not simply a “left-vs.-right” dichotomy because, in fact, the Scripture does favor some positions that go that way (but by no means all). Things ought to be considered on a case-by-case basis with the two underlying questions vis-a-vis the law of God: 1) Does it bless Him; and 2) Does it bless His creation, especially other human beings?
Besides, the “religious right” was always interested in being the unquestioned boss while Sojo has never, ever sought that kind of “authority.” You can tell because Falwell, Dobson and Kennedy from the word go all built their “empires” largely on scapegoating while Wallis has been ministering in the D.C. area since the 1970s; I first learned about the magazine in the mid-1980s and long before most people who frequent this blog even heard about him. It’s just that the spotlight is on Wallis today.



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kevin s.

posted September 13, 2007 at 9:57 am


“Jim Wallis certainly is and always has been critical of the right, which makes him look left. ”
Well, that and the fact that he takes the liberal side on virtually every issue.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 13, 2007 at 11:40 am


Well, that and the fact that he takes the liberal side on virtually every issue.
By your standards. As I was saying, not everything is subject to the left/right dichotomy — just because it isn’t “right” doesn’t necessarily make it “left.” There are some things that are just right and wrong, and conservatives at some point must admit that much of what they believe is just plain wrong.



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Alison

posted September 14, 2007 at 2:55 pm


Bill Clinton didn’t actually hurt us? Are you kidding me? I didn’t really care for what Kennedy stood for or how he presented it, but Clinton did more damage to the cause of Christ that Kennedy & Falwell (another guy I really couldn’t stomach) together could ever hope to do.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 14, 2007 at 4:00 pm


Bill Clinton didn’t actually hurt us? Are you kidding me? I didn’t really care for what Kennedy stood for or how he presented it, but Clinton did more damage to the cause of Christ that Kennedy & Falwell (another guy I really couldn’t stomach) together could ever hope to do.
I don’t agree even a little bit. Clinton was a politician and thus didn’t even necessarily represent Christ, while Kennedy and Falwell were ordained ministers whose profession was to shepherd their respective churches, to equip their members to do the work of Christian ministry. But by engaging in scapegoating and partisan power politics they besmirched not only their ministries but their personal witness as well. They didn’t have the authority to speak to the evils of our time because they were in deep with conservative Republican politicians they dared not criticize — which is why they had no power during the Clinton administration. (My white, evangelical Republican pastor said the same about Dobson.)



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Tenerife

posted September 15, 2007 at 12:21 am


I would describe the positives of Kennedy’s ministry as missed opportunities that could have prevented the present excesses of evangelicalism we see today. Kennedy, to his credit, never engaged in scandals or the opulent, megalomaniac behavior that typifies megachurch personalities (Benny Hinn, Paula White, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Ted Haggard, etc.).
Yet, his respectability as he appeared on the Trinity Broadcast Network for decades, I believe, lent credibility to these other people. More than that, he never rebuked any of these people by name. He would rebuke by name those outside the church – Darwin, prominent secularists/liberals, gay activists, feminists, etc. on his church pulpit and radio shows – but never those teaching heresy from within the church. I attended the church for 14 years, and never heard him do that. In fact, he hosted TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch at Coral Ridge in 1989.
Unfortunately, when Christians fell in love with the earthly power of the church instead of the spiritual power of Jesus Christ, they threw out discernment in favor of alliances to push foward their goals.



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Greg Peterson

posted September 17, 2007 at 3:02 pm


It’s been a long time since I’ve read “Evangelism Explosion,” but if aging memory serves: EE urged people to falsely pose as pollsters in order to ask pointed questions to determine who is one of “us” and who is one of “them.” (Even longer ago, I had worked as a real, door to door pollster, using standard, randomizing techniques.)
If someone was one of the non-elect, then they were given a classic, door to door salesperson’s spiel (Ages ago, I wrote a senior level paper on the sociology of door to door vacuum cleaner sales, so it sounded familiar, anyway. I did get an “A.”).
If one of the not-us insisted on the integrity of their way, the false pollsters were then urged to run away, rather than risk learning something from one’s neighbor. I would call it learning something, the purpose of real polling, after all, but I think Kennedy seem to think it was something like risking contamination.
I was unimpressed with the book and with Dr. Kennedy, though I don’t much doubt that the Evangelism Explosion techniques could have some success…as a sort of labor intensive, pre-computer spam.
Despite my misgivings, however, the idea of spontaneously exploding evangelists has a sort of Monty Pythonesque appeal, which is why I bought the book. Too bad I actually read it.
I do agree with the hope expressed in the article.



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Cheryl

posted September 30, 2007 at 1:08 am


I like Dr.Kennedys influence and if I could I would have loved to attend his institute in DC.
I have been a christian for 30 years. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I definately see a battle for the christian community to have a voice in this nation and gov’t and we need to keep fighting to ensure we are represented and heard.



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Steve Schneider

posted October 30, 2007 at 11:17 am


The passing of this generation of political opportunists masquerading as preachers is not to be lamented.



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Chip

posted October 31, 2007 at 2:40 pm


While Ms. Bass makes a few interesting and somewhat valid points, basing the thrust of the piece on this notion of “American Christendom” is a bit of a straw man argument. Also, the condescending and judgmental undertones directed towards conservative evangelicals are not helpful to her cause.
The “Old Guard” did not mold the culture itself, but rather they were merely following the societal trend away from the “liberation,” or, more accurately, the “increased permissiveness” which guided our collective mores in the 60s/70s.
People such as Falwell, Kennedy, Graham and Dobson were/are not evil men. Nobody’s walk is perfect; we all have our frailties. Being in a position of leadership has a tendency to accentuate both our strengths _and_ weaknesses.



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