I’ve got this thing I think about sometimes, an observation about religion and how it really is out in the real world. How it works in people’s heads. Not the way Christians think it is, but the way it really is.
I think I’ve mentioned it before — I call it “the 180-degrees thing.” (As in ‘180-degrees-opposite.’ Someday I’m going to come up with a cool name for it instead of this kludge.)
The basic idea is that, whatever Christians say, astonishingly often, there’s something REAL just about exactly opposite. Probably the reason I don’t have a good name for it is that I always find it hard to describe, or point out. You kind of have to look for it, keep it in mind as you watch the workings of Christianity and churches.
For me the 180-degrees thing starts in the fact that the Truth of Truths, the Bible and the religions based on it, are capital-L lies. Not just factually false, but false in a deliberately misleading and manipulative way. Rather than a good thing to have in your head, they are — to the exact degree you or your society take them in — dangerous to mental health.
As a lead-in to the following video, I’ll mention Billy Graham.
I observed Billy somewhat distantly over the years and eventually concluded he was crazy enough to genuinely believe the stuff he was selling. Maybe that makes him more honorable than the likes of Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker, Ken Ham or Kent Hovind, who are/were, variously, in it for the money or the power, and knew they were lying to people, wrapping them in the sticky silk of religious craziness in order to suck the juice out of them.
Come to think of it, there’s the “180-degree thing” right there: By the standards of their followers these were Men of God, not just good men but fantastically good men, men who — because they were so infused with God’s glorious Truth — would be hard pressed to do anything wrong. Looking at them without the Christian filter, though, they looked like sociopaths, men whom I might suspect of anything: lying, cheating, stealing, conceivably even murder … with sexual indiscretions or financial shenanigans a virtual certainty.
Billy’s 180-degree thing may have been that, because he genuinely believed this stuff, he might have been more dangerous than the mere con men with whom he shared the pulpit. I have to wonder just what effect he had on American government, as he enjoyed an open door at the White House through 11 presidential administrations, starting with Harry Truman and ending with that malignant fool George W. Bush.But I’m really writing now to introduce you to Billy Graham’s daughter.
Watching the following short clip, I can’t guess whether the daughter got the full dose of her father’s sincerity. But looking at her as a non-Christian, she looks sort of psycho-creepy.
When I lived in Flagstaff and made frequent trips to nearby Arts-and-Money mecca Sedona, I would occasionally see these middle-aged people who had dived into the pool of New Age woo-woo from the high board. Bubbling over with certainty about recent courses in wise spirits and vortex energy, copper bracelets and immortality diets, they had an eerie intensity that made you not want to argue with them … not because they were right, but because they seemed sadly confused and brittle.
Anne Graham Lotz gives me that same feeling.
But she’s also a good example of the 180-degree thing: From a cultural domain that practically beats you over the head with hourly doses of God’s mercy and love, and posing as a biblical expert and woman of God, she’s selling pure fear and anger. Fear of the end of the world, anger at those people ostensibly causing it — those slackers and sinners who are rousing God’s righteous wrath.
And here’s the BIG 180-degree thing in her performance: She talks about the end of the world, and how close it is, and how the cure for that is to hew to God’s word. Whereas …
I really do believe in an end of the world scenario. But in my view it’s an end that involves a lot of simple, easily noticeable — and probably even fixable! — problems, the main one being human population, which is straining and breaking the capacity of Planet Earth to serve our needs. But that problem and so many others have never been and are not now being dealt with.
These simple problems appear on a social landscape of human craziness and human stupidity, the seedlings of which are planted in every one of us. But the chief fertilizer of these little plants, historically and still today, is religion.
So we’re facing this real threat of an end to civilization. But 180 degrees opposite of what Anne Graham Lotz is selling, the threat is HER, and people like her. The thing they sell. Here she is in all her brittle, creepy glory:
Anne Graham Lotz: The End Times Are Coming And God’s Judgment Has Already Begun