Evangelical tribalism is not healthy for children and other living things

Jason Pitzl-Waters is a wise man. In his regular music round-up, he captures just why so-called contemporary Christian music is not something to be emulated:

The yearning to develop something akin to “Contemporary Christian” music within our own communities is, I believe, counter-productive to the impulses that actually move us into sacred territory.

When I construct A Darker Shade of Pagan each week I don’t think about the Pagan pedigrees, I think about what inspires and envelops me. When I think about music that makes the dead dance, I don’t think about whether that artist is “one of us,” I ask if that artist moves my Pagan soul.

Concern with “one of us” — and the totems, slogans and “stances” that arise to confirm such tribal membership — is at the core of why no one, anywhere, should want to develop anything akin to contemporary Christian music. Or to contemporary Christian politics. Or to the contemporary Christian theology reshaped by that music and politics.

Once “one of us” and it’s its more-important corollary “not one of us” become your concern, they quickly become your main concern, and then eventually your only concern.

And here is a perfect illustration of what that does to music, to religion, to politics, and to any capacity you once might have had for love:

YouTube Preview Image

For those who can’t watch video — or who recognize Carman there and thus prudently refuse to click “play” — let me try to describe this for you. It’s a song by Carman and 1980s Christian rock stalwarts Petra.

The lyrics begin by lamenting the 1962 Supreme Court decision ending state-sponsored establishment prayers in public schools. Carman, rapping like MC Neil Diamond, offers a litany of post-hoc argumentation, blaming everything he considers bad on the court’s ruling. He calls it “religious apartheid.”

“It’s our turn now” proclaims the chorus — a rallying cry for the tribal rule of sectarian religion. And everyone else, everything outside the tribe, is on the side of the “devil.”

It’s fairly similar to the rallying cry Mike Huckabee gave this week, when he chose to illustrate what religion-as-tribalism and politics-as-tribalism look like combined.

The former Arkansas governor and former Southern Baptist pastor spoke on a conference call to hundreds of Missouri clergy, drumming up their support for his man, Rep. Todd Akin. “This could be a Mt. Carmel moment,” Huckabee said:

You know, you bring your gods. We’ll bring ours. We’ll see whose God answers the prayers and brings fire from heaven. That’s kind of where I’m praying: that there will be fire from heaven, and we’ll see it clearly, and everyone else will, too.

Huckabee knows, and the right-wing pastors he was addressing all know, the ending of that biblical story:

Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

Nice guy, that Huckabee. Avuncular. Affable. And oh-so-very civil, don’t you think?

For the Carman video above, you can blame Ericka M. Johnson at the Friendly Atheist. Ericka describes how Carman’s music, and especially this song, played a key role in her faith journey as a teenager. “I was a big fan of it and played it over and over for a long time. I even had ideas for creating my own video to go along with it,” she writes.

Today, she’s a board member with Seattle Atheists. Religion-as-tribalism had it’s its turn. It’s her turn now.

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  • Fade Manley

    CCM killed my adolescence! …or, well. A lot of my nostalgia for it, anyway. Out of all the music I loved as a teenager, there’s only a tiny fraction that I can play now without cringing over it. (Jars of Clay and Five O’Clock People? Mostly still listenable. Carman, DC Talk, Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, and Petra? It’s…um. Yeah.) Let me tell you, it really kills ’80s night at the club for me.

    I used to love that song. Yeah. That one. The one in that video. It made me feel like I could do important things in life.

  • LoneWolf343

     Funny thing, the other day I was watching a stream by an artist who is a strongly avowed atheist, and suddenly a song by Christian “punk” band Relient K started in the background. I asked why on earth that song was in her library, and she told me that she liked it. It was odd to me, because while I still have a soft spot for the Newsboys, I can’t stand Relient K anymore.

  • AnonymousSam

    Heh, even during my “angry atheist” phase, I loved Samael – The Cross, whose lyrics include “Whatever you may say, whoever you may pray, Christianity worldwide.” It helps that it’s not a very Christian-sounding song. Song and lyrics here.

  • LoneWolf343

     Maybe it has something to do with being a good song.

  • banancat

     I was never hardcore Evangelical but I got into Christian music a bit as a teen in the early 2000s and I never heard of Relient K.  Fast forward ten years and I’m an atheist, but I like Relient K.  I didn’t even realize they were a Christian band until the 100th time I heard a particular song.  To me it just sounded like typical angsty romance and the only giveaway was the use of the word “grace” in an unusual way that I only recognized because of my quick brush with Evanglicalism many years ago.  Maybe they’re not the best band ever, but I like them.  I don’t really listen to the Christian bands I used to though, and I think if I had liked Relient K back then, I wouldn’t now just because of the bad associations.

  • Worthless Beast

    I was once told in regards to my fiction writinng to “let my faith color” my work, but not to overpower it.  I find it best to craft work that’s accesable to all or most, with religion only coming up when it needs to and not going without question…

    Yes, I recognized Carmen there and did not click.  Yes, I am ashamed of that. The whole “Christian TBN everything” culture wasn’t even something I was raised in, but something I’d latched onto for a time because everyone does stupid stuff in their teen years, I suppose. The fact that I grew out of it but remined theist makes me wonder if something is wrong with me (beyond what I already know).   I also remember my initial reaction to reading a news story about the “Rock Beyond Belief” thing that atheist groups were doing with “atheist rock bands” and I’m ashamed to say that my first thought wasn’t “Hey, people are exercising their rights, go them” but “Do they know what they’re doing? Will atheist-rock suck as hard as Christian rock does?  For their sake I hope it doesn’t”
    I mean, I have a Newsboys CD somewhere around here as well as the Touched by an Angel soundtrack and I felt a twinge of embarassment upon rediscovering I even had them.  It’s not even like I’ve totally lost all my faith, but it’s still weird looking back on what I used to *like* and I hate to think of people of other groups feeling my pain when they grow up. 

    The guy with thoughts on Pagan music is indeed wise.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     I also remember my initial reaction to reading a news story about the
    “Rock Beyond Belief” thing that atheist groups were doing with “atheist
    rock bands” and I’m ashamed to say that my first thought wasn’t “Hey,
    people are exercising their rights, go them” but “Do they know what
    they’re doing? Will atheist-rock suck as hard as Christian rock does? 
    For their sake I hope it doesn’t”

    Yeah.  You couldn’t have paid me enough to go to that.  Having grown up in the Evangelical subculture I had no urge to join an atheist subculture.  It’s just not worth it.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    That reminds me of an interview John Waters gave in Playboy Magazine.  He said he was 100% gay but only 10% in the gay subculture.  He said he never really fit into so-called “gay culture” and wasn’t really sure that he even wanted to.  He felt people that sealed themselves inside a small “subculture” were poorer people for it.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     He felt people that sealed themselves inside a small “subculture” were poorer people for it.

    Exactly.  And it always fascinates me to see people who escaped from one subculture looking to create or join another.  I understand the initial, “Hey, this is awesome!  People who think like me!” or, “This is a safe space.  I’ma stay here forever.”  Everyone needs that during transition.  I also understand the idea of doing a rally, since the Christian culture is so keen on making sure they have the loudest voices.

    But there’s a point where it goes from “useful tool” to “just a different thing to get trapped in.”  I really feel like the organized atheist movement is moving rapidly in that direction.  There’s nothing specifically I can point to and say, “This is the breaking point,” but there’s just a whole lot of stuff that’s making me scratch my head and ask, “Why the hell are you doing that?”

  • EllieMurasaki
  • AnonymousSam

    After reading the link in there about the girl who posted a picture of herself and got a flood of r/atheists and their wonderful view of fellow atheists who just so happen to be female, I now fully understand the objections to r/atheists.

    That was an education I could have done without.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    After reading the link in there about the girl who posted a picture of herself and got a flood of r/atheists

    I’m really not surprised.

    Forums like that seem to have such a skewed male:female ratio that it’s almost guaranteed all the creepers and Nice Guys will come out of the woodwork the instant an attractive female presents herself.

    One wonder why they are so eager to believe that a coincidence of shared interests and an expression of OMG somehow equals instant lifelong de-friendzoning.

  • AnonymousSam

    Not so many Nice Guys. More like guys whose lifelong ambition is to get a gold grill, who measure their wardrobe by baseball caps whose fronts have never been seen by their wearers, and who have uttered the words “Rapist? More like playah!

    Seriously, the lowest fucking creatures I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     http://freethoughtblogs.com/bl… –Atheism+!

    Yeah…not so much.

    Atheism+ is just the Emergent Church of atheism.  I know that atheists hate it when people say, “Atheism is just another religion.”  This is not what I’m saying.  It’s more like the argument from fandom, which Fred has made about Evangelicals in the past.

    Religion (or lack thereof), when it gets right down to it, is the least useful way of deciding if you’re going to like someone.  People who make their religion the central focus of their lives are harder to deal with to anyone outside of their particular tribe, but someone who’s just, “Eh, I grew up Catholic and never go to church anymore,” is probably more likely to identify as a Cardinals fan or a lover of the art of Vermeer before they say they’re Catholic.

    Movement Atheism seeks to do the same thing.  It wants people to gather together under the banner of atheism.  They might be doing other things, too, but it’s still ultimately a bunch of people gathering together to say, “Hey, let’s be atheists together.”  I can assure you that Christians do the same thing.  They have conferences where they discuss missions or go to hear music or meet their favorite authors, but the umbrella purpose is, “We’re Christians all up in here.”

    As such, in my way of looking at things, the solution to, “Atheism isn’t doing what I want it to do,” isn’t, “Let’s create a new form of atheism.”  It’s, “Let’s stop identifying ourselves and everything we do by saying we’re atheists first and, instead, go over there and work with the people who want to solve this problem that needs to be solved.”

    That said, this only works in a perfect world.  I think that in the world we live in we do need some sort of atheist collective.  I don’t, however, personally care what it does.  I don’t find my lack of believe in gods particularly interesting, so I self-identify as a whole lot of other things first, then eventually get to atheism when I feel like it.  So it doesn’t matter to me if they have Atheism or New Atheism or Atheism+ or Cherry Vanilla Atheism Zero.  All they’re doing is creating denominations of atheism to squabble amongst themselves in exactly the same form as Christian denominations.

    Atheists don’t get to be special snowflakes who get to ignore standard human group behaviors just because they’re different from previous humans in a fundamentally trivial way.  That’s really all I’m trying to say.  That’s also why I feel no urge to participate in anything more than a cursory fashion.  I read a couple blogs, I keep up to date with whatever the big fight of the moment is, and then I go watch baseball or play video games or walk the dog or, y’know, do things that don’t suck.

  • Lori

    I would love to meet John Waters. I think he’d be delightful over a nice 3 martini lunch or the equivalent.

    (I was thinking about this just the other day when I read a piece at Smithsonian.com about the history of the pink flamingo which, for obvious reasons, included some comments from Waters.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-Tacky-History-of-the-Pink-Flamingo-165593536.html?c=y&page=2)

  • Emcee, cubed

     One of my fondest memories is going to see Cry-Baby on Broadway during previews. John Waters was sitting in the back row. He was very pleasant to everyone who recognized him (which was many. Let’s face it, he’s pretty distinctive.) I even got him to sign my show poster, which is proudly hanging on my wall. (My guess is he was at the show to see what worked and what didn’t, and see if they needed to make changes. They did need to. If they tried, they didn’t succeed. The show didn’t run very long.)

  • Lori

    Aw, that sounds nice. Too bad the play wasn’t good.

  • Emcee, cubed

     It wasn’t really bad, just uneven. I enjoyed a lot of it, it just dragged in places. The big production number in the prison where the guys tap dance using the license plates they are making on their feet as tap shoes was a lot of fun. And then there was this number which is one of my all-time favorites.

  • fraser

     His directors comments on the DVD of the movie are fascinating. In light of LunaticFringe’s comment about things outrunning the original story (not exactly) he mentions that most of Johnny Depp’s fans (back then being 21 Jump Street fans of course) were completely clueless about the JD movies Cry Baby parodies.
    Of course, Amy Locane (who plays Depp’s love interest), had never heard of the Patty Hearst kidnapping and thought of Hearst as The Other Normal Person in the cast.

  • Carstonio

    I can imagine that atheist music might provide some comfort to young atheists who might feel lost and alone in a world that they perceive is hostile to their beliefs. (Assuming the music was good, and I make no such assumption.) But the concept either ignores or accepts the larger problem – the mentality that drives CCM rejects freedom of belief, because the tribe assumes that everyone should belief in its religion. Atheism in general doesn’t have the same mentality, although one could make a good case that anti-theism does. Fred is right that the answer to tribalism isn’t more tribalism. Atheist music would wrongly treat the issue as the type of belief, not the freedom to hold a belief.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Some time ago, I wrote Just One Tree, and was startled when a friend asked to repost it to a couple of atheist communities… I hadn’t thought of it as especially about atheism when I wrote it, but rather about a broader understanding of what it means to be sacred. But in retrospect I could understand her point.

    That has since then informed my position on “atheist art.”

    There’s lots of art out there that lives comfortably in a narrative universe where there is no guiding
    intelligence that makes everything work out in accordance to a plan,
    where events occur as part of an unfolding of earlier events, and where
    whatever glory and beauty and love and compassion exist in the universe
    have emerged as part of that unfolding, rather than being imposed upon
    it by an external force.

    As far as I’m concerned, all of it is atheist art. Much of it is also Christian art, or Buddhist art, or Pagan art, or all three.

    That’s as it should be. What unites us covers much more ground than what divides us.

  • Carstonio

     No argument there. I was criticizing the specific idea of an atheist equivalent of CCM, which is far different from what you describe. Art created not from love but from fear. Art that divides rather than unites. The musical equivalent of “La la la I can’t hear you.”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yeah, absolutely agreed. Sorry… I started out responding to your comment, which morphed into something completely unrelated to it; I ought to have gone back and made it top-level.

  • DStecks

    Do I detect an MST3K reference in the title?

  • Lori

    I’m pretty sure  it’s a riff on the Vietnam era slogan about war.

    http://www.thepeacecompany.com/store/prod_cards_warnothealthy.php

  • DStecks

    Ah. I guess MST3K was referencing that. my bad.

  • Lori

     I think it’s probably more of an age difference than a “bad” :)

    I’m not quite old enough to have known about it first hand, but I have at least seen the posters over the years.

  • Tricksterson

    It was a slogan in the 60s only replace “Christian Tribalism” with “War”

  • LunaticFringe

    I kind of love it when references outrun the things they were referring to.  I once saw a kid look at something labeled “Ebony and Ivory” and exclaim, “Oh, like Dante’s guns!”

  • fraser

     Or the use of the phrase “rocket scientist” as a measure of brains. Logically speaking, “IT tech” is probably closer in current society to the sense of “Really smart person who can control cutting edge technology” but not in language.

  • vsm

    I always feel sad for these people because they’re depriving themselves of The Gospel According to St. Matthew. It’s the greatest film about Jesus ever made, directed by the gay atheist Marxist Pier Paolo Pasolini. It’s a very accurate (something like 99% of all dialogue and scenes are straight from Matthew) and sincere adaptation at that.

  • Xian-x

    Pitzl-Waters quotes Peter Murphy as saying, “If someone calls themselves a Sufi…you can be sure that they’re not.” I think the same can be said of calling oneself a Christian.

  • Albanaeon

    Soo…  If Huckabee calls out for all these people to show off what their gods can do and a whole bunch of atheists come and proudly proclaim that nothing is going to happen, who’s going to win?

    I know who I’d put my money on…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    My memory of that bit in the Bible is that Elijah might have cheated! Didn’t he wet his stone with some ‘holy water’ or whatever that could’ve been an accelerant? 

  • Albanaeon

     I’m not sure, evil raised as a Catholic, Taoist now that I am, I never got that deep into particular Bible stories.  But if there were to be some sort of contest, I’d definitely want some precautions there to ensure that flimflammry doesn’t occur. 

  • LunaticFringe

    If we’re gonna have a contest, let’s make it Gideon’s!  SLIGHTLY DAMP SHEEPSKINS AT DAWN!

  • Tricksterson

    I still vote for babypults.

  • PJ Evans

     It says that he told others to fill four jars with water and pour it over the burnt offering and the wood for burning it – three times – so the altar and the trench around it were soaked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Yeah. I knew there was some way for accelerant to get in there! Now, the trick of finding a believable accelerant for the time period…that’s a challenge. Elijah getting his hands on Greek Fire would practically call for divine intervention anyway. 

  • Tricksterson

    The trick would be getting one that can pass for water.  You need one that not only looks like water but also doesn’t have a smell strong enough to tip off the priests of Baal or the onlookers.

  • Lori

     Vodka.

  • Tricksterson

    Which I don’t think was around the eastern Mediterranean whatever-century BCE.

  • http://twitter.com/Didaktylos Paul Hantusch

    Like maybe it was “water of life” that he used?

  • Tricksterson

    I myself am reassured.  Recent history shows that any time an RTC calls upon his god to smite the unbeliever he doesn’t deliver.  Whether it’s because he isn’t listening, doesn’t care, doesn’t exist or is not the type of god the RTC thinks he is I leave to your individual judgement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    On the other hand, if I call upon science to smite the unbeliever, there are countless ways to make that happen. 

  • Tricksterson

    No, not really.  Not in the sense of calling out “Oh mighty Science, strike down those who follow you not!”  any more than it works for Pat Robertson.  You, or someone acting on your behalf will have to do the heavy lifting.  Give Elijah credit.  He may have been a murderous fanatic but he did his own slaughtering.

  • Albanaeon

     I guess that is one advantage of not believing in the scientific method.  That in pretty much every way, shape, and form their god has been proven to not exist.  The Old Testament Smiter of All* has a pretty lousy record of being summoned and smiting these days, but if you never allow evidence to taint your belief you’re safe from having to worry about all the no-shows.  Just wave out “mysterious ways” or “change of heart” and be ready to jump all over the next chance to smite the unbelievers.

    *Referring here to the RTC God.  Most others are smart enough to not try and pretend the world is Forgotten Realms and the right cleric can summon holy powers with an incantation.

  • SisterCoyote

    I kinda figure God is shaking his head at the general scene, and possibly weighing the costs/benefits of smiting the jerk who thinks God is a butler, to be summoned with lightning bolts to do one’s (pretty evil!) bidding.

  • Keulan

    I watched the whole 5 and 1/2 minutes of that video. It was just awful. Why do I subject myself to such things?

  • Tricksterson

    They lost me at the heavy handed guitar riffs.  And the smirking

  • SisterCoyote

     Ye gods, the smirking.

  • Lori

    So, if Akin loses will Huckabee admit that his god got his butt kicked? I’m guessing not, hence the weasel wording about how it could be a Mt Carmel moment, not that it is. With guys like that it’s always heads I win, tails you lose.

    I really hate him. I try not to hate people, but with Huckabee I fail. His folksy evil makes me want to kick him in the junk (and I don’t say that lightly).
     

  • LoneWolf343

     Did people admit God got his butt kicked when Palin lost? Of course they won’t. That would mean that they would have to question their worldview. They would rather say that “The Devil” actually won over God, if just for a little bit, and rather be so blasphemous than consider, for a second, that they might have made a mistake.

  • Rhubarbarian82

     Yeah, watching Huckabee’s smug grin as he parroted David Barton’s line on the Daily Show… it was about all I could do to not break the stylus pen I was holding. It was the line about how the parable of the workers in the field means that Jesus hates minimum wage laws. I didn’t think it possible, but every single thing he’s said since then has made me that much less of him.

  • Loki100

    That doesn’t make sense on so many levels. The first being that it is a parable, and so has nothing to do with workers or wages, but is about salvation. And then there is the fact that it has nothing to do with minimum wage, there isn’t anything in there to suggest it at all.

    It’s like how people will occasionally say the parable of the talents is about how Jesus loves capitalism.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Yeah, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s all they’ve got. Jesus didn’t mention capitalism (what with it not existing back then) and his teachings about money and possessions are definitely NOT in line with right wing economics, so the Christian Right has got to grab whatever scraps they can find to clothe their politics in religion.

    Honestly, they’d be better off just keeping them separate. It would reduce the hypocrisy a lot, I think.

  • Loki100

    I’m reasonably certain they don’t care about hypocrisy. The leaders long ago realized the followers weren’t capable of the kind of critical thinking that allows someone to notice and/or care about hypocrisy.

    Although you would be amazed at how many people I’ve run across who, first of all, think capitalism and communism are the only economic systems possible. And second of all, think Jesus talked about them all the time. I think this all gets down to the fact that they don’t actually have a good idea of what capitalism actually is, even though they are surrounded by it and spend considerable energy extolling its virtues (and let’s not even get started on their complete ignorance of communism or “socialism”). Which goes back to my first point, that the right wing doesn’t want people even understanding what capitalism is, because if they understand it, they might start thinking critically about it, and if they do that, they might come to the conclusion that capitalism isn’t in their best interest.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That doesn’t make sense on so many levels. The first being that it is a parable, and so has nothing to do with workers or wages, but is about salvation. And then there is the fact that it has nothing to do with minimum wage, there isn’t anything in there to suggest it at all.

    Plus, if you’re going to put an industrial spin on the parable, the wage the workers were all paid was the amount needed to feed a family for the day. So if anything, you’d have to interpret it as supporting a living wage, not arguing against minimum wage.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Addendum: if the minimum wage is ever great than the living wage, let me know.

    By way of illustration, MIT has an online calculator that estimates the living wage for workers with different family structures in different parts of America. E.g. the living wage for a single adult living in Michigan working full-time is $8.73 per hour; for an adult with 1 dependent child it’s $18.33 per hour–18% and 147% above the minimum wage.

  • Loki100

    If minimum wage increased in proportion to maximum wage (as defined as the average increase of income of the top 1%), minimum wage would currently be $26.96 an hour. Now tying minimum wage to maximum wage would get the economy going again. Making it impossible for the elites to help themselves without helping everyone can only improve society.

    Speaking of minimum wages, if there is one thing I hate, it is the right-wing loons who claim that minimum wage shouldn’t be increased/shouldn’t exist because adults are not supposed to have minimum wage jobs. Apparently the fact that adults, lots of adults, have minimum wage jobs is completely ignored. It always amazes me the right-wing’s ability to utterly ignore reality.

  • Monala

     You beat me to it!

  • Monala

     If you do look at that parable economically, it says the opposite of what the right wing says it does.  No, the workers weren’t paid by the hour. But all of them were paid the same denarius (which, I have heard, was the equivalent of a full day’s wage back then), whether they worked a full day or not. In other words, everyone received a living wage, regardless of work hours. If you focus on the workers who only worked an hour, that’s a good deal. They weren’t blamed for lacking work earlier in the day, and were given what they needed to survive.

  • ReverendRef

     So, if Akin loses will Huckabee admit that his god got his butt kicked?

    Someone may have said this, but I’m currently in North Platte, NE and pressed for time on our drive home after the college thing . . .

    But the answer to your question is, “No.”

    Remember how Dubya’s election was attributed to divine intervention and all the right wingers called referenced Paul’s admonition to obey him because government leaders were put there by God.

    Fast forward to Obama’s election and those same people created posters and coffee cups and whatnot referencing various biblical verses that called for people to pray to God for the smiting of evil leaders.

    Yeah . . . If we know anything about these people, it’s that the only consistent thing in their faith is that they are consistently selfish.

  • Lori

     

    Remember how Dubya’s election was attributed to divine intervention
    and all the right wingers called referenced Paul’s admonition to obey
    him because government leaders were put there by God.

    Fast forward to Obama’s election and those same people created
    posters and coffee cups and whatnot referencing various biblical verses
    that called for people to pray to God for the smiting of evil leaders.   

    This crap just irritates the crap out of me. It’s the combination of transparent hypocrisy + self-righteousness that gets me. Same goes for the  “patriotism” variant that says that criticizing a Republican president in “war time” borders on treason, but doing the same to a Democratic president is the mark of a true patriot.

    FSM these people work my very last good nerve.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

     When are we going to stop humoring these people and admit that they are consumed with bloodlust and just as dangerous as the Taliban?  I have watched the rhetoric evolve over the last 15 years or so into something more and more violent.  They are no longer speaking in code.  Time to get these people on the FBI watch list.

  • Kelex

    I used to be quite a fan of both Carman and Petra.  In fact, I think I still have some of their music (on cassette tape…kids, ask your parents about it)  And, in fact, this song was one of my favorites. 

    Now I’m an atheist…I often wonder if there’s a connection.

  • vsm

     When it comes to sectarian music, no one can beat 1970’s Finnish Stalinists*. It helps when you borrow lyrics from brilliant poets like Brecht, Neruda and various Finns, and have genuinely talented people writing awesome pop jazz tunes for you. Natalia is one of the most famous songs of the period: http://youtu.be/y7vHvpM25PY

    It’s about two socialist women sitting in prison during WWII. The narrator is a Finn listening to her Ukrainian cellmate. She talks about her home, her anger at the fascists and hope that the country will be liberated soon. You can reduce a lot of older Finnish lefties to tears by playing this to them.

    *For various reasons, radical Finnish students of the day decided they were totally into whatever the Soviet Union was into, to the annoyance of the majority of Finnish communists.

  • Mary Kaye

    It’s on beyond stupid and into tragic, though, when CCM crowds out the centuries of really good, powerful Christian music out there.  Someone (Deird?) wrote about the fact that CCM stories don’t carry Handel’s _Messiah_.  That is sad.

    (I got to see a Pagan direct the Hallelujah Chorus with 200+ singers, and the man was high as a *kite* afterwards.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So… Elijah cheated so he could get the fire to work and the other priests wouldn’t? Talk about rigging the game. :P

  • SisterCoyote

    No, I think he poured water on his own altar, to prove God would burn it even if it was soaked.

  • Jessica_R

    And what’s really horrifying is that that’s not the worst Carman video. A friend and I have a rich tradition of MST3K’ing this on YouTube. If you really want to hurt your feelings hie thee there and look up “Great God,” “Satan Bite the Dust,” “A Witches Invitation,” and “Addicted to Jesus”. 

    And yeah, good art is an invitation, bad art is a tribal marker. I don’t have to go to church to find “I’ll Fly Away” a lovely song. But I don’t have to have a political investment to even consider throwing money at a DVD of October Baby. 

  • Madhabmatics

     There are two things that disturb me a lot about the video “A Witches Invitation.”

    1) It’s clearly got anti-semitic undertones, drawing from the stereotype that it’s Jewish people behind Every Bad Movement. Isaac Horowitz indeed.
    2) A bunch of nerds probably think the most offensive thing in it was lambasting Dungeons and Dragons.

  • Jessica_R

    Oh it’s just a big bucket of offensive. Especially rich that like LB apparently not realizing that Ray and Buck are actually the douchebag villains, the video seems to forget the witch invited him over for a friendly cup of tea, did nothing wrong against him, and just sits there as Carman rants at him. The only evil going on there is the witch’s eyeliner and tacky dressing jacket honestly. 

  • vsm

     I’m upset the video never properly deals with their UST.

    “Satan Bite the Dust” is also great. He’s a Western hero who goes after Satan and his cronies. It ends with him shooting a defenseless man (well, demon) in cold blood.

    You know, compared to the painful sincerity in much of CCM, I rather like the ironic tone here.

  • We Must Dissent

     I just watched “A Witch’s Invitation.” Um, what the fuck?

    I was raised as a conservative evangelical. We had church meetings about the evils of rock and roll. My mother still believes to this day that Dungeons & Dragons (and now Harry Potter) involves worshiping Satan. That “song” is still well beyond anything I could’ve imagined.

  • Tricksterson

    1) That was probably a thinly veiled jab at Isaac Bonewitz

    2) I’m not even going to try to list the innacuracies of this clowns perception of neo-paganism.  I’m old and might be dead by the time I finished.

  • Leum

    According to the local rabbi, Elijah cheated not with accelerant, but by asking for fire. Ba’al was a rain god. No Ba’al prophet would have ever asked him for fire.

  • Nenya

    Leum, that is a great theory!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Huh. Also I’ve heard there are variant versions of the tale; some say 850 priests and some say 400. The exaggerated numbers and the extra careful way they set the stage suggests that the entire thing may be a legend rather than actual hard fact.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wonder what this guy would say about people who would refuse to worship his god even if said god did prove he existed. 

  • Monala

     Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego said something like that in the book of Daniel — that even if Yahweh didn’t save them, they wouldn’t worship the Babylonian king as god.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    *sighs*

    Okay, Fred – I love you. But my inner editor keeps screaming, so…

    It’s – apostrophe – means “it is”.
    Its – possessive – has NO APOSTROPHE.

    Please, dude, I’m dying over here.

  • Matri

    *pats* Just be glad he enforces the difference between “could have” and “could of”.

    Those just… Grinds my gears.

  • Tricksterson

    I think you both need to talk to Stannis Baratheon.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart
  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     Heh. I’ve never seen that before.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    If it helps, our esteemed host does admit to this failing in his about page. And I quote:

    Fred knows the difference between the possessive “its” and the contraction “it’s,” and he is acutely bothered when others mistakenly confuse the two, yet he himself just kind of instinctively types the apostrophe whether or not it belongs there. Some feel this is his greatest hypocrisy, but those who know him better know better. He’s guilty of much greater hypocrisies.

  • Lori

    I have this problem too. I wish I had a dollar for every apostrophe I’ve had to go back and take out because I know full well it doesn’t belong, but typed it any way.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Yeah; I saw Carmen in concert when I was a kid…& listening to Huckabee my first thought was “okay, you bring your gods & we’ll bring SCIENCE & yeah.  Let’s see who gets fire first.”

  • Carstonio

     It’s both pathetic and infuriating that Huckabee doesn’t understand that this isn’t about competing gods, as if atheism only alternative to theocracy. (I can Obi-Wan Kenobi saying that only a Sith thinks in absolutes.)  The point of nonsectarian government is to take rival claims about gods off the table.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yeah; I saw Carmen in concert when I was a kid…& listening to Huckabee my first thought was “okay, you bring your gods & we’ll bring SCIENCE & yeah.  Let’s see who gets fire first.”

    Mandatory xkcd:  “I find my courage where I can, but I take my weapons from science.”

  • Francis

    … I’ve been listening to the video, and am having problems believing that it’s not a parody.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    You know, you bring your gods. We’ll bring ours. We’ll see whose God answers the prayers and brings fire from heaven.

    Fire from heaven?
    Seriously?
    That’s penny-ante shit, Mike.

    How about we raise the stakes a little: you bring your way of relating to the universe, we’ll bring ours, we’ll see which one is more effective at healing the sick.

    Oh, wait… we did that already. Turns out that understanding and learning to manipulate reliable patterns of causality in the universe is a lot more reliable at that than prayer. Once we got good at the former, average lifespans increased, previously untreatable diseases were practically eradicated, plagues were prevented, and overall health increased radically in large subsets of the world.

    Well, OK, we’ll see which one is more effective at providing shelter against the storm… huh. Nope, we did that one already too.

    Well, what about feeding the hungry, then? Oh, right.

    No, wait, I’ve got it: what about seeking a sense of common humanity, a way for people to live together in love and peace and harmony and mutual understanding, so nation shall not strive against nation and we need study war no more? Modern science is starting to get a handle on that, as we develop tools for understanding psychology and group behavior in a reliable way, but that field is in its infancy and doesn’t have many success stories to point to yet. The truth is we really kinda suck at it, and we might be able to learn something from religious practice in that space.

    Oh… but that’s not really what your god is about, is it? No, your god is about winning wars. About defeating the enemy, not about loving them.

    And, well, no, our approach turns out to be better for winning wars, too. One hydrogen bomb in the right place can kill more people than all the Crusaders who ever lived. The challenge facing us is how to avoid killing off people on a vast scale, not how to achieve it.

    So, OK, fair enough. I guess calling fire down from heaven really is an appropriate contest for your level, after all. So, OK, sure, we can do that. A little later, though; we’re kind of busy right now.

    I said, go run along and play with your friends, Mikey. The grownups have work to do.

  • AnonymousSam

    And part of what makes us grown-up people is knowing when not to call fire down from the sky. Not all of us subscribe to mass annihilation to prove our deity’s unmentionables are bigger than everyone else’s. In fact, that kind of thinking is not only exceedingly juvenile, but mentally unsound.

  • Carstonio

    To put it more crudely, it’s the theological equivalent of truck nuts.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yeah.  I mean, we really do kind of suck at that, collectively… even those of us who don’t actively seek out our enemies’ annihilation aren’t typically great at building and maintaining systems that inhibit those of us who do… but that’s definitely the challenge facing us.

  • http://www.xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

    We can do the ‘fire from heaven’ routine bit too (orbital bombardment, anyone?).  Its just, well, wasteful.   We have way more cool things to be doing (Curiosity! New Horizons!  Medicine!  Higgs boson!).

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    We can do the ‘fire from heaven’ routine bit too (orbital bombardment, anyone?).  Its just, well, wasteful.   We have way more cool things to be doing (Curiosity! New Horizons!  Medicine!  Higgs boson!).

    I am pretty sure a lot of the people like Huckabee would love to have orbital bombardment too, that they may make their assertions of following God’s will and raining fire from the sky literal.  

    I imagine it would look something like this.

  • Tricksterson

    If Akin loses we should hire some cheerleaders to follow Huckabee around chanting “Go Baal!  Go Baal!  Go Baal!”

  • QXZ

      
    2 maccabees 1:30-1:36

    30 Then the priests sang the hymns.
    31After the materials of the sacrifice had been
    consumed, Nehemiah ordered that the liquid that was left should be
    poured on large stones.
    32When this was done, a flame blazed up; but when the light from the altar shone back, it went out.
    33When this matter became known, and it was
    reported to the king of the Persians that, in the place where the exiled
    priests had hidden the fire, the liquid had appeared with which
    Nehemiah and his associates had burned the materials of the sacrifice,
    34the king investigated the matter, and enclosed the place and made it sacred.
    35And with those persons whom the king favoured he exchanged many excellent gifts.
    36Nehemiah and his associates called this ‘nephthar’, which means purification, but by most people it is called naphtha.*http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=2+maccabees+1

  • Vermic

    You know, you bring your gods. We’ll bring ours. We’ll see whose God answers the prayers and brings fire from heaven. That’s kind of where I’m praying: that there will be fire from heaven, and we’ll see it clearly, and everyone else will, too.

    You know, when atheists ask why God doesn’t simply prove his existence to all with a universal miracle, it’s guys like Huckabee who protest that their God isn’t some dog performing tricks on demand.  I guess the story’s changed — God does do tricks, but only when a big shot like Huckabee holds the biscuit.  The 99% still have to make do with faith.

  • Madhabmatics

    Before I read the article or any comments, just going to say I love Jason’s blog. I have a heathen bro and every time some article about Dan Halloran doing a thing comes up we get to laugh about it.

  • Alan Bean

    We must remember the next chapter of the Showdown with the Prophets of Baal story.  Elijah, convinced that Jezebel will be looking for his head, flees to the desert where he sits under a broom tree and complains that he is the only faithful Yahweh man left on earth.  Elijah didn’t see himself as part of a kick-ass movement to take back Israel for Yahweh.  In fact, when God speaks on Mount Horeb in a “still small voice” the point might be that fire from heaven has its limitations.  That said, the Carmen-Petra video captures the spirit of commercial evangelicalism circa 1980-2000 better than anything I have seen.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     “…the point might be that fire from heaven has its limitations…”

    I do not have words for how much I love this phrase right now.
    Thank you.

  • Vermic

    I just watched the Carman video from the seclusion of my parked car.

    The phrase “the worst thing ever” is overused these days, but seriously, folks?

    This video is the best thing ever.

  • VMink

    If I’m in the mood for something spiritual and heavy, I usually turn to King’s X.  (In part because they were ousted from The Tribe despite the strong spirituality of their music.) I have listened to one (1) song by Jars of Clay, and liked it (“40 Days.”)  If I’m feeling irritated at the world, Bad Religion is good for digging deeper into the funk.    Acroma “Orbitals” is almost gnostic.  Despite what I think of most of their songs, Linkin Park’s “New Divide” sounds like it could be sung by Satan to God and appeals to my Alternative Views of Traditional Religion streak.

    Of course, for sheer WTFery and amusement, Lordi’s “The Devil Is A Looser” generally ranks up there. =)

  • The_L1985

    That Jars of Clay song is called “Flood,” not “40 Days.” Just FYI.

  • VMink

    Hmm.  Clearly I didn’t like it as much as I thought I did!

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Or the use of the phrase “rocket scientist” as a measure of brains. Logically speaking, “IT tech” is probably closer in current society to the sense of “Really smart person who can control cutting edge technology” but not in language.

    They’re not really comparable.  Maybe the people who design top-of-the-line computer systems would qualify, but an IT technician is more like a plumber or electrician.  Sure, they’re working with fairly complex systems, but it’s not quite in the same grade of ‘creating the best, most complicated thing out there.’  Maybe people researching robotics/AI?
    On the other hand, ‘hacker’ is pretty much synonymous with ‘smart’ in modern pop culture.

    And, well, no, our approach turns out to be better for winning wars, too. One hydrogen bomb in the right place can kill more people than all the Crusaders who ever lived. The challenge facing us is how to avoid killing off people on a vast scale, not how to achieve it.

    What about crusaders with hydrogen bombs?  Where do they score?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    What about crusaders with hydrogen bombs?  Where do they score?

    If we’re staying in the frame of scoring the effectiveness of different ways of affecting the world, it seems clear to me they go on the “science” side, just like anybody else using hydrogen bombs.

    Of course, we’re free to shift frames at any time.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    They’re not really comparable.  Maybe the people who design
    top-of-the-line computer systems would qualify, but an IT technician is
    more like a plumber or electrician.  Sure, they’re working with fairly
    complex systems, but it’s not quite in the same grade of ‘creating the
    best, most complicated thing out there.’  Maybe people researching
    robotics/AI?

    I suspect the distinction is lost on a majority of people. Which is why people think that my experience as a software engineer means they should ask me to fix their computer.

  • VMink

    Or how I, as effectively a ‘computer plumber,’ am believed to be able to hack into any user’s account simply because I’m in IT Services.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    What about crusaders with hydrogen bombs?  Where do they score?

    Somewhere above crusaders with Holy Hand Grenades.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    (Warning: Rape)
    Ahem: PA GOP Senate Candidate likens unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock to rape

    Not just in the abstract. He suggested that his own experience of his own daughter’s pregnancy was comparable to the experience of the father of a rape victim.

    I mean, because that’s what’s important, right? Either way, his property interest in his daughter has been defiled by some young rake’s presumption.

  • Tricksterson

    I’m beginnibg to think this will be called “The Year The GOP Committed Suicide”

  • Carstonio

    The former Jeff Christie is claiming that Obama had the National Weather Service exaggerate the hurricane danger just to sabotage the convention. Even if there were such a move afoot, it could just as easily go the other way. The more airtime the convention gets, the greater chance that it could be a culture-war hatefest worse than in 1992. I would
    think that the Democrats would love for one of the speakers to say
    something so anti-woman that it makes Akin or Ryan look like Betty
    Friedan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     If Obama was doing evil with the National Weather Service, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to have them downplay the hurricane danger in the hopes that the convention will be struck by it? That’s much more in line with what they usually accuse him of doing.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I’m beginnibg to think this will be called “The Year The GOP Committed Suicide”

     We should be so lucky. 

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    CONFESSION:

    I also liked Carman and Petra.

    And I still listen to DC Talk every once in a while. 

  • Tricksterson

    Btw, Someone needs to tell Carman that the “Guido” look went out of fashion a loong time ago, to the extent it was ever in fashion anywhere but Brooklyn, Joisey and Revere Massachusetts

  • vsm

     He is from Joisey, though.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    More like exploded all over the landscape, spewing reproducing spores of intolerance and discord.


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