NRA: Excluding Loretta

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 48-51

Buck Williams knows what is happening. He knows what’s coming.

Thanks to more than a year of study with Bruce Barnes, Buck is thoroughly familiar with the details of the End Times check list. He has a schedule for the Great Tribulation and it sets a clear itinerary for the few remaining months of life on earth. Some of the events prophesied are cryptic, but those come later. The first several items on the check list are explicitly, unmistakably clear: war, famine, death.

It’s 1997, baby, and Buck Williams has his eye on a sweet Nokia 6110. “Get five of those cell phones, Chloe, and don’t scrimp.”

That war has begun, just as Buck had known it must. And he knows what that means — knows what will, inescapably, follow. War and famine and death have been “… given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.”

Buck has, with his own eyes, seen the bombs begin to fall. And he knows they will keep falling, as foretold that they must, until one fourth of humanity is dead.

He knows this. He had known that this war would come, and now that it has arrived he knows that it will continue.*

Since we know that Buck knows all of this, his behavior in the next few pages seems impossible to explain. For a moment, earlier in this book, it seemed that Buck was going to act on what he knows is happening. The very first thing he did when the war began was to race to acquire an off-road vehicle well-suited for fleeing the final moments of civilization. It seemed that at least one of our heroes was finally going to take Jesus’ advice. If you find yourself suddenly faced with an apocalypse, Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel:

… flee to the mountains; someone on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat.

Yet Buck didn’t flee to the mountains. Here we are in Chapter 3 and Buck’s shiny new luxury-survivalist Range Rover is parked in the lot of a suburban church, just a few short miles from the city of Chicago, which Buck has every reason to expect is about to be obliterated.

And he isn’t there collecting supplies — ammunition, canned food, bottled water or holy water. Instead he’s just calmly printing out the contents of Bruce’s hard drive and making hotel arrangements for a longer stay downtown.

He had packaged pages and Bruce’s computer into one huge carton. As he lugged it out, he told Chloe, “Drop me off at the Chicago bureau office, and then you’d better check with The Drake and be sure our stuff is still there. We’ll want to keep that room until we find a place to live closer to here.”

I can only explain this by imagining that Buck is in shock and in denial.

For her part, Chloe seems to be right there with him:

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Chloe said. “Loretta is devastated. She’s going to need a lot of help here. What are we going to do about a funeral?”

Chloe expects a funeral for Bruce, because that’s what happens when a friend dies. Or at least that’s what happens when a friend dies and it’s not right in the midst of the Great Tribulation, as the seals of judgment are being opened and divine and antidivine wrath are both being poured out to claim the lives of more than a billion people.

“You’re going to have to help handle that, Chlo’. You’ll want to check with the coroner’s office, have the body delivered to a funeral home nearby here, and all that.”

Only people deep, deep in denial could imagine that any of this was still possible. Unable to cope with the scale of the devastation they have personally witnessed — the ruins of the hospital, the mushroom cloud they saw rising over the North Side — they’ve developed a kind of traumatic amnesia, shutting out every thought except that of the death of their friend.

If they stopped for a second and allowed themselves to absorb all that they’ve seen, or if they glanced at all those charts and timelines from Bruce’s notes — explanations of prophecies that Buck is, at this very moment, carrying in his hands — then they’d have to realize that there’s no way the Drake hotel or the coroner’s office or a funeral home could still possibly be functioning normally, or at all.

They must be in denial. They must have forgotten about all those other casualties.

“… have the body delivered to a funeral home nearby here, and all that. With so many casualties, it’s going to be a mess, so they’ll probably be glad to know that at least one body has been claimed.”

So much for my denial/traumatic amnesia theory.

And I’m afraid that was the only theory I had that could make sense of this. All I can do now is marvel at the strangeness and stupidity of our heroes in these pages — and at the strangeness and stupidity of the authors.

Here are two characters who believe that a global, perhaps-nuclear war has been foreordained by God. They have been expecting and awaiting the onset of this war, which they know will continue until it claims a fourth of the earth. And they have seen it begin, felt the concussive blast of a bomb that they know will only be the first of many, many more.

So put yourself in their shoes, what would you do? Would you book a room in a downtown high-rise?** Head back to the office? Try to make funeral arrangements for a friend who died just as the war was beginning?

The staggering weirdness of their behavior here is made even stranger by the glib casualness of it all.

“We’re each going to need a vehicle,” Buck says to Chloe. And then, to underscore the point, he adds, “I can’t promise I’ll be around here all the time.”

Or in other words, he’s calling dibs on the Range Rover. Chloe seems to have guessed he would:

“Loretta, bless her heart,*** thought of the same thing in spite of all she’s going through. She reminded me that there’s a fleet of extra cars among the congregation and has been ever since the Rapture. They lend these out for just such crises as this one.”

First let’s commend Jerry Jenkins for finally realizing — 50 pages into the third book of his series — that all those real, true Christians raptured away in the first book would have left behind empty homes and abandoned cars. Buck Williams has gone car-shopping twice since then, paying full price for a new model each time while all along the Rev. Billings’ Buick and Irene Steele’s minivan have sat unused.

Jenkins still doesn’t seem to grasp how many millions of empty homes and abandoned cars his version of the rapture implies, or the full implications of that. But at least — belatedly — he’s realized that he can exploit this previously ignored consequence to solve another of his commuting-logistics conundrums.

The astonishing bit here, though, is Chloe’s reference to “just such crises as this one.” She’s not talking about the destruction of the hospital, the church’s loss of its pastor, the death of every church member who may have been at or near the airport, or the onset of war, pestilence and death that will sweep away one fourth of the earth. Those are about other people and so those, therefore, do not constitute “crises.” No, the urgent crisis here — the priority — is that Buck Williams and his wife need a second car.

“Good,” Buck said. “Let’s get you fixed up with one of those.”

He called dibs, remember. We all heard him.

Chloe asks Buck about the 5,000 pages of file-dump in the box he’s carrying and his vague plan to, you know, make copies and, like, pass them out.

“Buck, wait a minute. There’s no way we can reproduce that until someone has read all of it. There’s got to be private, personal stuff in there. And you know there will be direct references to Carpathia and to the Tribulation Force. We can’t risk being exposed like that.”

Buck had an ego crisis. He loved this woman, but she was ten years his junior and he hated when it seemed as if she was telling him what to do, especially when she was right.

This … this … thing the authors are doing here through Buck, it needs a name.

I’ve heard a thousand variations of this very thing, from pastors, politicians and business executives. This thing, this sick passive-aggressive ritual, is something such men often perform whenever they’re speaking in public with their wives present, usually with a forced chuckle and oozing the same feigned humility that the authors here attribute to Buck.

The authors would, of course, insist that they’re poking fun at Buck here, and that this “ego crisis” is a foible of his. In just the same way all those pastors and politicians always pretend they’re poking fun at their own “egos” rather than flexing them by making all those similarly disingenuous comments at the expense of their wives, asserting a claim of dominance by portraying even common decency and fairness as expressions of magnanimous, benevolent condescension. Such magnanimity is, of course, what every husband owes to the little lady, but silly me, sometimes my ego gets in the way and I forget to show it — so the joke’s on me!

That thing needs a name. Maybe if we can figure out what to call it, we can figure out how to kill it.

Fortunately for Buck here, the authors have kept this bit confined to Buck’s internal thoughts. He didn’t say all that out loud to Chloe, and thus she is spared from having to punch him in the neck. Instead, she says:

“Just entrust it to me, hon. I’ll spend every day between now and Sunday poring over it line by line. By then we’ll have something to share with the rest of New Hope, and we can even announce that we might have something in copied form for them within a week or so.”

It’s a plan, then. Chloe will edit and rewrite 5,000 pages by Sunday, and then, “within a week or so,” she’ll have it all retyped and they can then make copies, bind them, and distribute them to all members of New Hope Village Church, each of whom will then have the chance to read through all 5,000 pages at their leisure. Because that’s clearly the easiest way to get the word out.

“But where will you do this?”

“Loretta has offered to let us stay with her. She’s got that big old house, you know.”

“That would be perfect, but I hate to impose.”

“Buck, we would hardly be imposing. She’ll hardly know we’re there. Anyway, I sense she’s so lonely and beside herself with grief that she really needs us.”

This bears an uncanny resemblance to the usual social niceties involving an offer of hospitality. The would-be guest expresses a reluctance to trouble the would-be host, who in turn insists that it’s no trouble at all, and that she would be glad for the company.

The slight difference here — the bit that makes this near-resemblance uncanny — is that both Chloe and Buck seem to interpret Loretta’s social niceties literally. Whatever it was she actually said — we hear echoes of it from Chloe in “that big old house” and “hardly know [you're] there” — the couple has decided to take it at face value. They’ve convinced themselves that they really are the ones doing her a great favor by allowing her to accommodate them.

But the core thing here is that one sentence: “Loretta has offered to let us stay with her.” However Chloe and Buck want to spin it, that’s the essential fact of the matter. Loretta is extending hospitality to them.

That sentence is on page 50, about two-thirds of the way down the page. Buck and Chloe exchange a bit of wince-inducing banter (“I keep you around because you’re cute,” she says), and then, on page 51, we come to this:

“You’ve forgotten the shelter under the church.”

“I haven’t forgotten it, Chloe. I’m just praying it’ll never come to that. Does anybody else know about that place except the Tribulation Force?”

“No. Not even Loretta. It’s an awfully small place. If Daddy and Amanda and you and I had to stay there for any length of time, it wouldn’t be much fun.”

Eighteen lines. That’s the distance from “Loretta has offered to let us stay with her” to “Not even Loretta. It’s an awfully small place.” About half a page separates them.

At the bottom of page 50, Buck and Chloe are in need and Loretta extends hospitality to them in their time of need. At the top of page 51, Buck and Chloe discuss what they would do to Loretta in her time of need and, well …

Monsters.

Half an hour later, Buck pulled into the Chicago area office of Global Community Weekly magazine.

Hey look, the GIRAT suddenly remembers his day job. It’s been a while since he’s checked in at the office, but apart from the destruction of New York, Washington and London and the perhaps-nuclear bombing of airports across the continent, it’s been a slow news week.

“I’m going to get us a couple of cell phones,” Chloe said. “I’ll call The Drake and then get down there and get our stuff. I’ll also talk with Loretta about a second vehicle.”

“Get five of those cell phones, Chloe, and don’t scrimp.”

As if Mrs. Buck Williams would ever think to “scrimp” when it comes to telephones.

In 1995, when Jenkins wrote the first book in this series, cell phones were an exotic luxury item. By the time he was writing this book, in 1997, they’d become much more common. Chloe’s abrupt announcement, above, is how Jenkins went about catching up with technology — just suddenly inserting cell phones into the world of these books, like Dawn Summers, and then acting as though they had been there all along. A bit jarring, but it solves his problem.

It raises other, new problems, though, such as why our heroes expect these cell phones to have coverage amidst a nuclear war, why they think they will be safe to use now that Nicolae controls all communications, or how they expect to recharge them once the grid shuts down as war, famine and pestilence seize the earth.

“Five?” she said. “I don’t know if Loretta would even know how to use one.”

“I’m not thinking of Loretta. I just want to make sure we have a spare.”

If Buck allowed Loretta to have a phone then he wouldn’t have an extra one for himself.

He’s not thinking of Loretta. He never is, bless his heart.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* Buck also knows, or should know, that it’s even worse than he may have expected. The shape of this war suggests that his odds of survival are even lower than the 75-percent chance he might have thought he would have.

The rider on the red horse, war, the second seal of judgment “permitted to take peace from the earth,” seems to have a narrower focus, with Nicolae Carpathia’s weirdly one-sided World War III confining its destruction to North America, North Africa and Britain. The total population of those areas adds up to less than “a fourth of the earth.” If the war remains confined to those regions, and if that war is to kill one fourth of the earth’s population, then no one in America should expect to survive.

** Set aside for the moment the whole World War III and mushroom-cloud business. Don’t worry about why O’Hare International Airport is now closed in this story. Just consider that much, on it’s own. O’Hare is closed. No flights in. No flights out. Now consider what that means for the likelihood of booking that downtown hotel room.

*** “Bless her heart” is not a term we’ve heard from Chloe previously, nor is it a term that 21-year-old Chicagoans are likely ever to use. Since Chloe associates the term with Loretta here, I’m going to assume that’s where she picked up the phrase — although she did so without quite understanding it.

Loretta, Jenkins said, is from the South. My guess is that Chloe heard Loretta say something like, “So Buck bought himself a new luxury SUV, did he? Well. Bless his heart,” and that Chloe mistook this for an expression of affection.

  • PJ Evans

     They don’t measure to any standard of Christianity but the one defined  by the RTCs. Which tends to ignore everything that Jesus actually taught, so (IMO) NO, they aren’t Christians, but ‘Christians’.

  • PJ Evans

    I hope the liberals and moderates are happy in the endless round of “No U” that will be the result

    Thanks for insulting about half the people here. This is why I didn’t miss you.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    And the RTCs think that the liberals are ignoring what the Bible teaches.  Works both ways, which is kinda my point.

    Thanks for insulting about half the people here. This is why I didn’t miss you.

    Yep, I’m so sorry for thinking that people should stop playing No True Scotsman with religious beliefs. 

    I guess if I remembered you or anything you had ever said to me, I would be insulted.  Then again, you can’t please everyone in life.

  • vsm

    Okay, so you’re advocating for a very broad definition of ‘Christian’ because it’s the simplest and won’t cause disagreements. That’s fair enough and perfectly serviceable for non-members such as you and me. However, why should someone who defines themself as a Christian accept that definition, when their holy book places other criteria (see, for instance, Matthew 25:31-46) than simply accepting certain vague theological ideas? That different people disagree on just what those criteria are is beside the point. Arguing it would prevent disagreements is also unlikely to be persuasive at least in America, where those disagreements already exist.

    This isn’t really a case of No True Scotsman either. The person who pulls out the ‘true’ qualifier still accepts the other person as some kind of a Scotsman, albeit an inferior one.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I’m advocating for it because it is the most correct.  I don’t think it’s fair to call someone a scare-quote believer when he is a believer who also happens to be a liar, just as I think it’s not fair to call someone a scare-quote believer when the person in question is a believer and is also pro-choice.  In both cases, the person is still a believer.  I simply don’t like people redefining words like that, especially when it appears that the only purpose it serves is to kick out the “wrong” sort of people from sharing your faith.  If someone says they are believe something, I’m going to believe him about that, absent good evidence to the contrary.

  • Nathaniel

    This. This kind of stuff is bull, even if it comes from a liberal perspective.

    Believe in the divinity and rebirth of Jesus? Then yeah, you’re a Christian. Doesn’t stop you from being a shitty human being, and being a shitty human being doesn’t prevent someone from being Christian, how ever much people may wish it.

  • PJ Evans

    This is why I left the old site: you push too damned many buttons with your attitudes and self-important opinions. And none of them are good buttons: they make YOU look bad.

  • Lori

    WTH PJ? I mean really, WTH?

  • vsm

    It’s certainly the most inclusive definition, but I’m afraid I still don’t see how it’s the most correct, at least from the point of view of a Christian. If accepting a few points of theology was all that was necessarily, Satan himself would count. I don’t consider wanting to kick certain people out of your movement necessarily bad either. That’s exactly how Christian dogma was formed in the first place.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Really?  Huh.  Well, I guess I should apologize for being so terribly important in your life that I made you leave a whole site.

    So, um, sorry?

  • Lori

    But which version of Christian dogma are we do accept and use as a guide for has and had not been kicked out? What Christians do in-house so to speak is up to them, but expecting everyone to buy into the idea that only good people (for whatever values of good the speaker chooses) are Christians is just not on.

    Saying “not all Christians agree with that” or “Not all Christians are like that” is fine, but saying “Anyone who says/does that isn’t a Christian at all, no matter what they call themselves” gets into problem territory really, really quickly.

    And yes, the whole line of reasoning is insulting to people of other faiths or no faith. It’s basically saying that all the bad people must be either some faith other than Christian or they’re nonbelievers because they can’t be Christians. That’s mighty convenient for Christians, but as a basis for public discourse it’s beyond shitty.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    And yes, the whole line of reasoning is insulting to people of other faiths or no faith. It’s basically saying that all the bad people must be either some faith other than Christian or they’re nonbelievers because they can’t be Christians. That’s mighty convenient for Christians, but as a basis for public discourse it’s beyond shitty.

    Yes, this exactly.

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

    Saying “not all Christians agree with that” or “Not all Christians are
    like that” is fine, but saying “Anyone who says/does that isn’t a
    Christian at all, no matter what they call themselves” gets into problem
    territory really, really quickly.

    Lori – Thank you for finding a clear way to say what has been bothering me about this discussion. As a Christian of the liberal – Episcopalian – flavor, on one hand I’m very uneasy about announcing “so-and-so isn’t really a Christian”; from my point of view, that’s claiming I get to make decrees about things that are finally up to God. (And yeah, I have a Really Hard Time stretching that as far as the likes of Westboro Baptist Church. But it’s still not, ultimately, my call.)

    On the other hand, I do get very very tired of the way the media has, on the whole, bought into the Christian Right’s claim that their version of Christianity – fundamentalist, judgmental, patriarchal, militarist, and antiscience – is the official only version. And, not to stir up more arguments, but there are also writers like Dawkins who would strongly prefer to agree with the Christian Right on this; I don’t like being No True Scotsmanned out of my own religion, whether by hostile insiders or hostile outsiders.

    Not all Christians are like the right wing.

  • Nathaniel

     That’s fine. There is a difference between saying “not all Christians are like that” and “Christians are good people. Therefore if someone isn’t good they aren’t a Christian.”

  • vsm

    I pretty much agree with you, actually. Like I said earlier, I’m perfectly willing to count anyone who wants to be a Christian as one. My problem was that Ruby_Tea seemed to want Christians to do the same, which I don’t think is reasonable.

    In a broader sense, who gets to be a member of an intellectual tradition is an interesting question. Was Pol Pot a Marxist, despite systematically destroying his country’s industry? If you’re a feminist who sees equality as the movement’s defining goal, can you exclude female supremacists like Mary Daly? Do Christians have to accept Anders Behring Breivik as one of theirs, despite his actions breaking the ethics of every single strain of Christianity?

  • fraser

     There was an issue of Fantastic Four a few years ago where God turns out to look a lot like Jack Kirby.

  • fraser

     I’m reminded of a movie called Two Can Play That Game in which the protagonist informs us that the woman trying to take her man is a complete slut. Protag. then clarifies that she herself likes sex a lot–but she’s not a slut and the other woman is, so there.
    No evidence of sluttiness is ever offered at any point in the movie.

  • vsm

    Also, I should have probably clarified that if tomorrow the Progressive Pope of America decided to excommunicate anyone who ever voted Republican, I would lose a lot of respect for the new institution. However, if the letters of excommunication were only sent to various people with the last name Phelps, I’d find it perfectly acceptable. You can’t disown everyone from your tradition you disagree with, but neither do you have to accept responsibility for every single whackjob who happens to like the sound of your group. (Not that Mary Daly was one.) I also find it much more acceptable to describe acts and creations as non-X, rather than the people responsible for them.

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     Nathaniel – yes, I agree. I’m specifically saying that I don’t dare claim that somebody I consider not-good, like Westboro Baptist (to be clear, these are the “God-hates-fags” funeral protesters) is therefore not a Christian. Again, as I see the universe, it’s God who gets to draw those lines.

    But admitting that some Christians fall in the politicized right wing in ways that appall me doesn’t mean I have to say that ONLY the right-wing, politicized churches are Christian.

  • Lori

     

    My problem was that Ruby_Tea seemed to want Christians to do the same, which I don’t think is reasonable. 

    If this was a discussion board about Christian dogma I’d say this would make sense, because it would be an in-house issue. In the context of the kind of broad discussion we have here I think it’s not.

    L&J’s beliefs are obviously repulsive to some Christians, but equally obviously they are very representative of a certain strain of US Christianity. In a broad-based discussion of their work I don’t see how it’s sensible or reasonable to call them “Christians” or so-called Christians. They’re Christians. They believe in the Biblical God and the divinity of Jesus and they follow their interpretation of the New Testament. Christians.

    Mitt Romney is a member of a Christian faith. It’s rather unorthodox due to the whole Book of Mormon business, but it’s still a Christian faith. AFAICT he’s actually a Mormon and isn’t just fronting for some reason. That means that he’s not a “Christian” or a so-called Christian, he’s a Christian. That’s true even though he’s a heartless, greedy jackass. He’s a heartless, greedy Christian jackass. Same goes for Paul Ryan. I’m sure some Catholics consider him a very bad Catholic, but he’s still a Catholic. Except in the sense I mentioned earlier about using it as an indication of hypocricy, calling him a “Christian” serves no good purpose. It simply furthers the highly problematic notion that the Venn diagram of bad people and Christians is 2 circles that don’t touch. That diagram is actually 2 circles with considerable overlap. Leaving off the scare quotes and the so-calleds is simply acknowledging that.

  • Lori

    If you’re a feminist who sees equality as the movement’s defining goal, can you exclude female supremacists like Mary Daly? 

    This is obviously a huge discussion and I could make arguments for both sides, but I’m not sure how productive it would be. The most I would say is that I’m a feminist and I disagree with her and with anyone who says that all feminists are female supremacists.

    Do Christians have to accept Anders Behring Breivik as one of theirs,
    despite his actions breaking the ethics of every single strain of
    Christianity? 

    I have no direct proof, but I find it highly unlikely that the Christian Identity folks have any major beef with Anders Behring Breivik.

    There are a lot of strains of Christianity, is what I’m saying.

  • vsm

    It’s complicated. You’re absolutely right in saying it’s problematic to claim bad people can’t be Christian, and making such pronouncements about the other party’s candidates means doing the exact same thing as those preachers who’ve turned Evangelical Christianity into the Republican Party’s propaganda wing. However, the Bible is an important source of authority in American culture, so it makes perfect sense to point out that you can’t serve both God and Ayn Rand when someone claims to do so. I’m not really sure what would be the right approach to Ryan now that he’s repudiated her in public but hasn’t in any significant way altered his thinking, though. Being too aggressive on the point would come off as religious bullying.

    How would you feel about Christians refusing to accept the Christian Identity folks into the fold? They are obviously against universalism, which is a rather important part of Christian theology.

  • Lori

    I think the right approach to Ryan is to just to keep pointing out exactly what you said. That he’s paid lip service to repudiating Rand, but hasn’t actually changed any of the positions that clearly have their origin in her writings and that Rand isn’t compatible with Catholic doctrine.  I don’t see how that’s more religious bullying than saying that he’s not actually a Christian.

    As for Christians refusing to acknowledge Christian Identity I’d say the same thing that I said about feminism and female supremacy—it’s totally fair and reasonable to say that you believe universalism is a fundamental point of the Christian faith and therefore you have a huge point of divergence with Christian Identity and that it’s wrong for anyone to believe that all Christians hold with Christian Identity’s particular beliefs. I don’t think you can really go beyond that in a general context. They worship the same God, read the same scriptures and acknowledge the divinity of Jesus. Christians. Creepy, hateful, dangerous, vile Christians, but Christians.

    I don’t think I’ve ever self-identified as a member of any general group that didn’t include some people I’d rather disown. That doesn’t mean that I actually get to do that. As an example, I don’t want to call the poster by name for fear of invoking her, but we’ve had visits here from an incredibly rude, ignorant atheist who has said things I totally disagree with. I have responded to her by basically saying, “You are rude and ignorant and you’re making the rest of us look bad. Please to be shutting up now and going away.” What I never even tried to say was that she wasn’t an atheist. She believes there are no gods. She’s an atheist. We have that in common whether I like it or not. (I don’t.)

    You can pick your friends, but you just can’t decide who is and isn’t X when X is a large group or movement. 

  • vsm

    Insisting that he is not a Christian would undoubtedly be religious bullying. I don’t really know how criticizing a candidate’s politics based on their religion would fly, at least if it came from outside the church.

    I don’t think atheism’s a very good example here, since the list of required positions is so brief and unambiguous. If you think or are pretty sure there are no gods, you are a member. However, what exactly makes someone a Christian, Feminist or a Marxist is a much more difficult question to answer. Mormons, for instance, have their own post script scripture and a different view of the Trinity*. When someone differs with the mainstream on issues as basic as that, or the Great Commission in the case of Christian Identity, I wouldn’t fault the majority for not wanting to associate with them.

    *This is why my old schoolbooks listed LDS as a religion influenced by Christianity rather than a form of Christianity, along with Jehovah’s Witnesses and the followers of Reverend Moon**. I was actually surprised that so many Americans do count them.

    **Who has apparently just died.

  • Tofu_Killer

    There is; it’s called crap writing.

  • Lori

     

    I don’t really know how criticizing a candidate’s politics based on
    their religion would fly, at least if it came from outside the church.  

    This is an issue where I know my own views are not necessarily in line with prevailing opinion, but I think if a candidate makes his/her religion an issue then it’s fine to comment on it provided that one fights’ fair. Ryan has used his Christianity as a selling point so he made it an issue. Doing that and then claiming that other people aren’t allowed to discuss it is, IMO, just bull.

    By fighting fair I mean that it’s fine to point out areas where Ryan’s self-identified Catholic beliefs are in conflict with his policy proposals. What isn’t OK is using dog whistles to stir up anti-Catholic bias.

    The same applies to Romney. I think it’s fair to ask if Romney actually tithes 10% to the church as he claims. At one point he agreed, and said that because he had publicly made that claim, voters had a perfect right to judge him based on whether or not he actually did it. Of course he’s now flip-flopped on that like everything else and questions about his religion and his tax returns are supposedly off the table. I call shenanigans on that crap.

    What I don’t think is OK is people implying that there’s something wrong with Romney because his grandfather was a polygamist. He’s not his grandfather, polygamy is no longer offical LDS policy and Mitt only has one wife. Bringing up the issue is just a cheap shot designed to push the “Mormons are weird” button and that’s not cool. I think cracks about magic underwear are over the line for the same reason. Every religion has rituals that seem freakish to outsiders. Bringing up the underwear thing is just a way to Other Mormons and that’s not cool. Romney is totally unfit to be president, but his underwear has nothing to do with that.

  • j_bird

    Aaaaugh!  This is like something out of a bad dream.  
    “I’ll be your… spiritual head… young lady.”   It could be quite difficult for a young employee (especially a permanent one) to say no to an older, higher-ranking one.  

  • Lori

    Sorry about leaving this off earlier. I got distracted by something going on IRL and dropped a mental thread.

     

    Mormons, for instance, have their own post script scripture and a
    different view of the Trinity*. When someone differs with the mainstream
    on issues as basic as that, or the Great Commission in the case of
    Christian Identity, I wouldn’t fault the majority for not wanting to
    associate with them.  

    It’s not as if all Christians except the Mormons have the same view of the Trinity and people don’t all interpret the Great Commission the same way either, so I remain unconvinced that those issues are where the Christian/Not Christian line should be drawn. 

    I’ve forgotten much of what I once knew about the finer points of JW theology so I don’t have an opinion about that one. The Moonies are a personality cult. Do they even claim to be Christians?

    I understand not wanting to associate with certain people, I just don’t think that some Christians’ desire not to associate with certain folks is actually a legitimate metric for declaring those folks not Christians. There be dragons (of more than one sort). 

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

    Actually, Jewish people have had real concerns about Mormons effectively trying to ‘erase’ the Jewishness of some ancestors by rebaptizing dead people into the Mormon faith.

    Religious customs should not be given a free pass just because at first glance they seem harmless.

  • Lori

    I was speaking in a specifically political context. Unless there’s evidence that Mitt Romney has been rebatizing Jews or he makes it an issue in some way I’d say that it doesn’t really have a place in the campaign. I also don’t think people should be going around saying that Paul Ryan shouldn’t be VP because of the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church. If Ryan comes out in support of pedophile priests then it’s on, but otherwise I don’t think he’s obligated to answer for that during the campaign.

    “Not fair game for a particular person’s political campaign” =/= “general free pass”.

  • vsm

    Sorry about leaving this off earlier.

    No problem. I had to sleep anyway.

    I remain unconvinced that those issues are where the Christian/Not Christian line should be drawn.

    While there are differences between orthodox Christians in how to interpret these (that damn Filioque), Mormonism and Christian Identity differ radically in their interpretations. Mormonism views the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost as distinct gods, only worships the Father (I think?) and holds that humans can become gods. That’s very far from mainstream Christianity. I also see having your own unique scripture as a rather big deal, though there are also some differences in what orthodox Christians accept as canonical. Christian Identity people assume the “all nations” bit of the Great Commission actually excludes the vast majority of nations. That too is a radical departure.
    I don’t think Mormonism is inherently worse or sillier than orthodox Christianity, but I do see it as quite different and wouldn’t blame any Christian who didn’t consider them fellow believers, as long as they remained respectful. As for the Moonies, the full name of their church is The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, so apparently they do consider themselves Christian.I think you’re absolutely correct regarding religion and political campaigning. I’m sorry I have nothing more interesting to say to such a well-considered post.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I don’t think Mormonism is inherently worse or sillier than orthodox Christianity, but I do see it as quite different and wouldn’t blame any Christian who didn’t consider them fellow believers, as long as they remained respectful.

    *raises hand* I wouldn’t consider Mormons to be Christians, for the record.

    As for the rest of this discussion: I hate having to let horrible people say they’re Christians, but I agree with esmerelda_ogg that it’s not my call. Generally, I just go with the Ichthus thing: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour”. Anyone who’d believe that much and called themselves a Christian, I’ll agree that they are, even if their beliefs differ wildly from mine in every other way.

  • El Durazno de la Muerte

    The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.

    So much for a literal interpretation.

    “HATTIE DURHAM HEEDS THE CALL OF THE LAST PRIME.”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The authors would, of course, insist that they’re poking fun at Buck here, and that this “ego crisis” is a foible of his. In just the same way all those pastors and politicians always pretend they’re poking fun at their own “egos” rather than flexing them by making all those similarly disingenuous comments at the expense of their wives, asserting a claim of dominance by portraying even common decency and fairness as expressions of magnanimous, benevolent condescension. Such magnanimity is, of course, what every husband owes to the little lady, but silly me, sometimes my ego gets in the way and I forget to show it — so the joke’s on me!

    Sounds like Buck needs to be rescued by, Capable Woman!

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wouldn’t consider Mormons to be Christians, for the record.

    [...] Generally, I just go with the Ichthus thing: “Jesus Christ, Son of
    God, Saviour”. Anyone who’d believe that much and called themselves a
    Christian, I’ll agree that they are, even if their beliefs differ wildly
    from mine in every other way

    My understanding is that these statements contradict.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Kinda depends on how you define “Christ”, “Son”, and “God”. I mean, when your understanding of those terms differs wildly from mine, then saying “we both believe that Jesus is the Son of God!” becomes kinda meaningless.

    I’ve discussed all this with some ex-Mormons (now atheists) who, when I asked if they’d consider Mormons to be Christian said no and started listing bullet-points of why not…

  • Dash1

     Actually, I’d like to see people held to account a bit more for the beliefs and practices of their religions. I’m not terribly interested in Mitt’s underwear or his belief about whether he will ultimately be a god himself, nor did/do I care what John Kerry thinks about Ignatius Loyola or the Virgin Birth.

    But both men are adherents, voluntarily, of religions that have as an element of belief (to take one example) that women lack a spiritual competence that men have. I would want to know whether they believed that (since not all adherents believe all aspects of a religion), because such a belief might affect the way they represent or think about the interests of women, and remaining with a religion that holds such a belief says something about what they think is important.  Similarly, I would regard it as worthwhile to know what Romney thought about the dictates of his church up to the point where the decision was made to stop excluding Black men from the priesthood.

    Religion is important. It informs how people live and has an impact on what they consider important. And it seems to me valid to ask about how people who want to make decisions about how others will live relate to certain specific tenets and stances of their chosen religions.

  • vsm

    Wouldn’t examining their voting record give you pretty much the same information, with the additional benefit of not demanding them to publicly speak against their religion right before an election?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     I prefer this approach as well. It would seem weird to me to sidestep a politician’s words and actions in favor of scrutinizing some of the tenets of their faith. Heck, especially in the world today, two people can be of the same religion will being as different as possible. Tim LaHaye and Fred Clark would both self-identify as evangelical American Christians but it would not be safe to assume that they agree on much politically based just on that.

    That’s not to say that religion can’t be part of that calculus, but if you already have information on someone’s voting record available that’s a much more direct and reliable test in my opinion. John Kerry might be personally Catholic, but he’s a vigorous opponent of abortion restrictions, backs same-sex marriage, and supports comprehensive sex education (instead of abstinence-only). I don’t need him to certify that he won’t try to impose his Catholic faith on everyone through legislation since he, well, hasn’t, in the roughly 30 years that he has spent in Congress.

    (The religion thing also makes me queasy because it sounds uncomfortably like the times when Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann called on American Muslim federal employees Rep. Keith Ellison and Huma Abedin to certify that they are not in league with Islamic terrorist groups.)

  • Dash1

     I don’t think the voting record alone would do it: sometimes there isn’t much of a voting record, and sometimes people vote for specific bills for reasons having little to do with the content of those bills.

    And, as I said, I think religion is important enough that it’s worth asking about. We don’t, after all, have trouble asking a politician why he’s a member of a club that doesn’t admit women or non-whites.  Religion is more important, and a more basic part of a person’s mental make-up, than club membership.

    Politicians have no trouble using religion when it suits them. I’m just suggesting that we eliminate the “when it suits them” part.

    I notice that you consider questions about a candidate’s religion as essentially asking them to “publicly speak against their religion”–that is, as by definition “gotcha” questions.  Is that really necessarily the case?

  • Lori

     

    Politicians have no trouble using religion when it suits them. I’m just
    suggesting that we eliminate the “when it suits them” part.  

    I would far, far rather that we eliminate the “using religion” part. Our elections are already have way too much religion, we don’t need any more.

  • vsm

    Politicians have no trouble using religion when it suits them. I’m
    just suggesting that we eliminate the “when it suits them” part.

    If you do that, you’re going to be hurting liberal politicians a lot harder than conservatives. Mitt Romney could survive saying he considers women less spiritually capable than men, though he probably wouldn’t be nearly as blunt. John Kerry would have a much more difficult time of answering the same question. In his case, it would most likely be a gotcha question.

    Asking such questions from Mormon and Catholic politicians is kind of questionable, by the way, considering how members of those faiths have been hounded as improper Americans. Anyone who’d ask the question you suggest of a liberal Catholic candidate with a decent pro-feminist voting record would be invoking that nasty history.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Plus, we already do that to Mormons, Catholics, and now Muslims (Glenn Beck to Keith Ellison: “Prove to me that you’re not working with our enemies, sir.”) Is it really a good idea to formalize and encourage it?

  • Carstonio

    I have that same queasines, particularly since I’ve seen too many “you can’t be Catholic and pro-choice” bumper stickers. It also reminds me of the tactic by anti-theists of challenging Christians to reject, say, the barbarity of Leviticus. Not only has Kerry taken pro-woman positions, to my knowledge he’s never campaigned on his Catholicism. I might appreciate questions about a candidate’s religion if zie was using it as a selling point.

  • Rebecca

     Yes! What a weird register shift.

  • Dash1

    First of all, I agree with Lori, vsm, Charity Brighton, and anyone whose name I missed that in practical terms, asking candidates questions about whether they agree with the philosophical stances of their religions is problematic. And, as vsm points out, it would certainly hurt liberal candidates more than conservative ones. (For this reason alone, it is fortunate that I am not in charge of the presidential debates.)

    I also see it running afoul of the “no religious test” rule, to which I am very attached.

    On the other hand, by ignoring religion, particularly on the part of self-identifiedly devout candidates, we pretend that religion has no affect. If Paul Ryan says he got most of his ideas from Ayn Rand, I think he can reasonably be asked about Ayn Rand, and if reporters ever get around to asking questions of substance, they will probably ask him about Ayn Rand and not feel like they’re treading on forbidden territory. My point is that one’s religion also represents a philosophy. (Actually, I doubt Ryan would feel at all uncomfortable aligning himself with most of the current positions of the Vatican hierarchy.)

    As to whether it’s somehow more wrong to ask it of Catholics and Mormons, I’m not sure I’d agree with you, vsm. True, some people are still pretty ignorant of Mormonism, but to a large degree I think the people who would view them as “not real Americans” are probably the fundagelicals, who, by “not real Americans” mean “not my kind of Christian.” (If it comes to that, a group of the people who have been hounding people for not being “real” Americans tend to be disproportionately . . . Mormon!) And I think the composition of the Supreme Court indicates pretty well that Catholics are no longer considered “not real Americans.”

    But, while we’re speaking of practical applications, I suspect that avowed
    atheists get asked about their atheism much more than most
    religious people about their religion. As Charity Brighton points out, Keith Ellison (a man of astonishing patience) gets asked this question regularly. And of course, Obama was
    expected to talk about his agreement or lack thereof with Jeremiah
    Wright’s sermons. So it’s not like it’s not happening now. It’s just happening to some people and not to others.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Oh hey. This here:

    It’s a plan, then. Chloe will edit and rewrite 5,000 pages by Sunday, and then, “within a week or so,” she’ll have it all retyped and they can then make copies, bind them, and distribute them to all members of New Hope Village Church, each of whom will then have the chance to read through all 5,000 pages at their leisure. Because that’s clearly the easiest way to get the word out.

    This here just crystalized something for me. Something that explains the obsession over communication methods and transportation.

    The authors of these books were trying to write their own Dracula. Chloe is their Mina Harker.

    They’re not doing a good job of it, of course. And they’re loads more sexist than Stoker, despite writing more than a century after him. But I think Chloe could be a fabulous Mina, if only the authors would get out of her way and let her do it.

  • ohiolibrarian

     

    Mormons, for instance, have their own post script scripture and a different view of the Trinity*.

    Orthodox Christians also have a different view of the Trinity than either Catholics or Protestants. What did your text say about them?

    Just curious …

  • ohiolibrarian

    Didn’t Jefferson get attacked on the basis of his religious beliefs?  I think this horse left the barn about  200 years ago.

  • vsm

    Dash1: I’m probably not the most qualified person to assess race relations in the US, never even having visited and all. However, it is not difficult to run into anti-Catholic or anti-Mormon sentiments when studying American culture. Granted, most of these voices come from the right, but progressives can accidentally tap into that well as well. Implying Catholics should leave the Church over its abuses can come close to this.

    ohiolibrarian: I assume the definition of Christianity used for those schoolbooks was rather broad. Having a different understanding of the Trinity was acceptable, as long as you didn’t claim it consisted of three distinct gods as the Mormons seem to do. Incidentally, the Orthodox Church is one of two state religions where I live, so calling it non-Christian in the religious studies program meant for the Evangelical Lutherans would have caused a huge scandal.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X