‘Change is a mofo’: The GOP and white evangelicalism are in the same situation

The past few weeks have seen a flood of commentary — some thoughtful, some fearfully reflexive — regarding the recent election and its implications for the future of the Republican Party and/or white evangelicalism.

When this picture was taken, these men had at least four things in common. And now they have five things in common.

Both institutions face the same problems. Both have become dominated by white male perspectives and have come to serve primarily the interests of those who share that perspective. Both have attained and maintained power by marginalizing everyone else — everyone who is not a straight, white, Christian male. This has been done through policy, through rhetoric that paints others as illegitimate and alien, and through the simple cluelessness that comes from not hearing and not listening to any other voices.

So while I’ve been reading a raft of articles about the future of the GOP and another raft of articles about the future of evangelicalism, those two streams of commentary have really been all about the same thing. They discuss identical concerns and obstacles and propose identical sets of possible responses. Read any article pondering a way forward for the Republican Party and everything it says can be applied to white evangelicalism. And vice versa. (That’s not surprising, really, since over the past several decades white evangelicalism has redefined itself as, primarily, a partisan subsidiary of the Republican Party.)

Tony Jones illustrates this parallel with a brilliant post in which he “remixes” David Simon’s post-election essay. Simon’s original post — “Barack Obama and the Death of Normal” — wasn’t concerned at all with evangelicalism or the church. He was writing only about politics and the future of the Republican Party. But as Tony’s remix shows, every word of Simon’s piece applies equally well to the identity crisis now facing the American church in general, and white evangelicalism in particular.

Read the original from Simon, and then read Tony’s remix. Here’s a taste of the latter:

Rear guard actions will be fought at every political theological crossroad. But make no mistake: Change is a motherfucker when you run from it. And right now, the conservative movement in America is fleeing from dramatic change that is certain and immutable. A man of color is president for the second time, and this happened despite a struggling economic climate and a national spirit of general discontent. He has been returned to office over the specific objections of the mass of white men. He has instead been re-elected by women, by people of color, by homosexuals, by people of varying religions or no religion whatsoever. Behold the New Jerusalem. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a white man, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.

This election marks a moment in which the racial and social hierarchy of America the American Church is upended forever. No longer will it mean more politically theologically to be a white male than to be anything else. Evolve, or don’t. Swallow your resentments, or don’t. But the votes people are going to be counted, more of them with each election liturgical year. Arizona will soon be in play. And in a few cycles, even Texas. And those wishing to hold national office prominent pulpits in these United States will find it increasingly useless to argue for normal, to attempt to play one minority against the next, to turn pluralities against the feared “other” of gays, or blacks, or immigrants, or, incredibly in this election cycle liturgical year, our very wives and lovers and daughters, fellow citizens Christians who demand to control their own bodies.

Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests Christian? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests Christians. And now, normal evangelical isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal evangelical. That word, too, means less with every moment.

The two subjects can’t really be separated here. Even those who imagine they’re speaking exclusively of either the Republican Party or of white evangelicalism are simultaneously also discussing the other as well. That’s partly because the two institutions have become so inextricably linked, but it’s also partly because they are both facing the same social and demographic changes — because they both exist in the same world and both must face the ways in which that world is changing around them.

Bob Smietana, the excellent religion reporter for The Tennessean, doesn’t make any distinction between these two subjects in his recent article, “Election signals America’s cultural shift as white evangelicals lose power“:

Since the day Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, white Christians have considered themselves the home team in American politics.

As the dominant social group, they’ve shaped the country’s moral and political culture for nearly 400 years.

But the recent presidential election is a sign that those days may be over, a prospect that’s encouraging or terrifying, depending on which side people are on.

For some, the change leads to fear that America is no longer a Christian nation. For others, it’s an opportunity to separate faith from the quest for political power.

The trend is fueled by simple demographics, said Robert Jones, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Public Religion Research Institute. White Christians are simply too old and too few in number to control the outcome of a nationwide election.

His research shows 69 percent of senior citizens are white and either evangelical, Catholic, or mainline Protestants, and many voted for Romney. Those same groups are only a quarter of all 30-year-olds.

“Romney’s coalition looks like senior America,” Jones said. “Running up big totals among white Christians and expecting them to take you over the top is not a strategy for victory nationwide.”

Post-election, some in that group are downplaying the results, saying their side lost because of bad tactics, not bad ideas. Others say their leaders are too focused on politics and the culture war and not enough on living their faith. Few want to give up the idea of letting Christian ideals shape politics, but most acknowledge they are in for a long struggle.

Or, as Mark Silk writes, “Romney’s religious coalition should spook the GOP even more than I thought.”

I’ll be following that “long struggle” here, with its ongoing re-evaluation of tactics and ideas by both the Republican Party and the old guard of white evangelicalism. And as we follow that, keep in mind that to speak of one is always to speak of the other. Whether within the party or within the church, the same battles and arguments are taking place and it’s not possible, or necessary, to separate them.

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  • Carstonio

    Not that there’s anything wrong with being a white man, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.

    There aren’t enough likes in all of Facebook to describe how much I like this sentence.

  • Jeff Freeman

    Personally I hope the Republicans double-down on all the things that failed them for the next couple election cycles. I hope they continue to to push the failed assault on women and the desperate attacks on non-whites.

    If they keep doing that then we might have a few years where **** can get done.

  • Katie

     I can understand where you’re coming from here, but I really hope that they don’t.  There is value to serious, reasoned, fact based debate over policies.  To the degree that that debate doesn’t happen, or only happens between the right and left wings of the Democratic party (which, as a side effect, tends to push the Democrats further to the center right), we’re deprived of a healthy political system, and a healthy political debate. 
    I’m also not sure that I want to live in a country where the extreme views that were being put forward in this election cycle are presented as real, viable, political positions.

  • Jeff Freeman

    I agree.  My goal isn’t permanent domination for the Democrats, what I want is for the Republicans to go so far that they break and lose it all.  Only then will we have the kind of re-structuring that I think we need for true, long-term “serious, reasoned, fact based debate over policies”.  I think if the Republicans can be successful by merely pulling back a little bit then they will stay in their bubble (mostly) and I don’t think that’s a good thing.  I want that bubble demolished, and I think the only way that will happen is abject failure.

    Of course on the other hand if they actually can be brought back to reality in time for 2014 then that’s fine too, I just seriously doubt it’s possible.

  • Carstonio

    Entertainment companies seem to do well when there’s a balance between the idea folks and the bean counters, with one group as the brake and the other as the accelerator. I think our political system can use the same balance. Right now it’s harder for Democrats to be the accelerator because the Republicans aren’t just putting on the brakes, but disconnecting the fuel lines.

    I’d like to see the current GOP break apart, and a new party arise that can be a real brake. A party that generally agrees with the Democrats on government serving the common good, but urges caution and deliberation on its use. I don’t know if the GOP has ever been that type of party. Ninety years ago, the GOP basically stood for preserving economic privilege. In that light, its more recent efforts on behalf of privilege based on gender, race and religious affiliation amount to a feature, not a bug. Whatever it was before, now it’s nothing but old surly white men yelling at kids to get off their lawns.

  • Lori

    I’d like to see the current GOP break apart, and a new party arise that
    can be a real brake. A party that generally agrees with the Democrats on
    government serving the common good, but urges caution and deliberation
    on its use.  

    We have that party now. It’s called the Democratic Party. You should check them out.

    The notion that the Dems are the accelerator and we need the GOP to be the brakes is a view that’s out of date by a number of decades that’s about equal to the number that I’ve been alive. It’s the result of a lot of BS self-marketing on the part of the GOP and I really wish we could collectively get over believing it. If you look at the actual numbers instead of listening to slogans and campaign promises the GOP is no more “fiscally responsible” than the Dems and in fact is  probably less so overall.

    The party in power tends to increase spending when they can because, contrary to Mittens’ sore-loser whining about “gifts”, both sides tend to reward their friends when they can. That can come in the form of giving people what they voted for or it can be just plain pork, but either way there tends to be a price tag attached. The GOP tends to derisively call  it running up the national credit card when Dems do it, but Republicans happily reach for the AmEx too.

    As I said, if anything the GOP is worse. That’s because more of their spending tends to funnel through the Pentagon. Contrary to what they tell us every time there’s a fiscal problem, the kind of social spending that the Dems tend to favor is not more expensive than the war machine that the GOP uses to suck up everyone’s money and give it to executives in the defense industry.

    People seriously need to let go of this idea that Republicans are the responsible adults and Dems are flighty and irresponsible. The GOP loves to say that they’re the “daddy” in our little US family and the Dens are the “mommy” and that we desperately need our Republican daddy to keep our Dem mommy from wrecking the family budget buying candy for the kids and pricey shoes for herself. That’s incredibly sexist and also deeply dishonest. 

  • Carstonio

    Of course the Democrats have been more the brake than the accelerator in recent decades. That’s mostly because the other party’s reactionary obstructionism has shifted the Overton window so dramatically. I never said that the GOP was indeed the voice of fiscal responsibility. That’s been their spin for a long time, but as we’ve seen, they’re really about tribalist notions of privilege. Waging two wars on the national credit card does indeed benefit their friends in the defense industry, but it’s also part of their macho xenophobic ideology.

    And no, this isn’t about Democrats being flighty and irresponsible. My best-case scenario has the GOP fracturing, with the religious rightists and Birchers and Randians becoming an impotent fringe party or else just dying off. The more moderate folks would join with some centrist Democrats to become a new party, one that actually counts the beans instead of giving them all to Wall Street and Boeing. The result, I hope, would be the Democrats becoming more dominated by people like Elizabeth Warren who value justice, fairness and equality first and foremost, perhaps even allying with the Greens. In my wish list, both a more leftward Democratic Party and the new party would both favor single-payer health care and Wall Street regulation, but differ over scope and strategy.

  • Carstonio

    And you’re absolutely right about the sexism of the GOP’s “daddy” and “mommy” notions. I was thinking more of artists or architects versus bean counters, a complementary relationship where they balance each other’s strengths and compensate for each other’s weakness. Both sides would keep each other honest to a certain extent. Right brain and left brain. This doesn’t mean that architects are tempted to blow the budget on office buildings that look like Gothic cathedrals, or that bean counters all want rooms with bare white walls with workers using crates and plywood for desks. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Like a friend of mine said:  “In a two-party system, we need a Loyal Opposition.  What he have now is an Arsonist Opposition.”

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

    You know, if people remembered the whole “you never negotiate with terrorists” thing  a bit more the Republican party would have been sidelined already. They are not terrorists in the usual sense, but to borrow some old Soviet expressions they are most certainly wreckers and saboteurs.

  • Demonhype

     My fear is that they’re not going to just double down on that–they’re going to resort to illegal and evil actions to suppress votes and voters themselves.  Look what happened in Ohio here!  Obama won the popular vote and the electoral votes, yet the Dems got wiped out on the local levels because of gerrymandering–in other words, cheating.  They divided up the Dem votes and ensured that Republican votes would count for twice or thrice as much as Dem votes so Dems will never again be able to get into power no matter how many votes they get.  And that criminal monster Husted is trying to bring a squashed electoral model from Pennsylvania into Ohio, wherein each county will get one electoral vote and then the winner will get Ohio’s presidential electoral votes.  In essence, he’s trying to extend his gerrymandering cheat to the presidential level, ensuring that the Dems will never again have a chance to win because the system will be rigged against them.  Since the election, a lot of Repubs have been squalling about how they couldn’t have lost the election becuz SEE HOW MUCH RED IS ON THAT MAP!!!!  Husted’s little idea will have the effect of making election results dependent on geography rather than population, so that the decreasing white evangelical/GOP asses will still be able to force us (the majority) to live by their rules and their religious bigotries just because they tend to be spread out on larger portions of land.

    I’d love to think “that will never fly”, but then the first level of gerrymandering was a success for them and he did have a victory in that many if not most provisional ballots will be thrown out now if the voter hasn’t filled them in correctly because the onus of responsibility is on the voter now instead of the pollworker (giving a biased pollworker a chance to invalidate black votes and any other likely dem votes by saying “yes, you filled that out fine!” when they know it’s not, or even scratching a few things out just to invalidate it).  It’s not just that the right wing has possibly hit the critical mass point of crazy, dangerous, monsterous, bigoted or evil but that they, at this point, have the power, money and control of others to maintain their power even by outright and blatant cheating.  And that’s what scares me.

  • Jeff Freeman

    Absolutely.  Gerrymandering is a huge thing, however my expectation is that if the Republicans keep pushing then even that won’t save them.  Remember, Romney could have won Ohio AND Florida and still lost.  What I hope is that the Republicans will go so bat**** that it CAN’T be ignored by the moderates and undecideds and that breaks the Republican’s power.  Wishful thinking, but I expect that it’s lees so than wishing that the Republicans will accept reality and voluntarily give up their stolen power.

  • Fusina

    Thankfully, Thanksgiving is over now. Just gotta make it past Christmas without an episode, and I”ll be good for a couple months.

    Okay, so one of my Mom’s cousins did the family genealogy, and it turns out that I (along with thousands of other people) am descended from Charlemagne. This, I think, is cool, but even cooler to me was finding out that Barack Obama, current president of these here USs is also a descendent of Big Chuck. As, apparently are George Bush 1 and 2, Mitt Romney, and a few other Presidents and big cheeses.

    My Mom was not pleased with the news that she is related to Big O, and wanted to know if I shared the fact to hurt her.

    Then she sent me an email about the “War on Christmas/Christians”. Didn’t bother to read the whole thing, esp. not the end where they usually try to guilt trip you into forwarding it to all your friends, thus cluttering up bandwidth with this crap.

    Still like the comment made in a book I read (heavily paraphrased at this point, but the meaning is unchanged), “There is no war on Christmas! No one arrests you if you say ‘Merry Christmas’. There is, however, a war on tolerance and inclusion.”

  • Kiba

    it turns out that I (along with thousands of other people) am descended from Charlemagne. 

    You too? When my brother went on a family tracing kick that’s one of the things he found out. I was never really interested in who was in the family tree. I was more interested in where the roots went (places as opposed to people). 

  • http://tobascodagama.com Tobasco da Gama

    Is this one of those Genghis Khan situations where EVERYBODY with even a sliver of European heritage is related to Charlemagne?

    (Personally, I have both European and Asian blood, so I’m just going to assume I’m related to both Charlemagne and the Khans. You can’t prove I’m not!)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    You almost certainly are. Math is funny like that.

  • Kiba

    Dunno. Like I said I’m more interested in where than I am in who. The nice German genealogist my brother had doing the majority of the research would be a better person to ask, and if I had his name and contact information I would.

    Really though, the only thing that sparks my interest, and if I had the money for it I would do it in a heart beat, is the DNA test for the National Geographic Genographic project. Being able to find out the migration paths of my ancestors if much more interesting to me than to whom I might be related. 

  • GDwarf

    (Personally, I have both European and Asian blood, so I’m just going to
    assume I’m related to both Charlemagne and the Khans. You can’t prove
    I’m not!)

    I’d be very surprised if you weren’t.

    It’s based on the simple fact that everyone has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, etc. Go back to Charlemagne’s time and the number of great-…-grandparents any person living today would’ve had alive then outnumbers the number of people alive. That means that they must have had significant overlap with others, which means that the odds are ludicrously in favour of everyone being related. The only exception is cultures that had essentially no interbreeding.

    This also means that if there is a person from history from the time of Charlemagne back who had children, everyone whose ancestors are from that part of the globe (and many, many people whose ancestors aren’t) are also related to them.

  • Turcano


    Personally, when looking that far back in my family tree, I take more pride in the rowdier branches (to be specific, the ones that come from the Land of the Ice and Snow).

  • Tricksterson

    And they’re both looking down on you from Generic Valhalla and wondering why you have conquered and slaughtered more.

  • Carstonio


    it turns out that I (along with thousands of other people) am descended from Charlemagne.

    I have a relative who had that done as well, and I strongly suspected that the Charlemagne part was a scam.

  • Joykins

    I read a book on genetics a few years ago that basically stated that everyone alive today is probably descended from nearly everyone who had children about 1000 years ago in the area of the world their ancestors were from–that’s when the family trees started merging like crazy.  So if that book is correct, nearly everyone with ancestors from Western Europe is probably descended from Charlemagne–whether documented or not.  I wish I could remember the name of the book.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    It’s really simple math. A completely oversimplified example: If every couple had exactly two children, each of whom married and had exactly two children with someone they weren’t related to, it would only take ~33 generations (650-850 years) before everyone was related to everyone else.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Starting from how big a gene pool?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    The current population of the earth

  • EllieMurasaki


  • Carstonio

    Sure, but that’s different from using a genealogy service that claims to be able to trace all one’s ancestors back that far.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.paxton.94 Susan Paxton

    Not necessarily. Genetic testing proved recently that some amazing percentage of Asians are descended from Genghis Khan – something like 8%.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    I’d bet closer to 80% than 8%.

  • Carstonio

    While that sounds plausible, I’m not talking about genetics. The relative in question had a printout of several pages that purported to be a complete genealogy covering 1,200 years, starting with Charlemagne. I don’t remember if this came from a paid service or not.

  • P J Evans

     I can do that, if I feel like it. There are some good, inexpensive genealogy programs out there, and a lot of sites with data (not necessarily reliable). The big problem is that they generally can’t handle more than 31 generations of ancestors in a printout, because the numbers get too big. It’s about 45 generations from here to Big Chuck.

  • Green Egg and Ham

     2 to the 45th is near 35.2 trillion, so does that mean each of us is mathematically related to everyone 45 generations ago, since the population of the earth then was not 35 trillion?

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

    One of the people I know is likely descended from Eastern European Jews, while I have British and Northern European ancestry. It was an amusing game for us to try and figure out how distantly related we are – I think we ended up deciding our common ancestor must be at least a thousand years back. :P

  • Donalbain

     Not quite. Because incest.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross


    2 to the 45th is near 35.2 trillion, so does that mean each of us is
    mathematically related to everyone 45 generations ago, since the
    population of the earth then was not 35 trillion?

    Once you go past third cousins, you’re as genetically similar as complete strangers. The overwhelming liklihood, as much as it creeps you out, is that your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother on your mother’s mother’s side, and your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother on your father’s mother’s  side are the same person. Most of those 35.2 trillion ancestors  are the same ten or twelve people.

  • Donalbain

    Again, that isn’t that much of a surprise. The company in question just needs to work back from the customer to the latest person they have on their database as a descendant from Charlie, and add the two together.
    And every time they do this, the work gets easier, since they have more people in their database to connect the next person to Charlemagne.

  • VMink

    So it’s kind of like playing Six Degrees of Chuck le Magne?

  • Morgan

     The 8% figure is for male line descendents – sons of sons of sons of… So indeed the real figure must be higher.

    On the OP:

    We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests
    Christian? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all —
    all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests Christians.

    …Er? Aside from being obviously a bit suspect on its face, this change seems to precisely inverse the sense of the original text.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If the audience is composed of people who define ‘Christian’ as ‘people whose welfare I’m supposed to care about because Jesus said to love my neighbor’, then saying everybody’s Christian makes perfect sense. Only with that definition of Christian, though; any definition that brings in behavior or religious belief makes the paragraph crash and burn.

  • Morgan

     It’s still rather messy, though, unless I’m misunderstanding something. The original sense pointed out that a distinction between “normal (white, male, Christian)” people and “special interests” no longer works. The remix puts “Christian” in the position of the implicit Other. Something like “heretic” would make more sense, as I see it – in the “everyone’s a heretic to someone” sense. But maybe there is Theology afoot that I’m not conversant with.

  • ReverendRef

     Genetic testing proved recently that some amazing percentage of Asians are descended from Genghis Khan

    One of our (many) foreign exchange daughters was from Mongolia where, as you would expect, Genghis Khan is celebrated as a national hero.  Her name is Geralsakhan, but we called her Emma. 

    One day I noticed the similarity between her name and Khan.  She said something about it honoring the past or indicating some kind of descent or something like that.  I thought it was interesting.

    And, as a side note, she’s now attending college here in the States and will be coming back “home” for Christmas.

  • Freak

    I thought the figure was that 10% of all Asian males shared Genghis’ Y chromosone.

  • Freak

    It’s probably real.  It’s a fact of genetics that a person’s lineage tends to either the whole of the genepool or dies out.

    I’d say that, for any person X living a thousand years or more ago, either X has no living descendants, or all living people of that ethnic group are descended from X.

  • Carstonio

    Again, I’m not talking about genetics. When someone claims to have a complete listing of ancestors over twelve centuries, I think it’s natural to be skeptical. 

  • vsm

    It’s not that unlikely. European nobility liked to keep track of who was related to who, so all you need to do is go back your family tree until you find a noble. Even that’s not all that difficult, since with any luck you can utilize the work of other researchers. See this post: http://sandwalk.blogspot.fi/2009/10/are-you-descedant-of-charlemagne.html

  • P J Evans

     Probably not complete – I doubt if most people can do complete for even five generations. But you can get from here to there, if you have a few ‘lucky’ connections. (Quotes because going back past about 1500 means you’ll have to have a computer just to keep track of the people. I’m not sure how many ancestors I actually know about.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    *nodnod* Happens I’m descended from the grandparents of Ann Putnam of the Salem Witch Trials, and turns out her family’s been traced back quite a ways. I think somebody’s gotten as far back as 1200something, Roger de Puttenham, I think was the name.

    And some of my ancestry I suspect nobody’s ever going to trace accurately. Ireland has a lot of people named Mary Mahoney, and recordkeeping from a couple centuries ago for people with not a hell of a lot? Not so great.

  • P J Evans

     There’s nothing like having a couple (or two) named John and Mary Greene to teach you how common a name can be.

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

    My cousin (the Glenn Beck retweeter) decided to get into genealogy and came up with a family tree that hooked up with the kings of England a couple centuries back and from there traced back to Adam. Yep, that Adam.

    Much to the surprise of my mom who had done a lot of well-documented research; seems it only took 3 generations before the cousin made a connection that contradicted something Mom has seen actual original records for.

  • EllieMurasaki

    People get genealogy wrong in entertaining ways sometimes. I can’t remember the last name of the family Dad was talking about the other day, but the first name was Paul so let’s pretend the last name was McCartney. Various amateur genealogers came to the conclusion that Paul McCartney was born after he got married which was after he died. Dad’s pretty sure the actual deal is that there’s at least three Paul McCartneys (probably father, son, and grandson) and people confused them, but without the original records to compare to it’s a hopeless jumble.

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

    Mom did some research for a friend of hers named Steve, and discovered Steve’s great-grandfather, also named Steve, had had three sons – call them Steve, Joe, and Mike. They were among the first settlers in that part of Texas, and very active in the local community, so there was the potential for an interesting family history. 

    Just one problem: the three sons also had multiple sons, and they all reused the names Steve, Joe, and Mike. And the next generation did the same thing. Of course the newspaper articles never bothered saying which Steve, Joe, or Mike. Mom did get the births and deaths straight but she couldn’t do much about the rest of it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s as bad as my grandpa’s family. His grandmother named all her kids and then all her grandkids. (Except my grandpa, because he wasn’t doing well when he was born, so since he was born to Catholic parents at a Catholic hospital they hustled in a priest for baptism, so his first name was the saint du jour and his middle name was what his grandmother had meant to be his first name.) So there was Uncle Johnny’s John and Uncle Johnny’s Jim and Uncle Johnny’s Tom and Uncle Jimmy’s John and Uncle Jimmy’s Jim and Uncle Jimmy’s Tom and Uncle Tommy’s John and…

  • Jay

     People get genealogy wrong in entertaining ways sometimes.

    My dad’s side of the family is pretty straightforward, but my Mom is about half Irish and half Gypsy.  They claim that we’re descended from many prominent individuals, some of whom turn out never to have existed.

  • P J Evans

     I can see that. I’m looking at a tree for someone who should be well researched and documented, and I can tell by looking at some of the names that they didn’t do nearly enough research. (I’m sorry, but you’re not going to find someone in 16th century England named ‘Baronet Smith’, and damned few with more than one given name. I see those kinds of things, and I get red alerts going off.)

  • Ken

     Yep, that Adam.

    I can top that.  On my German side, one of the lines runs into the old Burgundian nobility, so I’m descended from Wotan and a (distant and much-removed) cousin of Beowulf and Siegfried.  According to tradition, at least.

  • P J Evans

     Well, actually, there are millions of people descended from Chuck the Great. (Possibly a billion, but tracking down all of them is impossible.) The fun, for some people, is figuring out how many descents they have.

    (With a dollar and a descent from Charlemagne, you can buy a candy bar.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Apparently Charley liked to screw; quite a large number of people of European descent trace back to him.

  • Donalbain

     If you do the maths, if someone alive at the time of Charlemagne has any descendants alive today, then he will likely have millions of descendants alive today. With descendants, its all or nothing.

  • Tricksterson

    No but there is a War on Yule and Saturnalia and it’s been going on for nearl two thousand years.

  • Lliira

     it turns out that I (along with thousands of other people) am descended from Charlemagne.

    Not thousands.

    If you have any European ancestry, you are descended from Charlemagne.

  • Carstonio

    Few want to give up the idea of letting Christian ideals shape politics.

    No one is asking them to give up letting those ideals shape their politics. Our host is an excellent example of a Christian whose political positions are heavily influenced by his religious beliefs, but who also translates these ideals into secular terms.

  • Ursula L

    Both have become dominated by white male perspectives and have come to serve primarily the interests of those who share that perspective. 

    Have become dominated?  

    Has white evangelism ever not been dominated by white men?  And has any political party in the US ever not been dominated by white men?  

  • EllieMurasaki

    And has any political party in the US ever not been dominated by white men?

    The Greens? Maybe?

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     Well, the percent of white protestants in the Democratic Congressional Caucus is now less than 50%. So there’s that. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RHLJILNCJRFGBX3RXSRO3QDSZY Steven

    What I’ve heard is that everyone with Western European heritage is a descendant of Charlemagne. He lived so long ago that by now his genes have spread to hundreds of millions. 

  • Lunch Meat

    That’s probably true of everyone living at that time who lived long enough to have children. The only reason we know about Charlemagne and other royalty is because they were the ones whose records were kept.

  • Lliira

     That’s probably true of everyone living at that time who lived long enough to have children

    No, not actually. Rich, powerful men tended to father WAY more children than other men by many orders of magnitude. And, of course, women cannot bear as many children as men can father.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    And Muhammed, apparently.  Of course, his reach stretches farther than just Western Europe.

  • P J Evans

     His assorted wives and mistresses, and those of his male descendants, were very helpful in that.

  • Tricksterson

    Don’t forget the rape victims of which I’m sure there were a slew.

  • Lliira

     Not just Western European. Charlemagne had a lot of kids, and those kids had a lot of kids. He married off his daughters in political alliances all over Europe, east to west. And men in that strata of society fathered children all over the damn place, so their sons littered Europe with children.

    It won’t be too long until everyone on the planet is descended from Charlemagne, except for a few isolated tribes. I’d guess the same could be said of Genghis Khan and a few Chinese emperors. In a couple thousand years, everyone will also all be descended from Queen Victoria.

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

    Christopher Lee is another descendant of Charlemagne, which led to this metal opera.

  • Jay

    What exactly does the Republican party have to offer the rest of us?  Its fiscal conservatism is strictly rhetorical, its military wing is vastly in excess when compared to actual threats, and its religion resembles the Pharisees much more than anything Jesus taught.

    Let it go.  Join the left.  We have punch and cookies.  And gluten-free cookies if you need them, that’s the sort of people we are.

  • LL

    But the Republican party’s offer to continue to treat me as if I’m stupid and claim my reproductive system for God is so tempting … and they came THAT close to convincing me rape’s not all bad. If it came with coupons for free frozen yogurt or an Amazon gift certificate or something, they might have gotten me with that. I am susceptible to bribery, as my vote for Obama proves. 

  • Barry_D

    “Since the day Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, white Christians have considered themselves the home team in American politics.”

    Where ‘Christian’ means just what?

  • MaryKaye

    The one caveat on all these stories:  who the records say you are related to, and who you are genetically related to, don’t necessarily line up.  Closed adoption was the norm until quite recently, and arrangements where one family member quietly takes in another’s child even more so.  There are also a lot of “courtesy relatives” in many families, and it’s easy for the fact that they’re not genetic relatives to get forgotten over the generations.  Most of the people I grew up calling “aunt” and “uncle” were not related to me.  (And for that matter, “father” “brother” and “sister” are stepfather, half-brother, half-sister respectively.  I could easily see my children not remembering that and getting the pedigree wrong as a result.)

    After 9/11 genetic tests were used to identify remains.  The forensic specialists doing this wouldn’t take DNA from living people unless they were putative first-degree relatives–parent, child, sibling–of someone lost in the attack, because, they said, Americans are not reliable about their blood relatives past the first degree.

    If I could scan my own genome, the thing I’d personally like to know is whether I have any identifiable Neanderthal alleles.  Current research says some Europeans and Asians probably do, contrary to early reports based only on mtDNA.  I admire the Neanderthals and would be tickled to be related to them.

  • P J Evans

    Some of the stuff on line is best used as bird-cage liner,and anything claiming pedigrees before about the year 500 should be considered suspect at best.
    (I was looking at some people, years ago, in ‘Ancestral File’  and found that someone had been connected as his own grandfather. It’s a nice trick, if you could do it, but, well, I don’t think so.)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    My Mom was into Ancestry.com for a while (I should see if she’s still working on it) and apparently I’m descended from this dude through my paternal grandmother:


    along with about a zillion other people in the US.  Don’t have to go back very far before you find people with massive numbers of descendants (or as other commenters have pointed out, no descendents, with no in-between).

    IIRC it was through his son John, which apparently makes me VERY distantly related to the Bushes.  Thrillsville.

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

    By the way, I don’t know where to ask this so I’m asking here —

    Can anyone dig up for me the “Barack Obama is Silas Lynch” analysis pieces that were originally on wrightandleftreport.com ?