The Witches of Breastwick

The Witches of Breastwick January 22, 2018

• Marking this as an odd data point in the ongoing wrangling over who’s in and who’s out when it comes to the designation “evangelical.” This is from CBN — Pat Robertson’s “news” agency — reporting on how “Evangelical Leaders Respond to Trump’s Vulgar Comment.” The handful of “evangelical leaders” it lists includes Mia Love, described there as a “Republican representative” and as “a daughter of Haitian immigrants.” Rep. Love — who, commendably, condemned Trump’s remarks — is also Mormon.

It may just be that CBN was so desperate to find “evangelical leaders” critical of Trump’s indefensible remarks that they had to widen the net enough to include Latter Day Saints. Or it may be that, for CBN, all Republicans are honorary evangelicals just as all evangelicals are presumed to be Republican. Or maybe they’re just using “evangelical” to mean “politically conservative non-Catholic Christians,” and therefore the term now encompasses Mormons too. I dunno, but this seemed noteworthy.

Rep. Love stands out in that story as one of the few “evangelical leaders” who actually engages the substance of Trump’s remarks, rather than the vulgarity of his language. (Short-fingered vulgarian is vulgar — stop the presses!) Most of the others are consternstipated that the president used the s-word, not that he was aggressively advocating a racist immigration policy in service of a starkly racist notion of American identity. John Fea notes that this recalls Billy Graham’s initial response to the Watergate transcripts — when Graham agonized so much over Nixon’s use of vulgar language that he seemed scarcely to notice the president’s criminal abuses of power, anti-Semitism, and racism.

This recalls the infamous Tony Campolo bit in which he occasionally would say — in the pulpit of some nice, polite evangelical church — “Today, five thousand children will die from hunger and preventable disease and American Christians don’t give a shit. Even worse, you’re more upset that I just said ‘shit’ than you are about any of those children.” Whether or not the salty, vulgar language that Paul used in Philippians 3:8 is appropriate for children shouldn’t be the main point of concern.

• Somewhat related, I wrote this as a tangential footnote more than a year ago. I’m repeating it here because it still seems true and pertinent:

Good faith is a prerequisite for civility. In its absence, GFY is not only an acceptable response, it is the only appropriate response and, really, the only possible response. Social media isn’t characterized by rampant incivility because people have bad manners. It looks like that because epidemic bad faith makes nicer manners impossible.

• “This isn’t a new idea. It’s something people have done for a long time and that Jews in dangerous places have benefited from. Now it’s our turn.”

That’s Jerusalem Rabbi Susan Silverman describing the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary movement, which plans to provide sanctuary for close to 40,000 African refugees and asylum seekers that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to reject and expel from the country.

Expelling refugees is not a good look. Rounding up minorities and forcing them to seek shelter in Hiding Places in the homes of the righteous is a very, very bad look. But keep in mind that Netanyahu monstrously refers to refugees and asylum-seekers as “infiltrators.” So, basically, he looks bad because he is bad.

• Here is a new presentation of a very old question (as old, at least, as the book of Jonah):

That’s Chiwetel Ejiofor portraying Carlton Pearson in an upcoming Netflix movie about the Pentecostal preacher’s realization that he could no longer believe in the [extra-biblical] doctrine of Hell as eternal, conscious torment. We talked about Carlton Pearson here way back in 2009 — “H-E-double hockey sticks.” (Also relevant, somewhat: “If there is a God, then God must be, by definition, bigger and more merciful than Townes Van Zandt.”)

• “It’s not Taylor’s fault, really. Well, lying about having a Masters degree, inflating his volunteer hours and pretending that helping out at his family business in high school made him ‘Director of Production’ is on him — 24 is plenty old enough to know better. But being made Deputy Chief of Staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy just kinda happened.”

• Mandy Rodgers-Gates writes at WIT about the way white evangelical notions of forgiveness wind up harming victims and empowering abusive men like Andy Savage, “Sometimes in order to love people, you have to be against them“:

Those who know the history of evangelical churches and sexual abuse will not be surprised by such equivocation: the guilty becomes a victim too (“at least two people were hurt”), and in doing so the victim’s pain is minimized. Sometimes the victim is blamed. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” translates into “No one is more guilty than another” and “Who are we to judge?” Strikingly, Conlee ends by asking the congregation if they want him to throw a stone at Andy. Jesus’ words rescuing a woman from death at the hands of a patriarchal society are twisted and made a parody of themselves, used to whitewash the reputation of a religious leader who has abused a woman.

Read the whole thing — but Spoiler Alert if you haven’t yet seen Season 2 of Broadchurch.

• The title of this post comes from Stormy Daniels’ IMDB page, which offers disappointingly few such examples of the groaningly bad bawdy punning one expects from porno titles. (How isn’t this a bigger deal? How is it that Trump’s PG-13 language seems to have upset “evangelical leaders” more than his adulterous, X-rated behavior?)

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