Settle down, settle down, what’s the commotion

Settle down, settle down, what’s the commotion February 16, 2021

• As a follow-up to that long list of links to articles on the antisemitism pervading the QAnon hoax, here’s a Ha’aretz profile of one infamous, now-former QAnoner: “She Was a Jewish QAnon Supporter. And She Warns It Could Happen to You.

You may remember this woman’s viral self-filmed meltdown in a Target, attacking the store’s display of masks and decrying pandemic safety as part of some insidious conspiracy. She got help.

(Ha’aretz has a paywall, but you may be able to read this in “incognito” mode.)

• Last month, in a post titled “Critics say praising Hitler might not be good” we looked at the Hitler-praising, Q-Anon-loving owner of a coffee shop in Warwick, New York, whose business became the site of a pro-Trump, white-nationalist rally after (and because) it was reported that he took part in the rioting and failed insurrection in Washington on January 6.

Farrell Greenwald Brenner follows up on that story with some history and context: “American Town: Warwick’s Long Struggle Against White Supremacism.” Part of that history and context, alas, is that the report could just as accurately have been titled, “American Town: Warwick’s Long Struggle On Behalf Of White Supremacism.”

This is depressing. Not so much because everything the “prophet” Kat Kerr “teaches” here contradicts Christian tradition and scripture, but because she’s not bound by the constraints of Christian tradition and scripture and yet this is all she is able to dream up:

I mean, the whole point of being an independent internet “prophet” is that you can say absolutely anything. You’re not constrained by scripture or tradition, or by facts or logic — there are no limits on what you can freely “prophesy.” And if you’re free to dream up the wildest, weirdest, most wonderfully strange flights of fancy you can manage, it’s just sad if the best you can come up with is “Prayer is literally a video game from the 1980s.”

I’m disappointed by anyone who takes Kat Kerr seriously because everything she says is outrageously bonkers. I’m disappointed by Kat Kerr herself because everything she says should be more outrageously bonkers.

• I haven’t written about the now-confirmed and documented Weinstein-level predatory ickiness of the late evangelist Ravi Zacharias, partly because Zacharias isn’t someone I’ve ever paid a lot of attention to. For my generation of white evangelicals, Zacharias’ niche of pop-intellectual “apologetics ministry” was dominated by Josh McDowell, and what I’d remembered of McDowell’s work and influence was too depressing to make me interested in his successors like Zacharias.

I’ll return to Ravi Zacharias’ posthumous disgrace later, but for now I just want to highlight one familiar detail from David French’s long discussion of the long cover-up orchestrated by the evangelist’s “ministry”:

When Malhotra continued to press for answers she was told to “do the Matthew 18 thing” (referring to a scripture that admonishes believers to first confront a fellow believer personally before addressing their sin with others).

“The Matthew 18 thing” again. I was going to refer back to a recent post here on that very “thing,” but then realized that post is actually nearly seven years old, “Matthew 18 abuse needs to stop“:

Somewhere, at some point, I’m sure, someone must surely have cited Matthew 18:15-17 honestly and accurately, sincerely trying to be true to the spirit and the meaning of that passage. That’s probably happened too.

But 99 percent of the time that biblical text is invoked it’s by someone who’s being an insufferable, sanctimonious git.

… The problem here is not with the passage itself, but with how it is used and abused. Christians who have treated others badly — who have, in fact, sinned against their brothers and sisters — treat this text like it’s their Miranda rights. They appeal to a legalistic application of this passage to distract from the wrong they have done. And thus Matthew 18 has become a refuge for scoundrels.

Whenever you encounter a white evangelical Christian invoking “Matthew 18,” that Christian should be presumed guilty until otherwise proven innocent.

• The title for this post comes from a Fastball song that popped in and out of the Top 40 more than 20 years ago, but which I remain fond of because: A) It sounds like an out-take from Blood & Chocolate-era Elvis Costello; and B) It’s on my list of Songs That Use Slide Guitar But Don’t Sound At All Country, which I’m still compiling even though I forget why I started that.

Oh, and he’s not in the video, but the piano there is actually from Billy Preston.

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