They needed someone who was good for hatin’

They needed someone who was good for hatin’ April 3, 2024

• David Bentley Hart is a theologian and a biblical scholar who recently published a new translation of the New Testament. That’s why his latest article is published by Jacobin, because the socialists are the only people who let you talk about what the Bible actually says: “Christianity Was Always for the Poor.”

If you’ve clicked through the links in some of our earlier discussions of Hart’s work, that piece will be familiar. It revisits some of what we talked about here: “Stick it to The Man.”

Hart’s Jacobin piece is especially good toward the end, when he discusses creditors and debtors and mocks the absurdity of the way we nerfed, and neutered, and translated away the unambiguous, unmistakable, one-directional meaning of that massive biblical theme to arrive at the perverse state of now preaching its opposite.

Dave Ramsey really is a literal antichrist.
• “‘Anti-woke,’ anti-LGBTQ Ohio school board member removed after two-year reign of terror and harassment

The interesting thing about this story is that the final straw for Darby Boddy’s career on the school board was her vicious, non-stop harassment of a fellow school board member, which began when “Boddy confronted Adi at an April 2023 conservative leadership conference in Florida, accosting him in front of witnesses. She claimed he wasn’t conservative enough.”

MAGA world is fated to implode in civil war and cannibalism. That’s inevitable when your ideology is based on ressentiment and the belief that life is a game of musical chairs. The only question is how many others they’ll manage to kill before they settle down to only killing one another.

Andrew Johnson was horrible. And he was horrible in many of the same specific ways that Donald Trump is horrible.

• “How do [white] Christians justify supporting Donald Trump?

That clickbait MSN “slideshow” takes too many words and too many clicks to just say “abortion.”

And, of course, that’s how “[white] Christians justify supporting Donald Trump” because that’s how white Christians justify all of their sins. By reassuring themselves that they must surely be good people because, after all, everybody else is a bunch of Satanic baby-killers.

Satanic baby-killerism covers a multitude of sins. Including the many, many cardinal sins (self-righteousness, self-deception, bearing false witness, harming their neighbors, gossip, malice, vainglory, etc.) committed as rationalization for their opposition to abortion. Or, as these prideful, self-deceiving, harmful, gossiping, malicious, vainglorious bearers of false witness prefer to phrase it, “defending the sanctity of life” and “protecting the unborn.”

It doesn’t trick anyone else into believing that their naked racism doesn’t demolish their claims of moral superiority. It doesn’t really trick them into believing it either. But what else are they gonna do? Take an honest look at themselves and repent? That ain’t happening. Not when they can shield themselves from grace, honesty, and self-knowledge at every turn by shouting “But what about abortion?!!?1?!”

• Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Joseph Ladapo as the state’s surgeon general in order to “own the libs.” Ladapo had gotten DeSantis’ attention because he was a Harvard grad who was out there in 2020, writing op-eds opposing masking, shut-downs, social distancing, and every other measure that most medical professionals said were necessary to save lives during a pandemic. Ladapo, instead, just said let it rip and eventually we’ll develop herd immunity. Hey, if it worked in the 14th century, it should work now, right?

This made Ladapo a hero in MAGA world and I had previously assumed that he was — like Sherri Tenpenny or Stella Immanuel or most of the other Covid-denying MAGA heroes — some kind of charismatic/Pentecostal Christian.

But then I read this: “Meet Brenda Ladapo” and … well, wow, that’s … yikes.

The surgeon general’s wife is not a doctor but she is, she says, a “healer.” She reads auras. She has visions. Let’s allow her to describe her work in her own words:

In my current practice, I offer energetic counseling and healing, health coaching, life coaching, and channeling, but my specialty is transmuting personal and intergenerational trauma, as that is often the most impactful way to create dramatic, permanent change in one’s life. Everything is energy, and while energy cannot be destroyed, it can be changed. Transmutation is an energetic healing practice that transforms low-functioning vibrations, energy, and behaviors that don’t serve you into high-functioning vibrations, energy, and behaviors that do serve you.

That’s boilerplate 1980s New Age woo woo. Back in the ’80s, “New Age” was one of the dominant bogeymen of the white evangelical culture war, particularly for “spiritual warfare” charismatic/Pentecostal evangelicals who made Frank Peretti’s books best-sellers.

But the ’80s were a long time ago, before the rise of internet “apostles” and internet “prophets” and the tabloid delusions of Charismanews.com. These days, the line between New Age woo woo and charismatic evangelical woo woo is nonexistent. Brenda Ladapo says, “I grew up in a deeply religious, fundamentalist family who believed the intuitive gifts I possessed to be of satanic origin” and it seems that her embrace of “transmutation” and transforming vibrations and what-not is partly a reaction to all of that, but one can’t be sure if she’s rejecting her family’s John MacArthur-esque fundamentalism by becoming Shirley MacLaine or by becoming Paula White. Or maybe a bit of both.

That distinction doesn’t seem to matter to MAGAvangelicals anymore, but it’s still strange to me, as someone who remembers the 1980s, to see people rallying behind New Age woo woo as a way to “own the libs,” punch hippies, and be “anti-woke.”

• Speaking of the ’80s, the title for this post comes from the Swimming Pool Q’s “Firing Squad for God“:

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