Saturday, March 18, 2006

Are We About To Be Blamed?

Reading this morning's "New York Times," I noticed a book review for American Theocracy. Kevin Phillips, the book's author, contends that America faces three threats: oil addiction, Christian fundamentalism, and the national debt. Of course what troubles me is the middle item, and Phillips' conflation of fundamentalism, orthodoxy, and theonomy. He fears the emergence of a Taliban-like society, where women are denied basic rights, and the separation of church and state has been removed.

What makes all of this important is Phillips himself. He is no leftwing radical, but a former member of the Nixon administration, who has had enormous influence, based primarily on the uncanny accuracy of his predictions, made in the sixties and seventies. He coined the phrase "Sun Belt," and predicted the rise of the Republican party as the population shifted from the Northeast to the South and West. Sure enough, people did move to warmer climes, and the Republicans have dominated politics for the last thirty years. Now Phillips is fearful, and he lumps orthodox Christians, specifically Southern Baptists, in with a mix of radicals, fringe groups, and other threats to America.

Is this the beginning of an intellectual demonization of Christianity? The church in America has always been sneered at by the elites, and ridiculed by the intelligentsia, but now it has been linked with oppression, war, and the erosion of civil rights. For some reason, I catch a whiff of the scapegoat in the air - the opportunity to destroy any form of Christianity which is not a toady to left-wing culture and political agendas. In other words, you may believe in Jesus, but keep your dangerous gospel to yourself. Such is not a living faith, but a sad pantomime of God's unchanging truth.


Blogger John Thornton said...

I have been disappointed with the Republicain party for some time. Even though they are far better and more biblically oriented than the dems. For me it often comes down to the issues of abortion and standing against the gay agenda. But is it just empty lipservice? The Republicans control congress and the white house, yet almost nothing has been done to stop abortion. Why? Is it because politician say what they do to get elected, but are in truth not much different from the dems? And then consider 3rd party candidates. I hesitate to vote for them because it feels like I am throwing my vote away. Anyone else feel that way? So is there really an American Theocracy? I do not see one anywhere, but maybe I have missed it? Or is this just Kevin Phillips way of seeling books?

11:39 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Hi Scott,
Do you really believe that "the church in America has always been sneered at by the elites, and ridiculed by the intelligentsia." I don't think this is the case. Most colleges and universities were founded by various church groups, many remain Christian institutions. Our own Calvinist tradition places a premium on academic and intellectual rigor. The church throughout history has itself formed the basis of what it means to be "elite" and a part of "the intellilgentsia." Yet, one of the things that has occured recently with the marriage of the religious right and the Republican party is a decidedly anti-intellectual bent. It seems a little funny given that Republicans tend to have far more of a bourgeouis base than the Democrats (which are far more associated with labor).

It seems to me that the the combo of Republican + Christian would represent a vast part of the intellegencia and elite in our country.

Just a thought...

4:55 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

The Republicans have not dominated politics for 30 years. Only since 1994's Republican Revolution, though little has come of it, as Mr. Thornton points out.

I think you're a bit conflicted here, Scott. If Roe were overturned and abortion were largely outlawed in the land, you and I would be shouting for joy, but people like Phillips would be crying "Theocracy!" We seek a separation of church and state, not of morality and state. Phillips has the typical secularist's misunderstanding of Christianity. Of course, we're evil people who want to impose, restrict, etc. Come on. This nation was far more free in our past history, when we were far more Christian. It has only been with the onslaught of tolerance police in a secularist worldview that our freedoms have been increasingly lost.

I would disagree with Ann's argument that Christians aren't sneered at but are largely part of the establishment. Historically true, yes, but the radical shift of who's in power today is undervalued in her argument. See Al Mohler's blog of today for a case in point.

BTW, oil addiction could largely be solved by drilling in Anwar (heh heh heh) and the national debt will only rise higher under tax and spend liberal administrations. As long as it remains a managably small percentage of GDP, the seemingly large numbers aren't as bad as they seem.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Scribe said...

I agree Steve. I think the academy is openly dismissive of Christianity and Christians. The media is beginning to join in. For example, Andrew Sullivan uses the word "Christianist" to describe orthodox believers who oppose his pro-gay agenda. He equates a Christianist with the Taliban.

In the long run, such persecution is good for the church.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Rileysowner said...

I can't say that this is unexpected. It just seems to be where things have been going for a while.

3:08 PM  

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