Aka Christo-American Radio
-Some reflections on an episode that demand comment
I know there are some readers at this site who listen or have listened to the programme CrossTalk. It's a pretty popular Christian radio show that's broadcast all across the country. I don't actually get it where I live but every once in awhile I will download and listen to a podcast.
They come across as very conservative, very committed to Biblical fidelity. But this programme and those put out by others, play no small part in what started me wanting to write, to do something, to counter their message. They are reaching a considerable number of people that really are sincere in wanting to adhere to Biblical Christianity. I'm arguing that programmes like this are actually leading them astray.
CrossTalk and some of the folks affiliated with the programme call out and denounce people like Rick Warren and others who are perverting the Church. However, they're just as guilty.
CrossTalk is not merely tainted but completely saturated with what I call Christo-Americanism. America is the supreme object of devotion and it clouds all their discussions. We get all the pronoun confusion that frequently happens in these circles. The 'us' and 'we' one moment refer to the Church, and without missing a beat the Church is substituted for America. The language of the collective is schizophrenic, as is their identification and concept of the Kingdom of God. One moment it's spiritual, the next it's superimposed on if not coextensive with the Western Christendom. And in the American narrative, the United States alone is the faithful remnant, the true heirs of the Sacred West. Their Dispensationalism only exacerbates this.
Just the other day, (and I'm providing the link for those who are curious or perhaps new to either this type of show, or my type of argument against it) they set out to paint a dark picture of the Wall Street protest movement.
As with all these programmes, there's always a lot of fear being peddled.
In this episode they decided to play the conspiratorial connect-the-dots. Basically every Islamic, Communist, Left-wing, Environmentalist, and any other organization that might not ally itself with the Republican Party or the Christian-Right narrative is involved in this protest or somehow backing it. It's a grand conspiracy, not against corrupt powers...it's as if the Kingdom of God and Righteousness is under assault.
There are so many false assumptions and bad arguments it's hard to know where even to begin. Despite their efforts to link these groups in many cases they are in absolute opposition. Whenever there's a challenge to the power status-quo, all the vultures show up. It hardly means they're all on the same team. If they bothered to study any history they would learn every social conflict let alone every war is fought for a complex of reasons and sometimes people on the same side fight for very different causes and with divergent goals. Instead of history, we get what can only be called erroneous and childish expositions as can be found at this link to a talk by William Federer. I can't seem to secure a transcript of this talk. I wish I could, because there's barely a sentence in it that is accurate or can stand up to the most basic criticism. This is a perfect demonstration of what they call Christian Worldview being applied to History being nothing more than self-vindicating propaganda, and consequently not a Christian Worldview at all.
The show is most telling during the call in segments. I'm sorry to say it, but the United States has gained a reputation for being uneducated and certainly provincial in outlook. The Church is not only not exempt but perhaps a stronghold of this type of ignorance. The call-in segments put it on display.
I don't say this to simply bash on Americans. Americans do have their problems, but in the Church the ignorance has grown exponentially over the past thirty years. This is largely due to an utter failure on the part of Church leaders and in many cases rather than being taught to think, the average 'person in the pew' has been force fed Dominionist propaganda concerning history, politics, economics, and the rest. Before the rise of the Christian Right things were pretty bad, but since its ascendancy we're reached the point of utter crisis.
The average caller and the hosts for that matter seem to grasp very little of the issues they talk about especially when it comes to history or political ideas. They throw terms about obviously having no idea what they mean. Just one example from this particular episode. The host referred to the Wall Street Journal as Marxist-Leninist.
Now the Wall Street Journal is probably not as extreme Right Wing as they come, but just about everyone would consider the Wall Street Journal to be a Right Wing, and in the American system a Conservative or pro-Republican periodical. Calling it Marxist makes about as much sense as calling John Wayne a hippie.
But to the CrossTalk folks they've painted themselves into such a narrow ideological corner that they're seeing bogeymen and adversaries on every front. Republicans and Conservatives who don't use the right watchwords and who may verbalize something even conciliatory to one of the wrong groups....are immediately pegged as some kind of Communist infiltrators.
But it is quite evident that very few in Christian circles can even begin to elaborate and provide even a basic definition of these terms. Socialism is...the government owns everything. Fascism is...the government tells everyone what to do and controls everyone. These types of definitions are not only unhelpful but perhaps even harmful.
Albert Mohler (another Christian media celebrity) regularly berates the Occupy Wall Street movement for not having any kind of clear objectives. He keeps trying to paint them as lost and wandering nihilists. Not only does he misrepresent them, but I would say just go on YouTube on watch some of the attendees at Sarah Palin rallies, or Tea Party events...not FOX news clips, there are others available...and you'll quickly see a good portion of the people have no clue as to how their own country or society works, the way America projects its power, let alone economics. And when asked why they support Palin or why they march with the Tea Party?
'We're trying to stop Socialism!'.....but then they don't seem to know what it means.
'We're taking our country back!'....but then they can't seem to elaborate what that means.
Of course there were also many classics...like the signs saying things like 'Get your government hands off my Medicare.'
Am I alone in finding it scary these people are allowed to vote?
Every popular movement sweeps up a lot of people who cannot elaborate the agenda. It doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum they are on. Mohler's comments don't reflect Biblical Worldview. They reflect a political agenda.
This does not mean I support Occupy Wall Street...but then again I'm not trying to argue the Capitalist system is the Biblical blueprint for economics. I'm sitting on the outside watching everything with great interest, but I don't have a stake in the power game. I'm not trying to make Babylon into Zion. That's what it's all about...power. The story of Church History has been dominated by those who think the Church is supposed to acquire and accumulate social and political power...making the Kingdom very much of this world.
And the real story, the one you can barely read about, is about the Remnant who reject and oppose this and are persecuted as a result.
It's no surprise that in these circles Joseph McCarthy is still looked at as some kind of hero, rather than the fear-monger, attention seeker, liar and corruptor that he was. This type of Christianity really smells a lot more of McCarthy, Goldwater, and Reagan than it does Paul or Peter. They denounce this type of behaviour, but then practice it with great zeal.
The Wall Street Journal is owned by Newscorp the same organization that owns FOX news and nowadays it also controls a good portion of the Christian publishing industry in the United States. Now as Christians committed to honesty and truth, certainly we can and perhaps even ought to be critical of Rupert Murdoch, but with the CrossTalk folks it's not that Rupert Murdoch is promoting fear and lies and manipulating politics through his media empire...it's that he's not Conservative enough, not overtly Christian enough. It's the same with Glenn Beck. They criticize him because he's Mormon and they don't like some of his loose religious talk. But politically speaking, though they try to suggest they're not confusing Nationalism with Christianity...it's pretty blatant in almost every episode they largely agree with the ideas Beck stands for.
Their fear is not the idea of Christian America. They don't reject that at all. Their fear is that Christians in seeking to bring about Christian America will compromise along the way and end up with a kind of quasi-Christian America. It won't be really and truly Christian. Sometimes it sounds as if they're trying to warn others not to fall for "Christian Politics"....but listen carefully.
I argue with every ounce of my being, that all these Sacralist impulses always end in failures. They will never get the Christian nations or societies they seek. They will always end up with a hybrid.
What's more dangerous, a pagan country that declares itself so, or a pagan country that declares itself Christian? I hope you know the answer to that.
And in that country, the one that thinks it's Christian...what does that do to the life of the Church? Many things, but one I always think of was clear today on another Christian radio station I heard. They were talking about The Atonement and assuming that most in their audience weren't familiar with such a 'big theological word'. So, we have Churches filled with people who are fired up about politics, geo-politics, economics, and demographics...but don't know and cannot discuss even basic theological concepts...and one pretty foundational to understand the gospel at that.
I have to say if I were trying to come up with a way to subvert the Church, destroy it from within, but do it in a way that the people being destroyed thought they were serving God in the process...I couldn't think of a better way.
Listening to episodes like this, I'm embarrassed for them, that is when I'm not outraged. It's just a muddled mess of bad conspiracy theory, myths, guilt by association. There are Nazis hiding behind every rock.
Speaking of terms, how sad that they cannot see that their ideology dangerously flirts with the combination of social and ideological forces that historically lead to Fascism. Chris Hedges was right in identifying Dobson and a lot of these folks as nothing more than Fascists. It literally baffles them. They cannot see that the fierce and deliberately blind nationalistic religion, coupled with militarism, xenophobia, cultural superiority, and social engineering all lead down the same road. It employs the same primary tools of fear and anger. All it takes is a crisis. We got a taste of it in the days following 11 September 2001. Now with the economic crisis and the continued polarization...what do the days ahead hold for this country?
There now I'm spreading fear too. My fear is not of Islam taking over this country. Just visit your local shopping mall. Depending on where you live you might see some Muslims, but the majority of the population is certainly not inclined to the social mores and posture of even a moderate Islam let alone a more conservative form that requires the hijab. American women aren't interested in covering...quite the opposite. I keep running into people that literally think that in a few years where going to have the Islamic call to prayer wafting through Times Square and apparently these same Americans and going to drop to their knees in prostrations. And the NYPD under Sultan Bloomberg will be there to enforce it. Let's hope he'll be so motivated that he'll pick up and move to Gaza where they will give him a warm welcome...since he regularly applauds Israeli tactics.
We would have another Civil War long before the United States in Islamicized.
I can see America converting to Buddhism, Hinduism, or many things...but Islam?
In the deluded worldview of the Christian-Right the Islamist are teaming up with the Left to destroy America. Yes, Jane Fonda will soon be donning the burqa and riding in the back of a Toyota with Mullah Omar on their way to Quetta. Susan Sarandon, Nancy Pelosi, and certainly Barney Frank will soon be calling for Sharia.
These folks believe the nation is under Judgment. Well, if they would bother to read some real history rather than their mythologized interpretations...they would see that even for a Common Grace nation, for a Babylon among Babylons...yes, this country does deserve Judgment.
What about the American Church? If the Church is under Judgment...it's the good folks of CrossTalk and the hordes of ministries and programmes like them. They actually are what they fear, but they can't see it.
Strong Delusion...I don't know how else to make sense of it.
Everyone is being pushed into activism. It's the blind leading the blind. What many of these folks need to do is Repent and sit back for a while. These shows spread terror and endless false predictions. What's the latest one? Well this episode predicted that the Occupy Protests will worsen, and Obama is supporting it because he wants to declare martial law and cancel the 2012 elections.
I'm no fan of Obama. He's a complete sell-out. He was supposed to represent the kind of shift that Kennedy was going to bring. Kennedy was killed for it...probably 'the' pivotal moment of post-War American history...and Obama instead he decided to sell out, to capitulate. It had already started before Election Day in November 2008.
So when the 2012 elections happen, will the CrossTalk folks repent for their false predictions and lies? I'm not a betting man, but if I were....I wouldn't bet on it. Hal Lindsey, Van Impe, and all of these folks have been doing it for years and they'll answer for it.