I'll admit, it's a bit discouraging when I look at the contemporary ecclesiastical scene. I'm even discouraged looking at the news. They should be unrelated, but they're not....
For example this raging debate over the Debt Ceiling has largely been a sham, an elaborate piece of political stagecraft. What's really happening here and it's quite obvious is the Tea Party is trying to undo Roosevelt's New Deal and Johnson's Great Society. Now, you may think that's just fine, but bear with me.....
They demand budget cuts but refuse to raise taxes. The massive tax cuts under Bush, coinciding with the waging of these endless wars are largely the culprit behind the current hyper-debt. Obviously Washington has long been out of control....but the immediate crisis stems from social gluttony on a personal level and the Warfare state on a macro-level...that's Warfare State, not Welfare State. More on that below.
If you can't raise taxes, and they refuse to cut the military budget (I refuse to say 'defense budget.'), then that only leaves Social Security and the other Social Services the government provides. We could talk about whether they're entitlements or not and who really benefits from them and maybe we will a little further on.
The Tea Party won't come out and say it...neither will the media....but that's the only place to go. They want to undo Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidized housing, food and energy assistance and all the rest.
The Constitutional Amendment to balance the budget? Well you see, the next time we get into a war or conflict (which won't take long I'm sure)...we'll be forced to pay for it and account for it as we go...unlike what Bush did.
And so, if we need $100 million, well, we can raise taxes a little to pay for it, but not too much. There will have to be more cuts. Where can we find them? Hmmm.
This is their way of ending the Roosevelt and Johnson legacy. This is something they've wanted to do for a long time. This all goes back to the Goldwater era. And...it will definitely pull the teeth out of the Obama health care plan. It will wither and die.
Again you may think this is all fine, but it grieves me that this is being spearheaded by the mostly Christian Tea Party....largely led in Congress by Jim DeMint...a member of the PCA, the Presbyterian Church in America. Don't confuse this with the PCUSA which is a theologically liberal organization that abandoned the Scriptures long ago. The PCA is many things, but in terms of Scripture, it's definitely conservative and adheres to historic confessions.
I used to be a member of the PCA (and I thank God I am no longer a member of the PCA or the OPC), and I can assure you DeMint's theological foundation is rooted in Dominionistic Theology. It is the default within the PCA.
That's the part that upsets me. Not that this or that is being done in the social and political debate...but that many of these positions are advocated because they are explicitly understood to be the 'Christian' position, the outworking of the what they mistakenly call their Christian Worldview. They view it as their duty.
The other day the Calvinistic Baptist, Al Mohler argued that the Welfare State doesn't work and the only reason Europe had any success was because America was providing its defense. And since we have a Defense-model for our nation, we need to understand we just can't have many of these things.....If we're going to have Defense, we can't lend a hand to the poor. It's kind of like the price we pay for our exceptionalism. We're different. We're America, we have a special calling. That's usually how the argument goes.
When I hear things like this I want to tear my hair out. These folks have learned nothing from the Cold War. Don't they get it? It was all for nothing. The archives have been opened, the ex-Soviets have talked. They were afraid of American aggression which they rightly understood to be Imperial. Stalin was not a Communist. He was a totalitarian monstrosity. But post-Stalin, leaders like Khrushchev and Brezhnev, let alone the quick succession of leaders just before Gorbachev came to power were not interested in conquering the world. They knew they were putting on a show and the Soviet Union was not capable of keeping up with American might and expansion.
This was the great irony of the Cold War. With hindsight and I hope some wisdom we can look back and see....oh, this didn't need to happen. This was all a series of misunderstandings and often unnecessary escalation. The Soviet Union would have crumbled on its own...the system was a failure from the beginning. It was a wicked government, but not the international threat it was made out to be. Stalin was one thing, but after his death there was an opportunity for change, but the United States didn't want it. The one president who tried to bring about a change and end the Cold War was assassinated. One wonders what might have happened if NATO had been dismantled in the late 1950's? But it didn't and American placement of Nuclear Weapons in Turkey escalated the situation. American rule by proxy dictator in Cuba led to the Castro Revolution and the Soviets logically responded by aiding the precarious new regime in Havana. Somehow their moves were determined to be aggressive when the United States had weapons sitting next door to the Soviet border in Georgia and Armenia.
When Khrushchev backed down, he lost face before the entire world, but the American withdrawal in Turkey was kept quiet for some time and to this day few know about it.
Was Reagan right? Was the Soviet Union and evil empire? Of course. All empires are evil. The American Empire is simply more clever. Keep them fat and happy at home and terrorize outside your borders. Build up a military colossus and no one can mess with you. At best they can attempt a terrorist attack.
The Soviet model like so many others terrorized its own people and when the fervour surrounding the Great Patriotic War died down the people lost their zeal for a state which oppressed them...and when finally everyone started to realize it was all sham and the people in power couldn't make it work...it collapsed with an almost astonishing rapidity.
The American side of the Cold War was about re-shaping the American System...a military-industrial super-state. We had been on that track since the early 20th century.
To build an empire (especially an asymmetrical modern Empire) you need an enemy, you need propaganda, you need fear to convince the people of the danger. Has Mohler ever read 1984?
During the Cold War power was projected through political, economic, and cultural means. The state funded and subsidized so-called Defense contractors who became fabulously rich building murder machines. The Empire thirsts for resources and the lines become blurry between defense, corporate, energy, and industrial, and banking interests...and yet it's often the same elite class who are at the top who have often made their money directly from tax dollars. Of course it's in their interest to promote the empire and its warfare state...that's how they make their money.
Some of these same people have been instrumental in the funding of the Christian Right and its organizations. And no surprise these leaders of the Christian church are often the mouthpieces for these powerful interests that give them money. God will judge them for rather than teach the Kingdom of Christ they have often represented the corporate positions of wealthy industrialists and energy companies, not to mention promote virtual idolatry with regard to the Warfare State.
I'm afraid Mohler and so many others are still reiterating the same old propaganda. These are the same folks who fell for all the terrorist hysteria in 2002 that enabled the Bush administration to lead the country into Iraq, turn our airports into Stalinist police zones, and render much of the Constitution irrelevant. Just like during the Cold War fear and the quest for security drove people to blindly trust in statist propaganda.
Many in Europe didn't want our protection and didn't appreciate NATO, one of several mechanism the Americans employed to dominate the West of their continent. Americans like Mohler want the Europeans to bow to us...remember the whole debacle with France in 2002? For several decades the French have been the only nation in Western Europe with a enough courage to stand up to the United States. Not everyone outside of the United States falls for the American propaganda line....in fact it's mostly just Americans, and of the Americans, professing Christians consistently show themselves to be the most gullible. I consider this blindness a form of judgment induced delusion.
Just because the Soviet Union (our former ally...remember the Uncle Joe Stalin rubbish during the war? Ever seen the Capra propaganda films?) was a wretched government did not mean....we have no choice, we'll have to conquer the world. That's the only alternative. Conquer it so they can't get it. Hey, that kind of works with Dominion theology as well doesn't it?
And if that means we have to kill millions of people in the process, then that's the price we have to pay. If that means we'll have to become the richest nation in the history of the world, but some of our citizens can't afford to get a few stitches at the Emergency Room...that's the price we have to pay.
Only a Sacralist mentality can do this to people.
But then the Soviet Union might have lasted beyond 1991....the Wall might not have fallen in 1989.
Of course....there might not have been a Wall to begin with. If the United States really wanted to resolve the situation, forming NATO, backing the Greek Civil War, not placing weapons in Turkey and standing with the Hungarians in 1956 would have perhaps changed the story.
But the United States wanted the Cold War. Why is this so shocking? Do you think fallen men will pass up the chance to conquer the world? This is not say there weren't real threats, people weren't fighting real battles, and it's not to say there weren't real issues at stake...but largely it was all a self-generated dilemma, a false construct.
There were wicked men in the Soviet Union as well, men who wanted war. But thankfully, and it was certainly Providence, Khrushchev and Kennedy were the leaders in 1962, for at that moment the men of war had almost pushed the world to the brink of destruction.
The 20th century edition of The Monroe Doctrine, a geopolitical and theological heresy to be sure, drove men like Curtis LeMay to lose all sense and risk millions of deaths for the sake of their ideal. Thankfully they were stopped and thankfully for the world, soon after Vietnam would drag them into the mire that ruined many of them. Sadly thousands of Americans a millions of Southeast Asians in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos would die as a result.
Would it have taken longer for the Soviet Union to collapse?....yes, it might have. So are the millions of people who died as a result of Superpower proxy wars worth it? Apparently people like Madeleine Albright and Al Mohler think so. And did we reach out a goodwill hand to help the people of the former Soviet Union? No, to the victor goes the spoils. Blood and treasure. As Brennus the Celt said, "Woe to the conquered."
During the 1990's, the United States went on a geo-political shopping expedition and started gobbling up billions out of the Russian economy and quickly did everything possible to suck up every nation and sphere possible to keep Russia down. Is it any wonder Putin postures the way he does?
None of this is discussed by people like Al Mohler. No, Putin's just an evil guy (he is indeed, just like Clinton, Bush and Obama) and we need to watch out because according to Sarah Palin...he's rearing his head and even worse...she can see him from her house!
And the Cold War wasn't a misunderstanding as some might posit. As I said, there were many very wealthy people in this country who wanted the Cold War and made out rather well.
The Christian Right refuses to learn these lessons and instead clings to their romanticized myths. And many unwittingly or perhaps voluntarily in some cases, serves as the mouthpieces.
God help us if the Sacralists ever attain real power again. Actually it might be their final undoing. God knows best.
Just as the old saying goes...better to be ruled by a Turk than a Habsburg. Bible believing Christians found it more tolerable to live under Turkish despotism than false Christian tyranny and heretical social engineering. Heresy is much more perilous than unbelief. I'll take Queen Nancy Pelosi any day over a Palin, Bachmann, or Perry regime...let alone someone like DeMint.
So, since we have to keep up our Defense State (a euphemism for Empire) we can't help the poor...the class of people that often serve as cannon fodder in the Imperial wars, the class that works low-wage dead end jobs often for the people who have benefited and built their corporate empires with help from the American government which subsidizes (sometimes through tax breaks and loopholes) and certainly looks out for their interests abroad.
If our society was structured differently the poor might have a better chance, but the cards are stacked against them. The state throws them a few crumbs and the Right begrudges them even this. Recently Thomas Sowell, the so-called economist thinks that if they quit buying color televisions they'd have enough money to buy food and pay their bills. Color television? Is he kidding? I guess that just goes to show what happens when you sit in an ideological ivory tower for decades. He's lost touch with reality and if you read his columns on a regular basis, it's clear he knows absolutely nothing about American life, society and the issues people face.
Oh, did I mention he's one of Mohler's favourites?
It's so ironic, because in many cases those on the Right benefit from subsidies more than the poor do. The food stamps and Medicaid (which anyone working probably doesn't qualify for, and contrary to popular belief, you can't just sit at home, you have to be out trying to find a job or getting trained for one) often allow the employer to pay a lower wage. The employee can sign up for the subsidies, so the business owner can pay him several dollars less per hour. But they begrudge them even this! It's the same with energy subsidies. Profit margins are determined beforehand by regulatory boards and the price rates are established based on the fact that people under a certain income will not be able to afford the bill...but there is a subsidy (which goes into the energy company's pocket) they can sign up for. So we don't have the market operating which might or might not drop the price. Of course in the United States there's very little competition...utilities are all regional monopolies...so there's no market anyway. The one exception is the telephone. The Mobile phone provided genuine competition and rates have dropped as a result, and the phone companies are still making out like bandits...look at the recent disputes regarding Verizon.
It kills me listening to these people or reading commentators like Al Mohler, Cal Thomas, Chuck Colson, or Thomas Sowell. It's quite obvious they've never talked to a poor person and have no idea what issues they face.
I find it all the more outrageous that many who protest government spending and the subsidization of health care and energy (real luxuries these are to be sure!) have no problem working for the government, in law enforcement or as part of the military industrial complex. Those tax dollars funneled to them are somehow not subsidies for the wealthy but legitimate use of taxpayer dollars. Put it to a public vote...I dare them. You'll quickly find out how many people really think the country needs a new fighter jet or satellite system...which the wealthy owners and investors make millions on.
What kind of society do they want? Are things like electricity, water, and health care basic the standard of living they want to maintain and project? Then why would you hand these things over to entities that want to maximize profit? How is that in the public interest? Well, the private sector is more efficient. That's sometimes true, but at best incidental. Sure government bureaucracies are inefficient...so reform the way government is run. It has nothing to do with the principle argument.
But privatized industries, especially large ones like utility companies, hospitals, and insurance companies make profits...and thus write checks....to political campaigns, and so it goes.
Many Christian senior citizens who are supporters of the Right-wing agenda also live in subsidized HUD housing (or subsidized nursing homes, or receive subsidized in-home care), where they only have to pay rent equal to 10% of their income...which might also be a government pension. But then they rail against the poor because they're trying to get some help with their gas bill to stay warm in the winter. And if you talk to someone who is poor you'll find out most of these programmes are very difficult to sign up for and often aren't all that helpful. They are also riddled with restrictions making it very difficult for someone trying to climb up a tier to get out. The minute they start doing a little better and move closer to not needing help, the system is structured (at Conservative legislative insistence) to drop them and they quickly are in trouble again.
I was taught growing up that the Democrats are a bunch of whiners, they're deceitful, manipulative, they prey on the minds of the simple, they use scare tactics, and they're elitist.
These things are true, but I found it to be tenfold when it comes to conservatives.
Again, I'm not surprised when lost people behave....lost. But professing Christians? And assuming they are right, that they can build the Kingdom through politics, legislation etc...., this is how they do it? Empire? Greed? Crushing the poor? Fox News?
The 'liberal' media doesn't tell both sides of the story. They're biased, they don't report things in depth.....that's what I was taught.
If they do this, then what should we say about FOX, the news all the Christians seem to like? And even worse, try listening to or watching "Christian" news sometime. I'm making a generalization, but the Christians I know are often the most uninformed people I interact with. They know sound bites, and they have a gut intuition, but seem almost committed to NOT investigating anything that might challenge them. Their so-called Worldview teachers have already given them the answers. To question the Conservative paradigm is almost like questioning your faith. They take an almost fideistic stance when it comes to many of these issues.
Rather than teach them how to think Biblically, they're falling prey to propaganda. What I can't figure out is...are these teachers deliberately deceitful or are they equally deceived?
Probably a bit of both.
I burst out laughing the other day when I heard (on Christian radio) about some people trying to get citizens to donate a few dollars and do volunteer work...
to help pay down the national debt.
It's the patriotic and compassionate thing to do.
I couldn't believe it. Wow!
The United States has the biggest military in the history of the world. Only the Assyrian Empire was probably its equal in militarism and the amount it spent on its army. We certainly spend more than all the rest of the 1st World countries combined...but in reality if you take in the totality of the American Military Industrial Complex...the money spent on transport, communications, espionage, foreign aid (which is blood and bribe money, not gifts) etc....we spend more than the rest of the world COMBINED.
And it's still not enough! The Right consistently calls for more...more...more.
They are necrophiliacs.
No one knows for sure, but something like 1 out of every 3 dollars, or a bit more, goes to the Military complex....the Empire.
Poor fools. I'm not giving a dime to help pay down the debt. End the Accursed Empire, the Tower of Babel that is the United States Empire. Shut the bases down, melt down the missiles and tanks....and we'll have more than enough money to take care of our problems.
Somehow the Christian position is...an Empire makes us 'great.'
I love Ben-Hur's line to Messala...Rome is an affront to God!
Surprisingly the countries that don't go around waving sticks in other country's faces are able to live quietly and maintain high standards of living. They're not utopias to be sure, and they're not usually very nationalistic...but I guess that kind of quiet existence doesn't interest those who wish to conquer the earth, who thirst for the precious power that ever eludes them. Their kingdom isn't built by the gospel and the Holy Spirit working through Christian lives...no, the Dominionist kingdom is built through accumulation of wealth and power, blood and treasure and a mythology that teaches them God is on their side even when they trample his commands and spit on His Kingdom.
And what is this Church that helps the Beast? Is it not a scarlet clad woman riding its back?...aiding and abetting...truly a whore named Babylon.
How sad that they think they're one step closer to the kingdom of their dreams if they could just pass the right Constitutional Amendment or eliminate food stamps.
I genuinely feel sorry for them and I hope someday they may learn something of the power of the Gospel.