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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Christian Jihad?

When I ran across Pat Robertson's rantings earlier today, I was vaguely amused in a rolling-the-eyes sort of way -- what's Pat up to now?, I thought. From a fellow who has said that 9/11 was punishment for homosexuality and abortion, who has said that divine punishment may come to us in the form of bad weather or "maybe a meteor", who has advocated that a "small nuclear device" be detonated at Foggy Bottom to decimate the judiciary: what a nut! What could possibly be next?

But the more I have thought about it the angrier I have gotten. I am no longer amused.

Much as I detest the man and feel that he has bowed down before idols and eschewed the true God for mammon and power, there are many in the world who think he speaks for Christianity (if not actually God). Couple that with the fact that I accidentally share with him the characteristic of being American, and you will find the reason for my deep-seated ire: despite all of my efforts to be different than him, Pat Robertson, by being identified as a Christian and an American, as I am, has just put words in my mouth. How can I put up with this? How can anyone else who is a Christian -- never mind being American, too, for the moment -- put up with this?

Rather than understanding the church as a means of reconciliation, mediation, love, renewal, re-creation, redemption, salvation, in fact any of the biblical notions of what Jesus and his followers are to be, he has now made us into those who encourage and promote killing people who dare to question the power of the Empire.

By the way, Hugo Chavez, the person we are supposed to take out? Popularly elected. Fabulously well-liked. (Polls have him at an approval rating of around 70% -- what are Bush's numbers running at these days? (Yes, I know approval isn't everything, but this short-circuits any attempt to characterize Cavez as a tyrant: he's not. In 2004, he won a referendum on his recall, getting 59.25% of the vote. That's not bad, since it means that only 40.75% of the population wanted someone -- anyone -- else. Again, what was the margin of victory for GWB in the last election? I don't believe he won in a nearly 6-4 margin.
)) Oh, also: he's not a communist. He is a socialist, true, but most of the developed first world is in some measure. And he has dared to criticize America, his major crime.

So, I'm curious, here: does it strike anyone else how much this seems like the Fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie? The difference, I suppose, is that Robertson is calling for someone else to do his dirty work. Strange how it seems like we take the worst, grossest oversimplifications of Islam (violent, extreme, terrorist-supporting) and -- perhaps under the guise of quid pro quo -- grow to embody it ourselves? God have mercy on us all. (And, yes, I realize that the sort of "Jihad" I refer to in my title and, by implication, in this paragraph, is something of a mischaracterization -- that's my point.)

I'm running out of steam, but check out Gaunilo and Thunder for their ruminations on this abomination. I looked at Robertson's website to see if he had put up some clarifying context, or a response of some kind. At least as of today, August 23, there was nothing. I would give you the web address, but I don't want to encourage them; if you really need to go there, add a .com to his name.

A particularly worthwhile excerpt from Thunder's post:
When Robertson uses the term us, it apparently means the American us. Robertson’s allegiance and identity is apparently held solely to the nation-state. Us no longer refers to the Church, the living body of Christ.

Forget the garbage about being pilgrims and strangers. Robertson has transformed the command to “Love you enemies” to “Pre-emptively murder those who may or may not become your enemies.”

...
Robertson has crossed a boundary that not even Bush or Santorum has managed to transgress. As a result, we now can see whom he worships and it is not the triune Christian God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Oh, and Kotsko's Weblog has a couple good reflections, too, and by "good" I of course mean "making some of the same points as me."

2 Comments:

Blogger Doug Wood said...

At times, the (perceived?) silence of Muslims in response to the actions of radical Muslims is looked at as support of the actions of the radicals. In turn, if mainline Christianity fails to condemn Mr. Robertson -- even though they assume everyone knows he's a loon -- then we tacitly support him. You and Thunder are doing a fine job, but I hope Presiding Bishop Griswold and his contemporaries from other denominations speak up too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 8:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ahhh, Pat Robertson. I actually watched him the other day just to see what in the world he is up to. Such a nice, gentle misled man. The sacry thing is not what he said, what scares me is that he THOUGHT it in the first place! Amazing!

Monday, August 29, 2005 11:57:00 PM  

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