Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I try to believe that the percentage of religious folks across the country who are actually apocalyptic nutjobs is really quite small. It sure doesn't seem like it when some of them get new ideas. Try following this story, a triangle that connects the Bushes, Rev. Moon, and a group insisting that the cross is a sign of the devil, not of God. Via Atrios.
Mostly African-American, pastors who joined in 2003's ACLC-sponsored "Tear Down The Cross" won gold watches from the wealthy group, which unabashedly claims in its publications to have stripped churches of over a hundred crosses over the Easter holiday alone. This, movement leaders said, cleared the way for a new age and second messiah.
I don't believe, by-and-large, that conservative evangelicals are especially irrational people. So, what are they thinking? Is this just cultural myopia gone severe? Thinking that the fate of the world rests in their decisions to place or not place a cross in the church? How does that kind of vision achieve that kind of influence? How can we reasonably say this is madness, without being labeled as anti-religious by a group so paranoid they think that Christmas is under siege just because some businesses and people try to use the more inclusive "happy holidays" greeting, just in case there are people (like, oh I dunno, JEWS!) that are celebrating, but not Christmas?

I'm sorry to have to say it this way, but it is the truth: There are people who spend too much time reading the Bible, too much time at church, and too much of the rest of their time with people who spend too much time at church or reading the Bible. There are other places, other people, and other books. You put that harness on people who, of necessity, spend every other minute with the same 1-5 people (spouse + kids), and you get a recipe for some very bizarre ideas should any of them take themselves too seriously, or, God-forbid, take everything literally. There I said it. I'll admit that I spend too much time online and watching C-Span, if they'll admit that.

We get it in academia too: people who devote their lives to, say, tempo relationships in Bach Oratorios, or dissecting every nuance of performance interpretation in Mozart's Vienna Operas. They don't want to hear about anything else, ever in their life. They don't want to think about anything else. They look down on every peon who doesn't understand the beauty they see. The difference is, there's usually no formula for the end of the world in there, and anyway, world leaders don't praise them, or seek their audience. Bullies ridicule the academic myopics properly: they call them nerds and shame their children. Maybe it's time somebody does the same to the religious fanatics.

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