Friday, November 8, 2013

Two very different worlds - and visions

Billy Graham
Billy Graham circa 2011
I was struck by a headline in Charisma News: Billy Graham Saw Decline in Our Country in 1952. Steve Strang, the founder and publisher of Charisma goes on to explain, “In going through the archives, it was interesting to see what Billy Graham told Christian Life in 1952:”
I do not believe there has ever been a time even in the days prior to the Civil War that we as Americans have gone to the polls with greater issues than those at stake in the upcoming election.
[…]
The reason the Western world is failing now, in my opinion, is because the church has failed. If the church had been aggressive and dynamic and strong and members of the church had been living holy, satisfied, separated lives, producing the fruit of the Spirit, we would not be in the economic mess we’re in today.
I'll paraphrase. Christians must be mobilized to vote their agenda and the world, as we know it, is going to hell in a handbasket. Graham also said that if Christians were unsuccessful in shaping the vote then we risked becoming a socialist nation. Sound familiar?
  • Christians see this as prophecy and that we have been in some form of decline since at least 1952. 
  • We see this as the same tedium that continues to this day. It seems that the world is always in dire straits. Or, perhaps (at the risk of being cynical), Protestant ministers know what fills the collection plates. The answer to all of these problems is to pay and pray.
These days, they blame Roe v. Wade and gay rights. Neither of those were issues in 1952. Then, as now, a Democrat (Truman) was in the White House but Eisenhower was elected in November. Adlai Stevenson blundered by buying a 30 minute campaign spot preempting the enormously popular I Love Lucy. Gary Cooper won Best Actor that year for High Noon  while the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. In 1952, Wernher von Braun started a series of articles assuring us that space travel was in our near future. He was a Nazi but he was prophetic. Batista re-asserted control of Cuba. Nevertheless, we were batshit paranoid over communism. We were still mired in the Korean War and there were nearly 60,000 cases of polio in 1952. It would take another three years for the Salk vaccine to become available.

It is no surprise that Mr. Graham said nothing about Jim Crow which was the law of the land in the former confederacy. It would be two years before the historic Brown v Board of Education started to dissemble segregation. Indeed, Graham's rallies at this time were segregated. It wasn't until 1954 that Graham evolved (or saw the inevitable after Brown v. Board). Nevertheless, if there was one thing in America that was causing our decline in 1952 it was racism. Segregation was destroying our very ethic. Graham was also an anti-Semite. We would not know the extent of his hatred of Jews until some of the Nixon tapes became public 20 years later. Graham apologized after Evangelical Richard Lamb and ADL got on his case. He apologized for revealing his truth rather than for the discrimination in his heart.

But let's cut to the chase.

We weren't in decline in 1952 and we are not in decline today. Once you shed all the BS, we are living in an exciting time. Advances in science and medicine are changing our lives in very real ways. If we have anything to be seriously concerned about it is climate change which the same Christian conservatives say is a hoax.

Because they are now shills for the Republican Party, the Christians also oppose important efforts to replace fossil fuels. Christians are deeply and inexplicably concerned about the sexual orientation of 5% of the population. In contrast,I am concerned about the redistribution of wealth that is creating an oligarchy. I find it odd that the secularists seem more concerned with the fate of our impoverished population than the religious folks. Graham was dead wrong. He redirected religious energy from society to politics. Graham, by the way, has an ego that far exceeds his actual skills.

Christians need to be miserable and Christian leaders are quite adept at meeting their needs. According to them, a world in decline means that we need to be closer to God to repent for our deficiencies, many of which Christians themselves have created. If there is a God he is likely to be more pissed over starving children than two gay guys getting married.

Furthermore, anything that Christians don't like is a sign of End Times which is what they are all hoping to happen in their lifetime. Much of this is self-fulfilling. Billy Graham was partially responsible for redefining the former Confederacy into the Bible Belt and replacing liturgical Protestants with Southern Baptists. It is that base of the anti-science and anti-intellectual Christianists who now control the GOP.

Rest assured. They would be just as miserable if Roe was overturned and every LGBT person was "cured." Then it would be the secular humanists who are responsible for their misery. That would include scientists and intellectuals they disapprove of. They can, and will, always find a group of people that they claim are angering God. In turn those people will anger them. In case you haven't noticed, conservative Christians are an angry lot. They are also dishonest. Many find it perfectly acceptable to deceive non-believers. Have we heard any Christian leaders denouncing Bryan Fischer for his daily tirade of angry BS?

We have another three years of Obama. I am hoping that they are followed by eight years of Hillary. Progressive US Presidents, back-to-back, is unprecedented in modern history. Secretary Clinton used to be my Senator. I have seen her in action and met her on a couple of occasions. She would literally wear these people out, at least for awhile. Amen.
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