Monday, July 25, 2011

When "Good Christians" Fail to Speak Out

I've been away from blogging a few days now; chalk it up to distractions brought by family matters (mostly of the happy kind), time spent dealing with one of life's (unfortunately) necessities (auto repair) - but also to a sense of feeling completely overwhelmed by how badly things are spinning out of control, both here and abroad.  One is hard pressed to find good news, or a sense of reassurance about the future, anywhere.  Syria swirls toward the drain, with the Asad regime's misdeeds now punctuated by the hubris of Hillary Clinton pointing her boney finger at what she terms a "barbaric" Syrian military (as if many of the actions of the US military and its cohorts - like night raids, drone attacks, the charming escapades of Erik Prince's Blackwater boys - don't rank right up there on the barbarity scale).  The Libya "intervention" that was supposed to be a matter of days continues to stretch over the visible horizon; no end in sight, death and destruction abounding, with reports now of Libyan rebels lynching black soldiers arrayed against them.

But what has especially riveted the attention of the media has been the senseless pathology of the Norwegian Christian extremist who infiltrated an island summer camp, armed with multiple guns and plentiful ammunition, and shot to death 68 people. (This on top of his orchestrating a bombing in central Oslo that killed several more.)  After claiming at first to have acted alone, this man stated that he was a member of the Knights Templar, and that there were other, as yet undiscovered cells still out there.  The reference to the European Christian crusades against Muslims in the Middle East (and Spain) is obvious; and as many observers have noted (see the NY Times piece here, as well as Barry Lando's incisive essay at Huffington Post here) , these attacks took place within the broader context of growing Islamophobia across Europe.

And back in the good old Christian USA, one looks at the statements of some prominent "good Christian" figures and organizations, and asks the now celebrated abbreviated question - WWJD?  What would Jesus do?  One would hope that he would have taken a more forthright and loving stance than the one fronted by the director of the American Family Association, who stated (as reported in the WaPo) that:
while Breivik’s [the assassin's] use of violence was wrong, much of his “analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and infiltration is accurate … Breivik’s angst was caused by the presence of so many Muslims in Norway and Europe, which he correctly observes is leading to ‘cultural annihilation.’”

And as the WaPo report also notes, when asked to comment on the AFA position, that good Christian, Texas governor Rick Perry - he who feels himself called by God to run for the presidency of the USA, and who is partnering with the AFA to sponsor a national prayer day so that Americans will  “come together and call upon Jesus”  in these oh-so-troubled times - well, Mr. Perry, God bless his heart, opted not to comment other than to deplore the use of violence.

And about that "cultural annihilation" thing the AFA talks about, along with calling upon Jesus . . . well, what can we say about the cultural annihilation of a self-proclaimed great nation when millions of its citizens are enamoured of the truly uplifting spectacle . . . of NASCAR.  They sit in grandstands, or glue themselves to their screens at home, to watch "daredevils" drive big, loud cars that have been souped up with technological know-how that (one might believe) Jesus himself would have thought could have been applied to a much more worthy, even Christian purpose.  And as they watch these vehicles (whose only purpose is to thrill onlookers with their speed or - if the audience is lucky - a spin-out or even a crash) go round and round and round and round the track, they see thousands of dollars of an increasingly precious global resource - gasoline - literally go up in smoke.  One can only imagine how many generators could have been fueled, to bring how much power  - and therefore heat, or cooling, and light, light to read by - gee, even read the Bible by - light to bring the promise and hope of education to thousands in desperate need of it.

But . . . .  Naaahh . . .

But, God love 'em, at least these good Christian NASCAR folks call upon Jesus to bless their death-defyin', loud, sexy, gas-guzzlin' festivities.  Witness the invocation delivered by one Tennessee pastor Joe Nelms at the start of NASCAR's Auto Parts 300 race (and go to the link for film):
Heavenly father, we thank you tonight for all your blessings.
You said ‘in all things give thanks.’ So we want to thank you tonight for these mighty machines that you’ve brought before us. Thank you for the Dodges and the Toyotas. Thank you for the Fords and most of all thank you for Roush and Yates partnering to give us the power we see before us tonight. Thank you for GM Performance Technology and the R07 engines. Thank you for Sonoco racing fuel and Goodyear tires that bring performance and power to the track. Lord I want to thank you for my smokin’ hot wife tonight, Lisa. My two children, Eli and Emma, or as we like to call them — the little E’s. Lord I pray you’ll bless the drivers as usual tonight. May they put on a performance worthy of this great track in Jesus’ name.
It matters not that pastor Nelms was probably riffing off a line from a Will Ferrell take-off on NASCAR. But that "good Christians" like him would invoke their savior's name to bless a hot-rod race, but "good Christians" like Rick Perry and the AFA would not invoke it to condemn - as Jesus most surely would have condemned - the horror perpetrated by a Christian extremist Islamophobe wannabe-Crusader on that Norwegian island . . . .   Well, that tells me about all I need to know about this good Christian nation.

Good night, America.  Slumber on.

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