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Topics - Beatnik

1
This article was in the New York Times by Nickolas D. Kristof:

Published: November 24, 2004
© The New York Times

If America\'s secular liberals think they have it rough now, just wait till the Second Coming.

The "Left Behind" series, the best-selling novels for adults in the U.S., enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The world\'s Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire: "Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and . . . they tumbled in, howling and screeching."

Gosh, what an uplifting scene!

If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the series, have both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture.

"We can\'t read it some other way just because it sounds exclusivistic and not currently politically correct," Mr. Jenkins said in an e-mail. "That\'s our crucible, an offensive and divisive message in an age of plurality and tolerance."

Silly me. I\'d forgotten the passage in the Bible about how Jesus intends to roast everyone from the good Samaritan to Gandhi in everlasting fire, simply because they weren\'t born-again Christians.

I accept that Mr. Jenkins and Mr. LaHaye are sincere. (They base their conclusions on John 3.) But I\'ve sat down in Pakistani and Iraqi mosques with Muslim fundamentalists, and they offered the same defense: they\'re just applying God\'s word.

Now, I\'ve often written that blue staters should be less snooty toward fundamentalist Christians, and I realize that this column will seem pretty snooty. But if I praise the good work of evangelicals - like their superb relief efforts in Darfur - I\'ll also condemn what I perceive as bigotry. A dialogue about faith must move past taboos and discuss differences bluntly. That\'s what blue staters and red staters need to do about religion and the "Left Behind" books.

For starters, it\'s worth pointing out that those predicting an apocalypse have a long and lousy record. In America, tens of thousands of followers of William Miller waited eagerly for Jesus to reappear on Oct. 22, 1844. Some of these Millerites had given away all their belongings, and the no-show was called the Great Disappointment.

In more recent times, the best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970\'s was Hal Lindsey\'s "The Late Great Planet Earth," selling 18 million copies worldwide with its predictions of a Second Coming. Then, one of the hottest best sellers in 1988 was a booklet called "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988." Oops.

Being wrong has rarely been so lucrative.

Now we have the hugely profitable "Left Behind" financial empire, whose Web site flatly says that the authors "think this generation will witness the end of history." The site sells every "Left Behind" spinoff imaginable, including screen savers, regular prophecies sent to your mobile phone, children\'s versions of the books, audiobooks, graphic novels, videos, calendars, music and a $6.50-a-month prophesy club. This isn\'t religion, this is brand management.

If Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins honestly believe that the end of the world may be imminent, why not waive royalties? Why don\'t they use the millions of dollars in profits to help the poor - and increase their own chances of getting into heaven?

Mr. Jenkins told me that he gives 20 to 40 percent of his income to charity, and that\'s commendable. But there are millions more where that came from. Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins might spend less time puzzling over obscure passages in the Book of Revelation and more time with the straightforward language of Matthew 6:19, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." Or Matthew 19:21, where Jesus advises a rich man: "Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. . . . It will be hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

So I challenge the authors to a bet: if the events of the Apocalypse arrive in the next 10 years, then I\'ll donate $500 to the battle against the Antichrist; if it doesn\'t, you donate $500 to a charity of my choosing that fights poverty - and bigotry.

Gentlemen, do we have a deal?



2
Political and Social Discussions / Morally Correct  (?)
December 03, 2004, 09:50:22 pm
SO what do you think?

Morally Correct by Peter Beinart

November 29, 2004
© The New Republic

Once upon a time, conservatives considered "sensitivity" a dirty word. In the 1980s and 1990s, when African Americans and other campus minorities claimed they were victims of racism and demanded greater respect from white students and faculty, conservatives popularized a term for this group whining: political correctness. They gasped when campus radicals tried to silence criticism of affirmative action by saying it created a hostile climate for black students. They worried aloud that university administrators--in their efforts to spare minority students\' feelings--were stifling debate. For a time, combating this culture of punitive sensitivity was one of the right\'s primary concerns.

Not anymore. In the wake of their recent triumph at the polls, conservatives have found their own supposedly disrespected minority: evangelicals. And they are playing victim politics with a gusto that would make campus radicals proud.

One of the things that galled the right during the "political correctness" wars was the way leftists casually threw around terms like "racist" and "bigot." For conservatives, some of whom knew firsthand how much harm those accusations could cause, it became axiomatic that such pejoratives should be reserved for only the most egregious, clear-cut examples of racial or ethnic animus. After Trent Lott--a man who had long consorted with white supremacists--praised Strom Thurmond\'s segregationist 1948 presidential bid, many conservatives called him dumb and embarrassing. (To their credit, some called for his removal as Senate leader.) But very few were willing to call him a bigot. Few would pin the label even on Jesse Helms or Thurmond himself. Extreme scrupulousness about such epithets seemed like a touchstone of the conservative worldview. advertisement

That\'s how it seemed, anyhow. In recent weeks, prominent conservatives have been anything but scrupulous in charging Democrats with bigotry against people of faith. Just before the election, Christian Right leader James Dobson called Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy a "God\'s people hater." On November 8, talk-show host Joe Scarborough condemned "Democrats who take solace in their bigoted anti-Christian screeds." Right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin recently blurbed a book titled Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity, noting that "Persecution exposes the hypocrisy and bigotry of the secular, anti-Christian Left." And, last Sunday, Mary Matalin chimed in on "Meet the Press," claiming that "people of faith, in the election process, they have been demonized and they have been treated with disdain and contempt." Imagine if James Carville, who was seated next to her on the show, had made the same claim about African Americans (who, although they are one of the most religious groups in America, vote Democratic, and thus don\'t fall under Matalin\'s "people of faith" rubric). Within 15 minutes, the conservative blogosphere would have accused him of politically correct demagoguery.

To be fair, occasionally liberals do treat evangelical Christians with condescension and scorn. Conservatives frequently, and justifiably, expressed outrage at a Washington Post news story that called followers of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command." (They tend not to note that the story is eleven years old, and the Post issued an immediate retraction.) On November 4, in The New York Times, Garry Wills suggested that America now resembles the theocracies of the Muslim world more than it resembles Western Europe, which is offensive, not to mention absurd.

But, most of the time, what conservatives call anti-evangelical bigotry is simply harsh criticism of the Christian Right\'s agenda. Scarborough seized on a recent column by Maureen Dowd, which accused President Bush of "replacing science with religion, and facts with faith," leading America into "another dark age." The Weekly Standard recently pilloried Thomas Friedman for criticizing "Christian fundamentalists" who "promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad," and Howell Raines, for saying the Christian Right wants to enact "theologically based cultural norms."

Part 2 to follow....
3
Thanks, I will!

This will be an interesting confirmation hearing....

Beatnik   8)