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AUGUST 2, 2011 4:18PM

Honoring Dr. King's Legacy: A Progressive Political Theology

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PART 1

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Political theology and spirituality are no strangers to me. I'm a Jesuit trained progressive and African American who's not ashamed to claim either the best of my spiritual heritage or the part of my identity and brain that was wired by it when I was young.

I'm also proud of those Abolitionists, Quakers, and other Liberal religionists who were historically the voice of reason and moral authority against the Conservative pro-slavery (and later, Segregation and white-supremacist) wings of both White Judeo-Christian and "Secular" strains in American society. Those strains include the "Enlightenment-based" political and philosophical theories embraced by the "Founding Fathers" and expressed in the Constitution, which has been interpreted by White Conservatives and Liberals in strikingly different ways.

Of note, I especially honor those "men and women of God" like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X who not only spoke TRUTH to the ABUSE OF POWER and/or RELIGION by White Judeo-Christians and both Secular Conservatives and Liberals alike, but also organized people of good will and faith to do something about it.

It's because of their inspiration that I've spoken out against the racism, anti-democratic abuses, and anti-Jesus apostasy of Conservative "religious right" extremism for near two decades now (including its "Christian Reconstructionist - Dominionist" strains). This includes my Open Salon and Huffington Post articles on the "religious right's" claim that Obama is the "Antichrist," and an earlier version of this article.

However, given the rise of Rick Satanorum and the "religious war" being waged by right-wing Conservatives to foist their Sharia-esque and white-supremacist sovereignty over society, I have written this article to highlight in detail, how they've hijacked and perverted Chrisitanity and the Judeo-Christian tradition. They've done so to cloak themselves in "moral- authority/superiority" to mask their agenda of privatizing the public sphere (e.g., public schools, prisons, social security, medicare, etc.) and imposing "full spectrum dominion" on the culture as a whole, including both our minds and bodies (e.g., bodily fluids, contraceptive, health, and partnership choices, zygotes, embryos, etc.).

They have also simultaneously appealed to White racial resentment, race-based fears, and white-supremacist undercurrents in American culture, both consciously and subconsciously, to rally the troops they need to help impose the above-mentioned agenda.

As a result, there is plenty to be concerned about as we approach the 2012 election. Without exaggeration, the right-wing racist religious fundamentalism and extremism that is front and center in America is the same type that the mass-murdering Norway Shooter, Anders Breivik, looked to for his inspiration.

In addition to deepening my analysis of the right-wing religious abuse, I also elucidate how Progressives and "the Left" in general have unwittingly helped enable "the Right" to monopolize the political playing field through its strategic and sociopathic abuse of  RACE and RELIGION. I also present a pragmatic and embodied alternative to outdated and ineffective political approaches grounded in "White secular-liberal political theory."

Though noble in the abstract, this purportedly "colorblind" theory is lacking empirical foundation as well as the ability to account for complex paradoxes, e.g., it's inability to account for BOTH the racial/religious justification for slavery, segregation, white-supremacy, etc. AND the religious roots of abolitionism and the racial/relgious roots of the Civil Rights movement and its successes (and subsequent abandonment by White secular-liberal political leaders and media-based decision makers).

More importantly, the political approaches  engendered by "White secular-liberal political theory" have proved incapable of either stopping the right-ward drift of the media and the country or of creating a sustainable progressive movement capable of enabling Democrats to enact a realistically progressive agenda. And I mean a progressive agenda that promotes SUBSTANTIVE equality (not just the formal equality existing on paper, e.g., the Civil Rights Laws). In other words, one that doesn't substitute it's own form of "Liberal white-supremacy" for the "Conservative white-supremacy" that is the status quo ante.

In light of the above, I propose a pragmatic, empirically-based, and theoretically grounded approach to "THRIVING TOGETHER IN THE MIDST OF MALICE, THREATS, AND DISTRESS" politically inflicted by the Right-wing and enabled by the Left.

1.2 AYN RAND'S SPIRITUAL PATH OF THE SOCIOPATH

This right-wing religious extremism also includes the "spiritual inspiration" that Breivik, as well as the Tea Party and "religious right" have found in the paranoid writings of Ayn Rand. Ironically, Rand was an avowed atheist who hated the kind of advocacy for the poor and vulnerable that Jesus and True Christians stand for.

Additionally, Rand, a Jewish emigre from the Soviet Union (a cateogry of people later referred to as "Soviet Jews/Jewry"), was so influenced by "Soviet Communism," that in her paranoid mind, there was an "equivalence" between Soviet Communism/Socialism and ANY kind of so-called "Big Government" initiaitve undertaken by OUR OWN duly elected, pro-Capitalist United States Government,  including those undertaken by FDR to SAVE capitalism. Ironically, such "Big-Government" initiatives not only  continue to benefit the great  masses of American citizens to this day, but also benefitted Rand herself (e.g., Social Security and Medicare).

The resurgence of the popularity of the FDR/JFK/Jesus -hater, Ayn Rand, and her fictional hero, John Galt should be a concern NOT just to TRUE CHRISTIANS, but to ALL American Patriots. Significantly, sales of Rand's Atlas Shrugged tripled in the first two years of Obama's Presidency, selling over a million copies.  I’m particularly struck by how Rand's use of the term, “communist” and “socialist” to describe FDR’s administration and reforms (a view of FDR also shared by many mainstream Conservatives), and “fascist” and "socialist" to describe Kennedy’s, has been adopted by her followers, the Tea Party, Conservatives, and right-wing media who casually describe Obama the same way AND mean it!

And perhaps most disturbing is how the “religious right” has merged with the Tea Party and adopted Ayn Rand as its Goddess - even though Rand was an atheist who despised Christianity (because of Jesus’ requirement that his followers show the same concern as he did for the common good (what Rand/Conservatives call "communism"), especially for the poor, the afflicted, and infirm (i.e., whom Rand/Conservatives call "looters," "moochers," and "parasites").

As such, given that the GOP/Tea Party Pharisees have:

a) excommunicated the Common Good Jesus from their Conservative brand of political theology,

b) elevated Randites such as Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, et al to potential John Galt “savior status,” and

c) sanctified Ayn Rand’s nostrums and made them the "Conservative gospel,"

I believe that if Rand were alive today that even SHE would be tempted to forsake her atheism and convert to this new, “Conservative Crusader Christianity” and its free-marketeering and Jesus-free brand of zealotry.

1.3 IS "LEFT-WING SECULARISM" AN "INFANTILE DISORDER?"

As a useful analogy to my argument and as a foil to the Communist-obsessed Rand, consider the pamphlet entitled, "Left-wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder" written by the "father" of Soviet Communism, V. I. Lenin. In it, he lambasted what he saw as extreme idealists (i.e., "left-wing communists") who clung to notions of perfection/purity regarding how policies, theory, and issues should be approached by the Soviet government.

They were not concerned with the practical matters of attempting to establish the Soviet form of political economy in the face of both international and domestic attemps to overthrow the govenrment, but rather in how the government "strayed" from enacting the abstract ideals Communism AS IF those active threats against the Government DID NOT exist. As a result, they saw Lenin and the Bolsheviks as "betraying" the revolution, etc., with little regard for the Civil War being waged by the "White Guards" with assistance from the U.S. and Europe.

This is analogous to how many "left-wing secularlists" have attacked Obama and Democrats, with little regard for the power of Conservatives to wage a destructive combination of "religious," "class," "political, "cultural," "racial," and "media" warfare, as part of what Howard Fineman has called their "slow secession."  By so doing, and by leveraging the power of the Corporate Sector, Conservatives have been able to successfully exercise sovereignty DESPITE Democratic Party control of the Exectutive and/or Legislative Branches of Government.

Additionally, "Secular fundamentalists" have failed to realize that unlike FDR (who had a powerful unionized labor movement) or JFK and LBJ (who had both powerful labor and organized Civil Rights Movement etc.) to help them pursue some progressive initiatives, Obama has neither (E.g., during those previous Democratic presidencies, unions made up about 36% of the labor force and actively engaged in strikes etc. Now, they make up 6% of labor force). They also fail to realize that compared to unions' Billions in assests, the corporate sector (which overwehlmingly supports Republicans) has many Trillions. How much more is a Trillion than a Billion? A THOUSAND times. How much more are Trillions than Billions?  Tens of thousands of times!

Therefore, it is reasonable to describe as an infantile disorder the compulsion to scapegoat Obama and the Democrats for allegedly "not doing the job we elected them to do" or of supposedly "not having backbone" to enact a "progressive agenda" in the face of overwhelming Conservative odds and forces.

As such, I feel I must speak-out about the negative impacts of what I call the Left's "secular fundamentalism"* (i.e., the extreme and inflexible version of secularism. Please see below italicized parenthetical explication). This includes the role the Left's scapegoating of Obama, and its ignoring or underestimating the effects of race and religion continue to have in enabling right-wing zealots, Southerners, secessionists, white-supremacists, and their GOP/TEA PARTY CULT to monopolize the political and media playing fields.

*(I use the term, "secular fundamentalism" to denote the inflexible­, myopic version of "secularism­." I also make the distinction between being "religious" and "religious fundamenta­lism." In other words, I do not conflate being secular or religious with being a fundamentalist. You can be non-religi­ous, agnostic or an atheistic secularist or even be religious or have spiritual and religious leanings and inspiratio­n and still be secular in your political orientatio­n and commitment to the principle of "separation of Church and State." In any of the above configurat­ions, you’re open to understand­ing the importance of how the religious/­sacred/spi­ritual dimensions influence the socio-cultural, personal, and poli­tical spheres, including the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and the influence which the sacred Iroquois Constitution had on this process.

It also means that you are flexible and open to accounting for these dimensions in a meaningful and effective way in your political analysis, strategizi­ng, and interperso­nal behavior. “Secular fundamenta­lists,” on the other hand, are NOT open and see religious  components of identity and/or belief as irrational irritants and "flaws." They also tend to agressively recite as a mantra the Constitutional principle of "Separation of Church and State" as if by an "act of god" doing so would somehow trump its twin Constitutional principle - the "Free Exercise of Religion" - and its crusaders, i.e., Conservatives and right-wing "religious fundamentalists" who have intentionally and successfully abused that principle to advance their political agenda).

1.4 THE MERGING OF RIGHT-WING RELIGIOUS, RACIAL  & POLITICAL-ECONOMIC EXTREMISM

Regarding my contention above, NY Times best selling author and ex-right-wing fundamentalist and "religious right" leader, Frank Schaefer has made similar points in a number of "must read" articles. This includes his must see interview with Amy Goodman on her show, Democracy Now.

Additionally, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry's segment about the role of religion in the Republican Party and 2012 election  as well as her segment on Lawrence O'Donnell's "The Last Word" on Democrats' failure to appeal to religious voters are "must sees."

Regarding the issue of the Left's underestimating the role of race, please see the excellent article by Tom Hayden in The Nation, entitled, "In Decrying Obama's Centrism, Drew Westen Ignores Role of Race." Also of note are Farred Zakaria's Time article, "The Pragmatic President," in which he cites the New Republic's Jonathan Chait, "brilliantly pointing out" what Chait described as the, "liberal fantasy that if only the President would give a stirring speech, he would sweep the country along with the sheer power of his poetry."

Significantly, what these commentators all share in common is their recognition that the true threat to the country is the racist right-wing amalgam of religious and political extremists, their paranoid political theology, and their corporate backers, which not only dominate the political playing field, but are beyond Obama's and the Democrats ability to thwart by themselves. As such, it is a "left wing fantasy" to think that "elected officials" can thwart the Koch brother billionaire financed Tea Party without a bottom-up grassroots movement backing them up. As such, doing nothing to contribute to creating such a movement but rather blaming Obama and the Dems for "lacking backbone" is tantamount to political irresponsibility and malpractice.

As both Frank Schaefer and Washington Post columnist, Steven Pearlstein have noted, it was the religious-like zealotry of this right-wing amalgam that held the country hostage during the recent "debt ceiling crisis." The Cult/GOP Crusaders deliberately manufactured this "crisis" to seal their joint dominance over our society and political economy with their crusade to "starve the beast,"  "shrink the government" and privatize the public sphere. However, both their supporters and leaders have been at it from before day one of Obama's presidency, which they have aggressively attempted to de-legitimize and undermine like has been done to no other President since Lincoln. This has severely curtailed the degrees of freedom Obama has had to maneuver, especially in light of the GOP's willingness to use or threaten the filibuster for essentially every piece of legislation and political or judicial appointee Obama has recommended.

Additionally, the Left has essentially sat back, expecting Democratic elected officials to by themselves take on the religious, political, racial, and economic extremists and their corporate backers, and when the Democrats prove unable to withstand this assault, the Left throws stones and accuses them of having "no backbone." Tell that to even the moderate Gabby Giffords, who before she got shot complained of the Tea Party extremists who had essentially closed down the block where her office was located. Where was the Left when that was happening? Why weren't they out protecting Democratic Town Halls and offices like Giffords AND stacking the GOP Town Halls and showing up at their offices?

And now we have Crusader Christians and secessionists like GOP Gov. Rick Perry holding a state sanctioned "religious revival" to bring together some of the most bigoted, Obama-hating, gay-bashing, women dominating, fanatics in the country to "pray together" as part of "God's plan" to help  defeat Obama and make Perry President. Back in April, Perry set aside three days for Texans to pray for rain to end the drought. Well, Texas has now had 34 straight days of 100 plus degree record setting heat. If a Democrat was Texas Governor right now, you can bet that Perry and his fellow Crusaders would be claiming that God was punishing Texas and visiting hell upon its citizens for voting for a "God-less baby killer."

1.5 TOWARDS A REALITY BASED PROGRESSIVE POLITICS

For these and related reasons, such as Fox News and the 1500 plus religious right leaning radio stations, the pervasive religiosity of Americans (e.g. 90% of Americans say that God exists; 78% identify as Christian; 65% of Whites, 78% of Hispanics, and 86% of Blacks say they are moderately to very religious), etc.  I concluded the following, some time ago: the Left must immediately revisit its abstract, strictly secular, "Liberal Enlightenment" based political theories that guide its analysis of society and political behavior.

These non-empirical, non-reality based theories are willfully blind to the "dimension of the sacred," which has infused the politics and transcendent ideals of ALL sovereign nations from time immemorial, including ours. In his review of the book, Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty by Paul Kahn, Richard Koenigsberg says the following, which to my mind is key to understanding the intransigence of The Cult/GOP and their willingness to sacrifice the country in pursuit of their "sacred ideal" of  shrinking/destroying  Government and corporately privatizing the public sphere:

According to Kahn, however, this dynamic linking sovereignty and sacrifice constitutes the essence of the political domain. Nations become what they are when citizens are willing to sacrifice for a sacred ideal. Those truths a community holds to be self-evident become real to the extent that people are willing to die and kill for them.

We deceive ourselves, Kahn says, if we think Western political practices operate in a secular world “untouched by faith and the experience of the sacred.” A political idea for which one will not sacrifice, according to Kahn, is an idea that “has no place in the world.” Such an idea “belongs to no state”; is “purely fictional...”

"We hold these truths to be self-evident….” However, the truth that is held to be self-evident by one political or religious community is usually not “self-evident” to another. Self-evident truths are not scientifically verifiable. Rather, a transcendent value becomes true to the extent that a people are willing to sacrifice for it. One gives up the finite self for a sacred ideal. Giving up the self in the political domain, Kahn says, takes the form of a “willingness to kill and be killed...” In short, the proof of the pudding is in the dying and the killing. No ideology—no transcendent ideal—is true in and of itself. Willingness to die and kill for a political idea is what confers reality upon it. Only by virtue of sacrificial death—the willingness to die and kill—does a political ideal reveal itself as “self-evident.”

Can it any longer be doubted that The Cult/GOP lives by a willingness to symbolically "kill or be killed" and literally sacrifice the "full faith and credit" of America, to as Robert Parry presaged, "destabalize the country to sweep aback into power?" That's why it is absolutely imperative that we get "all hands on deck" and get back on the playing field of realpolitik. That also means dealing with the abuse of religion by the right-wing to accrue moral authority to hoodwink a critical mass if not majority of Americans as it pursues religious dominion, full spectrum dominance, and corporate privatization of the public sphere and political economy, i.e., fascism, through the Tea Party Cult/Republican Party.

This agenda includes gaining greater control over other people's bodies, sexual organs, reproductive and partnership choices, and even bodily fluids (e.g., "The Pill Kills" movement, which seeks to outlaw birth control; Florida's Republican Governor, Rick Scott's plan to compel unemployment and welfare recipients and Government workers to turn over their bodily fluids for drug testing by a firm that's also one his biggest political supporters, etc.).

For the Left and secular progressives to pretend that the right-wing political movement and its goals have not merged and essentially become synonymous with right-wing Christian fundamentalism represents a fatal flaw, both in its analysis and resulting political behavior (or lack thereof). This has led the Left to largely dismiss the danger and underestimate the power of the right wing, especially the Tea Party Cult, which embodies the synthesis of stone-age based religious authoritarianism and right-wing political extremism.

To use a sports analogy, for the past few decades, the Left has essentially forfeited every game and every season to inferior teams because it didn't want to get its pretty uniforms dirty (e.g., rolling its eyes at ANY religious discourse, including Martin Luther King's; refusing to philosophically engage the internal contradictions of right-wing abuse of religious beliefs to mask its political agenda; refusing to directly and politically confront the fanatics who've hijacked religion for right-wing political goals; dogmatically keeping political strategizing and theorizing "strictly secular" and marginalizing and/or disparaging progressives who deploy religious or spiritual jargon, etc.).

As an ex-football, basketball, and baseball player, I find the idea of forfeiting abhorrent, especially when you've got all your players, but refuse to take the field or the court and run your plays. And the Left, in this analogy, has had the superior team, but has chosen to not get down and dirty and frontally confront the Right. Instead, it's fought its own best players in its own locker room, leaving them injured and unable to play at full strength or at all. So they forfeited as a result of self-inflicted wounds.

But rather than quit the team in disgust, I'd like to share some reflections from my experience playing and coaching in this "game of politics and religion" including studying the other team's political theology.

So, with this "work in progress," I hope to further the discussion on these matters and provide some insights, as a scientist, political social-psychologist,  progressive, and Jesuit (i.e., Society of Jesus - SJ) trained Catholic.


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PART 2

2.0 INTROIT TO IRONY

Right-wing "Crusader Christians" and their GOP/Tea Party Cult have now become  followers of Ayn Rand, an atheist and self-proclaimed Jesus hater. So now, they have not only essentially proclaimed, "I accept John Galt as my Lord and Savior," but also pledge allegiance to the motto of Ayn Rand's hero and psychological inspiration - the child murdering serial killer and psychopath, William Edward Hickman:

 "WHAT'S GOOD FOR ME IS RIGHT!"

2.1 THE IMPORTANCE OF THEOLOGY TO SECULAR PROGRESSIVE POLITICS

I both open and close this article with the above statement since it sheds light on what I have publicly argued and written about previously. Namely, that the right-wing fanatics and Tea Party Cult that have hijacked Christianity treat Jesus as an "inconvenient truth" (please see my OS article "WHY RIGHT-WING CHRISTIANS CLAIM OBAMA AS THE ANTICHRIST"). But why do these so called Christians treat Jesus as an "inconvenient truth?" Because they are steeped in the Old Testament (OT), i.e., Old Covenant, which, despite it's many inspirational passages and historically useful context, promotes an authoritarian, vengeful, and stone age portrayal of God and human beings.

This includes the OT's many violent, inhumane, and anti-social proscriptions for supposedly moral and religious behavior. In other words, Crusader Christians and the Tea Party Cult subscribe to the exact opposite of what Jesus both preached and exemplified in order to justify their authoritarian and sociopathic political agenda and tactics. This includes their whitewashing of the Nation's history of slavery and segregation of Blacks and genocide against and massive land theft of Native Americans. Chris Rodda made specific note of this in her book, Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History. 

And lest we forget, recall Michele Bachmann's false claim about the Founding Fathers working tirelessly until they ended slavery. In fact, it turns out that, "Bachmann's Views On Slavery Are Worse Than You Thought." Bachmann and the religious Cult of which she is a part actually believe that Black families were better off during slavery. According to their propagandistic and perverted version of history, at least during slavery there were actually two parents in the Black household!

In the kind of sick and twisted "double speak" that would make Hermann Goering proud, one can imagine Bachmann introducing legislation to repeal the 13th Amendment (which outlawed slavery) and calling it the "Black Family Renewal Act." You know, kinda how the Republicans attempted to eviscerate the Clean Air and Water Acts and the EPA in 1995 , introducing legislation stealthly entitled, "The Jobs Creation and Wage Enhancement Act."

But let us also consider some of the violent, sociopathic proscriptions contained in the Old Testament (OT), to which Bachmann and her ilk receive their "spiritual inspriation." For example, just open the Book of Leviticus and you'll find that it essentially countenances genocide and mass murder against nations and peoples whom its followers conquer, authorizes the stoning of ones' neighbors to death for committing rather minor transgressions and the stoning to death of those who refuse to participate in the stoning, and justifies all kinds of other horrors.

Ever notice that the right-wing fanatics seek justification for their racism, hatred of gays, cruelty towards the poor and vulnerable, etc. from the OT, while clamoring for its 10 Commandments to be put up in public places? More importantly, have you noticed that they NEVER demand that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes be placed in public places? You know, that's where Jesus challenges the rich and powerful and talks about helping the poor and vulnerable. That's why I call them, OLD COVENANT CRUSADER CHRISTIANS. They're all about converting others to THEIR rule, while running away from the words and example of the NEW COVENANT JESUS.

2.2 CRUSADER CHRISTIAN ZIONISM & ITS "NEW TESTAMENT INFLUENCES"

In fact, the only nostrums they seem interested in from the New Testament are in the Book of Revelations and the Epistles of Paul. Both are consistent with the stone-age authoritarianism of the OT and the apocalyptic millenialism and paranoia that rampaged among their 1st Cenutry audience. But as Chip Berlet points out in his book, Dances with Devils: How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism, a similar "aggressive apocalyptic paradigm" drives the current "Christian Reconstructionist" agenda of "full spectrum dominance" and "dominionism."

Additionally, among many of its followers, Paul is revered as the first Christian Zionist Crusader, whose zealotry and many bigoted views have historically been used by the "religious right" to supplant the actual teachings of Jesus and justify everything from slavery to segregation to criminalization of homosexuality and the current craze of anti-Muslim hysteria.

And a great example of the potential outcome of such hysteria and apostasy is provided by the Norway Shooter, Anders Breivik, himself a Christian Zionist Crusader. As Salon.com reported,  Breivik  was also a devotee of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and the virulent anti-Muslim propaganda spewed on the Atlas Shrugged website.

Yet, in the U.S., the false prophets of Crusader Christianity are daily given media platforms to proclaim that only Islam is a religion of terror as they point to passages in the Koran to make this point. Others are given juicy contracts and fees to train law enforcement personnel, including the FBI, to view Muslims in this light. They say that the Koran's the Holy Book to which Muslims must pledge their allegiance and take literally. They then say that since the Koran contains passages that authorize various forms of violence, including killing (i.e., what these false prophets portray as "terrorism"), ipso facto, that makes ALL MUSLIMS terrorists, since their Holy Book is allegedly a book of terror.

Or as "Christian Coalition" leader, Jerry Falwell, explicitly stated: "Mohammed was a terrorist."

NOT ONCE have I heard an interviewer ask these false prophets about the Book of Leviticus and apply the same standard to these Crusader Christians, as they apply to Muslims and the Koran. Doing so would mean that those Crusader Christians (and others) making the "Islam equals terrorism" or "Islamofascism" arguments of necessity condemn themselves should the same standard be applied to them regarding the Holy Book to which THEY pledge allegiance and/or acknowledge as informing their faith.

2.3 THE "DARK ALLIANCE" OF CHRISTIAN & JEWISH ZIONISM & ITS DOMESTIC IMPLICATIONS

Just consider the terrorist acts of Anders Breivik in this light, i.e., that he sought his inspiration from and pledged allegiance to the Christian Holy Book (which includes Leviticus, Epistles of Paul and Revelations). Regarding such contradictions, I have  spoken with Jewish friends about this, since the Book of Leviticus is also part of the Jewish Holy Book, and also asked why they they thought that media personalities, interviewers, and journalists NEVER quote any of its barbaric contents or point out that it's included in both Christian and Jewish Bibles.

The response of my friends is that many of the people who are in the media and news industries, such as producers, reporters, those interviewing these Crusader Christians, covering or writing stories about them, key deicsion makers, etc., are afraid to confront these "Christians" because they fear blowback,  such as being stereotyped with the anti-Jewish slur, "Christ killer" and all that slur historically implies. Also, many people in these industries tend to be very strong supporters of Zionism and have an anti-Islam/anti-Arab bias.

Furthermore, they are loath to confront these Crusader Christians concerning  the contradiction of they're quoting the Koran's violent passages while remaining silent about those in the OT. Why? Because the same would apply not only to Christian followers of the OT but to Jewish followers of the Hebrew Bible, which among other texts, also includes the Book of Leviticus. In other words, they are content for the public to make the association between Islam and Terror, while leaving Christians and Jews out of the equation.

Additionally, most of the folks in relevant decision making capacities in the media and news industries tend to be secular and feel uncomfortable initiating or responding to ANY kind of argument on religious terms (That's true as well for the Left and progressives). This is no less true for the political philosophers and scholars who have been the guiding acolytes of Liberalism and Progressivism in this country, as well as the secular leadership, political strategists, major financial donors and powerful influences within the Democratic Party. Many of them also have a very strong pro-Zionist and anti-Arab/Islam bias.

But what has made these biases so problematic politically (let alone morally, philosophically, and religiously) is that the main U.S. based Israel support organizations, which these key Democratic Party stakeholders also support and/or are members/directors of, have formed an alliance that includes the Crusader Christians and the right-wing Israeli leadership. In particular, it includes the close personal ties between Benjamin Netanyahu, the current (and a previous) Prime Minister of Israel and the anti-Semite Pat Roberston, as well as the Apocolyptic extremist, virulent homophobe and white supremacist, Pastor John Hagee.

Hagee is noted for infamously praising Hitler for doing Gods work of bringing the European Jews to the Holy Land to lead Israel! As some have bluntly stated, this dark alliance is committed to "keeping the Holy Lands out of the hands of the dirty Arab sand niggers." Consider, for instance the Norway Shooter. As The Daily Beast.com reports, Breivik was an avid pro-Zionist supporter of Israel who advocated that the West Bank and Gaza Strip be taken away from the Palestinians and given to Jews.

That means that a dark alliance has been formed with Crusader Christians, who openly pray for Armageddon and the Rapture while threatening Jewish people that when Jesus returns, they will have one last chance to either accept him as their Lord and Savior or be EXTERMINATED and burn in hell for eternity. In other words, common cause has been made with Crusader Christians who dismiss the very validity and fundamental premises of Judaism as a religion and/or Jews as a people.

Ironically and tragically this monstrous anti-Semitic slight has been brushed off both by right-wing Israeli leaders and U.S. based Israel support organizations as just a minor disagreement between themselves and Crusader Christians, whose support they receive. Yet, mention the name of Black Muslim men like "Farrakhan" or even "Malcolm X" around them and the hatred and disgust become visceral.

 2.4 MARTIN LUTHER KING & THE NEW COVENANT: HOW "WE SHALL OVERCOME" THE RIGHT'S SOCIOPATHIC  POLITICAL THEOLOGY 

As stated above, although the Democratic Party's leaders, strategists, and guiding philosophical and political inspirations are primarily secular (whether Jewish or Christian), they do in hindsight hold Dr. Martin Luther King in high esteem. But he was still both Black and a Christian, and his type of theologically and philosophically grounded political and spiritual activism was always kept at arms length by the Democratic Party. And those African Americans who upheld and uphold his legacy have NEVER been integrated into the true power center of the Democratic party or the Left and Progressive movement more generally (which remains essentially White led, practically and philosophically).

Nor were Martin Luther King's (MLK) spiritual leanings and religiously inspired political philosophy and language ever integrated into the Democratic Party, or progressive movement. So the right-wing has had a free pass to hijack Christianity and speak for ALL Christians and "people of faith" as they pursue an openly political agenda, while the Left, Liberals, Progressives and the Democratic Party have forfeited one season after another, "successfully" keeping their uniforms clean, ideologically pure, and strictly secular.

Had MLK's philosophy and his followers (including followers inspired by both King and Malcolm X) been truly integrated as a dynamic and driving force within the Democratic Party and Left more generally, as well as the media, there would have been a strong counter force to right-wing, White supremacist, Old Covenant, Crusader Christianity. This strain of Christianity was  pro-slavery, pro-segregation, and has fought social, gender, and racial progress and cultural diversity at EVERY turn in this country's history up to and including the present.

Their OT based "Christianity" has also ALWAYS served as a cloak behind which the most inhumane, terroristic, antisocial, and sociopathic acts, programs, behaviors, ideologies, and policies have been pursued. Let's not forget that not only the slave-owners, but the Klansman and police who burned down Black churches and murdered Black children, water hosed and beat Black protesters, lynched Black men, etc. ALL self identified as "Christians," went to Church on Sunday, prayer meetings during the week, and/or wore crosses around their necks, even as they terrorized and burned crosses in front of the homes of Black families. And they found plenty of justification and comfort for their inhumanity in the OT.

Yet, despite the fact that slavery has always been the "original sin" of this country, that sin has never be substantively atoned for nor reparation made. And those who continue to suffer from the legacy of this sin as well as their grievances are deemed and treated substantively inferior to the concerns, fears, anxieties, and issues of those with far more power, money, influence, privilege and prestige.

Maybe its time the media and news industries, Democrats, and the Left  diversify their employment, contracting, inspirational and philosophical guidance, and leadership practices, and confront the right-wing religious hijackers. That means prioritizing bringing strong Black men and Black women into the leadership ranks of the ethnocentrically monolithic enclaves of mainstream media, news, internet, and progressive political organizations etc.

In other words, these entities need to truly diversify and integrate into their ranks people who have neither renounced their religious roots nor are afraid to speak truth to the false prophets and power of the Crusader Christian, Tea Party extremists and confront their corporate privatization/full spectrum dominance agenda. After all, Jesus said that he brought the New Covenant thereby closing the book on the Old Covenant (Old Testament), after he fulfilled its prophesies. And he was not afraid to challenge the hypocrites of his day as he drove the profiteering zealots from the Temple - what he called his "Father's House."

This is KEY because notwithstanding the historical context provided by its prophesies, according to the OT's laws, strictures and dogmas, Christ was considered a sinner who deserved to be put to death. This directly contradicts the Crusader Christians' proclamation that Jesus was free of sin, even as they crucify Christ themselves, time and time again by their words and deeds, thereby perverting the true teachings of Jesus and trashing his "Father's House."

Obviously, you can't seek your inspiration, moral compass, and principles for guiding Christianity and Christian dogma from the OT, which judged Jesus a sinner, and then say he was free of sin. That can only be true if the book Jesus closed remain closed, now that its prophesies have been fulfilled. You can't pick and choose which part the OT suits your tastes and applies to Christian principles. Either you believe that ALL of the OT's in or NONE of it's in.

If it's in, AND you believe it to be the inerrant word of God, as 46% of Conservatives do, then you are obliged to stone to death anyone who has committed adultery, even if a Republican. If a woman should lose her virginity and still lives under her fathers roof, you must stone that whore to death even if it's your sister and she's a Tea Party member. You must utterly destroy and make no treaty or reparation with those whom you conquer, whether Blacks, Native Americans, Palestinians, Democrats, Congress, or the United States itself. It is only the last OT proscription, regarding the conquering of their enemies, however, that the Tea Party Cult/GOP Crusaders are content to take literally.

Notwithstanding the above, if you accept TRUE Christian precepts, then Jesus is Risen, He is the New Covenant, He is the way, and He is Alpha and  Omega - CASE CLOSED. You CAN'T have it both ways and continually draw on OT doctrine and OLD COVENANT proscriptions to supersede the NEW COVENANT teachings of Jesus (although these right-wing hypocrites and false prophets do this all the time).

If you're a true follower of Jesus, either the teachings of Jesus himself are good enough for you or they're not. You either close the book on the Old Testament/Covenant, or you've turned Jesus into a sinner who deserved to be crucified. In fact, either you close the book on the Old Testament regarding its proscriptions (while maintaining its value as providing  historical context for the "Greatest Story Every Told," i.e., the Christian Gospels) or you're NOT really a true follower of Jesus (aka Christian). 

Make a choice. If you love the Old Testament and the Holy Lands so much, so that in your words and deeds you use the OT to supersede and trump Jesus, then convert to Judaism, which, however, has a much different relationship to and understanding and interpretation of the OT - as well as the entire Jewish Holy Book - than does Crusader Christianity. In fact, many Jewish people have found their inspiration for supporting social justice in some of the great Rabbinic interpretive traditions associated with their Holy Book.

But even if you converted, I doubt you would choose to follow the social justice inspiration in these Rabbinic traditions. Rather, like Breivik and Glenn Beck, you'd make the same determination that they did regarding Breivik's young victims - that they were not completely innocent because they were part of a social justice-oriented group. In fact, Beck compared Breivik's victims to "Hitler youth."

However, if you continue to steep yourself in the OT while calling yourself a Christian, you are also essentially telling Jewish people that they are wrong and heretics because they refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Only the New Covenant establishes that through death and resurrection. What do you expect Jewish people to do? Keep reading the OT until they finally "get it" and follow you? Well, that's exactly what you're implying, your backroom, dark alliance deals notwithstanding.

These types of contradictions should be pointed out, whether by the media and news industries or the Left. Furthermore, progressives don't have to run away from the part of their identity and brain that resonates with the best of religious or spiritual teachings, whatever their source, including the Christian and Jewish Holy Books. Progressives can credibly cite many of the above "no-brainers " and contradictions inherent within the proclamations of false prophet Crusader Christians,  whether in interviews, the news, on blogs and everywhere they appear, or when we're interviewed or have opportunities to express ourselves on the subject.

If we do this, we could set into motion a progressivism that is grounded in the moral authority that undergirds what most people say they actually believe  AND that is NOT at variance with the true underpinnings of Christianity, i.e., the words, teachings, and stories attributed to Jesus (as the "Red Letter Christians" point out).

I believe that an organized religious movement that mobilizes millions of people in the name of Christianity, as does the "religious right," which also presumptuously determines what constitutes moral/religious authority for ALL of us, has an obligation to make clear what constitutes its organized, foundational beliefs and practices as well as their source. If it wishes to continue to be recognized as Christianity, that means Christ, not the OT. If after 2000 years one thinks they still need the OT to justify their faith in Christ and/or beliefs and identity as Christians, then what justifies their faith in the OT?

What came before the OT to justify faith in it, since obviously, if one demands the OT to serve as the source for the justification of Christ and one's faith in Christ, then the same demand for a literary, tangible source predating the OT must be made to justify faith in the OT and the validity of its prophesies and proscriptions, etc.

In other words, going down that road leads inevitably to an infinite regress - UNLESS, by an act of faith, and after 2000 years, one just simply accepts Christ as the basis of faith in Christ and Christ-centered Christianity. Simply put, if Jesus was willing to give up his life, then Christians should be willing to make the far easier choice to give up what has become a type of addiction to the OT to provide a rational basis for what is, after all, a matter of faith. Now THAT would be a true act of faith and commitment to Christianity. 

Demanding this level of faith and commitment is what is called for at this particular moment in history as the Christian Crusader/Tea Party Cult/GOP is poised to take our Country, indeed the whole world, to the brink of collapse as part of their crusade to impose full spectrum dominance and corporate privatization, i.e., fascism, on all of us.

2.6 CONCLUSION

If we remain silent and fail to take the playing field, we will continue to enable the posers who've hijacked Christianity, made themselves the protectors of morality in the public sphere and private bedroom, including the fetuses and fluids in other people's bodies, just as the Republican Governor and State Legislature are attempting to do Florida. Just consider if secular progressives had confronted these religious hijackers  a couple of decades ago. The right-wingers would never have gotten away with describing themselves as "Pro-life" (while being the most aggressive supporters of the Death Penalty and War in the country), forcing everyone else not only to accept their false self-description, but to accept their sliming of anyone who disagrees with them, whom they've successfully slurred as "anti-life," "baby killers," etc.

If we had taken the field even more recently, Kansas abortion provider, Dr. Edward Tiller, would most likely still be alive, Planned Parenthood wouldn't be under assault, Congress wouldn't be held hostage, and fetuses wouldn't be used as weapons by the right-wing in order to wage "holy war" against progressive forces in this country. This includes the right-wing's rallying weaponized fanatics to purportedly preserve the soul of the country by turning their rifle cross hairs against even moderates like Gabby Giffords, as well as progressives, whom they see as aligned with the Antichrist. They do this as a part of their plan to foist "full spectrum dominance" and privatization, i.e., fascism, on the country, all the while falsely citing the Constitution and abusing the rights and privileges it bestows. 

Therefore, it is up to US progressives, whether secular, agnostic, spiritual, semi-religious, religious, atheist, recovering ex-Catholics, etc. to confront the hijackers of Christianity in this country since progressive Christian churches, the Democratic Party and the media do not have either the capability or inclination to do so.

To those who say it's not their place to discuss "religious matters" because they're secular humanists/progressives, atheists, or what have you, I say this:  Once right-wing Crusader Christian LEADERS, like Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Hagee, Huckabee, etc. decided to make their religion NOT a private matter between themselves and God, but a vehicle to pursue public and political agendas, they lost all immunity from being challenged, and should be held to account much like I have done ABOVE. That means holding them to account for their own internal theological, philosophical, and moral contradictions and hypocrisy. Anyone should be able to do so.

In other words, because they made a POLITICAL CHOICE to enter the political and socio-cultural arena, AND their followers decided to "follow the leader,"  right-wing Crusader Christianity and its proponents, followers and leaders have now become exponents of just another ideology in the political and public market place of ideas.

Fast forward to now. Consider the following: Right-wing Crusader Christians have been subsumed into the Tea Party Cult. This includes Ralph Reed's so called "Christian Coalition" and its various offshoots. Here's a spectacular contradiction -  the producers of the right-wing propaganda movie, ATLAS SHRUGGED (based on Ayn Rand's serial killer inspired ideology) have approached the Tea Party Cult to help finance Part 2 of the movie (Part 1 came out a few months ago), which is scheduled to be released right before the 2012 election.

Let's start taking them on over this NOW, because I can guarantee you, based on their willingness to destroy the Country much as Ayn Rand urged her protagonists to do in her books  (which also inspired the mass murdering Norway Shooter), and what I've been reading on their blogs, they are predicting there's going to be violence by their followers after they get ginned up on Part 2 of Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED, whose destructive storyline the Tea Party Cult/GOP intends to make reality as they will attempt to bring the Country to its knees in their effort to "kill Obama's place in history" and install a sociopathic theocracy.

So I say, "be not ashamed" to seek inspiration from the story of Jesus driving the Tea Party Pharisees  of his day out of his "Father's house" as we drive their modern day fac similes  from Congress - "The People's House." Let's at least start by pointing out and coming to terms with the implications of the following contradiction/storyline as we move forward and contest the Tea Party Cult/GOP on EVERY level and at EVERY turn:

Right-wing "Crusader Christians" and their GOP/Tea Party Cult have now become  followers of Ayn Rand, an atheist and self-proclaimed Jesus hater. So now, they have not only essentially proclaimed, "I accept John Galt as my Lord and Savior," but also pledge allegiance to the motto of Ayn Rand's hero and psychological inspiration - the child murdering serial killer and psychopath, William Edward Hickman:

 "WHAT'S GOOD FOR ME IS RIGHT!"

 DISMISSAL

"The Mass has ended. Go in peace." "Thanks be to God." :)

to be continued...

 

(c) Ron Robinson

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Wow! I wish this was a topic that was repeated everywhere for a month. I rarely read the OT except for Proverbs which is better than any self-improvement book I've found. You're correct the OT was closed and Jesus came to bring new teachings. The NT is what we are to learn now. I can see how the extreme right, Ayn Rand and Hitler would find Jesus to be a real deterrent to their aims.

I'm not what most people would call a Christian but I follow Christ and love and believe in him and an entity I call God. I suppose I'm new agey but whatever. It was easiest to say I was Christian but I had to stop saying it because I got so much hate and dismissal from fellow democrats. I wouldn't show my face at one of their functions because I got sick of being jumped on or hearing my beliefs maligned.

People make generalities if they're pretending to be polite but some are direct and say rude and hateful things like "you're just stupid" or "you support hate." As if I'm an idiot or cruel because I don't believe their belief system so gives them the right to treat me like I'm inferior and have no feelings. I don't support hate and I'm very intelligent. Jesus was for love, peace and teaching us to help one another. Rabbi means teacher, he came to teach incredibly beautiful things the world was ignorant of. I know many people who are Republicans because they don't like being told they're inferior by people in the Democratic party, as Republicans they can at least have their faith honored instead of insulted.

If nothing else, those who know some scripture can help by quoting it so these Crusader Christians don't get to keep pretending they're following the word of Christ. This is created and perpetuated by people who say they have superior intellect and are not judgemental. It seems most unintelligent and very judgemental to me but that's just my opinion, I'm no rocket scientist.

I really like that you make a connection with the drive toward violence and terrorist acts in the different religions. I live in Idaho now and it hit me what's so uncomfortable here. I'm Egyptian, a Copt, by birth and my family left to get away from the craziness and here I am with exactly the same thing. If all these people turned brown I'd be back in the Middle East all over again. Egyptian men, Idaho men, the only difference is skin color. Women are paid less and get less respect and protection from violence in either country. It's not much different here except we can wear skimpy clothes. Big deal.

Excellent post, please keep up on this topic. Perhaps people will figure out that being inclusive and treating each other like equals might be helpful. As you can tell, I'm frustrated by it all the time.
Wow l'Heure, what a great comment. Really appreciate your insights. The phenomena you talk about - of being stigmatized for expressing the spiritual or religious aspects of your multifaceted identity - is a common problem on the Left. I think a lot of people have been so turned off by how the Right has abused religion and/or the hypocrisy and abuse of people that they personally know or who were adults when they were children has also effected their views towards anything that has religious undertones. Also, many think it's about "beliefs" and the irrational nature of them rather that seeing that most people in the U.S. have them in one form or another...Plus, it's also a matter of identity, personal networks, culture, etc., and whether or not it's important that somebody retain that aspect of their identity or come to terms with it in some kind of constructive and redeeming way, rather than try and kill it or hide it because others on the Left have.

So, anyway, thanks for resonating with what I tried to convey here and for rating. That people read but not rate something like this is evidence of their discomfort with the issues I raised, denial about the extent of the power of the Right and its religious consolidation, and/or possibly reflects the kind of rejection and stigmatization that you yourself spoke of and experienced.

But I'm convinced that unless the issues I raised become part of a larger more inclusive debate among Progressives, the "financial terrorism" and "emotional blackmail" we just witnessed in Congress will be multiplied many times over. Remember, only 30% of the population ever supported the impeachment of Clinton. Yet, he was impeached after they laid a perjury trap and then made Clinton's lie over consensual sex the crime of the century.
I have mixed feelings about this; I maintain a secular argument and don't think that in the long run that a religious one will hold up to scrutiny; however in the short run it is clear that many people won't listen to any argument at all unless it is in religious terms. Part of the problems, as I have indicated before, is that many religious people literally beat the truth into their children; which teaches them to believe authority figures without scrutinizing the facts. In practice most people aren't so thoroughly indoctrinated that they don't have any reasoning skills at all but in many cases the ones they have are often limited. Some of these people respond much better to religious arguments if they're done carefully by someone who is familiar with them, which for the most part, rules me out in many cases.

One source that I have found that could be very reliable one one important issue is James Garbarino. He is a child psychologist who seems mostly secular to me, although he does advocate tolerance for different religions and he is a christian and he calls for spiritual healing to some degree. the reason this could be very important is because he is addressing one of the most important issues that lead to the indoctrination of children, child abuse. He may not quite be the best person in the field in some ways but by adopting religious arguments to some degree he may attract many people that wouldn't listen to many more secular people that address the subject like Alice Miller and Philip Greven. Even though Garbarino doesn't argue that child abuse and religion lead to indoctrination like Miller and Greven and Miller he does make a compelling case against child abuse that many religious people wouldn't accept from other sources.

this is essentially the problem with the Tea Party and many anti abortion activists; they have had their beliefs beat into them as little children before they ever had a chance to learn to think rationally and this has led to their cult attitudes that involve believing only what they're told from the appropriate leader.
Thanks Zachary. I appreciate your insights on this. The overwhelming majority of Americans claim to have religious faith.. It's a part of their identity. Those who have had problematic relationships, including abuse, in which religion was somehow mixed in with the abuse, usually either turn aggressively against any kind of religion as a type of self-coping, or if they haven't been successfully treated, they just internalize it and pass it along to others, often using the political process to do so. But by being able to monopolize the playing filed, they've also been able to make inroads into the minds of average Americans, using the moral authority of religion, to help move them more and more to the Right, beneath the surface of their own consciousness.

The battleground is the "subconscious" of ordinary Americans. That's why it's so important to undermine the misbegotten authority of the false prophets, whose political theology is the only voice in the political marketplace that appeals to that part of the brains of the overwhelming majority of Americans who subscribe to religious authority and whose brains have conflated religious with moral authority ever since they were children. That's why purely rational discourse is at a disadvantage. Plus, political theology, because it appeals to religious cognition, automatically contains emotional cognition, which is why it is also so powerful and robust. Purely rational appeals do NOT conform to how the mind/brain/cognition work together. Emotions are what make them work together. There is no pure cognition without emotion. That's a robot not a human. Damasio made this clear with his brain research in the 1990's. Read his "Decarte's Error" when you get a chance. Also, "the Political Brain" by Drew Westen.
The extreme right wing tends to be the most abusive; and those that aren't abusive at all tend to be the most open minded and willing to reason. This is why the logic behind their arguments either doesn't exist or it is so absurd many can't believe what their hearing. this is as stated because the truth is literally beat into their heads and they don't dare challenge it for fear of retaliation.

Thanks for the recommendations I'll look them up when I get the chance.
Where in hell is RAMPARTS magazine? That old, great from the Catholic Left is gone, damn it.
Ron, this is terrific. r.
Ron-- You really need to come by Chicago so I can attempt to do what's never been done in the history of time and get a Jesuit to change his mind. In the great Christian classroom where Jesus taught us to welcome all---ya'll are the guys who get the A's sitting at the front while we mainline Christians (the few of us left) are in the back of the room sitting with Sam Kinison and tossing spitballs.

You make insightful points. Buckets full. And the basic premise that the fanatical right uses the OT to justify the atrocities they've unleashed on the world is of course simply true.

But to advocate for closing the book on the entire OT smacks of walling off that great Christian Classroom rather than opening it up in joy to all who want to follow.

More dangerously, it connotes a certain arrogance, which I do not believe is your intent. As you know, the Bible is more like a library than an instruction book. Written over hundreds of years by lots of authors. (You likely know the numbers!) And I missed the memo that said we gotta believe all of it or none of it. That's the kind of thinking that can be dangerous. I don't like Leviticus any more than you do. But to toss out the rest of the prophets speaking to the coming of the Lord isn't to strengthen us as Christians---it weakens us.

The mainline view is rife with problems. We are "questioning believers." We're all broken. But we are also all sons and daughters of Abraham. Last time I looked, every side of that man's tent was open.

The dangers of the far right are too serious to divide. to say something like "If you don't like it, be a Jew."

We need to UNITE my friend! All of us sons and daughters of Abraham. Lets get you into Trinity Church on 95th Street. Rev Otis Moss can explain this much better than me!

Meanwhile--why bother answering the far rights theology at all. Turning the other cheek does not mean passivity. It can mean not wasting this kind of intellectual firepower on zealots. Because when push comes to shove---they (the right) don't really HAVE a theology.
Thanks for your support Jonathan and for bringing back memories of Ramparts. Sadly, I'm afraid most of the progressives and progressive instruments of the Catholic Church have been purged, silenced, or left in disgust.

Chicago Guy - Looking forward to that visit. I heard the President's speech at the Chicago fundraiser on C-Span last night. The last part of it was emotional and moving and recaptured some of the magic from the past. Looking forward to a reprise, though with more "bass notes" - the type that come from having done grave battle...

Just a couple of clarifications - I didn't say "If you don't like it, become a Jew." Rather, I made the argument that like the Crusader Christians, if one elevates the Old Testament (OT) and Covenant above the New and uses its beliefs and proscriptions to trump the teachings of Jesus and make them the primary basis of Christian theology, dogma, and practice, as well as loves Israel as much as the Christian Zionists say they do, THEN one should convert to Judaism.

Also, when I said "close the book" on the OT, I meant close it as the basis for establishing Christian practice and beliefs. That doesn't mean a Christian can't use it as an inspirational guide in their own personal life, so long as it consistent with the teachings attributed to Christ himself. However, as I argued above, an organized religious movement that mobilizes millions of people in the name of Christianity has a choice to make in standardizing what constitutes its organized, foundational beliefs and their source. If it's Christianity, that means Christ.

I made a strong case, consistent with my Jesuit background, and have worked through this on a deep level taking many different sides of these issues in my own life over many years. I came to the conclusions that I have and I believe they deserve to be seriously considered on the basis of the reasoning that I laid out and which I don't have the time to repeat in this comment. Jesuits make distinctions too. We don't just blend everything together as a way of evincing "tolerance" and "open mindedness." However, it's through being open minded and willing to extend beyond the tolerances of everyday consensus and thought that I offered what I admit is a radical departure from the way Christianity has come to be interpreted and constrained by institutional forces. That includes the forces of inertia and scripture, in particular, the OT. Christ exemplified a radical break from the Old Covenant offering HIMSELF as the New Covenant - in fact, I argue, the prototype for the Neo (new) Cortex - and entirely new ontology and post-paleolithic approach to living up to the social-neurophysiological potential of our recently evolved mammalian neocortex.

The OT, which was written and patched together over many centuries, has nevertheless come to exist as a whole and evolved into something which it was never originally intended to be. It was made that way essentially by a political act of the Catholic Church, which had fallen under the political control of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. It was organized as an instrument of socio-political control suitable for paleolithic people and remains so. That's why when dealing with the Tea Party Cult and right-wing extremism in general, we're not just dealing with sociopaths, but I would argue, we're dealing with paleopaths, who seek moral authority for their political domination just as Constantine did.
Jonathan - thanks for your support and for bringing back memories of Ramparts. Sadly, I'm afraid most of the progressives and progressive instruments of the Catholic Church (even moderate ones) have been purged, silenced, or left in disgust - especially after the rape and abuse scandals and cover-ups that continue to this day, which Church leaders have tried to cover-up even more with their intrusion into the politics, with their campaigns against gay marriage, abortion, and birth control and refusal to give communion to politicians that support a woman's right to choose, but silence regarding politicians that support State sponsored murder in the form of the death penalty and war...

Chicago Guy - Looking forward to that visit. I heard the President's speech at the Chicago fundraiser on C-Span last night. The last part of it was emotional and moving and recaptured some of the magic from the past. Looking forward to a reprise, though with more "bass notes" - the type that come from having done grave battle...

Just a couple of clarifications - I didn't say "If you don't like it, become a Jew." Rather, I made the argument that like the Crusader Christians, if one elevates the Old Testament (OT) and Covenant above the New and uses its beliefs and proscriptions to trump the teachings of Jesus and make them the primary basis of Christian theology, dogma, and practice, as well as rhetorically "loves" Israel as much as the Christian Zionists say they do, THEN one should convert to Judaism.

Also, when I said "close the book" on the OT, I meant close it as the basis for establishing Christian practice and dogma. That doesn't mean a Christian can't use it as an inspirational guide in their own personal life and as context for understanding their religious roots, so long as its use is consistent with the teachings attributed to Christ himself - not as a way to trump Christ and pervert his teachings and example by promoting proscriptions that he himself condemned, which is exactly what the organized religious right and its institutions have done and promote.

However, as I argued above, an organized religious movement that mobilizes millions of people in the name of Christianity has a choice to make in standardizing what constitutes its organized, foundational beliefs and their source. If it's Christianity, that means Christ. If after 2000 years one thinks they still need the OT to justify their faith in Christ and/or beliefs and identity as Christians, then what justifies their faith in the OT? What came before OT to justify that faith, since obviously, if one demands the OT as a justification of Christ, then the same demand for a literary source prior to the OT must be made for the justification of the OT and validity of its prophesies. In other words, its all an infinite regress UNLESS, by an act of faith, after 2000 years, one just simply accepts Christ as the basis of faith in Christ and Christ-centered Christianity. Simply put, if Jesus was willing to give up his life then Christians should be willing to give up what has become an addiction to the OT to purportedly provide a rational basis for what is, after all, a matter of faith. Now THAT would be a true act of faith.

I made a strong case, consistent with my Jesuit background, and have worked through this on a deep level taking many different sides of these issues in my own life over many years. I came to the conclusions that I have and I believe they deserve to be seriously considered on the basis of the reasoning that I laid out and which I don't have the time to repeat in this comment. Jesuits make distinctions too. We don't just blend everything together as a way of evincing "tolerance" and "open mindedness." However, it's through being open minded and willing to extend beyond the tolerances of everyday consensus and thought that I offered what I admit is a radical departure from the way Christianity has come to be interpreted and constrained by institutional, religious, and socio-political forces. That includes the forces of scriptural inertia, in particular, the OT. Christ exemplified a radical break from the Old Covenant offering HIMSELF as the New Covenant - in fact, I argue, the prototype for the Neo (new) Cortex - and entirely new ontology and post-paleolithic approach to living up to the social-neurophysiological potential of our recently evolved mammalian neocortex.

The OT, which was written and patched together over many centuries, has nevertheless come to exist as if it was a integral whole and evolved into something which it was never originally intended to be. It was made that way essentially by a political act of the Catholic Church, which had fallen under the political control of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. It was organized as an instrument of socio-political control suitable for paleolithic people and remains so. That's why when dealing with the Tea Party Cult and right-wing extremism in general, we're not just dealing with sociopaths, but I would argue, we're dealing with paleopaths, who seek moral authority for their political domination just as Constantine did.
p.s. Chicago Guy - I think it is essential not to "answer" the political theology of the Right - but to accurately reveal its underlying mechanisms and effects, including how it is spread and legitimated by the media and how it animates the political strategies of those who must be stopped. It is not a benign virus from which we are all somehow insulated from. Rather, it is malignant, aggressive, and deadly - both symbolically and literally. Just ask the survivors and parents of the mass murdering Christian Zionist Crusader, Anders Breivik, who killed so many in Norway.
Wow this is so deep and many a wise choice by you to remain impartial and loyal to your cause. May you share your thoughts and hope here knowing that the words and ideas you spread are reasonable and sometimes very wise.
Algis - Thanks so much for reading and and sharing your kind words of support.
Okay Ron, your genius is showing. This belongs on the big salon.
Thanks SheilaT! What a nice thing to say. You made my day :)
Wow. This needs to be on the front page. What an insightful article.
The right wing GOP cult's allegiance is to their ideals and not the good of the country. They are willing to sacrifice the country to ensure that a black man isn't re-elected. This reads like it was written by someone with a doctorate in theology. I've always known that these GOP Crusaders, while claiming to be "Christians" are completely at odds with the teachings of Christ. This game of Christians and Jews against the Muslim's can't end well. I wonder what Christ would have to say about it if he came back?

Like l'heure bleu, I follow Christ's teachings but am not a devout Christian. How the right wing is using religion in this battle sickens me.

I love how you pointed out that if one were to apply the same standards of analysis to the bible that these people are applying to the Koran -- large parts of which I have also read -- one would draw the conclusion that Christianity and Judaism are violent religions.

They seem to have a very selective interpretation of the bible. For example, in their hatred of Homosexuality they completely ignore the story of Nathaniel and David (2 Samuel), a gay love story that is arguably one of the greatest love stories in the bible.

I believe that the GOP cult will stop at NOTHING to get a black man out of office. If it takes destroying the country -- so be it. It's clear that race (us vs. them) plays a role in this crusade. Thus the belief by many in the GOP cult that Obama is a "secret muslim." President Obama is of mixed race -- equally Caucasian and black.

While I'm not entirely happy with President Obama, he has been obstructed at every turn and I truly believe that his loyalty is to the U.S., rather than some extremist ideology. It's really too bad. There used to be a "moderate" republican party. There are no more moderate republicans. Since the GOP has been radicalized, there is no longer an alternative to the democratic party. When one party has lost it's mind, there is no alternative. The tea party cult has admitted its goals of eliminating public schools, social security and medicare. Their only message in the last 20 years has been that "government is bad." What's next? We've lost our democracy and now have an Oligarchy/Plutocracy. Government of the corporations by the corporations and for the corporations.

It's time for the American people to wake up or face the demise of the country. A secessionist as President? Right. We can count on him to dismantle the country. I'm going to tweet a link to the article. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and well-reasoned analysis of GOP ideology.
Wow. This needs to be on the front page. What an insightful article.
The right wing GOP cult's allegiance is to their ideals and not the good of the country. They are willing to sacrifice the country to ensure that a black man isn't re-elected. This reads like it was written by someone with a doctorate in theology. I've always known that these GOP Crusaders, while claiming to be "Christians" are completely at odds with the teachings of Christ. This game of Christians and Jews against the Muslim's can't end well. I wonder what Christ would have to say about it if he came back?

Like l'heure bleu, I follow Christ's teachings but am not a devout Christian. How the right wing is using religion in this battle sickens me.

I love how you pointed out that if one were to apply the same standards of analysis to the bible that these people are applying to the Koran -- large parts of which I have also read -- one would draw the conclusion that Christianity and Judaism are violent religions.

They seem to have a very selective interpretation of the bible. For example, in their hatred of Homosexuality they completely ignore the story of Nathaniel and David (2 Samuel), a gay love story that is arguably one of the greatest love stories in the bible.

I believe that the GOP cult will stop at NOTHING to get a black man out of office. If it takes destroying the country -- so be it. It's clear that race (us vs. them) plays a role in this crusade. Thus the belief by many in the GOP cult that Obama is a "secret muslim." President Obama is of mixed race -- equally Caucasian and black.

While I'm not entirely happy with President Obama, he has been obstructed at every turn and I truly believe that his loyalty is to the U.S., rather than some extremist ideology. It's really too bad. There used to be a "moderate" republican party. There are no more moderate republicans. Since the GOP has been radicalized, there is no longer an alternative to the democratic party. When one party has lost it's mind, there is no alternative. The tea party cult has admitted its goals of eliminating public schools, social security and medicare. Their only message in the last 20 years has been that "government is bad." What's next? We've lost our democracy and now have an Oligarchy/Plutocracy. Government of the corporations by the corporations and for the corporations.

It's time for the American people to wake up or face the demise of the country. A secessionist as President? Right. We can count on him to dismantle the country. I'm going to tweet a link to the article. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and well-reasoned analysis of GOP ideology.
Wow. This needs to be on the front page. What an insightful article.
The right wing GOP cult's allegiance is to their ideals and not the good of the country. They are willing to sacrifice the country to ensure that a black man isn't re-elected. This reads like it was written by someone with a doctorate in theology. I've always known that these GOP Crusaders, while claiming to be "Christians" are completely at odds with the teachings of Christ. This game of Christians and Jews against the Muslim's can't end well. I wonder what Christ would have to say about it if he came back?

Like l'heure bleu, I follow Christ's teachings but am not a devout Christian. How the right wing is using religion in this battle sickens me.

I love how you pointed out that if one were to apply the same standards of analysis to the bible that these people are applying to the Koran -- large parts of which I have also read -- one would draw the conclusion that Christianity and Judaism are violent religions.

They seem to have a very selective interpretation of the bible. For example, in their hatred of Homosexuality they completely ignore the story of Nathaniel and David (2 Samuel), a gay love story that is arguably one of the greatest love stories in the bible.

I believe that the GOP cult will stop at NOTHING to get a black man out of office. If it takes destroying the country -- so be it. It's clear that race (us vs. them) plays a role in this crusade. Thus the belief by many in the GOP cult that Obama is a "secret muslim." President Obama is of mixed race -- equally Caucasian and black.

While I'm not entirely happy with President Obama, he has been obstructed at every turn and I truly believe that his loyalty is to the U.S., rather than some extremist ideology. It's really too bad. There used to be a "moderate" republican party. There are no more moderate republicans. Since the GOP has been radicalized, there is no longer an alternative to the democratic party. When one party has lost it's mind, there is no alternative. The tea party cult has admitted its goals of eliminating public schools, social security and medicare. Their only message in the last 20 years has been that "government is bad." What's next? We've lost our democracy and now have an Oligarchy/Plutocracy. Government of the corporations by the corporations and for the corporations.

It's time for the American people to wake up or face the demise of the country. A secessionist as President? Right. We can count on him to dismantle the country. I'm going to tweet a link to the article. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and well-reasoned analysis of GOP ideology.
Wow. This needs to be on the front page. What an insightful article.
The right wing GOP cult's allegiance is to their ideals and not the good of the country. They are willing to sacrifice the country to ensure that a black man isn't re-elected. This reads like it was written by someone with a doctorate in theology. I've always known that these GOP Crusaders, while claiming to be "Christians" are completely at odds with the teachings of Christ. This game of Christians and Jews against the Muslim's can't end well. I wonder what Christ would have to say about it if he came back?

Like l'heure bleu, I follow Christ's teachings but am not a devout Christian. How the right wing is using religion in this battle sickens me.

I love how you pointed out that if one were to apply the same standards of analysis to the bible that these people are applying to the Koran -- large parts of which I have also read -- one would draw the conclusion that Christianity and Judaism are violent religions.

They seem to have a very selective interpretation of the bible. For example, in their hatred of Homosexuality they completely ignore the story of Nathaniel and David (2 Samuel), a gay love story that is arguably one of the greatest love stories in the bible.

I believe that the GOP cult will stop at NOTHING to get a black man out of office. If it takes destroying the country -- so be it. It's clear that race (us vs. them) plays a role in this crusade. Thus the belief by many in the GOP cult that Obama is a "secret muslim." President Obama is of mixed race -- equally Caucasian and black.

While I'm not entirely happy with President Obama, he has been obstructed at every turn and I truly believe that his loyalty is to the U.S., rather than some extremist ideology. It's really too bad. There used to be a "moderate" republican party. There are no more moderate republicans. Since the GOP has been radicalized, there is no longer an alternative to the democratic party. When one party has lost it's mind, there is no alternative. The tea party cult has admitted its goals of eliminating public schools, social security and medicare. Their only message in the last 20 years has been that "government is bad." What's next? We've lost our democracy and now have an Oligarchy/Plutocracy. Government of the corporations by the corporations and for the corporations.

It's time for the American people to wake up or face the demise of the country. A secessionist as President? Right. We can count on him to dismantle the country. I'm going to tweet a link to the article. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and well-reasoned analysis of GOP ideology.
Thanks so much Brokenwing. I definitely resonate with your comments and insights about the right-wing and that there are no moderate Republicans left that have any real influence. You're right - they will stop at NOTHING to get their way, including destroying the fabric of democracy and its redemptive possibilities...

Regarding OS putting this on the front page, I frankly doubt they'd afford a Black man like me the privilege, no matter how reasoned or innovative my arguments, how timely the topic, or how much empirical evidence and consensus I gather to back its major premises. But I sure do appreciate your support :)
You're absolutely right. I think the left in America is uncomfortable about Christianity, because it makes them think somebody will forcibly convert them, or tell them what they can do with their crotch.

Yet, as far as cultural values go, you cant persuade the masses if you aint on the same wavelength. The great misfortune of the Left was in adopting Marxist-style atheism. This ruined the left, and was a godsend to the right-wing.
Thanks for chiming in Rw! I was wondering when you'd show up :)

I think your insight needs to be repeated:

"as far as cultural values go, you cant persuade the masses if you aint on the same wavelength. The great misfortune of the Left was in adopting Marxist-style atheism. This ruined the left, and was a godsend to the right-wing."

I used the term "secular fundamentalism" to capture what you did with "Marxist-style atheism." I actually believe your term more specifically captures the origins of the type of fundamentalism I believe has blinded the Left to the unavoidable significance of the "sacred" or "spiritual" or "religious" dimensions of social, cultural, and political life and that infused the framing of the U.S. Constitution - even the Indian Iroquois Confederacy, whose many values, principles and concepts are said to have influenced many in our own founding document.

I use the term, "secular fundamentalism" to make a distinction between secularism and its inflexible, myopic version, "secular fundamentalism." It's just like the distinction between religion/religious and "religious fundamentalism." I think your first insight about why many on the Left get uncomfortable and reactive to the word, "Christanity," is because they do not make the distinction between Christianity and "Christian fundamentalism"
and conflate the two.

I have not made the same mistake with secularism or being secular and have purposely made the distinction from "secular fundamentalist" variety of secularism. You can be religious or have spiritual and religious leanings and inspiration and still be secular in your political orientation, and therefore open to understanding the importance of this religious dimension in the socio-political sphere and account for it in a meaningful way in you political analysis, strategizing, and behavior.

I wonder if many who have read my article understand this or have just assumed I've conflated being secular with being a "secular fundamentalist." I was hoping that given my critiques of religious fundamentalism and my own self-affirmed identity as someone who has not renounced the influence of religion/spirituality on it, would have made it clear that I don't conflate the two. But maybe I need to make it clearer so that those who self-identify as being strictly secular don't have the type of knee-jerk reaction you speak of.
Thanks for chiming in Rw! I was wondering when you'd show up :)

I think your insight needs to be repeated:

"as far as cultural values go, you cant persuade the masses if you aint on the same wavelength. The great misfortune of the Left was in adopting Marxist-style atheism. This ruined the left, and was a godsend to the right-wing."

I used the term "secular fundamentalism" to capture what you did with "Marxist-style atheism." I actually believe your term more specifically captures the origins of the type of fundamentalism I believe has blinded the Left to the unavoidable significance of the "sacred" or "spiritual" or "religious" dimensions of social, cultural, and political life and that infused the framing of the U.S. Constitution - even the Indian Iroquois Confederacy, whose many values, principles and concepts are said to have influenced many in our own founding document.

I use the term, "secular fundamentalism" to make a distinction between secularism and its inflexible, myopic version, "secular fundamentalism." It's just like the distinction between religion/religious and "religious fundamentalism." I think your first insight about why many on the Left get uncomfortable and reactive to the word, "Christanity," is because they do not make the distinction between Christianity and "Christian fundamentalism"
and conflate the two.

I have not made the same mistake with secularism or being secular and have purposely made the distinction from "secular fundamentalist" variety of secularism. You can be non-religious, agnostic or an atheistic secularist or even be religious or have spiritual and religious leanings and inspiration and still be secular in your political orientation. In any of the above configurations of secularism, if you're not a fundamentalist secularist then you are open to understanding the importance of how the religious/sacred/spiritual dimensions influence the socio-political sphere. It also means that you are flexible and open to accounting for it in a meaningful way in you political analysis, strategizing, and interpersonal behavior.

I wonder if many who have read my article or on OS understand this or have just assumed I've conflated being secular with being a "secular fundamentalist." I was hoping that given my critiques of religious fundamentalism and my own self-affirmed identity as someone who has not renounced the influence of religion/spirituality on my identity and perspective, would have have been clear evidence that I don't conflate religion or secularism with fundamentalism. But maybe I need to make it clearer so that those who self-identify as being strictly secular or Marxist-style atheist don't have the type of knee-jerk reaction you speak of.
[r] What an exciting and intense sharing, Ron. Glad I came over finally to have a look. I totally agree that the right hijacked the "branding" of being the more "religious" party and the "more populist-patriotic" party and nothing can be further from the truth, but it feeds a certain jingoism and hyped-up religious exceptionalism. Dangerous as you say.

I want to read not skim this article, it deserves that. If you have read me extensively, I am a lefty who is focusing on the flaws of the status quo Dem party and the disappointing and betraying decisions of Obama. I consider him an American Judas, an anti-MLK. (what do you think of Glen Ford's BAR website? they have been calling out Obama since the beginning and do not consider themselves supporting the racists of the right by doing that! I don't think calling out Obama when he deserves it and he deserves a lot of calling out means one is supporting the tea party racists!!!)

I wish there were an authentic non-corporate captured Dem team.

The overlord players of both teams are the corporate elite lobbying and bribing policy. EVIL. Pushing buttons for both teams, letting the media comment on a faux game as the overlords playstation the nation.

I believe in moral calling out and corporatism is EVIL. Psycho-profiteering is my latest coinage.

I was raised Catholic and am not a traditional Catholic now, but I have a Catholic sensibility on many things still. I think Jesus is a vital role-model and it is awesome how his teachings have been removed from the rants of the exceptional righties and are not embraced either except for a lazy, intellectualized lip service of much of the left.

I think we need passion, empathy, respect for wholesome religious precepts, in the national conversation. I think we have all been lazy citizens too long. I think the left or the center left have become passive watchers. I think the media is conducting a national conversation between themselves and the rat bastard power brokers who are psychopathic and soulless, enthralling us to paralysis.

I think that "cronyism" can be good and healthy and it also can be horrifyingly destructive. Mass lemming-following cronyism, especially prodded by an amoral media working for amoral corporatism, can be used to shut down a government that could and should be responsible to its citizens, i.e., have the ability to respond! That toxic cronyism can be found on both the left and the right.

Ron, Obama jumped the proverbial shark for me. I worked hard for universal health care and he wouldn't even give the people who proved how it would save lives and billions (take away obscene profits from the VENDORS who are raping the taxpayers of their rightful money and rights as citizens) an inch of space on the "table". Open to all, community organizer, my foot!

Look at how the hope of Obama electrified a nation. He betrayed us. Yes, he is dealing with rat bastards. Rabid rat bastards. But if he fought for justice and human rights and peace the nation would have his back. But he seems to have no moral compass. No moral calling.

He wants to negotiate on the center of a slippery slope of amorality. I won't follow him as leader there.

Will reread your article here and others. Take care.

Best, libby
Hi libby, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I think the word, "betrayal" that you have used regarding how you feel about Obama is one of the strongest emotional reactions we have as human beings towards others. That and grief, which when they get combined are recipes for depression and anomie. They are extraordinarily personal. To use "betrayal" towards Obama is very strong and places all the onus on him - what he did - as opposed to what WE did or didn't do. He said "Yes, WE can." No President has been able to enact a progressive agenda without a powerful bottom-up movement organized and active to challenge the forces of resistance.

As I wrote in my article, "exAirforce Captain Rick Perry: Obama Not Respected By Military," even the War hero JFK, had to resort to authorizing Hollywood assistance to help him with dealing with a powerful right-wing movement that prevented him from firing members of the joint chiefs of staff and other Generals who had talked about a coup and nuclear first strike against Soviets. And Kennedy (like FDR) had a powerful organized labor force behind him (union workers made up 36% of labor force then compared to 6% now). He also had the Civil Rights movement that was mobilized, enabling him to propose modest civil rights legislation. Today GOP destroyed the only significant grassroots organization, ACORN we had that could challenge Tea Party.

That's why WE who are progressives, many with a lot of experience mobilizing AGAINST things, like war, globalization, transnational capital, etc., I believe have "betrayed" the WE part, expecting Obama to do what NO other Democratic President was able to do - enact a progressive agenda WITHOUT a mass, organized movement of labor and/or civil rights of many millions backing him up.

When you get chance, I've added additional links to articles written by Fareed Zakaria and Jonathan Chait in the 4th paragraph of my post that I think also address your concern and can hopefully help you not feel as "betrayed" :)