The Open Center Conference- opening thoughts
LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY sunfell)
These are some initial thoughts culled from my personal journal. I will be writing about more in-depth things in the next few days.
Oh, yeah- the conference... folks, it's making history. No one has ever gathered together such a comprehensive group of influential thinkers, writers, researchers or ministers, and the Open Center is taping the whole thing and editing it down to make available for PBS affiliates to pick up. I am on the list to get a copy of this disk (and the unedited version) when they produce it. I will personally see that our PBS station picks it up- I know one of the program directors personally. And I have a DVD from Theology Watch for the public access channel, which I plan to get shown when I get home.
Here's some of what I learned while there:
Dialogue is more important than name calling when dealing with the Dominionists. They expect being called freaks and extremists (they are pretty extreme), they tend to play such name calling to their advantage- after all, the Bible, which they hold more important than Jesus himself, says that they'll be persecuted.
So, we have to step beyond the wild claims of their leaders, and engage the followers. They're good people going down a bad road- and some of them don't know how bad it is because of the tactics of deliberate deception, stealth and doublespeak practiced by their leaders. I know that most of them would be loath to execute people who might be their own kin- sons, daughters, siblings- just for being gay. And there are men who are not poisoned by the extreme patriarchy preached to them, who see the women in their lives as equals, not helpmeets.
One speaker said that this movement isn't 'Christianity' at all- it's the wolf of fascism and totaltarianism in Christian sheep's clothing. I think he had a very good point. It isn't about religion, no matter how much they want to claim it is. It's about power and greed.
This whole Dominionist thing has only just breached the surface and touched the minds of those who should be alarmed by now. The 'blue states' are very insular, and have for so long looked at the Dominionist movement as a Southern and Midwestern thing that it hasn't registered how far they've gotten until people started putting the puzzle together in the mainstream media recently. The Dominionists crow that the Schiavo case was a 'godsend' to them. In a way, it was also a godsend to us, as it cracked the facade of the Dominionists and showed us their true colors and chilling ideas for the future of this country. That is, if we don't meet them head on and put an end to it. When Mennonites, gentle, pacific Christian people, start muttering about how awful the president is and want to give him the boot, then there's something afoot. If the ugliness of the extremist Dominionists has trickled into their insular and serene community, that's the canary in the coal shaft.
The conference was sold out. They had an overflow auditorium. People from all over the country came. I met kalibex and Katherine Yurica and several of the major speakers. Fredrick Clarkson and Chip Berlet have gotten together and created a website devoted to dialogue about the Christian Right. It's called Talk2Action. It looks like it is going to be a major nexus of ideas and dialogue.
For this community, I have some ideas and plans for it that I will share with you over the following days. I want to take it to the next level- make it a paid account, and then tweak the interface so that you the readers can have access to an ever growing number of excellent blogs. Blogging is the new media- the mainstream are pretty much rubberstamps of each other.
So, that's my entry for tonight. I am worn out, I have a wrenched arm from a sharp subway braking, and I have a notebook full of goodies to share. Stay tuned!