Dark Christianity
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Making Decisions, seeing possibilities


From Talk To Action comes this post by Chip Berlet:

We have learned a few things at Political Research Associates (PRA) over the past 24 years of studying U.S. right-wing political and social movements, and we have captured our best advice in a document titled "Ground Rules and Tips for Challenging the Right." There are three sections--Do Your Homework, Stay Cool in Public, and Keep Organizing--each with several suggestions.

When PRA staff speak in public we often expand on these recommendations, and a blog seems like a good place to enshrine these musings in written form. Over the next few months, I will pick one suggestion and write a short essay around it, with some useful links if I can find them.

To start, let’s look at the following recommendation:

Distinguish between leaders and followers in right-wing organizations.

Leaders are often “professional” right-wingers. They’ve made a career of promoting a rightist agenda and attacking progressives and progressive issues. Followers, on the other hand, may not be well-informed. They are often mobilized by fears about family and future based on information that, if true, would indeed be frightening. This so-called “education” is often skillful, deceitful, and convincing. These followers may take positions that are more extreme than those of the leaders, but on the other hand, they may not know exactly what they are supporting by attending a certain organization’s rally or conference. To critique and expose the leaders of right-wing organizations is the work of a good progressive organizer, writer or activist. In the case of the followers, however, it is important to reserve judgment and listen to their grievances. Do not assume that they are all sophisticated political agents or have access to a variety of information sources.
PublicEye.org - Ground Rules and Tips for Challenging the Right

There are some great pointers and definitions in this article. Definitely worth a look.

dogemperor [userpic]
The Slactivist on the "Left Behind" books


The Slactivist talks about why the "Left Behind" series are the worst books ever written:

When we were first putting together the Evangelical Environmental Network, I was kind of jealous of our partners forming similar groups among Catholics, mainline Protestants and Jewish congregations. They all had structures to work with. Those groups had organizations and hierarchies that allowed our partners to quickly and officially establish legitimacy with the constituencies they were trying to reach.

Evangelicals have no such structures. Instead of church polity, we have a marketplace. Influence and authority are not determined by tradition, by hierarchy, by spiritual discernment or democratic election embodying collective wisdom. Instead, they are determined by book sales, TV ratings, fund-raising acumen, and how many radio stations one owns.

This is a hell of a way to run a church.

Some of these market mechanisms can, I suppose, be passable proxies for a democratic form of church governance. Take for example the recent rise to national prominence of the Rev. Rick Warren. One could argue that the success of his book, The Purpose-Driven LIfe, represents the wisdom of the people -- that the body of believers has voted with their dollars to elect Warren as a pseudo-bishop in our market-driven church. But this kind of "election" usually has more to do with the flim-flammery of marketing than it does with the will of the Holy Spirit. I'd trust the system more if we just cast lots like the early church did in selecting a replacement for Judas.

This market-driven ecclesiology gets more disturbing the more you learn about the cynical, pragmatic outlook of groups like the NRB and the CBA. That would be the National Religious Broadcasters and the Christian Booksellers Association (although books account for less than a fifth of their sales). Think of them as our colleges of pseudo-cardinals, or the pseudo-archbishops who with their money and marketing appoint our pseudo-bishops.

This is part of what frightens and angers me about the phenomenal popularity of the Worst Books Ever Written. LaHaye and Jenkins are spreading their political agenda and worldview -- their triumphalist, Jonah-like delight in the damnation of their enemies, their sociopathic lack of empathy -- and the popularity of this agenda in turn lends it a kind of spiritual authority. And that is part of why this quixotic, elliptical-but-thorough assault on these awful books means more to me than simply a diverting way to spend my Fridays.

Interesting comparison- evangelicals use money as a means to determine authority rather than a hierarchy. I have sometimes privately wondered if money isn't actually more important to some sects than actual worship of Christ. Especially the 'non denominational' megachurches.

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