Dark Christianity
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Back July 15th, 2007 Forward
dogemperor [userpic]
An excellent overview and refresher


From time to time, I come across articles that remind me why I started this community in the first place, which put together the various pieces of the "Christianist" puzzle in a rational and coherent way.

The Wisdom of Doubt is one of them. This quote sums it all up:

American religion has always had its unusual elements — snake handling comes to mind — but these days unusual is the new normal.

There are some great quotes by Susan Sontag, Bill Moyers and Jeff Sharlet, among others and links to what I consider must-read articles. Like this one by Bill McKibben:

Only 40 percent of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments, and a scant half can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels. Twelve percent believe Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. This failure to recall the specifics of our Christian heritage may be further evidence of our nation's educational decline, but it probably doesn't matter all that much in spiritual or political terms. Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans—most American Christians—are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up.

Asking Christians what Christ taught isn't a trick. When we say we are a Christian nation—and, overwhelmingly, we do—it means something. People who go to church absorb lessons there and make real decisions based on those lessons; increasingly, these lessons inform their politics. (One poll found that 11 percent of U.S. churchgoers were urged by their clergy to vote in a particular way in the 2004 election, up from 6 percent in 2000.) When George Bush says that Jesus Christ is his favorite philosopher, he may or may not be sincere, but he is reflecting the sincere beliefs of the vast majority of Americans.

And therein is the paradox. America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior. That paradox—more important, perhaps, than the much touted ability of French women to stay thin on a diet of chocolate and cheese—illuminates the hollow at the core of our boastful, careening culture.

It's always worth taking another look at what I consider the fundemental articles that have launched and maintained the need for continued insight on the religious extremists. When you read Sharlett and Moyers, you'll understand why. And you will understand why communities like this one are so important and necessary.

Back July 15th, 2007 Forward