Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
Just what makes them tick, anyway?

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]crazyjane13)

I've been doing a bit of musing on the small storm generated by the recent thread on the teacher who was allegedly fired for calling the "Eden" story a fairy tale.

One of the points that was brought up - regarding investigating reasons why Christianity apparently lent itself to fascistic behaviour - resulted in the thread being frozen. I do think there's some merit in investigating this for our purposes, though. (Bear with me, mods, because I am going somewhere relevant with this.)

One of the aims of this community (correct me if I'm wrong) is to discover and disseminate information about the Dominionist agenda. To this end, we have posts that link to articles in the media, general questions about organisations we've run across, and [info]dogemperor's incredibly well-researched info. I'm starting to think this isn't quite enough, though.

Some wise old sage (Sun Tzu? Machiavelli? Good ol' A. Nonymous?) once said, "Know thy enemy". Part of what we do here is about that - but we are doing it from the outside. Only a few of us (and I deeply apologise if I trigger anyone inadvertently) know how it feels to actually be a Dominionist, to think and act like them. Those people have courageously shared things with the rest of us that have to be enormously painful to them.

Acknowledged, most of us can't begin to understand Dominionism from the inside. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. I believe we should interrogate the question of just what it is that gives Dominionism its drive. It's not enough to mutter about megalomania, or to simply say it's an integral characteristic of Christianity.

As a sociologist on P plates (does that translate for American readers? lol), this question fascinates me. Fundamentalisms are usually held to be symptomatic of an inability to cope with life in a post-modern society - pluralism, relativism, all those evil "isms" that undermine moral certainty. I think that's true of Dominionism as well - however, the usual fundamentalist response has been to adopt what Weber called a "world-rejecting" approach. Such groups typically withdraw from society partially or even totally, attempt to become self-sustaining, discourage all contact with those who are outside, and erect very high boundaries against any cross-pollination of cultural or moral ideas.

Dominionists aren't like that. They are firmly "world-transforming". They may well reject post-modern society, but instead of setting up their own "pure" alternative community, their agenda is focused on bringing mainstream society into line with their ideas. There's an element of world-rejection, in that they set up parallel economic and social systems, but the ultimate aim appears to be the eventual suppression of anything but these systems. Dominionists have a drive that stretches well beyond the idea of personal enlightenment to encompass the whole world (hence, the name. Duh. :-))

One thing I think this community should look at it is just where this drive has its origins. So these are my initial thoughts, to give you an idea what I mean.

Is it purely an American thing? Personally, I don't think so. Australia's got its fair share, as does Latin America - and it's not enough to say that the parent organisations are American, because the same phenomenon is not happening in Great Britain to anywhere near the same extent.

Is it connected to neo-conservative ideas? To an extent, perhaps - certainly there is a huge overlap in terms of demographics. Dominionists tend to be Republicans, for example. Neo-conservatism, however, is not enough to explain it, I believe - Dominionists want more governmental intervention, if anything, as long as it is in line with their thinking.

Well, then, is there something in the religion itself? Now, before I get jumped on, let me explain something. I'm not for one moment trying to argue the point that Christianity is necessarily the way it is expressed by Dominionists, but c'mon, let's face it - Dominionists claim the authority of the Bible for everything they do, and it behooves us to take a good long look at the religion - its history, its theology, and as it is practised by various groups.

Certainly we can look at the apocalyptic emphasis of Dominionists (especially the LaHaye-ites) and consider how everyday events are constantly interpreted through the religious lens. It's also true that almost all fundamentalist groups that are politically active tend to be monotheistic, and the numbers of Christian groups are particularly high. So is it something in their sacred text, perhaps?

I mentioned their emphasis on an apparent biblical basis for their actions already - this underpins every strategy. It doesn't take much scholarship to look at the Bible and realise just how far many of these passages have been twisted out of context (and fraudulently translated, in some cases), but there are many, many passages which are ambiguous, sometimes due to poetic language. Should we look, then, at the Bible?

Or is it something about the history of Christianity as a whole, and the early church in particular? It was persecuted, then wed to the Roman State. Did this set the tone for a rise in Dominionism just under 2 millennia later? And if so, why did it only affect a relatively small (but very active) number?

I guess what I'm saying (in my long-winded way) is that we should look at questions of "why", as much as "how" and "who".

Current Mood: curious