The Devil’s Holiday — Halloween

halloween

Ah Halloween!

Named more accurately as ‘Helloween,’ this is the time of year when Christian Fundamentalists add their own touch to this demonic holiday!

Halloween as Jack Chick's Best Work

If scary narrative stuff is the object of this underworld calendar event, few can elevate the plot to the height achieved by Jack Chick.

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What Jack Chick attempts on comic level, Pastor David L. Brown, President of Logos Communication Consortium Inc., does seriously. To him, Halloween is more than black cats, costumes, and bobbing for apples. It’s druidism and shamanism. As Brown has it, these seemingly innocuous practices actually recreate occult rituals by which children are inducted into Satan’s service. By no means are these Pastor Brown’s only eccentricities. It was tempting to post this article as a FWOTW. But why deny Dr. Brown the opportunity to remind us remind us of this IFB distinctive without that distraction?

Taunting Satanic Powers

In my opinion, demonic powers operate all to freely in the world, and with far more realism than Halloween practices suggest. Pastor Brown is undoubtedly dismayed that I don’t see satanic import in Jack-o-Lanterns. I’m dismayed that many fundies see no satanic import in America’s involvement in at least seven, undeclared wars on countries that post no threat to us. And how if not by satanic delusion do we remain blithely disinterested in drone attacks on school yards and funeral processions?

Earlier this month, Russia moved sophisticated, Iskander 400 short-range nuclear capable ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, where they can strike NATO bases in the Baltic states and Poland. Meanwhile, Senator Clinton calls for a ‘no fly’ zone in Syria. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is clear that this would mean war with Russia. I suspect Russian Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov and the top, Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, would agree.

Yet a fortnight before a national election, US citizens live under a virtual media blackout on the state of US-Russia relations, which are at the lowest point any time since the height of the Cold War. Incomprehensible as it is to me, politically active IFB pastors across the land are deemed to be ‘spiritually in-tune’ or ‘politically conscious.’ Why? They take ‘stands’ on Halloween. That’s perceptive! Oh, and he’s voting for my candidate.

Citizens ought to feel outright rebellious that peace and justice have absolutely no official political representation in the US political system whatsoever. This would not be so had the church an alternative vision. But supposing that they are spiritually and politically aware, pastors are too often blind to true horrors and offer not guidance but the grossest spiritual misguidance imaginable. And they are also politically illiterate.

But thank God — they stand courageously against Halloween.

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May all all children tonight be safe, and they find love and beauty in all things despite the ways of the church and the state.

Shop to Close Temporarily

symphony-rb

Today, SFL closes shop for a week while yours truly goes to the orchestra. It happens that the orchestra is out of state. And when you have family in orchestra … well … you have a perfect excuse to stay for a visit.

I’ll try to reopen sometime next Friday, but if I’m exhausted by the travel, this will have to wait the following week. Keep safe, everyone!

Blessings!

Modern Ruins in Christian Evangelicalism

Modern Ruins in Christian Evangelicalism

Lunch at the Ark of Ham

ham-taxidermy-encounter

When after years of planning, scheming and working, seemingly unattainable dreams finally come to fruition, how do you respond?

One response is to look to the future. There are the formative experiences for the children [few of whom are seen in the photo, although they would most likely be in school anyway] and family memories. From a Christian Evangelical perspective, there is the ‘apologetic value’ of such projects.

One could also talk about God’s goodness, how God led the project, provided for the project, protected the project from accusations of fiscal malfeasance. With our latest extravaganza in place, God’s intention seems quite clear. Obviously, this was God’s plan all along. But the word ‘latest’ indicates another possible cause for reflection and ground for perspective.

Another response is to remember the past. Sure, it seems counter intuitive in the midst of ‘doing great things for God.’ Who wants to read history when you can make history? Yet history has a way of imposing its verdict on us despite our best efforts to lock it away in the closet.

Modern Ruins

detroit-ruins

‘Reflection and perspective’ came to mind on reading Lauren Davis‘ categorization of another evangelical extravaganza under ‘modern ruins.’

Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m intrigued by social contradiction. And few things in life seem more contradictory to me than paring what is social with desolation. And what has this to do with the Ark of Ham? It so happens that this isn’t the first time that Christians have embarked on great adventures that ended well before their anticipated time. Consider Jim Bakker’s Christian theme park.

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Davis’ article recounts that after opening in 1978, ‘Heritage USA’ soon drew some 6 million guests a year. Then came scandals, then the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status, and then came Hurricane Hugo. Barely into its second decade of existence, Heritage USA closed for good.

History has a remarkable propensity to teach us about humility. Before we adulate and exonerate our vision, ingenuity, motives and successes, we might ask why we expect that our efforts will end so much better than many other equally-well intended evangelical extravaganzas.

What exactly do we leave in our wake? What do our best-laid plans and works actually achieve for God? It is one thing to point to ruins, modern or ancient, and say that they display the futility of human endeavor without God. But Christian fundamentalists notoriously recruit God for all they do.

Christians confess that their works will be tested by God. But they are tested also by time. Rather than proclaiming the meaning of our labors and achievements, we might wait with quiet patience and humility. Good marketing practice is isn’t. But it let God weigh in on topic. God says:

‘Come now, you who say, “today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “if the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil’ [Ja 4:13-16].

Metaxas on Saving America [Again]

Meeting Eric Metaxas

Socrates in the City founder, Eric Metaxas, isn’t a typical Christian fundamentalist. Socrates in the City certainly includes a curious range of past speakers. But then, Metaxas himself makes some odd statements:

‘I am a conservative Christian … even more important, I’m an American…’
‘Being a Christian always comes first…’
[explains the above comment].
‘America exists for the world.’
[No national chauvinism there, people]!
‘A beacon of liberty to the whole world…’
[See preceding comment]!
‘If Hillary Clinton is elected, I do not believe we’ll get a second chance.’

The brave can play the video.

Weighing Metaxas’ Screed

From my perspective, one of the most irritating features of ‘Christian’ political discussion is its assumption of false premises. Since the premises are false, discourse cannot help even if the logic is impeccable [which it seldom is]. As I see it, such ‘Christian’ political discourse/action is sub-christian in nature as well as effect. It certainly is devastating to Christian witness to anyone who is actually aware of public issues.

For example: the Democrats — working hard at achieving open borders? How does one begin to square this with highest ever deportation figures which occurred under the Obama administration? The church I frequent has a member who is an immigration lawyer [maybe soon, a judge]. This woman is highly intelligent and very well informed on refugee issues and immigration issues. She is also a deeply, committed Christian. Knowing what she does, how is she supposed to reply to the ‘open borders’ line?

Discussing his assertion is impossible since the premise is incorrect. And while my friend would set him very straight very quickly, not all believers have her intellectual capacity or experience in this area.

Also, am I the only one to sense that to support Donald Trump, you must invariably talk like Donald Trump? Suddenly, misogyny, bigotry, racism, swindling or corruption either become politically fabricated lies, or else they simply don’t matter for election purposes.

I must ask whether Eric’s politicized religion prostitutes Jesus’ body by making it a mirror reflection of the world. The apocalypse has multiple calls to repent for worldly behavior. Are there any grounds for exempting current behavior from those calls, together with the attending warnings?

‘“…repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth”’ [Re 2:16].

Whatever Metaxas’ church or sectarian affiliation, he speaks a political line that would resonate very effectively with many IFBs.

Eric Metaxas doesn’t mention that beside any Christians, some founders were deists. Nor does he consider that his faith and public order idea might support Marx’ dictum that religion is the opiate of the people [in the sense that the church served to direct the proletariat [working class] to support the state [politics] in God’s sacred Name as their Christian duty.

Balanced Coverage, Right?

For any Fundie lurkers about, this in no wise constitutes an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, who explains why the rich should rule. Also note the corruption revealed by Senator Clinton’s emails, and the baseness of this campaign as a whole. That these critiques come from the far left show that Senator Clinton is in no wise a ‘socialist’ or ‘Marxist’ or communist.

Where is Christ in This?

In fact a critical point not mentioned by anyone is that this entire campaign displays the utter bankruptcy of our US political parties and the entire political class. Why confessing Christians of all people endow the powers and principalities of this age with redemptive import, and then insist that we buy into them is beyond me.

Friend Day and Friendship

Friendship and a lunch

Friend Day and Friendship

Ah — Friend Day. Friends are good. We’re supposed to be friendly because that is a good way to socialize others into our IFB sect. Besides, bible people had friends. So should we. What better way to show that we are friendly and to be friends than to host Friend Day!

Actually, the Christian’s calling is to be the presence of Jesus Christ to the world. That certainly is different. It involves plenty of things that may not be a part of friend day. For example in John 15:15, being friends means that Jesus tells his disciples everything. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I suspect that your average IFB sect may be a little less forthcoming.

If Friend Day is exactly what the Bible means by friendship, maybe someone will set me straight on all this. It’s just that Friend Day looks a little too plastic and fake to be particularly ‘inviting’ to me…