Apologies for the latest unplanned hiatus. Been a heck of a month as Houston took it's time deciding whether or not we were going to have our usual two weeks of winter before concluding this week that we indeed were. The end result is that I've spent more time at less-than-100% than I care to. That's impacted a number of the habits I've been hoping to get back on track with. I hope you're all doing better than I am on that score.
One item that did alert me to the fact that it might be a worthwhile excuse to update with is the video below (and the news story here). I've been on the fence about carrying on the usual "faith & politics" updates. On the one hand, it's not particularly a battle I had wanted to spend a lot of time on when I left Lakewood. But the other hand is that it is a topic that I do happen to share another view of than many who reside somewhere in the evangelical/evangelical-ish camp. I doubt that an appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast, calling his Christian faith "a sustaining force" will quiet the usual conspiracy theorists in that camp, it's at least a point that deserves to be held up for any honest folk who genuinely look for the reality of the situation. With that ...
One other contributing factor to not particularly caring to get back into the faith & politics wars is that the move to Ecclesia has been every bit as rewarding as hoped. And a large part of that was the outcome of the fact that my decision to make the switch in churches was due to the fact that I knew I didn't care to take up the aforementioned battle within Lakewood. It just wasn't the expense of my time that I cared to make on behalf of spiritual growth. Serving and learning at Ecclesia, on the other hand, have been precisely the antidote that I'd hoped it would be. Growing in that direction is a much more rewarding option, in my mind.
That said, 2012 is right around the corner. I'm sure that another season of crazy isn't going to take a complete detour.
By way of adding another datapoint to demonstrate how certain political movements attempt to deify their cause, the fine folks at the 10th Amendment Center offer this from a pastor and "Tea Party" activist:
I believe the current Tea Party movement is ordained by God. As you rise up with others to reclaim our nation, you too will have your place in history. It’s our turn now. Let’s go forward for God.
That comes at the end of a lengthy justification to connect today's Tea Party movement not only with America's founding fathers, but also with the House of Israel and - brace yourself - Jesus Christ.
» Tablet Magazine: History Lesson: Glenn Beck’s favorite ‘historian’ enlists the Founding Fathers in a battle against diversity (Michelle Goldberg)
Re-igniting the meme I'll be getting back too sooner or later, here's another backgrounder on David Barton.
In recent years, Barton has pioneered a new kind of historical revisionism, one that absolves conservative Republicans of any complicity in American racism, which he lays entirely at the feet of Democrats. He points out, correctly, that before 1964, many of the country’s most virulently racist politicians were Democrats. He neglects to mention that they fled to the GOP en masse after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Indeed, in one astonishing document, he attributes Strom Thurmond’s break with the Democrats to his “dramatic change of heart on civil rights issues,” as if the former Dixiecrat had turned Republican out of outrage at segregation. In an equally audacious reinterpretation of history, he paints the founding era as a golden age of racial comity, denying that racism was ever an essential part of America’s DNA.
Such rhetorical maneuvers have been particularly useful to Beck, obsessed as he is with secret histories and a prelapsarian version of the American past. Over the summer, Beck hosted a series of shows he called “Founders’ Fridays,” revisionist forays into American history guided by Barton. Under the guise of teaching black history, Founders’ Fridays argued against the idea that black people had been oppressed by the Revolutionary generation. On July 5, for example, Barton presented a newspaper from the late 18th century that featured the obituary of a black man who had fought in the Revolution. The obituaries, Barton pointed out, were “not broken out black and white. … It’s telling you who’s died, didn’t matter whether were you black or white or anything, you’re a citizen.”
Denying the racial sins of the Founding Fathers makes it easier to deify them—and, in turn, to promote faith in America’s Christian destiny. “In learning about the founders and seeing the heroes that were involved, it only strengthens my view that this was a divine document, the Declaration of Independence,” said Beck at the end of one show.
I usually find some perverse level of inquisitiveness over what pastors and churches are preaching around election time. Lakewood had generally been a welcome respite for not having it's toes dipped in political waters and Ecclesia is now a very welcome home listening to Chris Seay preaching about the Jesus Way instead of the American Way (or any other way, for that matter).
With that said, Brian Zahnd's latest is also a welcome testimony from points elsewhere:
When the day is done the “Hooray-for-our-Team-we’re-the-Exception-we’re-number-one!” American may just be a bigger patriot than I am. I’m not anti-America. Far from it. America is a wonderful country. A great place to live. It’s my home and I’m happy to live here. I celebrate much of American culture and achievement. It’s just that my faith for saving the world lies elsewhere. I believe the world already has a Savior. So I’m passionately ambivalent about the machinations of politics. Which is not to say I’m irresponsible. I’m not! A real commitment to live a life formed by Christian ethics will make any serious Jesus follower profoundly socially responsible. This is true from Argentina to Zimbabwe.
The kingdom of God doesn’t have a social strategy—the kingdom of God is a social strategy. It is the social expression of the Christian confession, Jesus is Lord. Amen.
If you've been missing those posts concerning faith & politics lately, it looks like PBS will be airing a three-parter on the topic. Houston's PBS station airs the first part at 8pm tonight.