Volume 9, Issue 2: Anvil
And This, Just In
In a recent symposium, the journal First Things ran a series of essays which began to openly discuss the possibility of questioning the legitimacy of the American regime. In the ensuing debate, the guys who did this were called theocons. This is short for theocratic conservatives, so called because they think that law in America should be grounded in something higher than popular, democratic values. Following the dictates of natural law with remorselesss logic, they want our laws to be built upon the will of a higher being, one with all the attributes of an infinitely benevolent propane gas, but with divinity added.
But this fact that the theocons were even willing to entertain for a moment the idea of apostasy from "the idea of America" greatly distressed some others in the conservative movement, which others have been called neocons. This is short for neo-conservative, so called because some liberals in the seventies and eighties got into a little political cross-dressing, and began to carry their purses just like regular conservatives did. Got all this?
Standing bemused on the sidelines, hands in their pockets, were the paleocons, among whom you may count your intrepid editors, who are so called because they have been willing to question the legitimacy of the realm for quite a long time. The more liberal of the paleocons have been abjuring the realm since 1865, while the more conservative of them think the point of departure was 1789. Either way, back to the story.
Some neocons resigned from the board of First Things, and generally began to throw dust in the air, yelling "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" The theocons said, "Nuh uh!" and our contemporary political discourse was enlivened!
Since that time, the controversy has spilled over to the pages of the American Spectator, National Review, and Chronicles, as well as, I have no doubt, a few sinkholes of opinion on the Left.
With a few exceptions, the debate has been characterized by the general attitude of the neocons being that that grass is not green and the sky is not blue. This is the America-as-Special-Idea camp. Then we have the theocons, who are breathlessly announcing that the revolution came to these shores in that time of Jacob's trouble called the Sixties. But the earth has gone around the sun a couple of hundred times since our nation's descent into beethink. These gentlemen are not neophytes, but they are theophytes.
Of course our regime is a regime. Of course we live under a tyranny. Of course the American experiment is a sham and a farce. Of course our elections are rigged. Of course somebody needs to wake up.
The theocons are a little slow on the uptake. One expects Chuck Colson or Robert Bork to publish a book any day now called The British Are Coming!
Talking Bushes, Talking Snakes, and Hale-Bopp Suicides
By Douglas Jones
Even before the Heaven's Gate followers reached Hale-Bopp, the Associated Press ran a story blaming Christianity for the cult's weirdness. You know the type of "news" story. It starts with some vague comparisons in a nasal tone and then quotes some theologian yearning to be incarnated in print, followed by some atheist hungry to beat even the hint of truth with a stick. There are none so blind who will not honk.
The Associated Press article tells us that "A few would blame Christianity itself for the route Applewhite and his followers followed. The Bible is filled with absurdities, said Ann Gaylor, president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. . . . `Talking bushes. Talking snakes. Jesus healing blindness with spit,' Gaylor said.' If you're going to tell people that this is true, what's so strange about UFOs and hooking a ride on a comet?' While commentators warned of `cybercults' recruiting followers on the Web sites, most failed to note that the Vatican has a Web site too." Oooh. Ahhh.
Surely these typical non-Christian responses are the epitome of narrow-mindedness. They reveal a mind that has built such a privileged fortress around its own view that it cannot even fathom objections from the peasants. There stands the naked emperor pointing his finger at the belly-buttons of his subjects.
The truth is that non-Christian absurdities are much harder to swallow for less narrow-minded folks. Talking bushes? Talking snakes? Those are nothing. The AP and Ms. Gaylor want us to bow to schizophrenic idols. She evangelizes us to embrace Christian values of truth, beauty, and goodness without Christianity. That's like making a ladder out of water. Now that's weird. There stands the emperor showing off his water ladder as it runs between his fingers. "This is the standard of truth and rationality! This is beauty! This is the code of goodness!" "No," we should respond, "that is a goofy little puddle."
Why can't non-Christians admit to such silly views? Because their priesthood currently holds the reins of intellectual power. As long as the priests can keep a straight face, they can get their grants. You will be able to tell when their power is crumbling, when laughing turns into a crime. Uh-oh. Too late.
Trashing the King?
By Douglas Jones
We live in a time when non-Christians mock everything, and Christians mock nothing. How do the commands about honoring the king and not speaking evil of the ruler mold our political commentaries? Mockery shows up again and again in Scripture, but are we allowed to ridicule the President? Any recent U.S. president has far more brute and bureaucratic power than any emperor in history.
Yet political cartoons twist the President's face into hamburger dimensions. Talk radio pours his impersonated voice into bufoonish songs. Bumper stickers lampoon his manhood.
Recently, the neo-conservative magazine The Weekly Standard ran a cover with the line "Bill Clinton: Liar, Liar." Beneath this was the President's grinning head morphed onto a lanky, Jim Carey-like body, arms outstretched yearning to lie.
This sort of mockery should make our hair curl. When Jude wanted to depict the depravity of certain infiltrators, he pointed to their disrespect: "Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries" (Jude 8). Whether the authority is angelic or human, disrespect is a sign of gutter baseness. To "honor the king" (1 Pet. 2:17) places a firm fence on our jokes.
Certainly this doesn't prohibit accusing a king or other ruler of evil. But we have to choose our words very carefully, especially if we are using strong language. John the Baptist referred to some Pharisees and Sadducees out of court as a "Brood of vipers." (John was a professional; don't try this at home).
More to the point, in a very politically incorrect move, John the Baptist "imposed" biblical morality on pluralist Herod (Matt. 14:4). For his "hate crime," John had to visit a stern Roman barber. But for all his colorful political commentary, John the Baptist still never sounded like the barbarian disrespect shoveled out by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
Remember that Paul once heard someone in court order him to be slapped. He reviled that person by calling him a "white-washed sepulchre!" Then they told him it was the high priest who gave the command, and Paul reached quickly to pull his words back: "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, `You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'" (Acts 23:5). There was wisdom.
The Tiny God of Arkansas
By Douglas Wilson
Yet another governor of Arkansas has begun bleating out his protests against the God of the Bible.
Many Christians are familiar with the seedy ex-governor Jim Guy Tucker, who has been convicted of various dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. His predecessor in that office, Bill Clinton, set such a pattern of unabashed corruption and cronyism that the legislature of that state is considering a bill to retire his jersey.
Initially, many thought that the current governor, Mike Huckabee, was going to be different, but alas. He did rearrange the furniture, but that's all.
If respect for the Word is related to believing and doing what it says, Bill Clinton has no respect for the Bible as the Word of God. Yet he still affects a pious demeanor, and remains a member of an orthodox Christian communion. He just doesn't want to remember what the Bible says when it comes to phrases like "fornicators and adulterers God will judge." That doesn't square with his interpretation, or with certain deeply held feelings he has toward alluring young twinkies.
The current governor is an ordained Baptist minister, and an ardent foe of the kind of sleaze that has permeated Arkansas politics for years. And good for him, say we. So our hopes were high until he recently revealed that just wants the disobedience to come in another color.
Governor Huckabee refused to sign a disaster relief bill because it was a matter of "deep conscience" to him not to attribute in law a "a destructive and deadly force as being an `act of God.'"
Now set this alongside: "If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?" (Amos 3:6). The protests will perhaps come: "But the prophet Amos was not really familiar with the state of Arkansas, nor with the tornado patterns of Arkansas, nor with the great strides being made recently in Arkansas theology."
Once we submit the Bible to the pick and choose game, we cannot complain about what other folks pick and what they choose. Governor Huckabee wants a god who doesn't involve himself with the weather. His predecessor Bill Clinton wants a god who doesn't care about bimbos. They can both have their little putt-putt gods.
The living God, and we are embarrassed to have to point this out, is, well . . . God. As one Democrat in Arkansas put it, "If God didn't create this universe and all the forces in it, then I don't know who did."
This sort of thing reveals how squishy soft Christians have become. Disobedience is not defined by doing all those icky things which offend decent middle class folks. If that were the standard, then Huckabee is in a different class from those who have gone before. But it's not, and he is not.
When it comes to the Word of God, it is becoming increasingly plain that governors of Arkansas don't really give a damn.