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Tarot - 4 of cups
If all you ever saw of the World Science Ficton Convention was the opening ceremonies, the masquerade, the Guest of Honor Speech, the Hugo Awards presentation, and closing ceremonies, and you only saw that on television, and you missed half of what you saw because TV news anchors were talking over it, would you have any real feel for what it's actually like to be at a large science fiction convention? No. You'd only be seeing the scripted parts, the big showy parts. The real meat and potatoes of a science fiction convention, the real experience, is to be found out in the halls, in chance meetings. It's in panel discussions, where you may actually learn something from or about the science fiction industry. And even more than that, it's in the hospitality suites, both official and unofficial, because that's where people actually meet, socialize, try overtly to hype their own reputations, and try gently to persuade each other to each others' pet projects. So should it surprise you to know that political party conventions aren't any different? State political party conventions run a lot like regional SF conventions. The big national political party conventions that happen every four years are more like Worldcon than you might otherwise know. Oh, the standards in funny costuming are different, but no weirder. One difference: the sexily dressed women are paid professionals at the national political conventions, and generally kept more out of sight. But otherwise, there are more similarities than differences. Sometimes it's even the same people; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was a science fiction fan before he was a successful politician. (Does this surprise you in the least? I thought not.)

I tell you this so that you'll be better able to imagine one important part of any political party convention, whether state or national: caucus meetings. The definition of the word "caucus" is not widely taught these days, mostly because caucusing has gone out of style, and so it is widely misunderstood. A caucus is nothing more (or less) than a group of people who've agreed upon a single goal. To that end, they all pledge before any votes are taken that whether they win or lose any vote within the caucus, when they leave the caucus room and go their separate ways, they will support the decision of the caucus as enthusiastically as if it had been what they personally had wanted to do, all along. Almost the entire political party process takes place in caucuses of one kind or another. If you aren't willing to caucus, you aren't really a player, you're not really in the game.

During the 1964 Republican Party National Convention there was yet another meeting of the Republican anti-communist caucus. But this one broke new ground. Now, I was 4 at the time, so how can I know? Well, I heard a great deal about it from one of the caucus members. Dr. John A. Stormer was the author of the 1964 best-selling anti-communist conspiracy theory exposé None Dare Call it Treason. In it, he "proved" that the US State Department and the US Department of Education had both been completely subverted and taken over from within by Russian-backed Communist Party cells. (Oddly enough, when the KGB archives were opened in 1989, he turned out to have been right about the State Department. It's not terribly surprising, really; Foggy Bottom has long been manned by people who identified more with foreigners than with their own countrymen, and has a long history of forgetting which country pays its salaries.)

Dr. Stormer was also a state delegate from Missouri for Barry Goldwater, and as so was obviously at the 1964 Republican National Convention. And given his then-new celebrity in the anti-communist movement, it is no shock that he was a member of the anti-communist caucus, and had been for years. 12 years later, in 1976, he was a private high school administrator at Faith Christian Academy, where I was attending classes. I was taking his (mandatory) class in "Principles of Spiritual Growth" during the 1976 election season. One day we were far enough ahead of the lesson plan that he declared an open question and answer period. Since he (and the rest of the school) had been drumming into us how essential it was to return the nation to Christian rule, and since I knew he hated the "Rockefeller" (internationalist) side of his own party, I asked him why he was backing secularist left-wing Rockefeller-supporting Republican Gerald Ford over born-again evangelical fundamentalist Christian Democrat Jimmy Carter? In order to explain that decision to us, he told us the story of that 1964 meeting in San Francisco, and how he felt bound by those caucus results to back the party no matter who they nominated, and why. I was young when he told it. I'm fuzzy on some of the details. After 12 years, he may have been fuzzy on some of the details himself, and Lord knows, he was one of those hard-to-listen-to people who constantly says "umm" and chews on his glasses, even in the middle of a sentence. But I remember the gist of it, and as history has unfolded (and as I have learned more and more about politics myself), I've come to understand more and more of what he told me. And in light of the last 25 years of history, in particular, what he said about that 40-year-ago meeting chills my blood.

Put simply: The Republican anti-communist caucus was made up of people who shared two beliefs. First of all, to be a member of that caucus, you had to believe that the still-expanding worldwide spread of communism was the single greatest threat in the world; not just to them personally, but to the US, and not just to the US, but to the future of the whole human race. For the wealthy people who had long made up the base of the Republican party, this was an easy idea to sell. They knew perfectly well what would happen to their wealth after a communist takeover of the United States. But what may not be clear to you yet is just how equally obvious this fact was to any Christian with any knowledge of, or connections within, the field of missionary work in Asia. When the communists took over Russia, they expelled all foreign missionaries, and nearly all Christian ministers were internally exiled to slave labor death camps in Siberia. When the communists took over China, they were even less subtle: all missionaries and Christian clergy who didn't escape the country were simply murdered in cold blood. When the communists took over North Korea, they made the Chinese look gentle and friendly: missionaries, ministers, Christians who refused to renounce their faith, and their children were brutally tortured to death. Anyway, the second thing that you had to believe to be a member of the Republican anti-communist caucus was that only the Republican party could be trusted to be sufficiently militant and vigilant against communism. Caucus members agreed that while there might be some staunch anti-communist Democrats, that party was also home to a great many socialists who would secretly welcome a communist takeover of the United States. It was a well known documented fact that Soviet agents had been trying to infiltrate and take over various local Democratic parties; Republican anti-communists believed that some unknown number of them must have succeeded. Democratic Presidents had lost Russia, China, and Cuba to communism, had failed to expel the communists from North Korea, and were holding back from declaring all-out war against the communists in Vietnam. And, of course, the Republicans blamed the Democrats for the perceived failures of the Army-McCarthy hearings and the House Un-American Activities Committee.

However, if you're living in 1964 and you think that the Republicans in the US are the only hope that the world has of resisting and overthrowing global communism, you've got a really big problem: you're on the losing side of American politics. Democrats had controlled the city governments of every major city in the United States for decades, with no end in sight. They controlled both houses of Congress. They had the majority of the governors' offices, and controlled one or both houses of almost every state legislature. The only Republican to win the Presidency in over 30 years was war hero Dwight Eisenhower. If you really actually wanted to win an election to public office in the US in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or even 70s you ran in the Democratic primary, either as a machine candidate or a reform candidate. The Republicans were seen as the wealthy person's party (which they were), the party that had brought about the Great Depression; the Democrats were seen as the party of the poor and the middle class, the party that had ended the Great Depression ... and not coincidentally won both World Wars. So it was at the 1964 Republican anti-communist caucus that somebody, and I think Dr. Stormer said it was George Will, laid down the law, and hit all the delegates present with a big whopping clue-by-four: if communism was to be defeated, then the Republicans were going to have to become a majority party. Seems obvious in hindsight, doesn't it?

But there's a catch. There's always a catch. In this case, the catch must have been this. The traditional Republican party is the party of Satan himself, and thereby unpalatable to nearly all of the 90% or more of the US public that self-identified as Christian. I am not exaggerating here, not one tiny little bit. (Nor am I alone in this. Remember, I've met and done volunteer work alongside Dr. Michael Aquino, the founder of the largest Satanic church in the world, and you have never met a more staunch Republican in your life. Nor did he make any bones about why: he is a Republican Party loyalist because the Republican Party stands in total opposition to the Christian scriptures.) Throughout the gospels, take everything that Jesus said. Now reverse each and every statement. Each and every one of those reversals is a traditional plank of the Republican party platform. Republicans urge people to work hard, earn as much money as possible, and save it. Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21) Republicans are the party of the arms manufacturers. Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9) Republicans believe that how much money a person earns or has is a good measure of that person's worth. Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13) If a rich person comes to the Republicans and asks "what shall I do with my life?" they tell him to save his wealth, invest it in his own business and in the businesses of other wealthy people, keep his costs (including labor) as low as possible, in order to sell as many goods at as low a price as possible, and thereby enrich the world. When a rich person came to Jesus and asked him what he should do with is life, here's what actually happened (Luke 18:18-25):
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
And, of course, there's the "little problem" that I discussed yesterday. The Republicans have long been the party that believes that the poor are poor because they deserve to be poor. They believe, and teach, write, and legislate, and mandate that the textbooks say that if any American is poor, it is his own fault for not doing what it takes to become rich. As I've written before, Ronald Reagan elevated the hating of poor people to an artform: Ronald Reagan taught an entire generation of Americans that it is morally acceptable to hate the poor. And as I showed you from the Christian scriptures themselves yesterday, then if the Bible is any guide, anybody who has learned that lesson, and acted on that belief, and has since died ... for them it is too late. On Judgement Day, they will be cast into the fires of Hell by an angry God, and in those fires they will burn for all eternity.

How did the gospel stop being an obstacle to a Republican majority? Well, among the people in that fateful room in 1964 was a high official, I think Dr. Stormer said it was the dean himself, of Dallas Theological Seminary. And what you have to understand about Dallas Theological Seminary is that this is the top school for fundamentalist intelligentsia. When three or more people argue a point of doctrine in a fundamentalist setting, when the DTS graduate speaks, everybody else shuts up and listens. And what has finally dawned on me is that Dr. Stormer really did mean what he was implying: in 1964, the leading intellectual and spiritual figures of the fundamentalist community decided to stop teaching the actual gospel as it was written. They have to have decided to under-emphasize and explain away anything in the actual teachings of Jesus Christ that would stand in the way of people voting Republican. They conformed their doctrine and teachings to the doctrines of God's own enemy. To save their lives from the threat of communism, whether they realized it or not (and they probably didn't, for the power of the human mind to rationalize decisions made out of fear is nearly infinite), they sold their very souls and the souls of tens of millions of their followers into the service of Satan.

And to increase their popularity during a time of social turmoil, and to further distract the masses, for the teachings of Jesus Christ and His own disciples and apostles, they made a straight-forward substitution for the teachings of Jesus Christ. Instead, they took up the teachings, and ways, and doctrines of Jesus's worst enemies, the Jewish sect that most earnestly sought and ultimately obtained his death: the Pharisees. But that can wait for tomorrow.

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metaphorge
Nov. 29th, 2004 02:05 am (UTC)
Instead, they took up the teachings, and ways, and doctrines of Jesus's worst enemies, the Jewish sect that most earnestly sought and ultimately obtained his death: the Pharisees...

...known today as the Dominionists.

It's long been my contention that the "anti-christ" spoken of metaphorically in Revelations is the fundamentalist branch of the Christian church itself.

Excellent explanation, as always.
hbergeronx
Nov. 29th, 2004 04:45 am (UTC)
of course
many fundamentalists and protestants would argue that the title of antichrist is reserved for the Catholic Pope, for many of the same (slightly modified) logical arguments.
bossgoji
Nov. 29th, 2004 03:52 am (UTC)
Brilliant stuff as always. I mean it, absolutely brilliant.

Having grown up in a house full of Charismatic Catholics, I can certainly appreciate this. I don't know the specifics of the Fundamentalist Baptist movement, but if it's anything like the Catholicism I grew up with, then consider my bones officialy chilled.
dreamking00
Nov. 29th, 2004 06:25 am (UTC)
I presume that from where this is going, these Christian principles were debased in order to let the Republican party co-opt the religious voter base?

Second question--is Communism still a going concern to the degree of "we must keep Republicans in power or we're doomed," or has that been conveniently replaced by the threat of Islamic terrorism? Do people still adhere to the resolutions of the 1964 caucus, or has the "religious right" now reached critical mass, being a self-sustaining Republican vote machine regardless of what threat "necessitates" Republican majority?
pope_guilty
Nov. 29th, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
Some of the Republicans have realized that the rest of us don't see Communism as a constant threat anymore, but several of them (spend a day cruising right-wing weblogs if you need proof) still chat it up. What gets me is how somehow liberals are both friends of the Islamofacists and of the communists... two groups that utterly loathe each other.

Of course, if they understood basic logic, the Republican Party's numbers wouldn't be so high...
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harmfulguy
Nov. 29th, 2004 08:38 am (UTC)
This may be the closest thing I've ever heard of to a literal Deal with the Devil.
caraig
Nov. 29th, 2004 09:30 am (UTC)
Fascinating, and rather chilling.

HOWEVER... there is one point that bugs me. Even if the dean of the Dallas Theological Seminary agreed to this (as one poster said above) "Deal with the Devil," it wasn't as if there was a switch in every graduate of DTS which suddenly was flipped and they all became these pseudo-Christians. Indeed, there would have been many graduates of DTS that year, and in previous years, and graduates from other seminaries, who would have the right, proper, traditional true Christian set of beliefs.

What you describe above, the suborning of an entire faith to political purposes, is in and of itself possible; I believe that Islam, for example, has been subject to political pressures since its inception. What you describe would require the systematic subornation and/or cooperation of nearly every major Christian seminary in the US and nearly every (or at least most) Christian theologian (I guess the Christian equivalent of the Islamic imam) in the past 40 years. Such a deal with the dean of the DTS would not bear all that much fruit, certainly none immediately. It would require subtlity, and thus a great amount of time for the 'engineered dogmatic virus' the dean planted to spread. Forty years? Possible and likely, but why would the caucus you describe embark on such a long-term plan and thus run the risk of a communist takeover of the US in the interim?

While I would agree that it's shockingly easy to "memetically reprogram" large numbers of people, especially large numbers of people with already-similar beliefs, ("It's called 'tailoring the message to the audience,' Jon." "Shh, it sounds more ominous this way!") I'm not entirely sure, in a field as notoriously dogmatic as theology, that one person could have that much of an effect and still remain relatively anonymous and unsuspected of ulterior motives.

In all, however, a shocking and thought-provoking view. Even with the quibble I have above, there's much to mull over.
caraig
Nov. 29th, 2004 09:59 am (UTC)
And actually, one thing to elaborate on: Newt was a science fiction fan? Actually, yes, I'm completely surprised by that! I thought all fan-ness had to be surgicaly removed as part of the conversion process to become a politician. ^^
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minikin
Nov. 29th, 2004 09:54 am (UTC)
The only question I have about this is the assumption that I want my government to do for me, what is my religious responsibility.

I do not hate the poor, or condone it. I question the ability of the government to effectively help the poor. I have taken to heart your earlier writings about Christ's word on this subject -- a timely reminder.

bradhicks
Nov. 29th, 2004 11:46 am (UTC)
Min, what did Jesus say about those who lay heavy burdens on the poor, and don't raise a finger to ease such burdens? I'm not accusing you of being such a person. I should know; I'm one of the poor people you've helped. But where's the Christian morality in voting for such people?
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azaz_al
Nov. 29th, 2004 12:55 pm (UTC)
This is great stuff. I was raised by these people - I remeber, in the early 80's, when they started teaching that God WANTS his good and righteous people to be rich, and that wealth was a sign of his blessings. When I was 17, I read the words of Jesus for myself, deliberately, and was shocked to realize that everything I had been taught was wrong. I make some of these same arguments to fundies sometimes when I feel like banging my head against a brick wall, and it is like they cannot hear me. "Sure, Jesus said to care for the poor, but Paul said works won't get you into heaven!" It's like a tape recording.
savrille
Nov. 29th, 2004 01:24 pm (UTC)
I'm going to try to be at Rivalz on Friday and attempt to remember a book for you to look at. It's a propaganda book called "Everything you need to know about Communism". It's really fascinating.

felax
Nov. 29th, 2004 06:47 pm (UTC)
Conspiracy
Very fascinating reading, to be sure. I must admit that it sounds quite a bit like conspiracy theory, but I'm also not one to completely dismiss CT. As usual for any CTs that I hear, though, the biggest question I have is one of scope. I certainly can see a wide shift taking place in the nature of Christianity in America due to this caucus, but I do somewhat question if this is the whole of the shift. Other shifts I suspect would be the Victorian movement (and if there was ever a sicker lady, I don't want to know) and the foundation of the Catholic Church itself. If anyone wishes to add from this list or explain why either or neither are true, feel free.
(Anonymous)
May. 12th, 2005 07:14 pm (UTC)
How to take over Churches
First grab control of the seminary. Then require churches to use approved ministers.

A good video on how this was done in Baptist circles:

"Battle for the Minds: A Controversial Film About Fundamentalism and Women".

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL
amberite
Nov. 29th, 2004 08:17 pm (UTC)
You're a genius. I want to meet you.
bradhicks
Nov. 29th, 2004 10:16 pm (UTC)
It's been known to happen. (wry grin) But I admit that I don't travel much any more; no money or time. And even when I was traveling, I never made it to the northwest.
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collie13
Nov. 30th, 2004 12:30 am (UTC)
A four of cups up in the corner of your page... I see you're feeling self-absorbed and going within, eh? ;)

Fascinating stuff you're writing. I always wondered how fundamentalists could agitate for the exact opposite of what Jesus was supposed to have said. I guess this explains their almost universal hatred of both the retired Anglican Bishop John Shelby Spong, and the alleged "homosexual agenda" they keep spouting off about.

Thanks, and keep it coming.
bradhicks
Nov. 30th, 2004 01:26 am (UTC)
"Self-absorbed and going within"? Absolutely. And having consumed three cups of wisdom, am I deeply contemplative about whether or not to deign to notice an additional cup when offered to me, even by miraculous means? Absolutely.

Gotta love the Rider-Waite. Unlike most trappings of occultism, there's a lot of "there" there.

I use the 4 of Cups for a lot of my philosophical writings. It's when I drag out the Tower that you know that somebody or something is in for a real verbal butt-kicking.
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collie13
Nov. 30th, 2004 12:41 am (UTC)
BTW, do you remember a guy named Bob Simpson who used to live in St. Louis, who was vaguely connected to the pagan stuff, gaming chair at Archon, and WeirdBase? He's bob at plusfive.com and he says "hi, great to hear from you (indirectly) again!" ;)
nancylebov
Nov. 30th, 2004 08:52 am (UTC)
Lots of fascinating stuff there....

If the State Department was suborned by Communists, how come US foreign policy seems to have been disgraceful but effective opposition to the expansion of Communism?

In re whether Gingrich was an sf fan, it's still interesting that he managed to become a successful politician rather than just having one of the typical sf fan sets of political views. In general, people who are good at influencing the public are very rare in fandom--professional sales people aren't there, and fans tend to be very weak even at publicizing conventions.

In re plausibility of a widespread conspiracy: how hard can it be to convince people not to take on an unmanagable obligation?

Did most US Christians once think that the Republicans were the party of Satan?

Any theories about why Jesus started by talking to the rich man about the commandments instead of going straight to "sell all you have"?

And, for a bonus question--how did the left and Christianity get to be on such bad terms? I've seen a fair amount online from leftwing Christians about how unwelcome they've been made to feel in the left (not sure how much of this is mainstream and how much is radical). Afaik, religious people were quite welcome in the Civil Rights movement.
akaiyume
Jan. 9th, 2005 02:30 am (UTC)
Any theories about why Jesus started by talking to the rich man about the commandments instead of going straight to "sell all you have"?

I'm not Christian, but I have tried to read the bible in an objective way, without applying any preconcieved notions and this is what I see.

Because here, like through most of the Scriptures, Jesus was pointing out that simply following the letter of the commandments was not enough. If it were what need would there have been of even mentioning that the man should sell all he had? The group Jesus came down hardest on, the Pharisees, followed the law of the commandments to the letter, but in doing so destroyed the spirit, the feeling, the deeper meaning that the commandments were meant to convey; they destroyed the very reasoning behind the commandments in order to follow them blindly - as such they followed empty words, not God. Many modern Christians who mistake a legalistic interpertation of the Scripture for a literal interpretation like to spout the sound-byte where Jesus says he came to fulfill the law, not abolish as backing for their "thou shall not" approach to Christitanity. What they fail to see is that a full reading of the Scripture shows that by fufulling the law Jesus meant to transform it from words back into spirit. In saving the adulteress, he put mercy above the law. Or think also about the time Jesus was rebuked for letting his followers pick grain to eat on the Sabbath and the way he answered or the way he answered those who said it was unlawful for him to heal on the Sabbath. Obviously Jesus was not in favor of a legalistic interpretation. He felt it was better to disobey the law than allow needless harm to come to people if following the letter of the law would cause such. Ultimately, according to the bible, the only unforgivable sin, the only law which absolutely must not be broken is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, blasphemy against the conduit through which the love, mercy, and grace of the the divine flows.

And, for a bonus question--how did the left and Christianity get to be on such bad terms? I've seen a fair amount online from leftwing Christians about how unwelcome they've been made to feel in the left (not sure how much of this is mainstream and how much is radical). Afaik, religious people were quite welcome in the Civil Rights movement.

Because members of the left are not immune to seeing labels where they should be looking for individuals. Christianity has been so redefined that to anyone who hasn't studied the words of the bible, and perhaps even to many who have, when someone labels themself as a Christian, the assumption is that the person in question is a member of the Christian Right - the two terms have become so synonomous - in the United States at least. The non-Christians on the left need to stop having such a bad knee jerk reaction to the term Christianity. And those Christians who are not aligned with the Christian right in turn need to take a stand and speak out and help rescue the mainstream definition of Christianity from what it has become.
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harmfulguy
Dec. 1st, 2004 08:30 am (UTC)
This goes a long way towards explaining Jack Chick. One of the big themes in his tracts and comics was the horrible tortures that Catholics and other non-Christians would inflict upon the True Believers if only they had the chance. I'd long dismissed this belief as paranoia at bast, or projection (of what he wanted to do the the non-Righteous) at worst. If Asian regimes really were doing such things to missionaries, Chick's fears are a lot more understandable.

He's still an evil, sick, hatemongering slime though.
nancylebov
Dec. 2nd, 2004 08:55 am (UTC)
That wouldn't explain why the Chick comics didn't focus on the actual persecution of Christians while it was going on. More generally, I'm surprised that the Communist persecution of Christians didn't get more publicity. It wasn't a secret, but it was a significant human rights issue that didn't get talked about much.
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inner_linbo
Dec. 5th, 2004 02:58 pm (UTC)
For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye
Good stuff! Reminds me of some things I started hearing back in high school.

Two things stick out for me from that time -

Number one was the rise of the group "Young Life", which pushed what seemed to me to be a terribly hedonistic form of "Christianity". It became very popular with high schoolers who could spend most of their time screwing around (literally and figuratively) and all would be absolved one night a week.

Number two was the explanation of the camel and the needle which I heard from a believer in the doctrine you're illuminating. They explained "the needle" as a gate to Jerusalem that it was merely difficult to get a camel through, but by no means impossible. So, of course the rich could get into heaven, they just had to knock a little louder.
rarkrarkrark
Dec. 6th, 2004 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye
I was told that "the eye of the needle" was a smaller gate inside of a larger gate to jesuselem, and sometimes the larger gate was closed but the smaller gate, which is only about the size of a (biblically sized, so short by today's standards) man. To get through this smaller gate a camel would have to be thouroughly divested of it's cargo and then walk through the gate on it's knees, which supposedly a camel can do (dunno. don't have any handy camels to check this with). This is symbolic of putting aside your worldly wealth and humbling yourself.

But then, it's not my mythology. That's just what I was told.
greeneyedpagan
Dec. 5th, 2004 05:13 pm (UTC)
These are fascinating posts.
If you don't mind, I'll add you to my friends list. I will probably even have salient comments to make from time to time. One can hope, at least.
We seem to have much in common.
Thank you.
candika
Dec. 6th, 2004 07:29 pm (UTC)
*shudder* Scary!
satyrblade
Dec. 7th, 2004 07:00 am (UTC)
>former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was a science fiction fan before he was a successful politician.

Pity he didn't learn many of the lessons and themes of science-fiction - imagination, tolerance, diversity, vision, change, transformation, consequences, the threat of domination, and the resistance to such domination that allows progress to occur. He seems to have watched Darth Vader, thought "Cool!", and modeled his view of government upon the Empire while missing the point entirely. (Either that or he was a Heinlein fan who didn't bother to read past Starship Troopers.)
bradhicks
Dec. 7th, 2004 08:26 am (UTC)
You mistake the man for the party. Newt Gingrich never really gave the social conservatives so much as the time of day; to him there were a necessary evil, a thinly tolerated part of the Republican coalition. He had no interest whatsoever in anything on the social conservatives' agenda. Newt was an a pro-business anti-tax Republican, period.
syzygy
Dec. 7th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
These essays are splendid and I'm so glad I came across them.

One thing that you don't address is what pre-Dominionist/pre-'64 American Christianity was like. Because you compare it to the ideal form of early Christianity, the very best of Christianity. And that is the most important comparison. But of course that's not what it was like in '63 or at least '53. Pre-Dominionist Christianity feels like a minor yet significant character that has been left out of the script.

Something to possibly keep in mind if you ever polish them for publication.
bradhicks
Dec. 8th, 2004 12:14 am (UTC)
How would I know? In 1964, I was four years old. I know from contemporary popular fiction that churches were described as stiflingly conformist, hypocritically backbiting, and terrifyingly class conscious, but I don't know how much of that was fair.

But I do know this, from reading Riding the Rails. In the Great Depression, there were people who blamed the poor for being poor, who went out of their way to verbally abuse unemployed homeless people, sick dogs on them, sick company cops on them, hire corrupt sheriffs to shoot at them. But in the Great Depression, thanks to the churches teaching that abusing the poor was evil, that kind of Republican (and it was, always Republicans) was a tiny minority and a total social parriah, hated by his or her whole town. Hard to imagine that now, isn't it?
uniquecrash5
Oct. 27th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
As this is one of your more popular essays, I though you might want to know that one if the links in it is now broken.

"the still-expanding worldwide spread of communism was the single greatest threat in the world" (http://www.authentichistory.com/images/1960s/treasure_chest/cover_01.html) is showing 404
bradhicks
Oct. 27th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
Thank Prime for the Wayback Machine.
caramida
Jan. 7th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC)
Very cogent and interesting analysis. Thank you.
contrafrutexus
Jan. 11th, 2008 02:58 am (UTC)
Hating the poor
That is the most Satanic element of the Republican cultural pu[sh|tsch]. It's perfectly possible for an honest man (it usually is one, although far from always) to argue that government is physically incapable of helping the poor effectively, or that it ends up hurting them by doing so, compared with what happens when it leaves the Most Holy Market alone...but not hate the poor. He might believe that the charge to clothe and feed is not given to governments but to individuals, and in fact is a religious charge that should not be imposed on non-believers (I find this unconvincing but plausible in the mouth of someone who actually practices "righteousness", as charity is named in Hebrew).


Instead, we get Calvin-Spencer-Margaret_Thatcher Thought, in which the poor are unfit, immoral, thoroughly deserving of everything they get, and so on. It is a "Pharisaic"* presumption of righteousness on the part of the rest of us, that we are somehow deserving of everything we have, and that in a moral universe we will never be on the street. It's born out of pride, and also out of fear, since people always seem to have ways of deciding they're safe (see "I don't consider myself 'gay', so I can't get AIDS,"/"Germany is a modern, civilised, country,"/"We're the Good Guys, so we don't torture, and if we do it will only be Bad People, and that will never include _me_,").


Since it's born of fear, the worse things get, the more pervasive the attitude can become.





*Note: I am using it in the sense Christians use it---I believe the Pharisees have got a bad rap, primarily because they were closest to the nascent Christians in their actual application of the Law, for example they were always willing to find a way not to stone an adultress.
flewellyn
Feb. 16th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
I know, commenting on old posts. But the sect in question was the Saducees, the "finest families of Judea". The Pharisees were the forerunners of the rabbis.
pingback_bot
Mar. 15th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC)
Writer's Block: Big Debates
User packbat referenced to your post from Writer's Block: Big Debates saying: [...] blastocyst - undeveloped as it may be - nevertheless has a soul. I refer them to Christians in the Hands of an Angry God series, which, in Part 4, demolishes the claim that the Bible puts the beginning of life at conception. [...]
(Anonymous)
Sep. 17th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
George Will
In 1964 George Will was a graduate student at Trinity College in Hartford CT and dating my friend Madeleine Marion (his first wife). He was a 'kid' and had no political cachet whatsoever.
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