This is a facetious head line, and I have a tinge of guilt as human misery is nothing to be facetious about. I use this to illustrate an interpretive framework that still echoes in the depths of my heart somewhere even though here I use it to illustrate how silly and how dark these words sound. Yes, Texas is the heart of a lot of “stuff” that I see as very dark, and yes this same interpretive framework is used by its political and religious leaders too often when groups they dislike are facing misfortune, but I “sure as hell” don’t think God is punishing them with this awful tragedy. Anyone who sees it that way belies a very small mind and a very dark heart of their own. And to credit God with such a petty, vengeful spirit is insulting to say the least and reflects a belief in a God that I don’t believe in. Furthermore, it is more revealing about the heart from which it flows than about God.
With this vein of thought that I am critiquing here I see so clearly why there are atheists and why conservative Christians are often so reviled. This hateful and punitive view of God reflects abysmal ugliness which often finds expression in all religious groups despite how pious and righteous they might purport to be. The impulse toward the Holy, i.e. “God” in this instance is a very noble impulse but the impulse is an infantile, crude groping of the heart that needs to be refined with the Grace that maturity can bring. Often we never get beyond the infantile, egoic dimension of human experience in any of our life and when that happens the “beastly” part of “the heart has its beastly little treasures” will predominate.
Here is a list of my blogs. I invite you to check out the other two sometime.
The April issue of “The New Republic” features an article by Sarah Posner entitled, “Amazing Disgrace–How did Donald Trump—a thrice-married, biblically illiterate sexual predator—hijack the religious right?”
Posner offers further analysis of the Southern Baptists and their current effort to “purge” themselves of one miscreant, Russell Moore, who dared to bring a dissenting voice to their group think on Donald Trump. Posner quotes Richard Spencer, himself an alt-right leader, declaring how that the evangelicals as a group have been totally duped by Trump, declaring, “Trump has shown the hand of the GOP…(that it)…is a white person’s populist party.” Posner declared that the “white evangelicals” were the key to Trump’s victory and argued that Steve Bannon carefully courted them during the campaign, knowing that without them his cause could not compete against the progressive left. Bannon told Posner last July that “If conservative Catholics and evangelicals ‘just want to focus on reading the Bible and being good Christians there is no chance we could ever get this country back on track again.’”
Even Richard Schenk, a leader of conservative evangelical Christians recognized how that his group had sold their soul to the devil in supporting Trump, exposing an evangelical culture “that doesn’t know itself.” This lack of “self” awareness, or meta-cognition, has kept them from recognizing just how foolish their support of Trump appears giving his egregious affront to everything that the teachings of Jesus represents. This lack of awareness reflects a very human tendency to opt for an opportunity for power even in the arena of spirituality, even if that “opportunity for power” is an in opposition to all they purport to hold dear.
A core dimension of the evangelical Christian tradition is the “us” vs “them” paradigm best illustrated with the attitude of, “I’ve got it” and “most of you don’t”. This exaggerated emphasis on drawing distinctions between “me” and “thee” overlooks the teachings of Jesus which sought to put Grace on the table in an historical moment when the “letter of the law” of the Old Testament was being overly emphasized in his culture. Jesus recognized that the religious establishment of his day was paying too much attention to that “us” vs “them” or “right” vs “wrong” paradigm. It is no coincidence that the Trump administration’s first significant action was to start getting rid of people “who don’t belong” by moving fast on the immigration issue. The Southern Baptist Convention is mirroring that impulse to “clean house” of all dissent or difference. “If people aren’t like us, let’s send ‘em packing! We don’t want difference of opinion. We don’t want diversity, we want unity!” And if you are so arrogant as to assume that you have an objective grasp of what “truth” is, then you can feel empowered to take this position, and even take comfort in the illusion that, “God is leading us.”