Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Schaeffer's Testimony

As we dialogue a Christian faith that transcends liberal and fundamentalist options ['the easy yolk'], we offer the words of fellow post-fundamentalist Frank Schaeffer, a self-described 'man of faith, not certainty.' Schaeffer began his talk at the Hammer Museum in L.A. last night by transparently exposing the factors that motivated his involvement in the pro-life fundamentalist political activism of the 70s and 80s: greed, access to power, supporting his family, something interesting to do and a sincere belief it was the right thing to do. Listening to Schaeffer, one is reminded of the (mostly) forgotten Christian virtue of humility. The human condition--with its inherent weakness & vulnerability--is a deeply ingrained conviction for Schaeffer. He has, what Fuller professor Rick Beaton calls, a 'robust anthropology.' Every religion, including the 23,000 Christian denominations in North America, has its shortcomings and pitfalls. And who are leading these faith communities? Surely, humans [no matter what religious tradition] will fail over and over again and we need to be a lot more forthright than we currently are. So, what what did Frank Schaeffer do last night?

1. He proclaimed Christian faith as a humble way of life...not a set of beliefs or doctrines. It's how you treat your wife, kids and grandkids.

2. He emphasized how monumental it is that we have a black President and how we must be patient with Obama in the coming months and years. After all, it is shocking that a President in this country has spoken plainly about overturning 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' given a major speech in a Muslim country, pursued major health care reform and, meanwhile, the number of threats to his life reported to the secret service has increased 400%.

3. Conservative Christians, for the past three decades, have pursued political engagement with the mantra: 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.' This is why they have built a coalition with pro-guns, anti-abortion, anti-tax and pro-imperialist teammates...all to give them access to power.

4. What unites these politically engaged [and politically ambivalent] conservative Christians is not common belief, but instead what they are against: abortion doctors, gays/lesbians, immigrants and the government [taxes and taking away guns].

5. Even though they just had one of their guys in the White House for 8 years, they have ironically embraced an inferiority complex: they picture themselves as ignored or villified 'outsiders' who are powerless. This is where the anti-elitism strand comes from.

6. The publication of Sarah Palin's book yesterday [which is already a best-seller] reveals the powers that allow for this kind of irrational political tendency. On one side, the untrammeled greed of Rupert Murdoch's empire [Palin was paid a $5 million advance from the hundreds of millions earned from Warren's Purpose Driven Life]. On the other side, leaders like Palin strive for political theocracy.

7. Palinism is the latest trend [as represented by Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Dobbs, the birthers, the birchers and the tea-partiers] in the GOP where "all good news is bad news" for America. This group wants "their America back" and seeks to communicate with "the real America." They are not interested in winning elections or even what's best for America. They are interested in what is best for themselves and creating a level of chaos so the Democratic Party cannot govern effectively.

The podcast of our interview is coming soon and he was interviewed on Rachel Maddow's program last night [go to 3:20 on the clip] as well.

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