Sunday, May 22, 2022

Jesus of Nazareth and White Evangelical Fragility

There is an article below by an atheist who is very hostile to evangelical Christianity. The points he makes are actually a fairly common critique of such faith. In essence, he is noting that Christians often don't act in a Christian way. They do not actually follow the teachings of Christ. They are too stern, too strict, too intolerant.

And there is no doubt some truth in that. Committed Christianity can be very demanding. And those demands upset our author. But I too am an atheist and I am not nearly as judgmental about evangelical Christianity as he is. Why?

I think there are two things missing in his story. He has no religious feelings and he is intolerant of human frailty.

He also does not understand the origin of Western Christianity as we have it today. Protestant Christianity arose in Germany through the efforts of Martin Luther and his King, Frederick the Wise of Saxony. There had been many other uprisings against Roman Catholicism in Europe before that, and from Giordano Bruno to John Hus to Savonarola, those rebellions resulted in the death of the rebels and no change to the dominance of the church.

So why did the rebellion of the Saxons led by Martin Luther succeed where others had not? It was because it took place in Germany. Germans were different. They were a warrior race and were, as such, fiercely self-confident and independent. Bowing down to priests was not congenial to them. So when the oppportunity arose, they eventually rejected Catholicism in favour of attitudes which were more congenial to them.

They embraced beliefs that centred around the sort of independent individuals that they personally were. The Germanic spirit of independence emerged in a form of Christianity that suited Northern Germans, a form that put power and responsibility for salvation right back on to the individual, with no intervening priest needed.

Luther was a learned Augustinian priest so he was able to find ample scriptural justification for the new faith. Ultimately, however, Protestantism was as much German as Biblical. Protestantism is a German faith

The Saxons in Germany today. For some history of the Saxons see here

And one might note that the other great Germanic country -- aside from Germany itself -- England -- was not so different. In England, Wycliffe was saying the same sort of things that Luther was saying long before Luther said them. And Wycliffe too had the protective support of the King and his court. Wycliffe was over a century before Luther in fact. Luther wrote his "Ninety-five Theses" in 1517 whereas Wycliffe was officially condemned in 1377 by Pope Gregory XI.

The difference with Wycliffe was that he tried to reform the church rather than replace it. He actually died while saying a mass. So Wycliffe might at first glance be seen as another failed rebel. He was not. What he did was set alight a fire in the minds of Englishmen that eventually consumed the church even more comprehensively than Lutheranism did.

He had awakened the old rebellious spirit of the Saxons and that spirit was the principal support for the actions of King Henry VIII. When Henry dispossessed the priests and rejected the Papacy, the people loved him for it. They supported their King, not their priests. Wycliffe had lit a slow-burning fuse that eventually gave rise to an explosion. And that fuse kept burning for so long because it was founded on a Saxon independence of mind among the people. Wycliffe died in 1384, Henry became king in 1509.

I have in a much abbreviated way raised above a large number of issues about Germans and the Germanic people, and I understand that some of my readers may have energetic criticisms of what I have said. So it may be of interest that I cover those issues elsewhere at much greater length.

So my point in all this so far is that looking to the Bible to understand Protestant Christianity is to miss half the story. To an extent what people of German and English ancestry do today reflects German values, not the attitudes of Jesus of Nazareth. If Protestants are demanding and unforgiving of others, they are so because of the Germanic faith that their ancestors devised and which still sounds right to them, the descendants. Their ancestry lives on in them.

And at that point I think I might add a personal note. In my mid-teens, I was an active member of probably the most evangelical Protestant faith in the Western world today -- _ Jehovah's witnesses. And they are very strict and Puritanical Christians indeed. So was I oppressed by them? Maybe but, if so, I loved it. My time as an extreme evangelical is still a warm and pleasant memory to me. The religion suited me. It was in my ancestry. I was true to my Germanic ancestors. And the large number of people with similar ancestry in America today is a major explanation for the prominence of evangelical Christianity there.

It is obvious that there is no one-to-one correspondence between Germanic ancestry and evangelical Protestantism. After all, Germany is still half Catholic to this day. But, as any German will tell you, Germany is not monolithic. As a very rough generalization,the South is Catholic and the North is Protestant. Be that as it may, however, there are many influences bearing on faith or the lack of it but my submission is that ancestry is one of the more powerful influences on it

So our author below is in my submission unsympathetic to evangelical Protestantism because he does not have the requisite religious feelings for it. He does not have the old tough and fierce Germanic attitude of mind that would give him an instinctive understanding of it. And for all his praise of tolerance and kindness he is intolerant of the failings of ordinary Christians. As Christians sometimes say, "We are saved, not perfect"

If Jesus of Nazareth was an actual human who actually existed, this is, apparently, what that man looked like, according to an artist and an algorithm and actual, historical, data (as opposed to a story that white people tell each other).

I am an atheist. I do not believe in god, or the devil, or heaven, or hell. But I like and respect this guy. He was a rebel, he was an antiauthoritarian, he dedicated his life to helping the poor, the sick, the indigent, the people who were discarded and rejected by society. He hung out with sex workers and lepers, and gave comfort to the sick and suffering, and he loudly and relentlessly called out the hypocrisy of the church and its leaders. As I understand it, he was like, “Hey, you’re a sinner. That’s a bummer. Let me help you be a better person. No, I don’t expect anything from you for that. I just want to be as loving as I can be.” He was a really cool guy. He was also a revolutionary, a rebel, a profound threat to the people who were in power at the time.

This guy, in this picture, is not the Jesus I was introduced to in parochial school. The Jesus I was introduced to was soooooo white, like super super super white, and he was keeping an eye on you so he could snitch on you to his dad, who was SUPER PISSED AT EVERYTHING YOU DID all the time for some reason. The Jesus I knew was, like, maybe going to be okay with you, as long as you knew what a giant fuck up you were. And he was absolutely not accepting of anyone who didn’t do exactly what the authority figures at school told us we had to do. And Reagan was essentially his avatar sent to Earth. If we didn’t worship Reagan the same way we were supposed to worship white Jesus, we were going to have a REALLY bad time. Did I mention that I was, like, 8 when all of this was drilled into me?

I deeply resent American Christianity. It has brought nothing but pain into my life. I deeply resent and despise evangelical Christians who turned this guy in this picture, who was reportedly a cool, loving, gentle, dude, who was a legit rebel, into someone who hates all the same things they hate, and who LOVES authoritarians the same way they do. I despise the people who do all sorts of cruel, hurtful, hateful things in this guy’s name. And they are EVERYWHERE in America.

I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the world. What I do know is that, in America, this person has been perverted into a weapon, a cudgel, to be used against the same people the actual Jesus loved and stood up for. It’s disgusting.

And, look, if someone professes to follow the teachings of this dude, whose WHOLE FUCKING THING was “love everyone. Period. No exceptions”, and they don’t, like, do that? They are as bad as the money changers in the temple. I know that this dude loves them, because that’s his whole thing, but I suspect that, if this dude exists, he is disappointed and maybe a little embarrassed by them.

As an afterthought: I can’t stop thinking about how this dude was an immigrant, and poor. I keep thinking that, if he showed up in … let’s say Texas, today, how badly he would be treated by the very same people who use his name and pervert his teachings to exert control over the very same people Jesus spent his entire life looking after.

And, honestly, none of this would even matter if the American Christian extremists would keep their white Jesus out of our laws and government.


Have the Left broken America's backbone?

Americans are now entering uncharted, revolutionary territory. They may witness things over the next five months that once would have seemed unimaginable.

Until the Ukrainian conflict, we had never witnessed a major land war inside Europe directly involving a nuclear power.

In desperation, Russia’s impaired and unhinged leader, Russian President Vladimir Putin, now talks trash about the likelihood of nuclear war.

A 79-year-old President Joe Biden bellows back that his war-losing nuclear adversary is a murderer, a war criminal, and a butcher who should be removed from power.

After a year of politicizing the U.S. military and its self-induced catastrophe in Afghanistan, America has lost deterrence abroad. China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia are conniving how best to exploit this rare window of global military opportunity.

The traditional bedrocks of the American system—a stable economy, energy independence, vast surpluses of food, hallowed universities, a professional judiciary, law enforcement, and a credible criminal justice system—are dissolving.

Gas and diesel prices are hitting historic levels. Inflation is at a 40-year high. New cars and homes are unaffordable. The necessary remedy of high interest and tight money will be almost as bad as the disease of hyperinflation.

There is no southern border.

Expect over 1 million foreign nationals to swarm this summer into the United States without audit, COVID-19 testing, or vaccination. None will have any worry of consequences for breaking U.S. immigration law.

Police are underfunded and increasingly defunded. District attorneys deliberately release violent criminals without charges. (Literally 10,000 people witnessed a deranged man with a knife attack comedian Dave Chappelle on stage at the Hollywood Bowl last week, and the Los Angeles County district attorney refused to press felony charges.) Murder and assault are spiraling. Carjacking and smash-and-grab thefts are now normal big-city events.

Crime is now mostly a political matter. Ideology, race, and politics determine whether the law is even applied.

Supermarket shelves are thinning, and meats are now beyond the budgets of millions of Americans. An American president—in a first—casually warns of food shortages. Baby formula has disappeared from many shelves.

Politics are resembling the violent last days of the Roman Republic. An illegal leak of a possible impending Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade that would allow state voters to set their own abortion laws has created a national hysteria.

Never has a White House tacitly approved mobs of protesters showing up at Supreme Court justices’ homes to rant and bully them into altering their votes.

There is no free speech any more on campuses.

Merit is disappearing. Admissions, hiring, promotion, retention, grading, and advancement are predicated increasingly on mouthing the right orthodoxies or belonging to the proper racial, gender, or ethnic category.

When the new campus commissariat finally finishes absorbing the last redoubts in science, math, engineering, medical, and professional schools, America will slide into permanent mediocrity and irreversible declining standards of living.

What happened?

Remember all these catastrophes are self-induced. They are choices, not fate. The U.S. has the largest combined gas, coal, and oil deposits in the world. It possesses the know-how to build the safest pipelines and to ensure the cleanest energy development on the planet.

Inflation was a deliberate Biden choice. For short-term political advantage, he kept printing trillions of dollars, incentivizing labor nonparticipation, and keeping interest rates at historical lows—at a time of pent-up global demand.

The administration wanted no border. Only that way can politicized, impoverished immigrants repay left-wing undermining of the entire legal immigration system with their fealty at the ballot box.

Once esoteric, crack-pot academic theories—“modern monetary theory,” critical legal theory, critical race theory—now dominate policymaking in the Biden administration.

The common denominator in all of this is ideology overruling empiricism, common sense, and pragmatism. Ruling elites would rather be politically correct failures and unpopular than politically incorrect, successful, and popular.

Is that not the tired story of left-wing revolutionaries from 18th-century France to early 20th-century Russia to the contemporary disasters in Cuba and Venezuela?

The American people reject the calamitous policies of 2021-2022. Yet the radical cadres surrounding a cognitively inert Biden still push them through by executive orders, bureaucratic directives, and deliberate Cabinet nonperformance.

Why? The left has no confidence either in constitutional government or common sense.

So as the public pushes back, expect at the ground level more doxxing, cancel culture, deplatforming, ministries of disinformation, swarming the private homes of officials they target for bullying, and likely violent demonstrations in our streets this summer.

Meanwhile, left-wing elites will do their best to ignore Supreme Court decisions, illegally cancel student debts, and likely by the fall issue more COVID-19 lockdowns. They will still dream of packing the court, ending the filibuster, scrapping the Electoral College, adding more states, and flooding the November balloting with hundreds of millions more dollars of dark money from Silicon Valley.

When revolutionaries undermine the system, earn the antipathy of the people, and face looming disaster at the polls, it is then they prove most dangerous—as we shall see over the next few months.


Economics is basic to public health

The dramatic shortage of baby formula underscores the point: a functioning economy is essential to public health. It’s the same with inflation and food shortages: if you cannot afford to eat or the shelves at the grocery are empty, that results in a diminution of public health. If products essential to life—parts to fix trucks or medical equipment—are unavailable due to supply-chain snarls caused by lockdowns, you have a public-health disaster brewing.

Similarly, if elites attempt to fix a public-health crisis without regard to economic considerations, they will create disaster. And they have, including the worst global food crisis in 70 years.

So there we have it finally, a clear demonstration that those who contrasted economics with “saving lives,” as if a functioning economy was only about Wall Street profits and nothing else, were deadly wrong.

I had to do a quick search to check my memory from early lockdowns but sure enough, it was everywhere: the claim that those who opposed the draconian response were merely putting economics ahead of life. Thousands of such posts were all over Twitter. It was a common putdown on all talk shows.

They wrecked social and market functioning and cannot fathom why we have a demoralized population, a mental health crisis, falling financials, soaring inflation, and shortages of goods and services that are essential to life. This is what the experts recommended and yet here we are today.

Early on, an edict came out in every part of the country to shut the hospitals to everyone who didn’t have an emergency reason to be there, while prioritizing covid in the name of ending the pandemic. This happened all over the United States. It was an action without precedent. And in the places without covid of any substantial degree hospital parking lots emptied, hospital revenue collapsed, and hundreds of nurses were furloughed. Healthcare spending (in a pandemic!) plummeted.

Is it not completely obvious that the medical system is part of the economy? Apparently it is not. And this is likely due to the ridiculous popular notion that economics is only about big shots flipping money back and forth and skimming along the way.

In fact, economics is the pith of life, the study and practice of our daily engagement with the material world, the delicate dance of balancing unlimited wants with nature’s scarce means while working toward the creation of more resources to be available for everyone. There is no getting rid of economics any more than we can put an end to pathogens in the air and in our bodies. It’s just part of reality and we need to learn to manage the challenge well.

The phrase public health is one I like, despite criticism I’ve endured for two years for deploying it. The phrase emerged in the late 19th century in dealing with cholera epidemics. Scientists came to learn that the source of spread was the water supply and hence found a path toward better living for everyone. So the phrase refers both to our health as individuals but also, crucially, the communities in which we live and the products and services we share together.

It does not necessarily mean “provided by the state.” It means literally that which impacts the public. Our longing to live in communities of healthy individuals with shared resources (air, water, roads, commercial sectors) requires that we think and act to live better as people both from a personal point of view and also with an eye toward the well-being of others. In that sense, the phrase is perfectly suitable.

It is precisely the same with economics, and has been this way since the discipline first came to formal attention in English-speaking countries with the works of Adam Smith. It is about individual interest and it is also about the well-being of the community. The core principles of economics are very similar to the principles of public health. It is not just about one pathogen or industry but all aspects of health and the economy, and not just for the short term but for the long term too.

The policies to deal with covid jettisoned not only economics but also traditional wisdom in public health, and we ended up sacrificing both in the long run. You cannot have a healthy society by the crushing of market functioning. That ended up ruining lives and it is still going on today.

Polls show that people say inflation is the number one problem and covid is the least of their concerns; but this disguises the common root of both: both issues trace to the radical mismanagement of the social order by the ruling class, at the expense of everyone else.

The shortage of baby formula underscores the point: it takes a functioning economy to feed the children. If you give that up, people will starve. That the likes of Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates did not think of that—and that the mobs shouted to throw out economics to maintain health—reveals a deep and dangerous ignorance of how a good society functions.


Support for sexual abnormality becoming compulsory?

A row about rainbows has broken out in football. Paris St-Germain players wore brightly coloured numbers — a show of support for this week’s ‘International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia’. But one player was missing from the line-up: Idrissa Gueye.

PSG’s manager Mauricio Pochettino said that Gueye missed the game against Montpellier – which his team won 4-0 – for ‘personal reasons’. It has now emerged that he refused to play to avoid having to wear the rainbow symbol.

Was Gueye, a devout Muslim who regularly shares messages about his faith on social media, entitled to take such a stand? Senegal’s president Macky Sall thinks so. ‘I support Idrissa Gana Gueye,’ he said. ‘His religious convictions must be respected.’

The French Football Federation sees things differently. In a letter to Gueye, the FFF has reportedly called for him to ‘issue a public apology’ or to clarify that the rumours he refused to play are ‘unfounded’.

Gueye at least has the backing of some other players: Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate and Watford’s Ismaila Sarr have posted in support of their Senegal teammate. ‘We wholeheartedly support you brother,’ said Gueye’s fellow midfielder Kouyate.

Now both Kouyate and Sarr are in trouble, too. Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira said: ‘We are against any form of discrimination’ and has confirmed he will talk to Kouyate. Meanwhile Watford has reiterated ‘its long-term commitment to…Equality Diversity and Inclusion values’.

The rainbow flag is big business — it is used by corporations to signal their support for LGBT rights. Banks change their logos to display the rainbow. Burger King once flogged a ‘pride whopper’ to celebrate LGBT customers.

Even Newcastle United players, who turn out each week for a club owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, wear rainbow laces. But how does this benefit the Saudi homosexuals facing the death penalty 4,000 miles away from St James’ Park? Do colourful shoelaces help Suhail al-Jameel, a gay Saudi social media influencer who was thrown into prison – and remains behind bars, nearly two years on – after he posted a topless picture of himself wearing leopard-print shorts?

As for Gueye, should we be angry at him for not playing in rainbow colours? Might it be better instead to direct our focus on his club, PSG, which is owned by Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar? Male homosexuality remains illegal in Qatar and the death penalty hangs over Muslims who engage in same-sex relations. At least one gay footballer has spoken out over his fears of playing in the World Cup later this year, which will be hosted by Qatar.

PSG has said that they are ‘very proud to wear this (rainbow) shirt’. ‘The biggest stars of world football were on the field on Saturday and expressed the club’s commitment to the fight against homophobia and all forms of discrimination,’ it added in a statement.

That ‘fight against homophobia’ should start with helping those who have been locked up for being gay, not hounding someone who refuses to play decked out in rainbow colours.




No comments: