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November 8, 2004

From correspondence
Posted by Teresa at 07:34 AM * 160 comments

John M. Ford writes:

…I refuse to use the word “fundamentalist,” or any of its variations, for their usual shorthand meaning these interesting times. The first reason is that it is an inaccurate term; these positions do not reflect the fundaments of either Christianity or Islam. They are old emergent strains within each, but the premise that these are the root principles, and everything else, like, oh, tolerance and compassion, are poisonings of the spring, is a lie and a slander.

Indeed, where exactly is the Christianity or Islam in either of these two debased ideologies? Apart from a handful of symbols and catch phrases (along with pastiches, like “The Rapture,” that baldly pretend to be authentic principles), there’s nothing of Jesus or Mohammed, or the long discussions of how we should then live that followed them.

To put it in very direct terms, what we are talking about here are psychotic death cults, of the sort we associate with horn-hatted fictional Norsemen and the Uruk-Hai, people for whom the entire material universe is a sort of sand-table exercise by the Creator, who tossed it together on a weekend to play Red Army and Blue Army for the merest blink in the eye of eternity, before putting the good pieces back in the box and tossing the bad pieces in the fireplace for not winning a rigged game. We are talking, further, about thermonuclear war as not a threat but a shining promise of victory. There are people out there who believe (that isn’t really the word I want, but it’ll have to do for now) that an entirely literal atomic conflict on the plains of Megiddo is a necessary precondition to the return of the Christ, who will come as a thief in the night with a bag of Molotov cocktails.

We know, as much as we can know any of this sort of thing, how Jesus responded to the loss of a single beloved one. John didn’t need many words to describe it.
Comments on From correspondence:
#1 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:51 AM:

Two words. *nods*

#2 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 08:21 AM:

There's a tiny scene in SM Stirling's Marching Through Georgia where a young Draka paratrooper is complaining about the (nihilistic doesn't stretch that far) attitude of a senior NCO.

For those of you who haven't read the book, the Draka are everything bad about rise of Western Materialism, the dark mirror of every ideal of the United States; seriously nasty, and intensely capable at being seriously nasty.

The trooper is female, red-headed, cute, and -- for perfectly sensible world building reasons -- speaks with an accent something like a German trying to sound like Scarlet O'Hara.

The epithet she applies to the NCO is death-fuckah.

I -- my brain demonstrably does not like me all the time -- get this, accent, late adolescent disgust, and all, playing through my head in response to expressions of a whole lot of "fundamentalist" views. As an epithet, it seems entirely suitable.

If life is intolerable, broken because it either won't give you what you want, or because it's too complicated for you to go on believing that the tribal precepts of a bunch of neolithic nomadic sheep-herders are sufficient to guide the whole of your life, embrace death. Destroy the complexity; do whatever radical acts of simplification you need to get to a place where small tribes are enough organization, and nothing will ever ask you to exhibit courage.

Which is where I'd give the Wodanic berserks of German Romanticism and the Uruk-hai points on these guys; if I have to deal with doom-hugging loons, may they at least be brave.

#3 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 09:13 AM:

I think you're missing the closing BLOCKQUOTE tag.

#4 ::: Elizabeth Bear ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 09:20 AM:

And, not surprisingly, I'm having another one of my not infrequent "I wanna be like Mike" moments.

Word.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:11 AM:

Good catch, Avram. I'd absentmindedly put in an end-link tag.

#6 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:30 AM:

Back in late '01, early '02, I decided to bridge a gap in my education and learn a little more about Islam. This brought me to the writing of Karen Armstrong, who is apparently better known in the UK than she is in the states.

Two of her books, A History of God and The Battle for God gave me a bit more insight (I won't say understanding because I'm still scratching my head) into the various fundamentalist movements in the Big Three monotheistic religions.

By the way, I completely agree with John about the inappropriateness of the word "fundamentalist", but I think it's too late to reclaim it for the more sensible denominations.

#7 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:15 AM:

The Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts has a fine piece in syndication at the moment on the MIA status of the Christian Left. You know, the Christianity of the Beatitudes rather than the Old Testament.

And if you are, as I am, a Christian who remembers what Jesus told Simon Peter, it is galling to see Him reduced to a GOP shill, wrapped in a flag and used as a prop to advance a conservative agenda. Which, by the way, stands the Bible on its head.

And some months ago Kurt Vonnegut made a fine point by saying

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

There, for me, is an obvious place to begin retaking words such as "moral values" and even "Christianity" back from those who have co-opted and perverted them. I can't speak as a Christian, though it seems clear that the "faith-based" Democrats and other believers on the Left need to speak out loud about the words and deeds of the most famous liberal in history, and let the -- my favorite terms -- Christian Supremacists and hypochristians continue to place Leviticus well above the Gospels.

#8 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:25 AM:

This speaks to something a good friend of mine said last night, by mistake at first but then she decided to make a meme out of it: "Christianism." Dogma without religion, pretrending to be religion. In the same way that Bin Laden is not Islamic but Islamist, the people here are not Christians but Christianists.

#9 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:50 AM:

John Scalzi suggests the term Leviticans for those whose Christianity revolves around Old Testament laws rather than New Testament charity.

#10 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:57 PM:

I second the suggestion of Leviticans. I read Leviticus without blinking an eye all the way through my high school's seminary program for young Mormons, but between high school and college, something changed, and when I read it again in college, I was appalled. It's an archaic and quite barbaric set of rules to live your life by.

As my boyfriend said last night, if your approach to your spirituality and religion involves a lot of rules lawyering, you may want to re-examine either the approach or the religion.

(As a side note, the girls in my dorm room used, "I hate Leviticus" as our personal code for "I'm having my period.")

#11 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Nah, Leviticus is harmless enough. Much of it is just instructions on what to do with the animals you ritually slaughter. Deuteronomy, which lays down the laws, is the book the book that made me a life-long atheist. Though some parts of it are kind of fun. I've never had any trouble, for example, following the commandment in 14:1 to not "make any baldness between your eyes for the dead." And I have a life-long ambition to follow the precept in 14:5 and eat a pygarg.

#12 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Some folks have taken to calling these creatures "Christianist", playing off "Islamist" -- since they are not Christian as those capable of reading the Bible understand Christianity.

:)

Scorpio
Eccentricity

#13 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:28 PM:

What's a pyrgarg? *curiosity piqued* I don't suppose it's like a perogi? :)

I'm pretty certain Leviticus is the one laying down all the laws about the cleanliness of women. If you give birth to a girl child, for example, your time of cleansing goes twice as long as it does for that of a boy child. I'm also pretty certain that most of the sexual prohibitions are in Leviticus as well, or at least, first mentioned there.

#14 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:38 PM:

Google suggested Pygarg, which, according to one of the many online bible dictionaries is:

Pygarg - Heb. dishon, "springing", (Deut. 14:5), one of the animals permitted for food. It is supposed to be the Antelope addax. It is described as "a large animal, over 3 1/2 feet high at the shoulder, and, with its gently-twisted horns, 2 1/2 feet long. Its colour is pure white, with the exception of a short black mane, and a tinge of tawny on the shoulders and back."

Mmmmm. Pygarg, the other red meat.

#15 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:21 PM:

Good stuff from John, as usual.

In a discussion with David Brin about the "Hobbits," he wrote this which I quite like:

"I find it truly stunning how many people can shrug off stuff like this, preferring instead a tiny, cramped cosmos just 6,000 years old, scheduled to end any-time-now in a scripted stage show."

RE Vonnegut:

Oh, the possibilities . . . imagine stealth postings of the Beatitudes in court buildings, outside of military recruitment stations, and on the front doors of Young Republican offices.

#16 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:33 PM:

I can attest to antelope meat making some damn good sausage, at least. Unsurprisingly, it's similar to venison in flavor, although I found it richer and...meatier, somehow.

Leviticans and Christianists are both good...I could almost see using them in different contexts depending on the particular annoyances to which the particular creep in question adheres.

#17 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:09 PM:

That's something that needs saying loud and often, and if possible as well as that every time.

One small lexical point. I've always thought "fundament" meant something quite different from "fundamentals". In the sense I'm familiar with, neither Christianity nor Islam has a fundament, but if they did, these people would be there.

#18 ::: Rod ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:24 PM:

I'm partial to "Pharisees" as an epithet for the confounders of Christianity and far-right Republican Party loyalty. It's got Biblical punch (Matthew 23)!

#19 ::: Magenta ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Pharasees is good, and more Biblically accurate.

Leviticans is okay, but since I grew up around Orthodox Jews, it's a little insulting to the people who actually try to follow ALL the rules instead of cherry-picking. The chapter of Leviticus that says a man should not lie with another man as he would with a woman has a LONG list of other sexual prohobitions, including banishment for lying with a woman during her period.

Interestingly enough, the next chapter has this verse: "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning", as well the injunction not to glean your fields, but leave the rest for the poor.

Shall we start carping on people who defraud and rob their neighbors? It's in the Bible. I'm thinking Enron here.

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:39 PM:

I was once told by a Conservative Rabbi that 'Pharisee', to him, is a compliment.

I would respectfully submit that this fact alone (that it can be taken as a compliment, with no dis on Rabbi Jeff, who was and is a Very Good Guy) should rule it out as an alternative.

#21 ::: Rod ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:51 PM:

Well I'll be -- I had no idea. Thanks for the FYI, Xopher.

#22 ::: Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:45 PM:

Mike should quit writing games and start writing sermons. A fair number of Unitarian Universalist congregations would snap him up in a second.

I've also got to protest the use of "Pharisee." Modern Judaism, like modern Christianity, is a child of Phariseeism and a rejection of the ritual-obsession of the Sadduccees (which up-their-fundament Christianists seem to admire, excepting the Sadduccee rejection of Zoroastrian elements like a loving God and life after death. There are good arguments that if the historical Jesus was part of any of the major Jewish movements two thousand years ago, he was a Pharisee. (I don't favor that theory, but I agree that it's a strong one.) Compare Jesus's teachings with Hillel, if you wish. It's worth noting that the Biblical complaints against Pharisees can be interpreted as being directed at specific Pharisees. When Jesus was in a ranting mood, hypocrites were always high in his list.

#23 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:45 PM:

How about "Patmosians"? They are, after all, followers of the revenge fantasies that John the Divine wrote down on the island of Patmos, after all...

#24 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:13 PM:

Any particular reason no one seems to like the term "radical Christians"?

#25 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:15 PM:

Ah yes, but what sort of Fundamentalists are we talking about here? There are all sorts of differences in beliefs, as laid out in The Christian Hanky Code.

#26 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:21 PM:

Somehow I'd like to tie the name in with that dumb Left Behind series, but my brain is failing me.

#27 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:28 PM:
Somehow I'd like to tie the name in with that dumb Left Behind series, but my brain is failing me.
Rapturists?
#29 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:35 PM:

Left Behind can also be expressed as Sinister Buttocks. As in the No Child Sinister Buttocks act.

Of course, from what I saw of the plot of the Sinister Buttocks books, from thumbing through the graphic novel at my local Barnes and Noble, all children, fetuses included, are drawn up to heaven in the Rapture, thus saving the government a buttload of money from the education budget which they can then use to wage war across the Middle East. Rather like the No Child Sinister Buttocks act, though of course in reality, the kids haven't been taken up in the Rapture, not that Chimpy is letting that troublesome fact bother him.

#30 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:37 PM:

In a tangentially related vein, have you seen Digby's post on American history and Southern exceptionalism? It really helps put some of the red-state/blue-state division in context. Unfortunately, it also makes it look like such a long-term schism that reconciliation seems even less likely.

[I blogged it here]

#31 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 08:02 PM:

Kevin, ROFLMAO about the Xian hankies. And I'm still sore from laughing too much this weekend (not saying much more than, among other things, everyone should go out and get the sound track to Avenue Q-think rude, wrong puppets).

I think Christianist is a good word. Gets to the point.

#32 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 09:26 PM:

Michelle: I associate the term "radical Christians" with radical leftist Christians.

I admit there are few of them that most people might not have those associations.

#33 ::: WithoutACape ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:01 PM:

Tangential...

There's an evangelist I run into periodically, who I actually don't speak to anymore since the day I spent two hours trying to convince him that condoms were not prohibited by the Ten Commandments. Anyway, it eventually started to snow and I decided not to be that dumb again.

Lately, he's taken to wearing a sign that reads "Jesus says... If you are not with Me, you are against Me."

I'm not even Christian and it makes me want to cry. Or alternatively, it makes me want to loudly and publicly take him to task for misrepresenting the word of God. The problem is, I see this attitude a lot, and I too am at a loss to explain how intolerant prudes got such a firm grip on a loving, egalitarian message.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:16 PM:

To me, the term 'radical Christian' evokes a person who takes the gospels as the critical material...the ultimate "what would Jesus do/have me do" Christian.

That doesn't sound so bad, actually. So not the right term. We want them to sound bad, at least when we get done. Besides, the bad ones ignore the (implicitly socialist) message of the Gospels in favor of Leviticus. (Sell your daughter as a slave, but don't lie with another man.)

I vote for 'Christianist'. No associations save a vague one with 'Islamist'. Neutral to negative: best it's gonna get.

#35 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:34 PM:

Funnily, most Jews seem to think Leviticus et al did not get overwritten by the New Testament, yet we are not pushing for slavery, selling your daughter, or sacrificing bulls. It's part of that whole "interpreting the text instead of swallowing a single translation whole" thingy.

(Although, like the Christians and Muslims, we have our psychotic death-cult fringe, I'm sorry to say.)

As my boyfriend said last night, if your approach to your spirituality and religion involves a lot of rules lawyering, you may want to re-examine either the approach or the religion.

Quite the opposite. Rules-lawyering is about thinking and arguing, and about there being no Single Right Answer, where some human authority has the power to kick you off God's happy list if you disagree. It's unthinking jingoism, not rules-lawyering, that is the hallmark of a cult.

#36 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:45 AM:

I really like the hanky code option which labels gravity as a deception of Satan.

And I think mythago is right about the whole Single Right Answer thing being the hallmark of a ... well, I can't exactly say "cult," since I was taught the definition that a religion is something you're born into and a cult is something you adopt later, but maybe that's wrong too. Anyhow, it's the hallmark of a bad thing. I remember being seriously worried that I was going to hell because I could see more than one side of an argument.

Glad I escaped from there. Wish the current administration and their supporters would stop giving me flashbacks, though.

And I really, really like what Mike said. (Mr. Ford, I mean; that Mike.) But this is no surprise.

#37 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:12 AM:

We Muslims, at least the ones I hang out with, usually refer to "extremist Muslims" or "Islamists". No Muslim that I have talked to liked or agreed with the term "fundamentalist" and I have noticed that the Arabic language press has stopped almost entirely using the term in Arabic "usooly" and instead uses "extremist" (mutatarif). As for far-right Christians, I think Rapturists is a good one. By the way Muslims tend to get into that end times stuff too. I often get e-mails about the end times and the return of the Dajjal who is a sort of Muslim version of the Antichrist -- really weird.

#38 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:27 AM:

How about parachristians? [An acquaintance years ago came up with the terma "paraliterates" for some of the people he worked with "-people who can read and write, but wish they couldn't [don't want to read or write]-" he said [quasiquoting].

Hmm, maybe pseudochristian would be more accurate.

Some of them think of themselves as "Christian Reconstructionists." Christiandestructionists might be more accurate there....

#39 ::: Randall M ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:28 AM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy :

Left Behind can also be expressed as Sinister Buttocks. As in the No Child Sinister Buttocks act.

Of course, from what I saw of the plot of the Sinister Buttocks books, from thumbing through the graphic novel at my local Barnes and Noble, all children, fetuses included, are drawn up to heaven in the Rapture, thus saving the government a buttload of money from the education budget which they can then use to wage war across the Middle East. Rather like the No Child Sinister Buttocks act, though of course in reality, the kids haven't been taken up in the Rapture, not that Chimpy is letting that troublesome fact bother him.

Slacktivist has been commenting on the Sinister Buttocks first book--practically one page at a time, though, so it's taking him a long time:

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/left_behind/index.html

#40 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:37 AM:

The Great White Sepulchre

#41 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:45 AM:

I've found another possible term - "Dominionist." Only thing is, I can't duplicate the click-trail that led me to it (from The Sideshow? Body and Soul? Argh, darn these infernal browsing habits of mine...)

In trying to glean more detail from my memory, I also encountered "theocrat". I want to toss them both into this pot, and see how they fare. I'll leave a couple of links, and then better minds than my own can discern the best terms.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/11/3/92359/8844
http://www.counterpunch.org/bageant05252004.html
(with caveats for the previous link at http://www.node707.com/archives/000101.shtml#4390 a comment at Just a Bump in the Beltway)

grtz,

Crazy(back up to the lurkers' gallery now...)Soph

PS good job with the buttons - I kept thinking I was going to post, but kept hitting the preview button: well, at least I previewed my comment after each change!

#42 ::: Dc Rmpg ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:47 AM:

Y gys rn't tlkng bt fndmntlsts, y r tlkng bt slndrs chrctr. crtn tht dsn't xst n th rl wrld. r f t ds, nly n tny mnrty.

Fndmntlsts dn't blv tht th Lw f th ld Tstmnt stll ppls. Thy d fllw th Srmn n th Mnt, thy jst dn't gr tht clbrtng whtvr nyn wnts t d s gd thng.

Srly, dp dwn, nn f y s rlly ncpbl f ndrstndng tht smn wh chrshs th lf f bby frm cncptn wld b dspsd t thnk t s wrng fr t's mthr t kll t. nd tht ths sn't th sm s htng wmn r wntng t nslv thm.

Srly, dp dwn, nn f y s rlly ncpbl f grspng tht jst bcs smn dsn't thnk hmsxl bggry shld b lvtd t th sm hgh scl stts s th ct tht brngs frth chldrn dsn't mn tht th prsn ncssrly hts bggrrs.

Y r ll mrly prjctng yr wn htrd. Y ll hv cncld rrtnl htrds, s y ssm tht thrs d t. t's th sst xplntn fr y bcs tht s wht n yr wn sls.

#43 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:43 AM:

Doc,

One of my few irrational hatreds is being lectured by people who can't spell. The word is buggery, with an e, though saying it makes you sound like Nanny Og. Buggary with an a makes me think of a particularly randy pig or a seldom mentioned country in Eastern Europe. You would better express the thought with the legal/biblical sodomy, the medical anal sex, or the prosaic vulgarity of buttfucking.

As for penile-vaginal intercourse having high societal status, if this is the case, why are the Fundamentalist types so down on erotica and porn? It seems as if the Fundies want the status of that to be something only talked about and performed behind closed doors, and since that isn't a particularly revered status, why not hold homosexual sex in the same esteem?

As for the rest, since the folk who are against abortion are also generally against contraception, for the death penalty, and never seem to hear of a war they don't like, my general thought is that their values aren't mine, and the fact that they believe these things passionately is overshadowed by the fact that they're religious fanatics.

#44 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:48 AM:

You are all merely projecting your own hatred. You all have concealed irrational hatreds, so you assume that others do too. It's the easiest explanation for you because that is what in your own souls.

Wow. I couldn't have said it better.

#45 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:48 AM:

It's true, Doc, I am filled with irrational hatreds. The little guy and his cousin were playing in my car recently and I think they dropped some coins into the air vents in the dash, so that now when I drive around corners the coins slide around in there and make an irritating noise.

I hate that.

#46 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 05:15 AM:

...doesn't mean that the person necessarily hates buggarers.

Picks herself up from the floor after several minutes of helpless laughter.

#47 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 05:21 AM:

Surely, deep down, Doc is really capable of understanding that someone who cherishes the life of anyone would be disposed to think it is wrong for anyone else to kill it. I can't really remember when Jesus starts slaughtering his enemies in the Book, but surely Doc can point it out for us all to be enlightened about the Iraq situation.

Call me heretic, but I think the best all-around christian ever existed was actually Gandhi, a hindu. That is so ironic, it makes you think about the differences between "religion" and "obligations".

(Sorry, I know he's trolling, just couldn't help myself)

#48 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 06:42 AM:

I know it's really, really petty, and soooo Usenet to do spelling flames, but there's something really apropriate about someone appending an academic title to their handle and complaining about liberal elitism not even being able to spell "buggery" on a board where I'm sure I'm not the only one who knows the etymology of it. (Homophobia as a relict of ethno-religious prejudice and wars - does anyone know if there was such a focus on homosexuality in the western church prior to the Cathar wars?)

#49 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 06:45 AM:

I have met theological conservatives who are pro-life and anti-gay-marriage with whom I get along just fine. Who also believe in the importance of love and forgiveness and not just spewing vitriol at everyone who disagrees. I'm perfectly happy to acknowledge that they're out there--that I can see their point, even if I really, really disagree with it.

But I won't place a guy who stands at funerals and says "God hates fags" in that bucket. And I'm leery of those who want to make immediate assumptions about the state of my soul.

#50 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 07:51 AM:

Count me as another Jew really doesn't like the word "Levitical" as derisive. [My husband and I left an online community we'd been in for years because everybody kept telling us to lighten up over that stupid Dr. Laura list. (There *are* halakhic answers to all the questions, but the list is never posted in the interest of inquiry, but solely as mockery.)]

I prefer Christianist as the analogue to Islamicist.
Christian:Muslim::Christianist:Islamicist

Surely, deep down, none of you is really incapable of understanding that someone who cherishes the life of a baby from conception would be disposed to think it is wrong for it's mother to kill it. And that this isn't the same as hating women or wanting to enslave them.
Earlier this week, my husband conducted an interesting thought experiment where he examined the postulate 'life begins at conception' and what the implications were.

#51 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 08:00 AM:

Emily, speaking as someone who used to be one of those "nice" theological conservatives, it's managed by creating a wall of separation between empirical reality - the kind ordinary gays we meet in daily life - and the ideology that makes up the core of our self-definition, which we support by a) rationlization, we're hating the sin, not the sinner; b) not thinking about it.

The biggest mistake the Christian Right made, as far as losing me personally, and deconverting me into a missionary for the other side, was forcing me to think about these things, and take a stance, because I *won't* take an unconditional stance on something I don't know enough about, and haven't considered from all sides.

And thus I was forced to question the accepted interpretation of Leviticus and the story of Sodom, and learn a bit of Hebrew etymology to boot, and eventually to face the fact that I couldn't accept the theological rationalizations any more, and worse yet, to acknowledge my moral cowardice and past ideological slavery - willing slavery - and *do* something about it. And that *hurts*.

When something is rusted all the way through - archeology buffs know about this - sometimes you can't clean off the corrosion, because there isn't anything much left except oxides fossilized in the shape of the original object. Removing the corrosion would destroy the remainder of the original, because they're one and the same.

I'm deathly afraid that's what's become of Christianity and Western Civilization™ - but regardless of the macro level, on the micro level, this translates into having to give up much more than a hand or an eye, when your entire self-identity is wound around and through a core ideology or movement, and to rebuild your spiritual identity from near-scratch - because you have to examine *everything* and critically, all that you accepted as truism, once the foundations are gone. It's like Escher, a circularly-reasoned city of the mind, and how do you build something solid, where do you start?

But it's that, or be an enabler of evil and stupidity. I made my choice. And for that reason, I - who long ago voted for Buchanan and Keyes, recall - no longer am willing to cut such folks as myself an inch of slack.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 08:10 AM:

I hereby declare Dc Rmpg to be in confirmation of the you guys/you folks/all you people rule.

#53 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 08:14 AM:

I tend to refer to "thumpers," as in "Bible-thumpers." The folks who are more interested in pounding on it to make a point than in, y'know, reading it.

I had the same reaction to "radical Christian" I've seen above: but I'm a radical Christian.

Reminds me of my conversation with my grandfather about Hillary Clinton: "That woman is a radical!" "No, Grandpa, she's a liberal. I'm a radical."

#54 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 08:29 AM:

Fundamentalists don't believe that the Law of the Old Testament still applies.

I've certainly met people who do. I've also debated (extensively) online with many of them. These people exist. I don't know whether they'd call themselves fundamentalists, or not. Probably not; fundamentalist is a term that is most often applied to somebody else.

I'd disagree, by the way, with the use of "christianist" as a replacement term. This word makes me think of someone who is prejudiced against a group of people, based on whether or not they are christian (by analogy with racist, sexist, ageist, etc.). "Christist," however, would work.

#55 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 08:48 AM:

does anyone know if there was such a focus on homosexuality in the western church prior to the Cathar wars?

Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe

I do admit, however, that this book has been on my "to read" list for over a decade. So although I have the book, I haven't yet read it.

#56 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 09:24 AM:

Bellatrys -

William Rufus -- second son of Bastard William and King of England -- had serious problems with the Church, as Kings of England prior to Great Harry tended to do.

His lover, Roger fitz Haimo, is a witness on a number of surviving charters; the other witnesses on those charters include great nobles and prelates, and a few of the charters are such that there is circumstantial evidence that Roger is on the witness list because he was in the bed that the great nobles and prelates aforesaid got the king out of so he could sign their paperwork.

(Don't mistake Red William for a weak king; he wasn't, at all. He was by no means an absolute monarch; the justifications and general cognitive machinery to support that didn't exist yet.)

Anyway, when the Church got to preaching against Red William, his sins certainly included having a male lover, but there is little evidence anyone not in a cloister actually thought this was a bad thing -- not any worse than having a lover, instead of a wife, anyway -- and it affected his popularity as King not at all.

Even in the case of the second Edward, the substantial complaints had less do to with buggery and much more to do with alienating the possessions of the Crown.

The focus on homosexuality and absolute bans on the use of reproductive technology and such like are products of an obsolete set of social rules pushing itself into an extreme position to avoid change.

We're not all of us farmers anymore; kids are net expensive, instead of net profitable. There is no need for an expanding population. Patriarchial systems of authority no longer have widely accepted justifications for existing. It's obvious humans evolved in a context that used sex as a social bonding mechansim, rather than a purely reproductive act. All of those factual things require social changes in response. If you don't want those social changes -- and people hate social change, as witness the examples of the formerly oppressed setting out to oppress themselves when the external oppressor goes away -- you have to do the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going "I can't hear you."

Which is what a goodly slice of the various Christian churches were doing, and some of them still are doing, though the split is becoming one between the folks who are taking their fingers out of their ears and coping and the folks who have noticed how much easier everything is if you stop expecting honesty from yourself, or your beliefs to match the world you've got.

#57 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 09:49 AM:

I don't agree with the decision to disemvowel Doc Rampage.

Just for the record, I think that abortion is always a bad idea and a bad choice, I think that contraception is a neat idea, I think that the death penalty is wrong in every way both practically and theoretically, and I think that while the war in Afghanistan was justified the war in Iraq is not (leaving aside that both have been botched by incompetent civilian leadership).

Fundamentalism, BTW, is a fairly recent religion, dating to the first years of the last century. It's wrong to speak of either Jewish Fundamentalists or Islamic Fundamentalists, since neither group follows the Fundamentals.

#58 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 09:57 AM:

As with so many other conservative Catholic doctrines, the idea that life irrevocably "begins at conception" and that ending any pregnancy is murder is something settled on only in the 19th century. Before that, the Church was all over the place on the subject. Here's a good roundup.

Among the fringe theologians who didn't believe a newly-conceived fetus was a fully ensouled human being: St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Yeah, who cares what they thought. Augustine opposed abortion because he took the view that anything was bad that permitted sex to occur without reproduction, but like many Church thinkers over the past 2000 years, he believed in "delayed hominization," the idea that full ensoulment took place some significant amount of time after conception. As the linked article notes, the "'delayed hominization' view was confirmed as Catholic dogma by the Council of Vienne in 1312, and has never been officially repudiated by the Vatican." The Church's current stance in favor of "immediate hominization" is based entirely on an 1869 declaration by Pius IX ("Pio Nono," antisemite, tireless authoritarian, and author of so many ills); like much of the rest of what's wrong with the Church, it's an instance of the modern overpowerful papacy having overthrown the older, more conciliar Church.

#59 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:06 AM:

(For the record, I am well aware that a principled stand against all abortions does not automatically come attached to a right-wing social agenda on other issues. I have known too many impressively moral people in the church of my birth whose seriousness about the "seamless garment of life" led them to be against abortion and murderous elective wars and the brutal oppression of workers and the death penalty, with equal vigor. People like Bishop Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day are among my moral heroes, and you bet they were against all abortions, any time and everywhere. I also note that the single most effective way to reduce the number of abortions being performed is to make the practice legal, safe, and easily available.)

#60 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:09 AM:

"Christist," however, would work.

Although it suggests (to me, anyway) that Christ and his teachings are part of the labelee's demonstrated philosophy, and typically the evidence shows that that ain't so, no matter what the labelee says otherwise.


("Blessed," by the way, "are the cheesemakers.")

#61 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:32 AM:

Sinister Buttocks

Wouldn't it be Sinister Buttock? I always thought "buttocks" was plural because there were two of them.

I think that abortion is always a bad idea and a bad choice

Rape? Incest? Extreme poverty and/or too many children already? Explain, please.

#62 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:37 AM:

Heh. 'Parachristians' would be the mobile air wing of the Salvation Army, ready to land whereever a spiritual crisis breaks out.

#63 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:39 AM:

Yes: I would respect the position of anti-abortion pro-life religious people IF they were equally engaged in striving against other sins against the sanctity of life like the death penalty and agressive, needlessly murderous wars, and since we're about it a system that makes efficient preventive medicine unaffordable. As a matter of fact, I AM striving alongside a great many of them in my work as a member of Amnesty International. I even know a Catholic priest (Don Gallo) who, having spent sufficient time among illegal immigrant prostitutes around Genoa, said that in conscience if the choice was between giving his girls the address of a good doctor or letting their pimps kick them in the belly until they miscarried, he was willing to go for the lesser evil.

When the emphasis is on abortion and gay marriage only, my suspicion is that sanctity of life is not the point: sex is. Sex is Bad and people who indulge in it for, the horror, PLEASURE should forced to face all sort of horrible consequences (the fight against condoms falls under the same rationale) if they can't be punished outright for it.

This has little to do with religion. There is an old sexophobe tradition that has historically been carried along Christianity as a memetic virus, but it is by no means a uniquely Christian thing - just as femal genital mutilation and the general misoginy of vast swaths of Africa and the East have nothing to do with Islam.

In this worldview, sex is indeed worse than theft, murder and blasphemy. Which is why a blowjob could - sincerely - in these people's mind be more damning than killing 100,000 innocent bystanders.

At the time of the first war of the Gulf the often-ridiculed Hungarian porn star (and later Italian Congresswoman) Ilona Staller, aka Cicciolina, turned up in full porn-starlet regalia at this TV talk show, hugging a gigantic plush white rabbit, and opined that what poor bunny Saddam lacked was a good lay and that she was willing to give it to him if it was any help.

People laughed, but as a solution, I think we've all seen worse.

I'm not saying that we (especially the happily and monogamously married among us) should go out and get the hicks laid, but I'd keep up the good fight for a serene, happy, positive representation of sexuality as a great and enriching human experience. Can't do any harm.

#64 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:47 AM:

Funny how no matter how often Teresa asks politely not to, sooner or later posters here get around to talking about abortion.

[RANT] Can we get back to the World Series? And damn the election for stealing its thunder this year so soon after the earth moved—twice—in Yankee Stadium and St. Louis.[END RANT]

#65 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:25 AM:

The objection to sexual freedom isn't over the sex, it's the freedom that's the problem.

#66 ::: Rod ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Chrepublicans? Or has the conversation moved on?

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:46 AM:

Michelle, do read that book. It shows how the modern church marriage ritual grew historically out of rituals designed to bind two people of the same sex into a special relationship, whereas heterosexual marriages belonged - long ago - to the marketplace, not the church.

There's a thing called the Consistent Pro-Life Agenda, which I respect. It's not a new or odd idea; the Archbishop of Chicago, I think, was advocating it. Absolute opposition to any taking of human life by anyone, for any reason, ever.

#68 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 12:23 PM:

Longer and longer names. Christianists, Fundamentalicists... time to get back to, you know, basics.

Leaving aside the brtn issue, what distinguishes the people we are attempting to name? Well, they hate gays. Why? Because they want to do nasty things to our pink bottoms, that's why! It comes down to that tiny piece of real estate in the end.

Combine this apparent obsession with the personality type displayed, oh, upthread. I think we should just call them all fundaments. Capitalized, if you prefer.

#69 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 12:28 PM:

Jules: I'd disagree, by the way, with the use of "christianist" as a replacement term. This word makes me think of someone who is prejudiced against a group of people, based on whether or not they are christian (by analogy with racist, sexist, ageist, etc.). "Christist," however, would work.

Unfortunately, Jules, that exactly describes the folks we are discussing. Unless you are *their* kind of Christian, you are not "saved". This makes them against most Christians as well as against everyone of another faith or lack thereof.

Scorpio

#70 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:07 PM:

Xopher,

Like I said, it's on my to read list. Problem is that my non-fiction reading time is before bed, so it usually takes me a disturbingly long time to read something that's non-fiction. (The Dali Lama's Ethics for the New Millenium ended up taking me over a year, and that's a small book.)

Which is, of course, one of the reasons I'm a borderline book hoarder. I have to get the books as I see them, otherwise by the time I have time to read them I'll never be able to find them. :)

And for what it's worth, I know (and am related to) a lot of people with a consistent pro-life agenda. For me it was part and parcel of growing up Catholic--you respect all life. But then my mom was on the Kerry phone bank all summer, so we aren't really the people being discussed here.

#71 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:19 PM:

Patrick, thanks for posting that link. Very interesting.

Anecdotally, on the concept of quickening, I've heard a expecting mothers express relief when a heartbeat is detected at around 8 or 10 weeks (depending on ultrasound tech used). And correspondingly, when a miscarriage occurs, grief can be more intense if it happens after the heartbeat was previously detected.

And I don't know if it's ok with our hosts to discuss this aspect of it, but if we are -- here's question: If Roe v Wade is overturned, what is the impact on fertility clinics? Will they still be allowed to implant multiple embryos then later reduce them? Can they destroy frozen embryos?

#72 ::: Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Part of what I like about "christianist" is that it moves the named person further from Jesus; it's a follower of a follower of christ.

Anna in Cairo, all three of the post-Zoroastrian religions kept their interest in an End Time and a returned savior (from the Zoroastrians' saoshyant) to varying degrees. Some people think Pharisee comes from Farsi, so Pharisees were essentially Persionists. Which explains why the Bible's list of Messiahs/Christs includes a Persian king.

And two bits of knowledge that I wish everyone had for the Biblical abortion and gay debates:

1. A fetus is not a person; see Exodus 21:22-25, in which the punishment for causing a miscarriage that the parents do not want is significantly less than the punishment for killing.

2. The sin of Sodom was not homosexuality; see Ezekiel 16:49: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

#73 ::: Ann ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:38 PM:

De-lurking for a moment to agree with dislike for "levitican" and "pharisee" and to suggest "Streetcorner Christian." As in Matthew 6:5.

And back to lurking...

#74 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:43 PM:

James D. Macdonald wrote:
I think that abortion is always a bad idea and a bad choice.

Laura Roberts wrote:
Rape? Incest? Extreme poverty and/or too many children already? Explain, please.

Believing that abortion is always a bad idea and a bad choice doesn't mean that there are never worse ideas and worse choices. Put people in sufficiently limiting circumstances, take away the good choices one by one, and eventually they have nothing left except selection among the available bad choices.

And that is, of course, why abortion is going up under this "anti-abortion" president.

#75 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:53 PM:

Believing that abortion is always a bad idea and a bad choice doesn't mean that there are never worse ideas and worse choices.

True. I guess "abortion is always a bad choice" does not contradict "abortion is sometimes a necessary choice."

One of the things that vexes me about the anti-abortionists is the way they act as if women who get abortions are "selfish." As if abortion is a new hat or a trip to Paris: something you do for fun and instant gratification.

Funny how no matter how often Teresa asks politely not to, sooner or later posters here get around to talking about abortion.

Apologies to Teresa for continuing the abortion debate. I've seen her posts asking people not to go there. I just didn't think.

#76 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:59 PM:

Although it suggests (to me, anyway) that Christ and his teachings are part of the labelee's demonstrated philosophy, and typically the evidence shows that that ain't so, no matter what the labelee says otherwise.

I agree. Having been raised Catholic, I resent the way try to appropriate the word "Christian".

More label ideas:
How about Bible Literalists? Biblicalist?
Followers of the letter* but not the spirit? Or is that way too long-winded?

*Letteralists? :)

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:11 PM:

What they are, of course, is Bibliolaters. But that doesn't have enough zing to be a derisive label.

#78 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:18 PM:

Sinister Buttocks? Isn't she related to Lemony Snicket?

#79 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:31 PM:

What they are, of course, is Bibliolaters.

I like it. Could be taken to mean idolatry of the Bible or violaters of the Bible, which both fit.

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:59 PM:

Bibliolatry (literally, book-worship, of which most people here are either guilty or would have a hard time defending themselves if accused) is an excessive devotion to the authority of Scripture.

#81 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:28 PM:

What's the original Greek for 'hypocrite' in the 'street corner' New Testament verse: "Do not mouth your prayers on the street corners, as the hypocrites do"?

It almost makes me regret that 'hypocrite' itself has made it into English: a word for this particular species of hypocrite would be so useful.

#82 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:40 PM:

Bibliolatry reminds me about the politician caught with his pants down, standing close behind, and hands on the hips of a pants-down intern, who appealed to the book-lover who found him: "I was just bending over a page!"

Sorry, that's in really really bad taste, but does seem connected with the Sinister Buttocks and Wrong Reverend Doc Rampage subthread.

But --

#83 ::: JoshD ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:41 PM:

I'm getting in late here, but I just thought I'd note that the Left Behind books, of course, deal with premillenial dispensationalism. This is a recent heresy, and not at all a "fundamentalist" belief.

None of that is exactly a new thing to point out, but it does lead up to my suggestion: "Preemies."

It's something I've muttered under my breath once or twice, especially when I was recently almost killed by a car with a bumper sticker on it that read:

WARNING!
In case of Rapture, this car will be unpiloted.

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:56 PM:

Preemies (by your def) shouldn't be allowed to have driver's licenses, then, should they?

Find me the law that says it's OK to abandon a moving car on the highway just because you've been Raptured. Can't, can you? Ha!

#85 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 05:29 PM:

Jim, for the record, I didn't zap Dc Rmpg for the first two words of his comment. I zapped him for his last paragraph.

#86 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 05:42 PM:
Follow the man who seeks truth; beware the man who has found it.

Love. That.

(I see that this quotation may have been mangled from the original by Andre Gide, but I like the mangled version better, so there.)

More truth quotes here. One may want to take particular note of the Orwell.

#87 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 06:21 PM:

I am very embarrassed to have to say that I completely forgot about Teresa's request to put a lid on the *b*rt**n discussion. I'll leave my posts in place as evidence for the idea that I can be as dumb as any ten other posters. (Not that the proposition needs defending.)

#88 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 06:25 PM:

Speaking of those that think they've found truth:

Ashcroft, Evans Resign From Bush Cabinet

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON - Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans resigned Tuesday, the first members of President Bush's Cabinet to leave as he headed from re-election into his second term.

Ashcroft, in a five-page, handwritten letter to Bush, said, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

-------

Or, to quote his former boss: "Mission Accomplished!"

Don't slam the door on the way out, Reverend General.

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 06:32 PM:

Thanks, JvP. First good news I've had in a while. An sshl making an sshl comment; perfect exit.

#90 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 07:09 PM:

I dread we'll get someone even worse.

#91 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 09:54 PM:

The true treehouse of horror interpretation of Ashcroft's resignation is provided here by James Nicoll.

#92 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:11 PM:

No. No, please no.

Ashcroft? SC nominee?

I've been having migraines for three days now. This is not helping.

#93 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 02:00 AM:

Karl T. asks:

What's the original Greek for 'hypocrite' in the 'street corner' New Testament verse: "Do not mouth your prayers on the street corners, as the hypocrites do"?

Sorry, Karl, I just checked my Greek New Testament. It's "hypocrite."

#94 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 02:24 AM:

bellatrys wondered parenthetically:
Homophobia as a relict of ethno-religious prejudice and wars - does anyone know if there was such a focus on homosexuality in the western church prior to the Cathar wars?

According to (what I remember years after reading) John Boswell's Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century, the objection to homosexuality in the early and medieval church was not to love or commitment between men, but rather to the fact that, in homosexual male sex, a man gets penetrated, and thereby feminized. In a mindset that presumes penetration is an act that inherently enforces the superiority of the penetrator and inherently degrades the penetrated person (needless to say, a misogynistic mindset), the consensual penetration of one man by another threatens to destabilize the entire concept of masculinity, and any adult man who sought to be penetrated was regarded as freakish. According to Boswell, nobody in the church before the early modern period regarded as especially abominable men who wanted to penetrate other men--that was just one more manifestations of the manly desire to penetrate. It was, under most conditions, considered sinful, but not with the horrified sense of taboo that one finds among religious homophobes these days. In fact, same-sex pedophilia was much less disturbing in this zero-sum game of masculinity than was same sex love between adults of equal age, power, status, etc. The concern about queer sex was not primarily about non-reproductive sex acts; the church bigwigs were upset about non-reproductuve sex in the context of heterosexual sex, too, and don't seem to have regarded queer sex as worse on that basis. Before the fourteenth century, says Boswell, people thought about sex acts, but not about sexual orientations. In the fourteenth century, the novel concept of homosexuality as an exclusive set of behaviors or a category of identity began to form, but it didn't solidify all at once, and it was centuries before the development of the reified binary of homo/hetero that Kinsey blew up. My recollection is that Boswell claimed the rise of homophobia was the result of increasing tension between urban and rural populations--backlash against the Renaissance, culture wars, the same sorts of things we've been watching unfold right here.

I gather that Boswell's interpretations were not undisputed, but I don't really know what his critics' objections are, or what the current status of his argument is among scholars of the early modern period. Maybe someone here knows more about this?

#95 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:32 AM:

don't be too happy about Ashcroft, and don't take your eyes off of him. Remember that this happened with the renowned General Boykin, who went from giving anti-Paynim speeches at prayer breakfasts in full uniform, got in trouble, got yanked - and got rewarded for being such a good theocratic crusader by being put in charge of sensitve operations in Iraq which he proceded to help FUBAR while off our radar.

Sara, thanks - I know about Bosworth, I think the reason he's controversial is partly because he was the first to hit the radar in terms of arguing that gay marriage had historical precedent - the cost of being a pioneer - but also because he unabashedly had an axe to grind, which makes his use of data and conclusions a little bit suspect even to those not ideologically opposed to him (the way that any "scientific, statistical evidence" by John Lott is suspect.) My reasons for pinning it on the Cathar situation were that, aside from there being theologians discussing it as in the Summa there just doesn't seem to be the pop-cultural concern with it, in stories or songs, serious or golliard or visual art, and the word itself only coming from the association of the movement with the Bulgarians, and all the associated social convulsion of that era, with people rebelling, dropping out of society, defying sexual norms, economic conventions, and tying in with religion - kind of a Dobsian backlash in the High Gothic era, perhaps?

And in modern times, even, it doesn't seem to be for the most part a huge issue through the Renaissance and Enlightement - not the way arguments over feminism increasingly were - despite all the modern furore over certain of Shakespeare's sonnets and Marlowe, that seems to be more a *current generation* angst making a lot more of it than contemporaries did.

It really only seems to be a *major* issue, rather than a joke, a mean joke, but humor nonetheless as in Ben Johnson's snark at the guy who called him effeminate because he liked to spend time in drawing rooms with ladies, and heh heh, what did that make him, who spent all his time with guys? or the crook in the Conrad novel who is incensed that the Spanish girls thought his celibate boss (who seems to be a sex-averse psychopath) was homosexual. And this I tie, based on the ephemera and ideoloies of the early 20th century, to the rise of race-extermination phobias and eugenics. There is a disturbing confluence between the aversion to allowing GLBT couples to adopt, the ignoring of the problem of unwanted, homeless foster children, the insistence on marriage as purely procreative, and Occidental Quarterly's white-cultural-Christian dating service mindset: homosexuality is bad, because it reduces the number of available impregnators for The People...

#96 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 07:24 AM:

The true treehouse of horror interpretation of Ashcroft's resignation is provided here by James Nicoll.

James Nicoll is on livejournal? That is the best piece of news I've gotten in quite a while. :-)

#97 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 10:55 AM:

As an equal opportunity labeller, I spent some time last night thinking of labels for the rest of the Republican party (i.e., the non Bibliolaters). It must have been the half-caf latte that kept me awake. Labels that came to mind:

The "might-is-right", "brute-force" party.
The "mortgage our economy and leave it to our children to make the payments" party.
The "rich people are too special to pay taxes" party. Although I'm tempted to replace that with the "Richtocracy" party.
The "not-my-problem" party. (re global warming, health care, outsourcing, etc)

Dang -- I thought I had more. Should've made notes.

#98 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 12:38 PM:

The term I have used and will continue to use is 'fanatics'.

I realize this has similar problems to other terms, but I still feel it covers it.

'Extremist' also works for me.

However, those of you who were suggesting Left Behind connections: Tribulationist. The "left behind but born again" folks are the Tribulation Force.

Yes, I just read the first book, and boy, is it bad. I don't mean the plot -- well, I do, but that's not the main issue I have. I mean the book is extremely poorly written and if an editor ever saw it they probably fainted and never actually edited it.

You could fit the entire first book's story, without leaving a single actual scene out, into half the space with no difficulty. I guess a 6-book series just wouldn't have made enough money, though.

I put the book down regularly in the first couple chapters -- I estimate over a dozen times -- because the writing was so bad it made me twitch. At one point I had the overwhelming urge to wash my hands.

Eventually my desire to see just how bad it could get overcame that, however. I don't know if I should be scared by that or not.

#99 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 12:51 PM:

Ashcroft, in a five-page, handwritten letter to Bush, said, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

Oh, the hand-written part is so sweet. *gag*

[cynic]You know, maybe the real reason he's resigning is that a lot of people are saying OBL's tape is a warning of an imminent attack and he doesn't want it to be on his watch.[/cynic]

I don't see him on the SC. He could be a bait and switch nominee though -- Bush nominates him, everyone yells, then Bush "compromises" with his real pick.

#100 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 01:03 PM:

Breaking: the Attorney General nominee will be White House Counsel Alberto ("tear up the Geneva Convention", "torture is OK") Gonzales.

We are indeed getting someone worse than Ashcroft.

#101 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 01:06 PM:

I see Jon beat me to it.

But we also need very much to keep our eyes on what Crisco the Annointed One gets up to now whilst creeping around in the shadows outside the glare of the spotlights.

#102 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 01:09 PM:

Tina, cndolences, and it doesn't get any better. Even fans complained that it was getting very Wheel-of-Time-ish, though not in so many words, given that they wouldn't be caught dead reading that satanic fantasy stuff.

There are also short versions from the POV of the younger books, called Left Behind: The Kids, designed to woo the Goosebumps readers.

And graphic novels, too.

They're all *bad,* for a value of bad to the nth power, but weirdly the Graphic Novels are more readable and less absolutely sporkworthy because at least you're not chewing through Lahaye and Jenkins' cardboard prose.

#103 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Left Behind: The Kids

Will the movie version be called Honey, I Left the Kids Behind, featuring the trials and tribulations of a cute pre-teen in Mid-Apocalypse America?

By the way, if we're still looking for a label for the right wing religious whackos, how about Sanctimonialists, or even Sanctimillennials?

#104 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 01:51 PM:

Breaking: the Attorney General nominee will be White House Counsel Alberto ("tear up the Geneva Convention", "torture is OK") Gonzales.

Don't forget "leak, what leak?" Plame affair document point man, Enron legal counsel, and author of 57 sub-par death penalty memos to Gov GW Bush.

#105 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 02:09 PM:

Can we call the fanatics Paulists? They're all much keener on all of Paul's hysterics than on Jesus's actual words. Well, except for the "spread the word" bit at the end of his life...

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 02:15 PM:

Naw. He also wrote that thing about Love. Even if he was a jerk, most ways.

#107 ::: JoshD ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 02:19 PM:

Xopher: I think that should be a question added to the written portion of the driver's license exam.

Tina: When the first LB book initially came out, my sister (innocently) bought me a copy of it, because she thought it was science fiction. Made it thirty pages in before dropping it like a hot rock. To read a book that bad, one really needs to be in touch with one's inner Crow and Tom Servo, and I just wasn't there yet.

The LB page-by-page review at Slacktivist therefore affords more than my usual share of glee. I fully appreciate Fred Clark's bravery, sense of duty, and honest need to take very, very long breaks between reviews.

#108 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 03:22 PM:

Tayfeth,

Please can we not call the fanatics Paulists? The Paulists are an order of Roman Catholic priests, including some dear family friends and the priest who baptized me. They focus on Newman Centers (university campus ministries), and are more permissive than strictly doctrinaire.

#109 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 03:52 PM:

Josh: I had that same problem with dissecting Bias. A friend of mine (self described as to the right of Ghengis Khan) saw me choking down the introduction (I was under pressure, it was a library book) and I read him some of it.

His response, "What an asshat, he's full of shit."

But fertilizer sells.


TK

#110 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 04:11 PM:

Left Behind: The Hamsters

Chapter One:

*squeak*

Chapter Two:

*meow*

Chapter Three:

...

#111 ::: Yaka St.Aise ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 04:17 PM:

A sketch is worth a thousand words, or something...

#112 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 04:18 PM:

What to call them: bad trees.

#113 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 04:18 PM:

A fanatic is a person with intense enthusiasms or devotion to a cause.

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject"--Winston Churchill

Enthusiasm isn't all bad, even if it can be trying to encounter too much of it at a cocktail party. Fanatic is closely related to the word fan, so I feel somewhat reluctant to settle on it as the disparaging term for religious right-wingers.

An extremist is one who holds views that are outside the norm. It is not specifically about right-wing extremism, and it may not apply to people with dangerously wrong views that happen to be shared by the majority. On the other hand, we could try to use the term anyway, with the hopes that it would stick and the majority would disabuse itself of those dangerous views.

I rather like the term reactionary.

A reactionary is sometimes described as an extreme conservative, but whereas a conservative seeks, in the simplest terms, to preserve the status quo, a reactionary seeks to return to the situation of a prior time.

#114 ::: JoshD ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 04:35 PM:

HP: Okay, I'll be the straight man.

And why should we call them "Bad trees?"

#115 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 04:54 PM:

Because the trees that produce no fruit, or bad fruit, get cut down and thrown into the fire? (my guess.)

I've been referring to the combined synthetic of "fiscal" conservativism, "social" conservativism (which always overlapped more strongly than libertarians or conservative Christians historically have liked to admit) and the GOP, as The Virtue Party™ to satirize their claims to be the sole possessors and purveyors of righteousness, while at the same time behaving like total schmucks about morals, whether hypocritical or not.

(This also avoids the problem inherent in the fact that a lot of them are doing some weird synthesis of Judeo-Christianity, and how not to omit the presence of Michael Medved, Rabbi Lapin, Dr. Krauthammer, the Podhoretz clan, as well as the fact that there are too many RCs to make it all a WASP club to begin with.)

The "Church of Tashlan" and "the Church of St. Podsnaps" are more general descriptions, extending beyond strictly political definition, though nearly within the same borders as The Virtue Party™. The congregation of Tashlan prefers militarism slightly more than wealth as the primary purpose of a Straussian state; St. Podsnasps' congregation prefer Mammon themselves, while approving the war-god's victories from a polite, admiring but uninvolved distance.

#116 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Ahh, but "reactionary" was what they called people who were against the communist regimes in Russia and China--including many Christians and political prisoners. Might not be seen as a bad thing to be called by some...

Love the term "Sinister Buttocks" for those books, though. They cause mental pain.

Am rather partial to Bellatrys's "apocalyptic morons" for the premillenial dispensationalists or whatever the technical name is. Need something like that for the current pro-Bush Xtian bloc.

#117 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:43 PM:

Yes, Tashlan is one of your better refs, Bellatrys. :) (Even better since even the hate-LOTR-cuz-it's-magical people often have read Narnia.)

#118 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:43 PM:

I rather like the term reactionary.

Me too. I find it very useful.

A reactionary is sometimes described as an extreme conservative, but whereas a conservative seeks, in the simplest terms, to preserve the status quo, a reactionary seeks to return to the situation of a prior time.

The last time I used the word (while discussing the movie The Last Samurai) I was accused of interpreting the world through the lenses of ideology.

They said it as if it was a bad thing.

#119 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:58 PM:

I just googled "radical reactionaries" and came up with 750 hits. I have a vague recollection of a history class wherein "RR" was a very bad thing to be. Somebody else will have to figure it out, though, as I'm on five kinds of cold meds right now.

#120 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 06:00 PM:

TomB, the people I know -- and obviously, that includes me -- pretty much all take 'fanatic' as connotatively meaning someone really out there, and not just someone really into something, which is why it works for me. YMMV.

#121 ::: TB ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 07:14 PM:

I assume "bad trees" refers to "ye shall know them by their fruits"

#122 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 07:25 PM:

Seen in comments on Digby's blog: heretical cultists

#123 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 08:23 PM:

"Metaphysical irredentists?"

#124 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 08:41 PM:

I have, for reasons I suspect are obvious, been staying out of this thread, but as far as nomenclature goes, I think I may start using Karl Rove's own term: "The Base."

#125 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 09:02 PM:

And of course "The Base" is a plausible translation of "al Queda". . . .

#126 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 09:03 PM:

Mr Ford:

I am happy I was not drinking when I read yr. last post, or I surely would have had a fountaining event through my nasal cavaties.

'The Base' works so nicely with in at least two ways - and that's just off the top of my head.

#127 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 11:15 PM:

Must...resist...Zero Wing...reference....

#128 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 10:32 AM:

Passing along one progressive Christian's excellent rant on the so-called Christian Right.
My favorite quote from it: "I sometimes wonder if sincerity isn't the opiate of the invincibly ignorant"

#129 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:14 AM:

While the Christianists can reasonably be considered base, there's a term 'base community' in Liberation Theology (a progressive movement within Christianity) that means a small group of Christians who worship together without an authority figure necessarily being present.

In fact, one of my coreligionists first defined it for me as "a Christian coven."

#130 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:56 AM:

You know, earlier this year I remember inventing a term for this, but I can't remember what it was so I can find the post. Damn.

#131 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 12:00 PM:
Must...resist...Zero Wing...reference....
Someone should so start a liberal blog titled "The Zig Movement"...
#132 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 01:11 PM:

Abi: I didn't know that. Thank you. I will stop using 'Paulist'.

Xopher: By "that thing about Love", I assume you mean I Corinthians 13:4-7.

"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right."
(IMO, few of the American Ayatollahs have read that bit, and fewer of them have ever thought about it. How else can you explain Dobson?)

I tend to forget that Paul wrote that, mostly because he also wrote things such as

"the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church." - I Corinthians 14:34-35

All quotes from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1962.

#133 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Yep, Tayefeth, that's the bit I had in mind. There's more of it, too.

Your other quote is part of why I don't like him overall. All the anti-gay stuff in the New Testament is Paul too (at least there's none in the Gospels).

#134 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 02:25 PM:

Bellatrys: there're also two Left Behind movies. I haven't watched them, but I've seen reviews which indicate that they're dire.

#135 ::: John the a long way from divine M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 02:42 PM:

Okay, here I am again, since nobody has mentioned this yet: the authorship of several of the "Pauline" epistles is open to question. Second Thessalonians warns about fake doctrinal letters (though, perhaps inevitably, that letter's authorship is itself disputed), and Second Timothy, which contains the favored literalist construction "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," is on very shifty sand historically. Robin Lane Fox's The Unauthorized Version is probably the best single study of what we know, or are able know, about Biblical authenticity. Not that the Every Word of the Authorized Version of 1611* Is Absolutely Genuine and Literally True and Just How They Talked Back Then crowd is going to buy into this.

*Which I have seen referred to as the "Author's Version," a construction that inspires, at the very least, rueful hilarity. (Not to be confused with the Hilariously Rueful Version.)

#136 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 02:51 PM:

Re. bad trees: Yep--by their fruits you shall know them, and bad trees bring forth bad fruit (sloppy paraphrase).

As an agnostic, I find myself increasingly drawn to the Gospels because of the huge numbers of nominal Christians who, well, give Christianity a bad name among my fellow secularists. (I'm sure you Christians may have noticed a teensy bit of anti-Christian rhetoric from the secular side of the aisle.)

It had occurred to me that anybody can call themself a Christian--indeed, anyone can believe that they're a Christian--but it doesn't necessarily make it so. And I asked myself, how would you distinguish a person who is a Christian from someone who merely believes that he is a Christian, but is not? (Kind of a theological equivalent to the p-zombie question.) And I found, of course, that the answer to that question is right there in the Gospels, in the bits about sheep, wolves, and good and bad trees.

So what is the "fruit" of a person? Obviously, a person's words are not their fruit. But beyond words, I don't think that deeds or intentions are a person's fruit. I think the fruit of a person is the trail of relationships, feelings, and events that follow in someone's wake. What of you stays behind when you leave the room? As an agnostic, this appeals to me, because results are something I can get behind. After all, if "faith is the evidence of things not seen," then if I can see it, name it, and describe it, it's no longer a question for faith to decide. If someone sincerely professes their Christianity, and meanwhile leaves a trail of divisiveness, rancor, and even violence and war, I feel quite comfortable calling that person out as false.

I don't think the sincerity of one's belief is relevant. Suppose I sincerely believe the world is flat, and so I never travel great distances in a straight line, lest I fall off the edge. I never do fall of the edge, of course, and so my belief is strengthened. Nonetheless, my sincere belief is a false belief. In the same way, if your sincere belief that you are a Christian leads you to desire revenge and punishment, leads you to set yourself as a judge before God, well, that's a false belief.

But then, I'm not a Christian myself, so what do I know? There are those secularists who point out that the "dark side" of Christianity is already implicit in in the scriptures and texts of Christianity, and that there is no contradiction.

#137 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 03:01 PM:

HP: you can't see into people's hearts, so if they say they're a Christian, then they're a Christian; we don't have the right to deny that their faith exists. However, it's perfectly legitimate to say that people are BAD Christians, as evidenced by their works or lack thereof.

#138 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 03:13 PM:

HP,
So what is the "fruit" of a person? Obviously, a person's words are not their fruit. But beyond words, I don't think that deeds or intentions are a person's fruit. I think the fruit of a person is the trail of relationships, feelings, and events that follow in someone's wake. What of you stays behind when you leave the room? As an agnostic, this appeals to me, because results are something I can get behind. After all, if "faith is the evidence of things not seen," then if I can see it, name it, and describe it, it's no longer a question for faith to decide. If someone sincerely professes their Christianity, and meanwhile leaves a trail of divisiveness, rancor, and even violence and war, I feel quite comfortable calling that person out as false.

Well said.

#139 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 03:22 PM:

Mayakda, I just posted my long and possibly troublesome screed before I scrolled up and clicked your link to Marilyn Chandler McEntyre's article. I coulda saved everyone a whole lotta bandwidth if I'd just read it first.

#140 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 03:42 PM:

TexAnne: I don't have to see into someone's heart. And neither do you. None of us do. We only have to look at someone's fruits; God will judge their heart. The sincerity of someone's belief is irrelevant to the truth of that belief. Please, click through to Mayakda's link above to read almost the same thing from a devout Christian perspective.

#141 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 03:50 PM:

The ongoing discussion of how the residents of Christistan have at best a cartoon-simplified and distorted view of the wisdom teachings of Rabbi Jeshua bin Yusef has led to me a revelation:

The Animated-Ontological Proof of the Existence of God:

(1) Define God as that, in real life, for which there is no greater;
(2) Note that God appears in animations such as The Simpsons (where His voice is portrayed by the same actor who does Satan and Hitler);
(3) If God only existed in animation, then that would not be as great as if God existed in real life;
(4) so if God existed only in animation, there could be a greater;
(5) but, by definition, there is no greater than God
(6) hence God exists in real life!

Q.E.D.
[God created Quantum Electrodynamics, as we know through His prophet Feynman]

#142 ::: Jack Heneghan ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:45 PM:

What about "Pentatookies"?

That should cover the gamut from Genesis to Deuteronomy...

#143 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 04:53 AM:

[Late notes on this discussion, which I read in its entirety, on a exceptionally awful night.]

John Ford's complaint is both right on and, I think, unanswerable; "fundamentalists" is what they are called, regardless of what I want to call them. I tend to use the phrase religious right, or even radical religious right (I mind me someone who was once fond of RRR) but if I want to make the point clear, fundamentalists it is.

"Follow the man who seeks truth; beware the man who has found it."

"The way which can be walked is not the Way; the name that can be named is not the eternal Name."

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." (Orwell)

But what time in history ever saw truth common?

Abortion, I think, is an issue that highlights the antinomy between the ethics of obeying law and the ethics of obeying one's understanding; that's why arguments keep returning to it. I think I know what Jesus thought about the ethical issue, anyway; "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."

Bellatrys, I think I have no choice but to subscribe to your LJ.

#144 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 05:27 AM:

"When something is rusted all the way through - archeology buffs know about this - sometimes you can't clean off the corrosion, because there isn't anything much left except oxides fossilized in the shape of the original object. [...]

"I'm deathly afraid that's what's become of Christianity and Western Civilization™"

I don't think so; I really don't. For one thing, there was not a single "Western Civilization"; there was Greece and Rome, a pause, and then there was Western Europe. Christianity fit differently into Rome than it does into Western Europe.

"- but regardless of the macro level, on the micro level, this translates into having to give up much more than a hand or an eye, when your entire self-identity is wound around and through a core ideology or movement, and to rebuild your spiritual identity from near-scratch - because you have to examine *everything* and critically, all that you accepted as truism, once the foundations are gone. It's like Escher, a circularly-reasoned city of the mind, and how do you build something solid, where do you start?"

It sounds heartbreaking. It's also the form of all spiritual quests; to first see the world one knows as illusion.

02) Jesus said:
(1) "The one who seeks should not cease seeking until he finds.
(2) And when he finds, he will be dismayed.
(3) And when he is dismayed, he will be astonished.
(4) And he will be king over the All."
Thomas

#145 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 01:34 PM:

I tend to use the phrase religious right, or even radical religious right

I'm also fond of "the religious right, which is neither"

#146 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 04:46 AM:

A couple of the terms I've applied include "Malevolent Moralists" and "Recidivists." There are others I've come up with and can't remember.

As for the hypocrite in Washington, I think the most appropriate term for his is "the schmuck."

#147 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:05 AM:

I'm third-or-fourthing David's suggestion of John Scalzi's Leviticans - here is a part to give an idea of what he's talking about

To suggest that a Christian is actually a Levitican is not to say he or she is false in faith -- rather, it is to suggest that their faith is elsewhere in the Bible, in the parts that are easy to understand: The rules, the regulations, all the things that are clear cut about what you can do and what you can't do to be right with God. Rules are far easier to follow than Christ's actual path, which needs humility and sacrifice and the ability to forgive, love and cherish even those who you oppose and who oppose and hate you ...
I have, over about the last 15 years since I got involved in community issues been struggling with absolute disgust, revulsion, anger sometimes amounting to rage, loathing, contempt & hate of what I've seen people doing. But I try to not them overtake me, because it's so poisonous to one's self.
Since childhood I've known I have a deep well of violence, which I've been trying to turn into energy for better things: logic, reason, facts, history to try & convince or persuade. Trouble is, the struggle exhausts me, and I end up being little help to the causes I'd like to support. "Christ's actual path" is indeed a strait way, but "Do as you would be done by" is still a major basis of belief, despite not calling myself Christian any more.

In the last three years, I've been using something like "fundamentalist" or "hard-liner" to describe similar attitudes found in not just the three closely-interrelated "Ways of the Book" - Jewish, Christian & Islamic, but other religions such as Hindu, as well as political ideologies & even economic beliefs. The details can be different, though there are often unacknowledged similarities (women tend to come out badly), but the punitive attitudes seem all to have a common root.

#148 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:15 AM:

"Religious Right" is like "Welsh Rabbit." It is not Welsh, and it certainly isn't rabbit.

#149 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 03:46 AM:

Michael Berube weighs in with a brilliant suggestion:

First, you liberals and progressives and leftists and Communists have to stop vilifying “Christians.” It’s counterproductive and wrong.  Christians are not responsible for George Bush’s election.  Christians are not intolerant; Christians are not ignorant.  Christians are actually filled with agape; they work among the poor and the downtrodden, they give up all hope of material gain in this world, they turn the other cheek when they are struck, and they always do unto others as they would have others do unto them.


So you liberals need to distinguish between Christians and CHRISTIANs....  Who needs a vow of poverty when you’re trying to establish a media network?  Who needs agape when you’re counting down to the Apocalypse?  No sir, there aren’t any of those Christians around here.  Instead, we prefer to think of ourselves as


Creationists and
Homophobes for a
Righteous
Inquisition of the
Secular
Terrorists who
Infest
America
Now.


In the future, please get that straight and keep it straight.  Lay off the Christians– they’re completely innocuous people.  When you want to criticize the ascendant religious right, say “CHRISTIANs” or “Creationists and Homophobes” for short. We’ll know who you mean.  And then we’ll come and get you.

#151 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 12:36 PM:

I don't have a name to suggest--Leviticans will do, IMHO--but I do have an observation: not only are they avoiding the Beatitudes, but they aren't even much on following the Ten Commandments. There's nothing in there about same-sex marriage, or about non-adulterous sex at all. However, many of them will forgive bearing false witness, and another large group keep the Sabbath by going shopping, because they have put Money before the God of Israel.

#152 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 09:49 PM:

So far I'm liking Jack Heneghan's "Pentatookies" best.

#153 ::: Mary R ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 10:04 PM:

How 'bout the Bible-believers-except-for-those-annoying-Jesus-parts-ians?

Long but works.

#154 ::: Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 11:40 PM:

I think "Pentatookies" is very funny, and it is where most of the illiteralists go wrong, but it's a bit insulting to the folks who find a lot of good in the Torah. Remember that a lot of Jesus's best material comes from Leviticus, like 19:18, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

I think we're talking about members of Christians Against Jesus, people who worship Christ and think Jesus's ideas were flat out commie nonsense that can be ignored, thanks be to God for sending Paul to straighten it all out.

I understand people wanting to keep the best of Paul. But the best of Paul follows logically from Jesus. Thomas Jefferson's Bible works surprisingly well.

#155 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 11:41 PM:

But the Rapture stuff is nowhere to be found in Torah/the Pentatuch!

=======

By the way, there's a brand of bread with a name of something like Ezekial 4:22 [I don't remember which chapter and verse is cited]. I saw it in the frozen health foods section of the Shaw's in Burlington (second closet supermarket to the Readercon hotel, go right from the hotel parking lot headed east onto Mall Road, turn left at intersection heading north on Cambridge Street, keep driving north going through the center of Burlington (the current town buildings are on the other side of the Common, including the police station), continue down the hill past Building 19 1/2, and got right at the lights at the bottom of the hill, then turn left into the supermarket parking lot. Oh, yeah, there's a Dunkin' Donuts just after that light on Cambridge Street)

#156 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 12:02 AM:

Wow. Donuts and Boston driving directions! Consider my day made.

BTW - The Thomas Jefferson Bible is quite the tour-de-force. An easy, lucid and hocus-pocus free view of a venerable text.

#157 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 12:48 AM:

What can I say, there are FIVE Dunkin' Donuts on route 3A north of 128, starting a mile or so north of 128, the first is on the east side of Cambridge Street, and the rest of them are in Billerica, on the west side of Boston Road, all five in the same seven mile stretch of road... or if you're feeler cheaper, the Shaw's and two of the three Market Baskets each near a Dunkin' Donut, have in-store bakeries and in-store brewed coffee. The Shaws there's a charge ($.50 per cup ?) for the coffee (the machine originally was there as a demo and for the first month the coffee was free), the Market Baskets it's free to customers. (I've never quite understood why six years in the Air Force, 3 1/2 of them working rotating shifts in locked roomed in facilities with checkpoints with armed guards and the other 2 1/2 in an office job where it was strain to stay awake in some of the meetings, couldn't get me to drink coffee, but I drink the stuff in the Market Baskets... hmm--store psychological design, maybe?) There's a third Market Basket on the same road, but it doesn't have the in-store bakery and coffeemaker. Of course, the coffeemakers are in the bakery areas and the stores sell bags of coffee next to the machines, and donuts etc., also.

Oh, arraghh, I just remembered-- the Stop & Shop in Woburn two miles east of the Readercon hotel (it's off the route 38 exit) has an in-store Dunkin' Donuts...

That's getting rather far afield from namecalling for religious fanatics, though! (The road also has a variety of churches on it. I don't know what the nearest RC chuarch to the Readercon hotel is--there's St Mary's (I think it is) in Pinehurst (south end of Billerica) less than four miles north of 128, I'm not sure but St Barbara's in Woburn if it's still there might be (I know that St Charles in the center of Woburn is or at least was, but that's getting a ways a way. My father's father lived near St Charles and used to drive the nuns around: he had a large car which he used for transporting the furniture he made/bought/sold and somehow wound up volunteering to be transportation for the Sisters.... anyway, when I was a very small child, I only knew -positive- things about nuns--I didn't go to Mass, didn't go to Catholic school and get the ruler on the knuckles experiences, my grandfather was liked by the Sisters and my first 3 1/2 years of life I lived in Woburn around the corner from the nunnery) (St Mary's I'm sure is still open and running, it wasn't one of the churched closed down by the Archbishop of Boston in the current financial crisis)

=======

Hmm, I think it's much less controversial for someone to be addicted to caffeine, and safer, than to be a True Believer who never has any Questions or doubts

The Judaic tradition includes a lot of arguing--Hillel vs Shammai being only two of many. There have been -lots- of differences of opinon.

#158 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:15 AM:

But the Rapture stuff is nowhere to be found in Torah/the Pentatuch!

That's okay. It isn't in the New Testament either.

#159 ::: M. Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 12:03 PM:

After reading a Christian Reconstructionist, probably Gary North, refer to himself as a "libertarian" since he believes that government should be limited to its basic functions of defending the fatherland, enforcing contract, supporting property rights, and stoning blasphemers and disobedient sons, I've been much more likely to refer to myself as a libertarian as well.

It also makes a fine arguing point with more Long Playing types, since it makes a point about what people consider the basic functions of government.

As for terminology, I think "Bible Thumpers" (as above seen) is best, since it embodies their anger, their propensity to injure the Word, and has independently been used in my presence by a couple of Business Republicans who may well end up Democrats pretty soon.

#160 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 12:23 PM:

I'm fond of "Jesus-thumpers," myself, with the explanation (when people ask, as they often do) that I think true Christians thought he got thumped plenty while he was here, but these other folks seem to be determined to keep on flogging.

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