[FoRK] Debunking the Right Schiavo spin

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Mar 23 18:06:00 PST 2005

Kelley wrote:

> At 05:36 PM 3/23/2005, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> Hey, whatever works!
> There are more than a few peer-pressure theists, especially men who 
> file into Midwestern churches to keep their wives, who in turn file 
> into churches to have a social life.  People, other than I, would be 
> shocked at how much peer-pressure theism exists in the US.  Making a 
> stand on the issue is not something that most are interested in.  A 
> good percentage more are probably "fake it until you make it" 
> theists.  The coupling of theism to coupling is memetic genius.  
> Therefore, we can blame the scarcity of strong, rational women for the 
> apparent scarcity of rational men.
> The insidious part is the fact that nearly everyone knows very 
> religious people who have worse morals in ways that count than 
> non-religious people.  "Ways that count" meaning legal, ethical, 
> interpersonal, karma, big picture, pay it forward, etc.  How about a 
> part-time preacher who spends a good portion of his government paid 
> workday preparing sermons?
> sdw
> oh. oh. A friend of mine, Deb, and I could give you a rant. I'll 
> briefly do so now and elaborate more if'n you're interested.

Sounds like fun.  Bring it on.
I like the content below.  Good to analyze and think about.

A new friend recently described growing up in India.  While her family 
was well off, she described growing up like a princess, she and other 
children received their real schooling from a missionary school, 
Catholic I believe.  They all, as a group, lived a fiction of good 
little Catholics and English speech at school and then completely forgot 
about it outside of school grounds, living by their alternate 
more-native Indian beliefs with their parents.  This is the advertising 
model of religious services, obviously with a long and storied history.

It's an interesting argument to make that the moral-media push driven by 
the religious "industry" might be in response to the growing 
effectiveness of this competitive advertising.  At some point, someone 
may have standing to argue that religious authorities have acted in 
anti-competitive ways to increase their income.

> 1. Nancy Ammerman, in Bible Believers, a study of fundamentalists in 
> Connecticut in the early 80s, argues that women dragged their husbands 
> to church as a way to keep their marriages together: drugs, 
> philandering, booze. W! Ammerman wanted to know why upper middle class 
> professional women, who otherwise took advantage of the gains feminism 
> had made, would want to join churches that were clearly opposed to 
> those changes. That's why. There's more, but it's not all socializing.
> 2. Socializing, though, is a BIG part of it. There is some literature 
> from Christians to indicate that they _have_ been deploying the 'Act 
> local, Think Global" strategy for Christianity. The idea here is to 
> proudly and whenever possible testify about your emotional and 
> personal relationship with Jesus -- especially if it pertains to 
> business success, but also personal happiness such as finding a new 
> love, saving a marriage, etc.
> The Jesus fish is not only displayed on bumpers, but on business 
> storefronts, advertising, and all manner of things. The idea is: "Be 
> proud! Show those Liberal Humanists you aren't afraid of them. If we 
> don't, they'll keep taking over the country. Keep your head down! "
> Branding. It's like some modified pyramid scheme in action, only 
> they're sincere. The Tupperware Party model of proselytizing.
> 3. Testifying is crucial to this neo-evangelism. You must do so to 
> show how Jesus is a part of your daily life. It's often 'required' in 
> these just Christian churches. (I picked the brains of my students 
> when I got here, trying to understand what the hell "just Christian" 
> meant.
> This is why it feels so much more in your face: it's political, it's 
> social, it's sincere.
> 4. Hypocrisy isn't a bad thing. Charging them with it means nothing. 
> People are sinners. It's inevitable. Part and parcel of the 
> valorization of testifying as evidence of your _faith_ is an 
> associated antipathy to "works" as evidence of your faith. Remember 
> that Calvinism was opposed to the Catholic emphasis on doing good 
> (works) to achieve grace. In the Calvinist world, as you know, you are 
> either saved or you're not. So, it ultimately doesn't matter what you 
> do in life as to whether you'll be raptured into the heavens, nekkid 
> as a jaybird, to sit by the right hand of god.
> The only thing that mattered, as Max Weber argued in _The Protestant 
> Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism_ was that the anxiety brought on by 
> not really knowing whether you were among the saved (chosen) was that 
> you sought to prove it by demonstrating success in life. Weber argued 
> that this once spiritual belief had become secularized and, as such, 
> was partly responsible for the rise of capitalist markets. Markets had 
> always existed, but they weren't efficient and they weren't 
> rationalized. They become rationalized (predictable) with this 
> religious believe that, to at least show others that you were probably 
> saved, and convince yourself, your goals should be life success: 
> business, monetary, etc.
> So, today, this continues. Christians themselves aren't troubled by 
> the fact that someone is having 10 affairs while preaching about 
> fidelity. He's a sinner. Of course. What matters is that he testifies, 
> proudly and publicly, to his _personal_ and very emotional 
> relationship with Jesus. It's this willingness to verbalize it and 
> talk about it that's important. They want to hear _how_ you talk about 
> your faith, not how you enact it.
> Foucault argued that the Freudian talking cure created repression. 
> Well, I don't know what this is, but I like that "talking cure" 
> concept when applied to this phenom. It's interesting how much they 
> focus on talking about it. It's also why any charges against "just 
> Christians" for not acting like Christians (not taking care of the 
> least of these) pretty much falls on deaf ears.
> 5. Getting back to this, another way they are infiltrating the 
> population is to set up alternatives to government services. This 
> isn't about "good works" though it is a little. After all, I don't 
> really think they're hypocrites. I think they're sincere. But, what 
> they want to do is use the provision of services to expand the Word.
> I worked for an author on research for her new book about white collar 
> anxiety. She participated in a lot of "job transition" workshops run 
> by Christian churches. You get all the services of a professional 
> service, only it's free. The price is putting up with the religious 
> part. When you are unemployed and vulnerable, you're susceptible to 
> that kind of community. It's especially great if you lack the social 
> network, most people rely on to get a job. With the Christian job 
> transition service, you have a built in network  of other Christians 
> who'll help get you a job.
> The same thing is going on with all manner of non-religious services: 
> daycare centers, bible camps, singles groups, family counseling, 
> divorce counseling, missions abroad, feeding the poor, etc. etc.
> This is also important because the reduce government spending mantra 
> works great for churches: they want that money instead. Lower taxes so 
> people have more for Wednesday and Sunday services. Someone fobbed off 
> an issue of Awake! on me last year. The cover story presented itself 
> as an object look at the tax issue. Reading it, it was clear that the 
> push was toward "reducing big government" because religious groups 
> should provide those services. In the hands of the gov, you'll just 
> get a bunch of atheists and liberal humanists and unitarians. :)
> I'm not saying there's a big conspiracy or anything, but Christians 
> have thought long and hard about how to get back in the saddle again. 
> See, for instance, _The New Christian Right_. And, they're doing it 
> this way. They're also doing it because they sincerely believe that 
> this is The Way, I don't doubt that. Some are "sunshine Christians" 
> who are taking advantage of it or who start out with a cynical 
> attitude about it. But most, I think, believe and, more impotantly, 
> believe in and identify with their community of faith.
> Well, that's my typo-laden, logorheic spin on it!
> Kelley

swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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