Tuesday
Mar132007

« Jesus Camp »

the apocalypse now poster. a custom thing with intense explosive imagery and mangled shapes seemingly stemming from a nuclear explosion. all with the dorky face of George W. Bush looking like he just pressed the red button in a bunker somewhere.Kelli and I just watched this movie and thought it was pretty much scarier than anything Hollywood can come up with, particularly with its implications for the future of our nation. Consolation comes in the form of my reading of American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips, who said that no European empire of the last 500 years or so has successfully withstood the religio-nationalistic partnership of church and state (speaking of the experience of the Dutch, Spanish, and British) without collapsing, followed by the church hemorrhaging membership because of all the broken promises of "God on our side" sorts of sentiments. It is hard to get enthusiastic about the solution to all our problems because Phillips also speaks of the other death knells of failing and failed empires: movement from a manufacturing economy into one built on increasingly abstract financial manipulations; the inability of an empire built on one energy source to move successfully to another energy source and carry on as before, and finally, the religious and nationalistic fervor mentioned above.

So, here we are today in America. The housing bubble is blowing out partially because it made loans to people who have no business getting them; we have an economy that is founded more and more on information and service (on the whole, not making anything of real worth); we have peak oil and no real prospects for an alternative to oil, but war mongering to capture access to the remaining supplies is now our primary national export product; and then, the utter nutjobbery of what this film portrays. Raising kids to believe in creationism at the expense of scientific education, to idolize George Bush and his project of deconstructing the classic liberal (in the true sense of the word—free minded) American beliefs and progressive policies that helped more people enjoy liberty, at least socially. This generation of kids and others of that mind will be the ones who strip America of its essence and replace it with reckless and narrow minded policies meant to exclude and limit. I agree with Bill Moyers that it wouldn't be so scary if they were the fringe, but they have growing power behind their mission to "claim back America for Jesus", and are driven to gain actual political power, media power, cultural sway. How can you argue that the world should be preserved when they think they are doing right by Jesus, driving the world to chaos so that the end times will be put into motion? I find it disgusting. Phillips' book reminds us that religion never had the power it once had in Holland after that empire collapsed, or after the Spanish Inquisition, or after Britain finally retreated from its claim of being the empire over which the sun never set. I guess we can hope that this religious radicalism will be brought to an end and put in its context. The problem with wishing for such a thing is that it will mean the end of the nation as we know it. But maybe that is just growing up.

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