Thanks also to those who left some suggestions for future readings. I will be purchasing many of these and the call for great books of history or theology remains.
Today, SOF and I went to Borders and I was surprised to find Randall Balmer's book Thy Kingdom Come for sale. It is unrealeased on Amazon and I was fully planning on waiting.
Anyway, brought it home and started reading tonight. I am mindful of Anglican's comment on my post on the minimum wage (and torture). He suggests, as he normally does, that my denigration of "the church" misses that so many Christians are fighting against war, poverty, torture (amazing I have to list that one) and even fighting to protect the environment. He is right. I know that. My anger is primarly at what might be construed as the Political Church. Luckily, Randall Balmer is equally pissed about this.
I will write more about this as I read it, but a few things from the first few pages. One is a great quote from Billy Graham (1981) where he denounces religious bigotry of any kind.
"It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it."Wow. Too bad his son never understood that. But also how prescient? And where was Billy when the Political Church took over?
Second, and enough for tonight, Balmer has a great discussion of the problems of abortion and homosexuality as political wedge issues. One of the winger pastors leads the charge against gays visiting Israel (It is the Holy Land, not Homo Land--gag) and then takes to his church to preach the word. His text? Matthew 5 and the oft-cited but usually ignored passage "Blessed are the Peacemakers." This pastor chides his sheep, telling them that people "believe that Jesus is a pacifist!" Instead, he suggests that "there is a battle going on. It is raging." Nevermind the problems between the metaphorical battle of spiritual warfare and actual warfare, the purposeful rejection of Christ's words sheds more than a little doubt on the idea of Biblical literalism. Balmer suggests instead that they use a little conceit called "selective literalism" which allows them to focus on sins they like and ignore the inconvenience of anti-divorce sentiments or suggestions that Christians actually should love their enemy.
"Selective literalism continues to serve an important function for the Religious Right. It allows them to locate sin outside of the evangelical subculture (or so they think) by designating as especially egregious those dispositions and behaviors, homosexuality and abortion, that they believe characteristic of others, not themselves.Maybe I liked it, because I said something like it here. And no, it is not a problem to plug your own blog ON your own blog.