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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Witch-hunts and the divided religious Left

Conspiracies of name-calling are getting the Christian Left in trouble now more than ever. For high conspiracy theorists of the Left, a proclaimed life-long Leftist is guilty if he sometimes has dinner with military officials -- no question about whether they're related, old school friends, if the particular officials are dissidents within the structure, or if Chomsky was merely playing spy in his own way, buying dinner for a gimp in order to get more information about what the military is doing next! I'd hate to see what these people would do with my own chequered past.

Speculation about cabals and conspiracies might be fine if it were confined to local banter on blogs, but the divides of the Left then get into the media at large. Leftist fractions feed a media machine programmed to exploit the first signs of failure.

Hence the Church of England, which just condemned the War in Iraq (this is huge, considering that Blair is technically head of the Church), is guilty of being hypocritical if -- as was the case here -- the Church once made a deal allowing telecoms to use church steeples as programming towers. Witness, all of you: the Church that condemns Bush and Blair's war is hypocritical if some of its clergy at any point know military people/invest in military stocks/ are ex-military themselves. They "have connections" to the war they condemn. They are guilty by association.

Headlines in England: "Clergy criticise the Church over links with British weapons firm","Church of England accused of hypocrisy over links with arms firm." As if the Church, now condemning the war, were secretly, unbeknownst to its parishioners, manufacturing in each of its crypts and Sunday-school rooms, hives of bombs for nursery-schools in Baghdad.

Headlines in America have barely stressed this major resolution from a major conservative Christian body, condemning Bush (here's a single link from a Virginia paper and another from CrossWalk; major US news sources didn't pick up the headline, although, thank Providence, many in the Middle East did).

Shh, don't listen to the Church of England, nobody hates the War in Iraq except crazy people who eat their own children. Now, back to how Pat Robertson is saving the victims of Katrina...

We don't need leftists in Britain to play tough by picking off their friends. We do need a united front of progressive Christians capable of holding fast to a political message and keeping its positive reaction in the news. What if the Bishops, having passed this resolution, had made a publicity tour of hand-shaking with the Middle Eastern journalists who received the invitation so well? Certainly bishops can do at least as well as politicians. The game is simple: keep your own story in the news as long as possible. Don't let your fantastic proclamation fizzle out three days later to accusations of "hypocrisy" from within. But frankly, at the game of keeping a unified voice in the media, the religious Left sucks.

At this game, progressive American Christians are even worse off than their European counterparts. What we also need is a body of progressive American Christians with the organization, unity of voice, and unity of action of the house of bishops in the UK. None exists. The Episcopal Church USA will never pass such resolutions, terrified of having the conservative "Network" of Republican churches flee with part of their money. Until we summon up the courage to speak with one voice, to hold the tongue of inner dissent among the Left long enough for real action, we can look forward to all our marches, all our conferences, and all our fine blogging, vanishing like grass.


Blogger owlindaylight said...

1) The Leftist suspicion / condemnation of the church in this case may be motivated mostly by a general distrust of all Big Religion.

2) It's a major deal that the church's denunciation has at last come, but I think it's an equally major deal to have it revealed that a Christian organization or its members are making profits off of war. That is just astonishing to me. Can you imagine, say, Dr. King denouncing the Vietnam War while simultaneously collecting dividends from napalm-makers? Would that not justifiably undercut his credibility, whether his professed stance was the morally-correct one or not? Would that not make him a mere demagogue? Maybe the analogy is strained, but these revelations about the C of E rightly cause people to wonder whether their motivations are purely political, now that the military adventurism has gone out of style and it's hip to be anti-war.

My main point is that hypocrisy deserves revelation, whether the hypocrites are on our side or not.

But I agree with you about Chomsky ... Chomsky (to my knowledge) isn't invested in those who draw his criticism (unlike Ralph Nader) ... as per our discussion, where we agreed that conspiracy theorists should infiltrate secret societies rather than propagate baseless conjecture from an outsider's perspective.

10:29 PM  
Blogger J said...

Dude, read the story. A mobile phone company says, we'll rent your church tower if you put up our antenna. Church says, deal.

Later it turns out that the mobile phone company is in fact under a parent company that has some evil investments. How many of us activists check out the moral standing of our service providers, or for that matter our landlords? And you say it's like "investing in napalm"??

"The mobile telephone aerial company recommended by the Church is part owned by QinetiQ, which develops advanced weapons technology."

Start worrying about the part-ownership of phone antennae, and you have a major paranoia problem.

It undermines the Religious Left to even have this discussion. It's a waste of energy, concentration, and fear. "Making profits off of war" is a total distortion of renting a church tower to a phone company. Stop not making sense.

3:04 AM  

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