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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dowd on Obama

Maureen Dowd can be rude and crude, but she can also be right on target as she is in her latest column. She concludes with this:

"Back in 2007, Obama said he would not want to run an administration that was 'Bush-Cheney lite.' He doesn’t have to worry. With prisoners denied due process at Gitmo starving themselves, with the C.I.A. not always aware who it’s killing with drones, with an overzealous approach to leaks, and with the government’s secret domestic spy business swelling, there’s nothing lite about it."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Deeper Issue with Spying on Verizon Callers

The explosive story, broke by The Guardian, detailing for the first time for the public the details of a seven year long court order forcing  Verizon to turn over information on tens of millions of American customers phone calls reveals the extreme disconnect between what our government elites know about America's national security policy and what us commoners know about it. This disconnect was seen clearly today when Senators Feinstein and Chambliss reacted in shock to the commotion that The Guardian story has caused. To them, this is very old news and therefore very unsurprising. As Chambliss put it, “This is nothing particularly new.... Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.” Of course, all this calls to mind the efforts of Senators who grasp the significance of this policy and believe it should not have been kept secret from the American  people. As the Washington Post puts it:

In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. last year, Wyden and Udall said, “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of . . . these secret court opinions. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claim the law allows."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Medgar Evers and “Christian America”

I did an earlier post about my fresh concerns with the whole concept of “Christian America”, we approach the 50th anniversary of his assassination on June 12.  I really do wonder if white Christians who speak so passionately and certainly about how America’s Christian character is being threatened by culture war events of the last thirty years really have any conception of how deeply violent and profoundly anti-Christian America’s racial history was in the hundreds of years prior to the cultural upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. Evers’ assassination is particularly powerful reminder of that history because it happened so very recently and was such a poignant example of that terrorist mindset that so captivated vast sectors of White Christian America for decades, even centuries.
particularly as understood by my fellow Christians who are deeply convinced that America has been forced from its Christian roots over the last forty years. While my last post focused on how America’s nuclear program, and its particularly idolatrous name “Trinity”, should give pause to Christians convinced that America’s fall from Christianity is a recent phenomena; now I want to ask how the assassination of Medgar Evers in 1963 fits with the conception of a supposed Christian America. It is an appropriate time to consider this as

The realities of White Christian America’s racial violence is spelled out powerfully in Amy Louise Wood’s Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940. Particularly relevant is Wood’s chapter “A Hell of Fire on Earth: Religion” where she spells out in vivid detail the ways that Christians “defended…lynching…in spiritual terms” but also “infused the performance” of racial violence “with Christian tropes and rituals.” (page 47) This was Christian America at work in the decades before the sexual revolution and Roe v. Wade and Barack Obama. Simplistic appeals to the virtues of that era should not go unchallenged and the historical amnesia that such appeals rely on should not be listened to.

A Nuclear Bomb Named Trinity

You learn something new everyday, and sometimes you learn something deeply symbolic. Such was the case for me yesterday when I was reading the Washington Post and a story they had about the first nuclear bomb test. How many of us know that the code name for this test was “Trinity”? How unsettling is that? How deeply revolting that should be to any Christian. How idolatrous that the Name we take as God’s deepest revelation of His character should have been used as the name for a weapon of such enormous power to destroy.

I can’t leave this subject without drawing out a further point. Often times in discussions with conservative Christian friends I feel such a profound disconnect because of their sense that the Christian character of America is under some sort of new, profound threat. Some might place that threat as coming from the cultural upheavals of the 1960s, others might point to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1972, still others will see the current Obama Administration as taking America on a decidedly post-Christian path. When I engage in these conversations, as I have often over the last thirty years, I feel such frustration at the historical amnesia reflected in these concerns. And so I ask “What kind of a ‘Christian America’ produces a mindset in which a nuclear bomb could be named Trinity? What kind of a Christian America is worth defending that could so willingly coexist with idolatry of that level? At what point do Christians in America ever face the reality that we live in a nation as rooted in sin and alienation from God as any other nation and that our call is not to prop up the Christian identity of any nation, but rather to live as salt and light in whatever nation it is that we live in?”