January 23, 2021

Michael Spencer’s Prophetic Words on Full Display

Michael Spencer’s Prophetic Words Personified

Read “What I Saw at the Jericho March,” by Rod Dreher

Note from CM: During these last few weeks here at Internet Monk, I will be writing posts that focus on a few of the primary themes we’ve focused on over the years, giving my latest thoughts and perspectives on them. We start today with an update on what Michael called “the evangelical circus,” a religious culture of shallow spectacle that he thought would “collapse” within ten years after he wrote his most famous posts. In other words, in these days.

American evangelicalism, especially with regard to its political alignments and public postures, has moved into areas of craziness (greatly accelerated by Trumpism) that even Michael could not have foreseen. The following article by Rod Dreher describes a movement that is characterized by the worst tendencies of gnostic dualism, religious nationalism, New Apostolic Reformation theocratic views, dispensational eschatology, and pentecostal enthusiasm. To be sure, there are many, many faithful evangelical churches that are quietly going about their business and helping people in their faith. But the public leadership of the movement and a broad base that endorses Trumpism, conspiracies, and a zero-sum approach to public life has drawn many even less fanatical evangelicals into a heightened culture war that is ugly and dangerous.

Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This was a mistake that will have brutal consequences. They are not only going to suffer in losing causes, they will be blamed as the primary movers of those causes. Evangelicals will become synonymous with those who oppose the direction of the culture in the next several decades. That opposition will be increasingly viewed as a threat, and there will be increasing pressure to consider evangelicals bad for America, bad for education, bad for children and bad for society.

The investment of evangelicals in the culture war will prove out to be one of the most costly mistakes in our history. The coming evangelical collapse will come about, largely, because our investment in moral, social and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. We’re going to find out that being against gay marriage and rhetorically pro-life (yes, that’s what I said) will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence and are believing in a cause more than a faith.

• Michael Spencer – 2009

Can I get a witness?

Yes, we most certainly can, because Rod Dreher was willing to subject himself to six hours of the mania that has overtaken the public face of American evangelicalism. Dreher writes about watching Saturday’s “The Jericho March” in the article linked above, and if each successive paragraph of his piece doesn’t make your mouth drop a bit wider and cause your head to shake with a growing dread that the inmates have taken charge of the asylum, then I don’t know what to say.

American evangelicalism is a mess. It may not have “collapsed” exactly, which is the word Michael Spencer used eleven years ago. However, it has clearly taken the “evangelical circus” (another of the iMonk’s descriptors) to levels heretofore unimaginable. If people like Eric Metaxas and others whom Dreher observed at the “Jericho March” in Washington on Saturday are at all representative of today’s evangelical culture, then we can stop singing “Send in the Clowns.” They are here, and they are running the show.

The “evangelical mind” — always a concept on the edge of being an oxymoron — has fallen clean off the cliff. Note some of these descriptions from Dreher’s article:

  • “It was a Trump rally by Christians (and sympathetic Jews) designed to mimic the Biblical story of the Israelite army ritually marching around the walled city of Jericho, blowing the shofar, and watching as God demolished the city’s defenses, so the Israelites could conquer. The idea of the Jericho March is that the true believers would circle the corrupt institutions of the US Government, the ones promulgating the hoax that Trump lost the election.”
  • “Festivities began with a large American-born Israeli man whose website is Shofar So Great, who says he received a blessing from his Orthodox rabbi to break Shabbat so he could fly to Washington and blow the shofar at the Jericho March, because it’s that important to support Donald Trump….Then he blew a special red, white, and blue shofar made especially for You Know Who. He referred to it as the ‘Trump Shofar.'”
  • “He was followed onto the stage by a woman in a Women For Trump t-shirt, who praised “Yeshua ha Mashiach” — Jesus the Messiah — and sang the Star Spangled Banner.”
  • “‘Hallelujah’ is American for ‘praise the Lord!’” said Eric [Metaxas].”
  • “‘When God gives you a vision, you don’t need to know anything else,’ said Eric, who then asked people to use the price code ERIC when they buy a MyPillow.com product.”
  • “Next came the MyPillow king, Mike Lindell. He spoke about all the prophetic visions and dreams he had about Donald Trump.”
  • “Metaxas came onstage after Lindell spoke, and told the crowd that the president’s helicopter, Marine One, would soon be hovering above the crowd. It was a Felliniesque moment: Trump descending from on high to bless the mighty throng. ‘Praise God!’ says Metaxas. ‘Thank you Jesus! God bless America! … That’s not the Messiah, that’s just the President.’”
  • “A man who is one of the founders of the Jericho March — I didn’t get his name — took the stage to explain how it came about. God poked him in the side one night as he slept, waking him up. ‘God said it’s not over,’ the man told the crowd. Then God showed him a literal vision of the Jericho Marches. Then God introduced him to a woman — standing there at his side — who had had the very same vision!

And what shall I say of the Colorado priest who prayed down heaven to deliver America from demons? Combined with an opera singer singing “Ave Maria”? Convicted and pardoned criminal Gen. Michael Flynn announcing that the people will decide this election, not the courts (what was he hinting at?) — after first testifying to how MyPillow gives him the best night’s sleep? Arch-conservative Archbishop Vigano proclaiming, “Trump is a holy crusade!”?

And on. And on. And on.

Manic spokesman and batshit crazy conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars infamy brought the rally to a climax: “‘GOD IS ON OUR SIDE!’ he bellowed. Then: ‘We will never bow down to the Satanic pedophile New World Order!'”

There’s more, but I’m worn out just reading through this litany of brainless idiocy.

In summary, here is the impression Rod Dreher (Christian, conservative) had of the evangelicalism on display Saturday:

They are saints, charged by God to fight the pedophile Deep Staters, the Marxists, the Democrats, those who doubt Trump and who stab him in the back. They will create heaven on earth. I heard it myself from the stage at the Jericho March.

…Yes, it is bonkers. All of it. But you would be wrong to make fun of it and blow it off. This phenomenon is going to matter. Divinizing MAGA and Stop The Steal is going to tear churches to bits, and drive people away from the Christian faith (or keep them from coming in the first place). Based on what I saw today, the Christians in this movement do not doubt that Trump is God’s chosen, that they, by following him, are walking in light, and whatever they do to serve Trump is also serving God. They have tightly wound apocalyptic religion to conservative politics and American nationalism.

“We have to align our spirituality to our politics,” said [one] speaker today. Notice that she didn’t say “align our politics to our spirituality.” Politics determines spirituality. 

In my view, and according to Michael Spencer’s prescient pieces forecasting evangelicalism’s collapse, this has happened because the “spirituality” itself was suspect in the first place.

A “spirituality” that has no respect for tradition and is not historically informed.

A blatantly syncretistic “spirituality” that is more nationalistic than anything else.

A “spirituality” that has a deficient understanding of what the Bible is and what it’s for.

A “spirituality” that has more in common with gnosticism than with orthodox Christianity.

A “spirituality” that is incapable of recognizing its cultural captivity.

A “spirituality” whose gospel is a message of hyper-personalized faith, understood primarily in terms of morality, that gives birth to an “us” vs. “them” view of the world.

Most of all, a “spirituality” that has no place for Jesus and no recognition of Jesus as the central shaping force in faith and practice.

One thing is clear. There was no Jesus at the Jericho March.

And where Jesus is absent, the circus thrives and grows ever more bizarre.

Comments

  1. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty man.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Never Forget:
      To three out of four Evangelicals, “He Is LOOOOOOOOORD!!!”
      Enthroned in their Holy of Holies claiming to be God.

  2. It is as though the often crazy end times fantasies of evangelicals have spilled over into their politics and into their relation with reality. They’ve had the luxury of imagining the worst imaginable things about God’s judgments on the world’s sin(s) while happily looking forward to being raptured out of it all. They’ve expected nothing but the worst, and now they’re projecting that apocalyptic literalism onto reality. They can see everyone’s sin but their own.

    The great danger in this, for Monk readers at least, is that we let evangelicals’ sins distract us from our own. Perhaps the best way of reading this post and responding to it (which I hope many do) is to pray “Lord have mercy” while doing so.

    • That last paragraph Randy…

      What is described by Dreher goes beyond “sin” and well into the stupid, asinine, dangerous, destructive, delusional, and a whole slew of other adjectives. I don’t need to weep and wail about my usual “besetting sins” while the barn is burning down around me. You are advocating a reverse “what about-ism.”

      • I think Randy is spot on.

        Consider the church fathers and mothers of the first few centuries, after Constantine had institutionalized the faith.

        They recognized the dangerous waters that Christianity was headed towards. There was nothing they could do about the big picture. Their choice: take responsibility for themselves to not drown in those waters. So they went to the desert.

        And in the desert, they took up the battle against their own vices and passions. They invested in their own formation. And now we owe them a tremendous debt for the legacy of contemplation, spiritual growth, and psychology that they left us.

        For those of us who determine not to drown in the chaotic waters of Christian nationalism, and the evangelical circus: what legacy we will leave to those who come after? I think it’s a fair question.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          CENTAURI EMPEROR TURHAN: How will it end?
          VORLON AMBASSADOR KOSH: In Fire.
          — Babylon-5

          • Londo was actually one my favorite characters in the show. The interplay between him and G’Kar was priceless.

            • Sorry, that post you made had nothing to do with my reply other than HT: Babylon 5.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Londo had some of the best lines, including one apropos to Evangelcalism today:

              VIR: Londo! This is insane!
              LONDO: “Insanity is part of these times! You must learn to EMBRACE THE MADNESS!”

              (After which Londo accepts the offer of the Mephistopheles figure “Mr Morden”, touching off the Second Centauri/Narn War and setting a chain of events in motion that destroys pretty much everything over the next four seasons. There is a way which seems right to a Centauri, but the end thereof is Death.)

            • “If you see something this big with eight legs coming your way, let me know. I have to kill it before it develops language skills.”

              • This is always a gem:

                Londo Mollari:
                But this…this, this, this is like… being nibbled to death by, uh…Pah! What are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet…go “quack”.

                Vir Cotto:
                Cats.

                Londo:
                Cats! I’m being nibbled to death by cats.

        • Contemplation leads to proper action, not inaction.

          The Desert mothers and fathers played a role and a purpose. But, in the end, they had little effect on the “Constatinized” church.

      • I agree with all your adjectives. I’d also throw in “demonic.” That said, I hold to what I said. By focusing on the sin(s) and all the adjectives you listed above, we run the danger of becoming what we fear, hate or judge. Yes, by all means, let’s keep our eyes open. But let our eyes look into our own hearts as we look at the deplorable actions of others.

        • Yes, after posting my comment I also thought of “demonic.”

          Certainly, we should look inward so as not to become that which is being resisted. However, to not resist is irresponsible.

    • It helps just a little bit when I consider just how close I was to bring swallowed up in this madness. A few “turn rights” in my past instead of the canonical “turn lefts” and I could have ended up where Dreher is now… Or worse.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        If I hadn’t discovered D&D in 1976, I wouldn’t even have lasted that long; I would have ridden that end-of-the-world shepherding cult down to impact-fused detonation.

        • What was your favorite character class to play? Or did you mix them up?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Mixed em up. My first three characters were two mages and one half-Arab/half-Elf fighter/cleric. Got handed 3D6 and told to start rolling. (Complete random rollups, pick best one in three. Was eventually able to use all three of those initial rolls.)

            This was the Burgess Shale Period of gaming. D&D (in the form of Gygax’s three little books plus Greyhawk) was the only game in town, and these were basically Gygax’s first scribble-notes with little or no context to fit them all together. (We’re not even talking Whiite Box, but Brown Box.) No official scenarios, no official backgrounds, every DM doing his own thing with his own House Rules (which could get extensive; “Mr Hand-cart” long precedes Magic the Exitniction Event).

            Result: A Wild and Crazy, anything goes form of Dee & Dee. You could run into orcs in one dungeon, Godzilla the next week in another dungeon, then Spiderman the next week, then Cthulhu, then some SF miniatures wargame…. (My regular DM was one of the first to stat up Lovecraft boogies.) I had to start binge-reading F&SF just to keep up with what my DMs might be throwing at me next week. Like the Burgess Shale period before the first mass extinction, a wild and crazy variety that has never been surpassed.

      • Not sure what you mean. Dreher’s the one calling out the BS of the spectacle, not part of it.

        Dana

        • Burro (Mule) says

          Dana –
          They accuse Rod Dreher of stoking culture war, then complaining now that said culture war has progressed beyond just tsk-tsking on a couple of websites or in a couple of magazines.

          They have a point.

          However, what Eeyore, Michael Z, Zook and the other Usual Suspects want traditional Christians to do is accept defeat and join their collaboration. Anything less will cause you to be thrown in with the Jericho Wall lot.

          • Yep. If you’ve going the wrong way, it kind of entails you have to change course if you want to get where you (claim you) want to go. Even if you have to go through an area you don’t want to go.

            • Burro (Mule) says

              What makes you think we’re going the wrong way, jacobin? Just that Trump wasn’t the horse to take us there. Never was. He did truly seem to want to get us out of endless wars. He stood up to China on long-standing trade issues, listened to pro-life concerns in his judicial appointments, and brought immigration issues front and center.

              I voted for 4 years of sclerotic DNC governance so that we get out of this damned epidemic and find someone who can get us back on track.

          • Mule, I used to admire culture warriors – maybe 25 or more years ago. Now I think the whole thing has been pointless, on both “sides”. What we need to do is simply live like “traditional Christians” – Christians who accept and inhabit the Tradition. Politics is only tangential to that – touches it at times, but not the point. There are conditions and government systems under which Christians (and everyone else) can live and thrive in relative peace. Work for that, yes – and constantly check your heart. The “usual suspects” as you call them are not our enemies, and neither are we theirs, if they can see it.

            Dana

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              What we need to do is simply live like “traditional Christians” – Christians who accept and inhabit the Tradition.

              But then how can we rule from our seat at The LORD’s Right Hand and PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! ?

              Because a lot of these guys have the attitude of the Romans:
              The Ability To PUNISH is the very definition of POWER.

          • Mule, Dreher has not called for a culture war. Nor has he called for a withdrawal of Christians from the larger society. A fair reading of The Benedict Option would disabuse a fair reader of both of these misunderstandings. But then most people don’t read Mr. Dreher fairly, if they read him at all. Since he comes from the right he apparently is not due such consideration.

      • Dreher is not the problem. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      They’ve had the luxury of imagining the worst imaginable things about God’s judgments on the world’s sin(s) while happily looking forward to being raptured out of it all.

      No, RAPTURED OUT BEFORE ANYTHING BAD CAN PERSONALLY HAPPEN TO THEM.

      Beamed up to a catered Superbowl Suite in Heaven to watch Armageddon as The Ultimate Spectator Sport. To laugh and Praise God as the world burns.

  3. I think the collapse as Michael probably envisioned it is still coming, only now it will coincide with the cultural and demographic changes that will likely put an end to the dominance of the powers with which it has aligned itself.

    Much of what evangelicalism once was has already collapsed spiritually. It is now largely a social-political (and let’s be honest, sometimes racial) cause rather than a faith.

    I was raised in it but left it about ten years ago and have no regrets. I do worry though about what this collapse means for the church (in the true universal sense of that term).

    • ‘fundamentalism’ is represented in this ‘rally’ in its most fully revealed form . . . . the open display of hate from many sources rises almost to the same plane as the public beheadings of innocents by Isis fundamentalists, except that for all practical purposes, the participants of THIS ‘Trump Worship’ rally have already lost their own heads

      where do these folks go from here?

      who do they target next?

      I guess they run Mike-The-Pillow-Guy for President in ’24?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        I expected full-throttle fundamentalism to have more style.
        I feel that calling this Fundamentalism isn’t giving Fundamentalists enough credit.
        A good Fundamentalist would object to any ornamentation on the shofar, and he’d have a point.

        This is way sadder than Fundamentalism.

        • –> “This is way sadder than Fundamentalism.”

          Yes. It’s seeing people who should know better being duped and deluded so that they no longer think right. It’s like seeing loved ones joining a cult.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            The same Christians who would quote Revelation and “Tsk. Tsk.” over the Strong Delusion of those who worship The Beast.

        • Right, Adam. It is STUPID ON STEROIDS.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Holy Nincompoop Syndrome, where the more stupid and ignorant you are, the more Holy you must be.

            And these guys are Holy enough to sit at God’s Right Hand, the Heavenly Court Favorite.

            “The scandal of the Evangelical Mind is there is NO Evangelical Mind.”

  4. Hard to know how to respond of all of this – a bit of open-mouthed incredulity, a bit of fear – but also weariness at the sheer dishonesty of it all, seeing the truth of Rod Dreher’s update at the end of the article (and I quote):

    “UPDATE.6: A reader, on the earlier “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse” post:
    I posted before I saw Update #2 (the silly Metaxas carol-spoof). I’m struck by the un-seriousness of it all. This is not the tone of a man who is readying himself to put his own life on the line for a deadly serious cause. This is not tone you take if you are trying persuade people of the gravity of the greatest crisis in our nation’s history. This is the tone of a man who is trying to get attention on the Internet, who it trying to sell you something; it’s pure click-bait.
    That’s what bothers me about some of these loud voices on the Right — I don’t buy that many of them actually believe their own bombastic rhetoric, they’re just engaging in the hyperbole because they’re trying to sell us something (t-shirts, subscriptions, Trump merch, survival kits, gold coins — you name it, it’s always for sale on the sidelines of these kind of events) It’s pure hucksterism, and it’s disheartening when Christians use their influence to peddle it.”

    • 1) The leaders and inciters of this “movement” may be or not be serious, and it may be different from one person to another. But they are whipping up hateful and violent passions in the mob that are serious. They are playing with fire, whether or not they mean it.

      2) When it comes to religion, the seriously dangerous and ludicrous often travel together.

      We shouldn’t underestimate the danger of this moment and this “movement” to our country just because it looks ridiculous to us.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        It is my Christmas and New Years card this year.

        DM: Perform Saving Throw vs. Disease
        PC: Yes!
        DM: Congratulations, you have defeated 2020.
        PC: Pfew, that was close, but now I have the points to level-up.
        DM: Next you face off against Domestic Terrorists amid a landscape of Climate Devastation.
        PC: … I don’t want to play anymore.

        It comes attached to a bottle-in-bond bottle of bourbon. Seems fitting.

      • –> “1) The leaders and inciters of this “movement” may be or not be serious, and it may be different from one person to another. But they are whipping up hateful and violent passions in the mob that are serious. They are playing with fire, whether or not they mean it.”

        Yes. There are people ready to go to war over this crap. And the Trumpster, our frickin’ president, is doing ZIPPO to rein it in. Crazy train!

        • David Greene says

          “–> “1) …They are playing with fire, whether or not they mean it.”
          Yes… And the Trumpster, our frickin’ president, is doing ZIPPO to rein it in.”

          In fact the Trumper is using the Zippo to light it!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Remember what a Civil War is when the two sides live intermixed and at least one (and often both) polish their haloes of RIghteousness.

          Bleeding Kansas, 1850=1860s.
          Missouri, 1862-1864. Jayhawkers, Bushwhackers, Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson, Night Riders, Lynchings, Massacres, and Burnings.
          Yugoslavia, 1990s.
          Rwanda.

    • it’s hucksterism alright, as a thin veil trying to hide nascent fascism and ‘christian’ dominionism.

      I look for these rallies to soon start throwing up a heil.

      Did anyone see what was done to the two black historical Churches? Fascism a la trumpites.

      • The racism of the Proud Boys and so many other of Trump’s supporters is blatant. And a LOT of evangelicals seem quite OK with it, or at least willing to go along with it to get what they want.

        That will never be forgotten.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Chesterton once wrote that the appeal of Black Magick is that in the Unseen World, it’s the Dark Powers who have the reputation for Getting Things Done.

          • Good reference. Sounds like truth.

          • Burro (Mule) says

            “When you need something done; if you want a girl to fall in love with you without you falling for her, or if you want an enemy taken care of, it’s no good going to Christ or the Virgin or even St. George. They’re all about self-mortification and that kind of ****. No, you gotta go to the other saints, the ones that understand that things aren’t all black and white, that sometimes you gotta cut a deal, sometimes you gotta enforce an agreement.”

            A Cuban co-worker

  5. Dan from Georgia says

    Does Eric’s Shofar (in the picture accompanying the article) appear to be draped in the American flag?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I believe it is painted red-white-and-blue. Which is so tacky.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Remember Christian Kitsch?
        This is Messianic Jew Kitsch.
        (And Messianic Jews are NOT Jews. They’re Calvary Chapelites with a LOT of Hebrew Buzzwords.)

        • Dan from Georgia says

          Adam and H.U.G.,

          Just did a search for Shofar, and you can get them with drawings/illustrations on them. None of these looked tacky or inappropriate. The U.S. flag though? I agree Adam…very tacky and quite offensive.

        • Robert Weinger, the Shofar so Great creator, does seem to be Jewish under Israeli law since he was able to immigrate to Israel. I also found no indication that he was Christian; instead he has some connections with Chabad.

        • “(And Messianic Jews are NOT Jews. They’re Calvary Chapelites with a LOT of Hebrew Buzzwords.)”

          In my experience it isn’t so much CC, but IHOP’ers.

          • I thought IHOP’ers were college students enjoying their pancakes and bacon after a long day of football and drinking. 😀

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Metaxas came onstage after Lindell spoke, and told the crowd that the president’s helicopter, Marine One, would soon be hovering above the crowd. It was a Felliniesque moment: Trump descending from on high to bless the mighty throng. ‘Praise God!’ says Metaxas. ‘Thank you Jesus! God bless America! … That’s not the Messiah, that’s just the President.’”

      Then Eric blows his Red/White/Blue Shofar and with a mighty shout the crowd rises into the sky to Meet their LORD in the Air…

  6. Iain Lovejoy says

    Even as Rod Dreher condemned the batshit crazy Trumpism he repeated the very lies conservative Christianity has promoted for decades which gave birth to it. He laments over how the Trumpist speakers try and label anyone opposing them as satanic and evil, while at exactly the same time reproducing lies about how the “left” – which he basically seems to define as anyone not supporting the Republican party – as “destructive insanity” and “irrational zealots”, drawing completely ridiculous comparisons between the out-and-out fascism on display and Black Lives Matter, taking an interview with a Spanish army officer in which he explains how fascist politicians demonised the left as being “both sides” being hostile to each other, referring to “woke soft totalitarianism”, agreeing that the paranoid fantasies on display about the evils of “the left” could have “sounded like a progressive Democratic campaign speech” says “the left” “believe ideology over truth” and “are willing to smash any institutions for the sake of seeing their idea of justice triumph”.
    Rod Dreher is a hypocrite. He deliberately distorts and demonises his political opponents and portrays them as unremittingly evil for political advantage, deliberately whips up fear of non existent “religious persecution” to garner political support and evangelical votes for his cause, then acts all shocked and surprised when he is taken at his word and stuff like this crazy “Jericho march” happens, and political hucksters ride the artificially created fears and hatred Dreher and his kind are responsible for in the entirely predictable and foreseeable way they have.
    He who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind.

    • Speaking as a resident of the UK, I am totally gobsmacked at how the US Right characterise the Democrats as ‘Leftist’ and ‘Socialist’. To me, they seem like just a slightly more humane, less extreme brand of conservatism – not socialist by any stretch of the imagination.

      • You make a good point very few Americans recognize. By European standards, what we call socialism is really center or even center right by British and other European standards. That is why I stopped using labels and focused on specific issues.

        There is also a strong racial component that may not be apparent from Europe. For example, what we call “Social Security Disability” is not considered socialist by the right because it tends to be used by white people more than minorities. Other programs used primarily by minorities are called socialist. In the U.S. context, consider “socialist” a racial term as much as a system of government.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > it tends to be used by white people more than minorities

          And the difference in support between surface transportation vs. airlines. We even call the later “essential service”, whereas the former is subsidized.

          You’d never know it but inter-city buses carry more passengers in America than the airlines. But who are those passengers? That’s the question.

          Whereas a quite small portion of the population uses the airlines in a given year – and of those who do – a whopping 70%+ of passengers – use them once a month or more. Flights in America often receive direct payments [ not subsidies, these are “essential services” ] of more than $100 PER PASSENGER.

          America is gross and the ‘political’ conversation hopelessly ignorant.

        • Re “what we call socialism”: I my experience, “socialism” is used as a content-free term of denigration. It has nothing to do with economic theory and control of the means of production and the like. It is merely a scary word meant to get people to hide under their beds and vote Republican.

        • Burro (Mule) says

          Here you put your finger on it.

          If a white guy benefits from a government program, it’s because he deserves it. if a black guy benefits from a government program, he’s looking for a handout.

      • To many American conservatives and evangelicals, Europe is the epitome of everything they hate and fear. They think our becoming more like Europe is the absolute worst case scenario. Europe represents everything they think is going wrong with “Western civilization” today.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I am totally gobsmacked at how the US Right characterise the Democrats as ‘Leftist’ and ‘Socialist’.

        I think it’s the John Birch Society bloodline interbred during the Cold War.
        “THE COMMUNISTS! THE COMMUNISTS! THE COMMUNISTS! THE COMMUNISTS! THE COMMUNISTS! THE COMMUNISTS! THE COMMUNISTS! THEY’RE HERE! THEY’RE THERE! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE! SO BEWARE! THE COMMUNISTS!”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Dreher and his kind are responsible for in the entirely predictable and foreseeable way they have.

      Agree. Dreher may be more dangerous than any of these yahooos.

      And the “both sides” is simply exhausting – and stupid. There is no “other side” to this kind of … whatever this is.

      “”””All three of the men shot by Rittenhouse were bad guys who were only out on the streets of Kenosha that night to cause trouble. They are violent men who died violently, or, in Grosskreutz’s case, will live maimed as the result of his violence. Kyle Rittenhouse seems like a good kid who got in way over his head, but who is not the villain here.””” – Rob Dreher. What, now he wants to be the moderate? Sown seed sprouted and reaped Rob.

      • Andrew Zook says

        Yes, you’re right about Dreher too… I read him and find things to agree with (Like CM did here) but all intertwined with that is the same cultural war mentality that fuels the crazy that he’s decrying… it’s baffling. Somehow he seems to hold it all together or tries to, but I know I can’t…

        • “I read about the March in more depth in, of all places, The American Conservative, where even Rod Dreher thought they’d gone a little too far. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but his live tweet of the spectacle was pretty good as well. Dreher doesn’t seem to understand that he’s been a contributor to the bizarre heretical spectacle of Americanist Christianity, which almost makes his observations more poignant. He is a Pandora watching the demons fly out of the box, and he doesn’t even realize he helped to open it.”

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/steelmagnificat/2020/12/the-jericho-march-is-a-sad-testimony-to-the-state-of-american-christianity/

          • “Dreher doesn’t seem to understand that he’s been a contributor to the bizarre heretical spectacle of Americanist Christianity…”

            It seems to be a very small number of Conservatives, especially Christian Conservatives, who will take any responsibility for the monster they have unleashed. Either they are that dense or, as Mike D quoted above: “I don’t buy that many of them actually believe their own bombastic rhetoric, they’re just engaging in the hyperbole because they’re trying to sell us something (t-shirts, subscriptions, Trump merch, survival kits, gold coins..” which seems to give them their mantra of “We didn’t know!”. I have said for quite a few years that whether the leaders of the Right believe their own bombastic rhetoric or not, they seem to have no clue whatsoever that the consumers of their media do believe it completely.
            I also believe it will lead to violence more than it already has and will do grave damage to the Christian church in America. My own children, raised in church, see it clearly and have absolutely no interest in taking part. They both tell me they still believe in God, but want no part of the church. any church. I can’t blame them.

            It really is like watching a train full of people head toward a cliff, knowing that it will fall off the edge and there will be terrible destruction but are powerless to stop it.

      • I must admit, when I read the following words by Dreher:

        “Divinizing MAGA and Stop The Steal is going to tear churches to bits, and drive people away from the Christian faith (or keep them from coming in the first place).”

        my reaction was to wonder whether he had his priorities somewhat mixed up. Your biggest concern is that the church may come out of this looking bad? Really?

        • With Dreher it’s not “America First”, bad as that is; with Dreher it’s “Church First”, which is even worse.

      • He didn’t have to end up like this. He was on a path towards a better place. I read his book *Crunchy Cons* back in the mid-oughts, and he was actually wrestling with some of the demons that lurk in the conservative movement. But at some point between then and now, he dropped all that and bought back into the circus. There’s obviously enough of a remnant of that old struggle that he can still see the insanity, but…

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          The mid-oughts to late were a high-point IMO. There were so many interesting conversations. It was an inflection point when things could gone so many ways. And they went this way. 🙁

          • A few listened (like me). But evidently too many others kept listening to Fox/talk radio/Christian media, and blew past the guardrails.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          But at some point between then and now, he dropped all that and bought back into the circus.

          Damascus Road Converstion Experience?

    • Iain — you are spot on about Dreher. He throws fuel on the fire of demonization, but when the flames get too high for his liking, he pretends to be on the side of the rational and moderate.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1

      • he plays the game ‘Let’s You and Them go Fight’

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          In Chinese it’s called “Sit on the Mountain and Watch the Tigers Fight”.
          After the tigers kill each other (at your instigation) you go down off the mountain and start looting the bodies of everything they’ve got.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            This was a common plot in Cold War thrillers.

            Some rinky-dink Third World dictatorship (North Korea being the most common canddidate) does a False Flag Op to touch off a USA/USSR nuclear war, after which they Reap the Benefits and the NEW Superpower by default..

    • Dreher’s tone has become more frenzied and apocalyptic on his blog as the years have passed. As a result, he has lost some influential friends on the right and in the center. I do not defend some of his outrageous hyperbole and no longer read his blog for this very reason.

      But his more considered argument in his books Live Not by Lies and The Benedict Option is worthy of engagement for those who care to engage with one slice of Christian social and political thought. A chief concern for Dreher is the threats to the US first amendment constitutional rights and the evidence for a growing support for a soft totalitarianism. To suggest there are no actors on the left who would constrict first amendment liberties is belied by commentators on this very blog who cheer them on. It is heartening at the same time to see some of the more liberal voices on this blog expressing their skepticism toward these efforts.

      • There is nothing wrong with the idea of intentional Christian community. It has been implemented many times in history (albeit to lesser and greater success). What gets many of our goats is that it appears that Dreher was never really serious about putting his money where his mouth was. It always came back to throwing brickbats at non-Christian culture.

    • Iain, much truth to what you say about Dreher.

      From my perspective I’ve viewed Rod as more of a traditionalist much to the right of center. I don’t agree with most of his politics. And, in a sense, it does appear that what he was railing against is only a short stone throw down the continuum of his own politics.

  7. “We’ve traded ‘theologia crucis’ for ‘theologia circus.”

    Mark Pixley

  8. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > It may not have “collapsed” exactly, which is the word Michael Spencer used
    > eleven years ago. However, it has clearly taken the “evangelical circus”

    Agree. 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

    Not the outcome I expected.

    > A “spirituality” that is incapable of recognizing its cultural captivity.

    A “spirituality” well rested thanks to excellent pillows from the Intenet . . . yeah, it’s not even a bit funny. These people are going to hurt people. This is a tragedy.

  9. I read this article a couple of days ago. Rod Dreher’s account felt like reading some apocalyptic fantasy story. Just seems unbelievable–can’t be the real world, right?

    Occasionally I read Dreher’s articles at The American Conservative. I’ve semi-followed Dreher for quite a while so as to keep abreast of any possible developments in his “withdrawl from culture” perspective. I find him thoughtful, intelligent, and sincere–and I rarely agree with him. However, in this article I found NONE of his conclusions and observation inaccurate.

    Damn, what a freak show he describes!

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > I’ve semi-followed Dreher for quite a while

      Same

      > developments in his “withdrawl from culture” perspective

      I wish he would return to that. I fear he abandoned it as going any further than he did would be entering territory that required more courage than he has. Yet, that is were it would get interesting. The 2000s nearly developed a category of Christian literature whose meme was to run up to that edge and then turn back.

      > I rarely agree with him

      Same. With Rod I’m like, you had me for the first 5-10% of your argument, then I started to doubt you knew what you were talking about. It is as if all the basic mechanics of a society are something he is oblivious to or merely beneath his interest. As in, hey Rod, where do your think your tap water comes from? Is the Water Dept in on the cabal?

      > In this article I found NONE of his conclusions and observation inaccurate.

      Agree. His both-sidism is nauseating, and I am so very tired of it. It is childish, akin to responding “No, you are!”

      • “I fear he abandoned it as going any further than he did would be entering territory that required more courage than he has. Yet, that is were it would get interesting. The 2000s nearly developed a category of Christian literature whose meme was to run up to that edge and then turn back.”

        I do wonder what the “turning back” point was/is. Was it Obergefell? Obama? Fear of losing their audience?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          It was the follow on of Obergefell, IMO, that drove these guys over the edge. It happened, they were very unhappy about it. In some ways I think they liked it – good for their persecution fantasies [ meanwhile Rod was on the NYT best sellers list… if that’s persecution? ]

          Yet, most people didn’t really care. And that realization made them panic. They forget their narrative was a trope.

    • Yeah, but The Benedict Option was never about withdrawing from culture but was a call for the Church to invest in a strategic ressourcement that would enable a deep and broad ministry of discipleship for embodying the Christian witness of the catholic tradition. The Church would continue to be in ministry to the larger culture while enacting The Benedict Option. As such, Rod has not moved away from his foundational claims, but he has, alas, let his personal fears and distemper to lead him into apocalyptic perceptions and hyperbole. His books are better in that these tendencies are largely muted and always contained.

      • “Rod has not moved away from his foundational claims, but he has, alas, let his personal fears and distemper to lead him into apocalyptic perceptions and hyperbole.”

        Exactly. Like it or not, he was the spokesperson for those claims, and when push came to shove, he backed off from implementing them.

  10. “the inmates have taken charge of the asylum,”

    Exactly.

  11. Andrew Zook says

    I’ve come to believe pretty strongly that american evangelicalism is the most corrupt form of christianity in our world today… It is at the “indulgences, openly hypocritical priesthood, etc” levels. The question then is; who will be the Luthers, Erasmus, Calvins, Menno Simons from within who will rise up and say enough! (I don’t outsiders attacking will do much good… it needs to be people from within who get sick of the clown train).

    • I’m afraid that American evangelicalism, by its very nature, will never be saved or reformed by anyone. In the time of Luther, Calvin, etc. people respected authority and leadership, rightly or wrongly (and of course, had little say in how their lives turned out). As such, an authoritative voice – especially one that challenged traditional authority, would be heard, and sometimes that leadership followed. American evangelicalism is individualistic and egalitarian – my ‘experience’ or understanding is just as valid as yours. So hoping for a leader or reformer is futile, as nobody would follow them anyway. Their voice would be just one of a million equally valid voices. And if their voice was heard, it would probably be the voice of someone crazier than the last one, and their ‘following’ would end when someone else’s best-seller came out next week, claiming something even crazier. The only hope I see is for thinking people to leave evangelicalism for more traditional churches, as has happened in spurts, like when evangelicals began moving to Anglican churches (which in my experience just brought the craziness to the Anglican churches).

    • the insiders are frightened – the people of ‘good will’ are there, but trumpism hunts down those who don’t bow down before it and its goals, and the ‘followers’ take vengeance on any who depart from the worship of the trump

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Rev 13:15:
        And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      You don’t get out much, do you?

      “Evangelicalism” in the global South is, if anything, less organized, less theological, less introspective, more syncretistic, and more given to caudillismo than anything we have in the US.

      For all you want to complain about the crazy right in this country, you don’t have anything like a movement that will bring a million three hundred thousand people into the streets to protest changes in a “family life” curriculum that attempts to normalize homosexuality.

      You don’t have pastors here who openly agitate for the death penalty for adulterers and homosexuals. On government TV.

      Of course, you can say that our “missionaries” exported our crazy over there during the fifties to the seventies, and you’d be roughly correct, but only roughly. I don’t think you understand how poorly “progressive” values play outside our boundaries, or outside the colonial enclaves we have established among their elites.

      They have the Bible, and the ability to read it. Their cultures are closer than ours to the culture that gave rise to the Bible, and they read the clobber verses pretty much the way you would expect them to. When they ask me why American Christians allow homosexuals in our pulpits, I try to give them some of the sophisms I get here at I-monk; it was a different culture, the words don’t mean what you think they do, amor vincit omnia, and above all, you can’t offend anyone.

      They stare at me like I was growing a second head.

      • You’re right. Third World Evangelicalism is even more reactionary than the American version. Can’t deny it. But then Russian Orthodoxy in Russia is just as reactionary as Third World Evangelicalism its very different way, which means that it is far more reactionary than Russian Orthodoxy here in the US. Christianity has a worldwide problem of being reactionary.

        • Burro (Mule) says

          i don’t know what y’all’s problem is with reactionaries.

          Like the Global Pansexual Surveillance Management state is such a lovely destination we’re all slavering to get there.

          • Reactionaries are cruel, and end up in fascism.

            “Are you a communist?”
            “No I am an anti-fascist.”
            “For a long time?”
            “Since I have understood fascism.”

            For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

  12. Steve Newell says

    I have read many books on what happened to the Christian Chruch in Germany during the 1930’s.

    There are many scary parallels between “German Christians” and “Trumpian Christians” of today.

    First, both infuse Christian Nationalism with tradition Christianity.

    Second, both follow a cult of personality around a national political leader.

    Third, church leaders claim that the national leader is acting on God’s behalf even when the actions by that leader run counter to historic Christian ethics.

    In the twentieth century, there are many example of how Christian Church leaders would side towards fascism, see Itlaly in the 1920’s, Germany in the 1930’s, and Spain (1930’s to 1970’s).

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > There are many scary parallels between

      And we need to be level-headed, remember that those scary parallels also have intersecting constraints.

      Demographics: America is diverse and getting more so. White Christian Nationalists don’t have the proportion that German Protestants had.

      Political Structure: Political power in America is wildly diffuse. Assembling a hegemonic bulwark is far – far – more difficult. Let alone holding it together once assembled. Terrible things are done, yet they are done erratically, and usually poorly. Of course, good things can’t be done either. In America it is difficult to extend a sidewalk.

      Economics: Modern economies are nothing like those of the 1950s and earlier, information networks and dirt-cheap transport changed everything. And our Wealthy Elite do not align nicely with any political block; they may be [rhetorically] fiscally conservative, but they are not culturally conservative. Perhaps they are Evil, but they are evil like a Beholder – with its fractured mind – more then they are evil like a brooding Lich.

    • “In the twentieth century, there are many example of how Christian Church leaders would side towards fascism, see Itlaly in the 1920’s, Germany in the 1930’s, and Spain (1930’s to 1970’s).”

      And Europe has not forgotten this.

      • This is true. Christianity also lost credibility after the Civil War in this country when people realized that the war was fought in large part by professing Christians who could not agree over whether their Bible authorized slavery or required its abolition.

        The Nazification of the Protestant churches in Germany is a sad fact of history. Remember too the remnant was the Confessing Church, a Protestant counterwitness to Jesus Christ. The Barmen Declaration, largely written by Karl Barth, gave succor to the enemies of the Nazis because it declared an allegiance to Jesus Christ, the one Word of God.

        • And I also remember how pitifully few they were in comparison to the masses who rallied around the “German Church”. And how their faithfulness did not yield tangible results (at least from a pragmatic perspective) in either the short or the long term. I suppose some situations are so bad that the only thing you can do is call out the madness and thereby save yourself.

          • Barth was very unhappy with the Confessing Church’s silence regarding the persecution of the Jews. The CC had a number of members who were influential conservative Lutherans who were in a position to keep the CC silent at the important junctures where the Nazis were ramping up their persecution of Jews. The CC didn’t come around to surrendering its adherence to the traditional Lutheran Two Kingdoms doctrine that enabled oppression of the Jews until it was too late to make a difference.

    • Here is a comparison I noticed that was way too obvious:

      the SILENCE of the fundamentalist-evangelical Churches when the border babies were taken from their parents and placed in sub-standard ‘camps’

      reflects a terrible past as described by Niemoller, this, written circa 1946 by Martin Niemoller who famously said ‘God is my feuhrer’:

      “”… the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians—”should I be my brother’s keeper?”

      Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? Only then did the church as such take note.
      Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. ”

      (Niemoller)

  13. Iain Lovejoy says

    The Rob Dreyers of this world are starting to realise if you teach people to swallow whatever lies they are told against whoever they are told is the enemy, they will follow whoever feeds them the biggest lies and most hate. Rob Dreyer’s problem is not that these people are suckers, but that they are suckers over whom he and his kind of conservative huckster have lost control.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      You win the comment of the day. This.

    • This is the Republican “establishment” in a nutshell. The business types were happy to embrace the Fox News viewers, secure in the belief that the business wing of the party are the adults in the room, and would keep control of anything that mattered. That worked well, until it didn’t. What is particularly interesting is that Fox News seems to be undergoing the same process. There always was a faction within the network that saw itself as a news organization with a viewpoint, as distinct from the opinion organization associated with it. Movement conservatism has devolved to the point where simple statements of objectively true facts are unacceptable. Fox News is desperately trying to maintain its position by suppressing the news faction and letting the craziest of the opinion faction run the entire show.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        secure in the belief that the business wing of the party are the adults in the room, and would keep control of anything that mattered.

        Didn’t the German equivalents of the Republican Establishment think the same in the 1930s about that Austrian cult leader with the funny little mustache who could really work his Base?

    • “… they are suckers over whom he and his kind of conservative huckster have lost control.”
      Yes. I have seen a number of Conservatives decry the state of Conservatism but almost none will admit any complicity in it. I think someone like Dreher, in his ivory tower, leading his sophisticated life, hobnobbing with wealthy and educated intellectuals, had no clue what the “common man” out here in the hinterlands of middle America is like or thinks. He has no idea that they are not inward thinkers, have little self-awareness, are not intellectually curious, are not stupid but have no interest in thinking but in doing. Dreher is a Mary failing to understand that his supposed audience are Marthas for whom work is their church and busyness their doctrine. Most of them can’t tell you what the Bible or the Constitution says, but by God, they are ready to take up arms to defend both. If you spend years telling them that the secular world hates them, that everyone outside their circle wants to destroy them, they don’t have the intellectual capacity to stop, think that through, look for opposing views, and decide for themselves if that is true. They loudest voice will draw their attention and they won’t seek out the quieter, more sensible voices. I know. I live among them.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “Whether The People be led by The LORD,
        Or lured by the loudest throat:
        If it be quicker to die by the sword
        Or cheaper to die by vote—”
        — Rudyard Kipling, “MacDonough’s Song”

        https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/MacDonough%27s_Song

      • His family comes from rural Louisiana and grew up with all kinds of non-sophisticates. He lives in Baton Rouge, hardly a center of hobnobbing intellectuals. He sends his kids to a Classics school precisely so that they will have interest in thinking and self-awareness. He has traveled fairly widely.

        I’ve been reading him for years, not simply because he’s Orthodox; don’t agree with all he says, but he’s a much deeper and more nuanced thinker than some people who have commented here make him out to be. He is more than willing to look at the problems of conservatism in this country.

        It’s fine with me if you don’t agree with him. I object to misrepresenting him, and adding to the general tenor of “if I can’t agree with you than you’re somehow at best and enemy and at worst evil” that is the current atmosphere. Forgive me if I misread or misunderstand anyone’s statements. I simply think Dreher is one of the sanest conservatives out there and deserves to be read closely, whether you agree with him or not.

        Dana

        • Dana, you’re comment about reading people closely is spot on. Also, when someone we disagree with often says something we do agree with, it is better to just acknowledge the rare agreement than to jump on them for the things we disagree about.

        • Burro (Mule) says

          This lot here is as Manichaean as any Eric Metaxas they complain about.

          If you don’t want German women in clamdigger slacks given tourist visas to Mount Athos, you might as well be Alex Jones.

        • Most of us here have admitted that Dreher has said and still says things that are well crafted and worth listening to. What we decry is his refusal to go draw the necessary conclusions from what he has said and has seen.

          • In a recent article at his blog criticizing Trump for wanting to make political prisoners, in the comment section Dreher admits that he made a mistake in telling people who lived in swing states that a vote for Trump in this election was better than a vote for the “radical” Democratic Party agenda. He said that Trump’s post-election antics trying to overturn the election results had shown him the man was not fit for office. But how Trump has behaved after the election is no different from his behavior during his first campaign or his four years in office. One of Dreher’s biggest problems is that he’s a very poor judge of character; indeed, he is gullible.

            • Bingo, Robert, bingo!
              What I am bothered by is any conservative who didn’t see this coming. I am fine with conservatives who saw the danger from the beginning with evangelical support of a man who had no use for the lifestyle and morality that they mocked or denounced others for lacking. I have no grace for someone who turned a blind eye to the danger in fear of the other side winning.

            • “One of Dreher’s biggest problems is that he’s a very poor judge of character”

              Was it a lack of discernment of character? Or a sense that any evil was better than the (Democratic) alternative he feared?

        • Iain Lovejoy says

          I can only go on what Dreher has said in this one article – I hadn’t previously heard of him. Much of what he says about the loons on the “Jericho march” is spot on – it’s his continuing to completely misrepresent and demonise his opponents in a totally mendatious way in the same article that laments what is basically the direct consequence of his (and others like him) doing so which I have highlighted.
          [Reproduced from below because it ended up in the wrong place.]

    • That is the diagnosis, fer shore.

  14. Yes this is truly crazy and truly has nothing to do with Christ. This to me is the fully ripened fruit of making politics your religion, and making a politician your messiah.

  15. This from the Scott Lencke I-monk post from a couple of weeks ago….

    “American Christianity has become predominantly product-based (supplying those who already have much) rather than servant-based (emptying ourselves on behalf of others who have little).”

    Now where’s my pillow?

    • “supplying those who already have much”

      …by feeding their paranoia that people they don’t like will take what they have.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It’s called the Zero-Sum Game.
        Since there’s only so much to go around, the only way for Me to win is to Make You Lose.
        There is no such thing as a Win-Win situation, only WIn-Lose.
        And these days it’s universal.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        molon labe

        • The guys who have that on their bumper stickers wouldn’t have lasted 2 days in a Spartan *agoge*.

          They don’t have a clue what “western civilization” actually was and is, apart from a perception that it’s “white people kicking ###”.

          • Burro (Mule) says

            One of the reasons I enjoy watching “Vikings”. It reminds me of when white men were scary.

            “De white man, de Western man, he done fock everybody. And Christianity was the [phallus] he used for to do it. Whot he wanted, he done took. Whot got in his way, he beat it down. But he got soft, loss’ his nerve. He so sorry. He scared of his own woman now, his own chil’run.

            It’s our turn now.”

            • Are you suggesting that we should NOT have tried to be actually Christian?

              • Burro (Mule) says

                I dunno. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Prisoners’ Dilemma.

                It reminds me very much of the missionary who introduced the Sermon on the Mount to a tribe of Papua New Guinea warriors. The warriors agreed it would be a very good if all the other tribes in the valley adopted that ethic.

                The Church has been asking this question for centuries. In a sense she has never reconciled herself to time and history, as the self-surrendering ethic Christ proclaimed is suicidal in a world of self-seekers. Before Constantine, we considered ourselves dead men walking as it were, but Constantine gave us skin in the game, and I don’t think that was a bad thing. Geniuses like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr have been able to retrofit self-sacrifice to effect social change, but even Gandhi admitted that what worked against the English with their Christianity-informed consciences would never have worked against Tamurlane.

                As a Tamurlane who deeply respects Gandhi, I have to admit I’m conflicted.

  16. One gets the distinct impression in all of this nonsense that the Benedict Option was optional all along.

    For those of us who are now thoroughly secular, the challenge…daily challenge….is trying to discern the right way to constructively respond to all of this. I KNOW too many moderate evangelicals to think the Metaxasinatti of the world speak for them all, yet CLEARLY speak and speak and speak they do. How does one summon his inner Abe Lincoln and see beyond the current insanity to a better, if unpromised, land for all of us almost chosen people? Too many good people will be crushed in these churches as things fall apart. But many not so good people will also suffer. And BOTH need some deep consideration from the likes of us secularists.

    It’s not about assenting to the insanity, but it is about clearing a path to something more reasonable. And it’s hard to know what that looks like. Really hard. If facts are optional, if a strong argument doesn’t matter, then being the Friendly Neighborhood Rationalist will only go so far. But irrational people aren’t going away. And I don’t want them to go away. I want them to be part of something more constructive. Yet I seem to spend most of my time in a spiral of frustration about it all rather than doing anything helpful.

    • “One gets the distinct impression in all of this nonsense that the Benedict Option was optional all along.”

      I think it was quickly realized that the BO was *never* going to catch on in the pews – at least to the extent that it’s proponents wanted it to.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > the BO was *never* going to catch on in the pews

        Catch on? What was it? I kept waiting for a fleshing out of the idea.

        See https://twitter.com/matthew_loftus/status/1296381356885368832 as one critique from inside the Evangelical world: “””Rod, like many others, is willing to write thousands of words about any individual case but when you ask about what sort of downstream effect redlining might have had and what to do about it, it’s crickets.”””

        Some people tried to take the ideas seriously – https://mereorthodoxy.com/responding-alan-jacobs-benedict-option/ – and there was no engagement with their critique.

        Perhaps the old Dreher could have looked into something in the realm of Diana Lind’s “Brave New Home”?

        He never had either the courage or the imagination, or both, to make BenOp anything more than a talking point.

        • The BO was a vague, elitist formula for the eventual development of a sectarian cult. But why wait, when you can have the instant cult that we are talking about today?

          • Not sure why you think so, Robert F, because the Benedict Option was a means for reforming the way the church makes disciples within the vision of a traditioned, catholic Christianity. It was endorsed by bishops of the RC church and baptist pastors. Would love to hear how any of that is elitist, sectarian or cultish.

            • Because the only way it could be “successful” as a communal endeavor would be by controlling members of the community, and for this particular kind of community that would involve controlling the family units that comprise a BO community. You have to keep the kids “on the farm”, so to speak, to keep a BO community going, and to do that, you’d have to exert tremendous social control over them, not unlike strict Mennonite sects do. And if you live in an area with lots of strict Mennonite communities, as I do, you will quickly see and learn how controlling they are with regard to their members, and specifically that means family members. You will also learn how rampant abuse of children and wives is among many of these communities, and what happens to members who screw up the courage to report such abuse to the secular authorities. A very unhealthy situation in which the only way you can keep the kids “on the farm” is by making sure they never learn how to survive off the farm, and are afraid to leave the farm.

              • The foremost example in the book is a group called the Tipi Loschi in Italy. From all he writes, they’re not at all controlling in the way you describe, Robert, or, ISTM, in any other way. They have a website attached to their Chesterton School; you can read it and see what they say they’re about. Yes, there is a fine line to be walked, but true Christian community is never forced. If there is force involved, something is definitely askew.

                Dana

    • “If facts are optional, if a strong argument doesn’t matter, then being the Friendly Neighborhood Rationalist will only go so far. But irrational people aren’t going away.”

      I’m afraid this is the crux of the problem. I am a software engineer (who deals with computer security every day) and I have explained to people how it is impossible for someone to just plug in a USB drive to a computer and add votes for Biden (encryption, digital signatures, checksums, etc. – and the simple check is simply to compare the paper ballots with the computer tallies) but it makes no difference at all. Reason, logic, facts, and truth don’t matter – people are convinced because they ‘believe’ it. Believing these conspiracy theories is an act of faith.

      And that is why facts and truth are not the solution, as well as why a ‘reformer’ will never arise to change the course of evangelicalism. American evangelicalism (at the popular, in the pew level) has always been about emotion – that is the essence of ‘faith’ to most people – they just ‘know it’ and ‘believe it’ because the ‘feel it’.

  17. Ok lots of folks hitched their wagons to the crazy train. But how much of this is reaching the folks in the pews? My sample size consists of the members of my family back in Georgia but they don’t know who any of these people are. They are single issue voters. Abortion. They don’t pay attention to anything else. Trump is not their “savior”. They aren’t joining a militia anytime soon. I live in DC myself and over the years I have often been reminded that a lot of stuff never makes it out of the 202 area code.

    What we will have is a sizable minority of our electorate who feel alienated from the political process and this is always worrisome in a democracy.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      In the Midwest I can tell you this kind of thing is wide spread.

      > They are single issue voters. Abortion. …

      So, effectively, they are supporters. That this circus does not dissuade them means something.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        They have taken The Mark on Forehead AND Right Hand.
        Fanatically Loyal unto Death and Beyond.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And they’ve gone beyond the Zero-Sum Game into the Spite Game.
        Where I’m Going to Lose, BUT I’LL MAKE SURE YOU LOSE!!! BIG-TIME!!!!!!!
        Lose-Lose Solution — BRING IT ON! WWG1WGA! BOOGALOO!!!!!

    • Yes. Probably half or more of the people in my zip code will vote for Satan himself if he says he’s pro-life. They don’t ask for proof, they don’t question the truth of that statement, they would never for a second think he is lying about it. During the pandemic, I have expressed consternation over pro-life groups lack of response to all the COVID deaths or to politicians who have said the economy is more important than people’s lives, and the response I get is never a resounding statement of agreement. One told me that pro-life only meant abortion.

      And it’s is churches that are promoting this mentality.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Probably half or more of the people in my zip code will vote for Satan himself if he says he’s pro-life.

        Same thing with Second Amendment(TM).
        “THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!!!!!”

      • WS Churchill was an adamant anti-Bolshevik until the rise of Mr. Hitler when Winston began advocating for a non-aggression pact between The Soviet Union and Britain. When questioned about his apparent turn of attitude relative to Russia and uncle Joe, he replied, “If Mr. Hitler were assaulting the gates of Hell I would find something complementary to say about Satan.”

        • It wasn’t quite that abrupt though. When the Russo-Finnish War broke out, Churchill contemplated declaring war on the USSR – and he was already at war with Nazi Germany at that time. Imagine WWII with the USSR as a hostile neutral (at best) and think of how different things might have been…

  18. A video on Twitter:
    Right-wing pastor Steven Andrew says “God condemns Democrats” and calls on Christians to stand up and “chase them out of the nation”: “God doesn’t want them in Heaven, and we don’t want them here.”

    That about says it all. He summarily judges the salvation of tens of millions of people based on American politics.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      They’re the new WITCHES hiding in YOUR closet, under YOUR bed, after YOUR children.
      Minions of SATAN himself.
      Let the Burning Times begin.

    • It’s not a far jump, either, from “God doesn’t want them in Heaven” to “We might as well kill them now so they won’t infect our purity”.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “Evil seems to be the side most obsessed with Purity.”
        — Comment on this blog several months ago

        And “KILL! THEM! ALL!” chants to the same rhythm as “FOUR! MORE! YEARS!”, “LOCK! HER! UP!”, “DRAIN! THAT! SWAMP!”, “KNEE! ON! NECK!”, and “PRAISE! THE! LORD!”

      • In another time and place, and I genuinely mean no exaggeration, the dead would be laying in the streets. It is purely the residual strength of our traditions and democratic institutions that is keeping us from that tipping point where Trump calls out the Brown Shirts.

        • senecagriggs says

          That’s so silly.

          • “It can’t happen here.”

          • I’m afraid it’s not at all. I perceive what I hear from radicals as foreplay. Warming up for the big bath. The vitriol is off the charts and you have official endorsement from the President?!?! Many many leaders are absolutely silent and when that insanity gets no push back it festers until it reaches the tipping point. I hope I lose this disagreement. I hope it turns out that I do look silly and over dramatic. So many things sound ridiculous before their tipping points but then we look back and say why didn’t we see that staring us right in the face. There is already documented violence in the last week or so over politics. The fire is being fed daily and it needs to stop.

            • ChrisS, I do not think you are at all being silly & overdramatic. I think there is real danger here.

            • Yes. And when those of his own party and alignment speak against the nonsense, he slams them.

              The president wants the country to burn. That’s clear.

          • –> “That’s so silly.”

            Convince me of that, Seneca. I want to be convinced that ChrisS is being silly, because I don’t think he is.

        • Iain Lovejoy says

          I am not sure that is true. Evangelical Trumpism is largely about following, not leading, and about bleating loyalty to the Dear Leader to prove you are a true believer rather than actually doing anything. While this kind if rhetoric can (and probably will, indeed has) created relatively small numbers of active terrorists, in the main it is deliberately designed to create passive support. They will turn up and vote, and go to rallies because they enjoy them, but won’t do anything that will involve any hardship, difficulty, effort or danger on their part. The essence of evangelical Trumpism is that if you support the Dear Leader everything else will get handed to you on a plate like you deserve.

          • Idk, Iain. It seems to me that here in America we have a movement in search of a dictator to lead it. In four years, this movement will try to find someone more authoritarian than Trump to be president. The essence of the evangelical movement that has given Trump such unconditional allegiance is religious fanaticism. If he won’t or can’t fulfill its most radical desires, it will find someone who can. What you say regarding the general unwillingness of most evangelicals to voluntarily sacrifice for their cause is right. But you don’t need a majority to make such sacrifices for an authoritarian/fascist movement to succeed, at least not in the beginning; you just need a core of fanatically devoted and violence prone adherents.

  19. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Here’s Professor Fea’s coverage of the Jericho March:
    https://thewayofimprovement.com/2020/12/12/what-happened-at-todays-jericho-rally-for-trump/

    As far as I know, DC’s still standing despite the blowing of red/white/blue shofars.
    (Eagle? Are you still there?)

    • Can’t speak for Eagle, but yep, it’s still here. We’ll see what the incoming winter “storm” does, however… 😛

  20. senecagriggs says

    Even I think the Jericho thingy was a circle jerk – so to speak. AGAIN, the problem is the ever expanding definition of “Evangelical.”

    Would John Piper, John MacArthur, Al Mohler et al have been there? HECK NO.

    “Evangelical” is a descriptor that has lost a lot of meaning and specificity in the past 3 decades.

    • Agreed. Al Mohler, on his website, did write about some of the problems with what went on.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      I’m gonna meddle here.

      My guess is that there were mostly tongues-talkers there, both “Catholic” and “Protestant”.
      SenecaGriggs’ sliver of Evangelicalism was significant by its absence. I’ll bet even Jeffries wasn’t there.

      I was never more relieved than when my confessor told me to put aside ‘speaking in tongues’.

      • senecagriggs says

        My “sliver of Evangelicalism” does appear to be a smaller sliver every time I turn around. I have no personal experience with either tongues or the prosperity gospel, which is not the Gospel at all.

        • Burro (Mule) says

          Hunh.

          There’s no metanoia needed for glossolalia. Once tongues became the price of entry, all bets were off. There is a spirit at work here, just like there is among the libertines.

          They just appear to be at each other’s throats.

        • Burro (Mule) says

          Julia thinks this is a niche movement.
          Its not.

          Non-charismatic evangelicals far outnumbered by their charismatic counterparts.

          I’m not impressed by religious journalism if they missed this.

        • I didn’t really trace the parameters of this movement I simply identify as part of “evangelicalism” in today’s post. Let me say a few words now.

          I had my spiritual awakening as a teenager in the days of the Jesus people in the late 60s and early 70s. Charismatic movements were burgeoning in the mainlines, in Catholic churches (after Vatican II), and non-denominationalism on a whole new level was being born. Many, like John MacArthur, warned against the movement then, and my Bible College was distinctly and intentionally non-charismatic.

          The movement has gone through several “waves” since then, and as Mule reminded us, has swept through the Global South. A lot of the “fanaticism” Michael Spencer wrote about and described as the “evangelical circus” was about those on this part of the evangelical theological spectrum. A large number of media “ministries” and personalities have been dominated by the same folks, adopting a lot of prosperity gospel focus along the way.

          In recent times, these people and the wing that promotes the New Apostolic Reformation, with its “Seven Mountain Mandate” have infiltrated a lot of political corners and, under Trump, has come to be the dominant voice of “evangelical” politics.

          If it were just a small group of crazies holding a rally in Washington, I wouldn’t have bothered. These folks are everywhere, and in a lot of high places. I wrote about their eschatological influence in 2018 in a post called, “It’s No Longer Just Fringe Theology” (https://internetmonk.com/archive/80663).

          As one who has watched this tribe of Christians grow and gain influence over the years, I think we are reaping what we sowed back in the 60s. Revival gone off the rails combined with moralism, zero-sum thinking, and dominionism.

      • Piper, MacArthur, Mohler, etc. are pretty much anti-Charismatic/Pentecostal. They would not be there because they wouldn’t want to appear to bless the tongues-speakers. Mohler has decried Trumpism, AFAIK. J. Mac’s congregants are probably pro-Trump, but they wouldn’t be found in same worship service as Pentecostals/Charismatics.

        There are Evangelicals and there are Evangelicals.

        Dana

    • John Piper, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, and their ilk are exactly the same as the bozos leading the Jericho March. They just dress it up in a more palatable, but equally deadly theology.

    • –> “Would John Piper, John MacArthur, Al Mohler et al have been there? HECK NO.”

      Did they condemn it? Did they say, “I don’t recognize this form of Christianity?” Did they say, “If you are a part of this, you have nothing to do with Christ?”

      • Mohler gave a critique of it on his website that raised concerns of what went on. He could have, and should have said more, but he certainly isn’t a proponent. Michael Horton has an article today on the gospel coalition speaking against the idolatry of Christian Trumpism.

        • He also guest started in a broadcast with Eric Metaxas where he basically played to all the culture war hot buttons. The best that can be said for him is he is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

          https://thewayofimprovement.com/2020/05/27/eric-metaxas-talks-with-al-mohler-about-the-gathering-storm/

        • Michael Horton… now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. Used to listen to the WHI every week, but got out of the habit when I drifted away from neo-Reformationism. Has he been consistent in his dealings with the issue at hand?

          • Burro (Mule) says

            A superficial Google tour shows he never fell for the ‘Trump is a baby Christian’ schtick. his definition of Christian appears somewhat thicker than most. He seems to have lost interest in the topic around 2018, but jumped back in to remark on the Jericho March.

            It must have been a long hard four years for the Never Trumpers, but it looks like a few of them made it through. They’ll have no love for governance by the DNC, though. Hell, even Chapo Trap House has dumped on Biden already.

  21. At least John Piper has been consistent in his opposition to the madness. John MacArthur has taken point in anti-mask anti-COVID restrictions posturing, which is very dangerous in its own way and just as founded on conspiratorial nonsense. And Mohler has very carefully crafted his public statements so as to not confront or call out the base assumptions driving this craziness. So no, JMac and Mohler do NOT get a pass on their part in the madness.

  22. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    “A man who is one of the founders of the Jericho March — I didn’t get his name — took the stage to explain how it came about. God poked him in the side one night as he slept, waking him up. ‘God said it’s not over,’ the man told the crowd. Then God showed him a literal vision of the Jericho Marches. Then God introduced him to a woman — standing there at his side — who had had the very same vision!

    Private Revelation/God Speaks To ME Directly, just like all the Mary Channeler flakeouts in my church…

  23. David Greene says

    …sigh… 🙁

  24. Thanks, Chaplain Mike, for pointing to Dreher’s analysis.

    Reading the comments in the last couple of weeks, I think you’re wise bringing the blog to a close. It’s not like it used to be. Thank you for shepherding it as you have done.

    Dana

    • It’s not like it used to be.

      Nothing is. Unless you live in a painting/photograph.

      • Attitudes and character can mellow and grow; people can become more hospitable. Healthy interaction fosters such growth. Not everything can be compared to a painting/photograph.

        Dana

    • We’re no longer at a point where moderate discussion is a viable option. Things are going wrong, and there are deep root causes. Those causes have to be addressed, and those who defend then must be confronted, and they must be told to repent. Period.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        It is a frightening fact, but you are right.

      • And if they refuse sans violence?

      • Dear Eeyore, my brother,

        “…those who defend then must be confronted, and they must be told to repent. Period.”

        Things are rarely so black-and-white and straight-ahead. What brought most of us to Michael Spencer’s blog was that he could see the gray and the unexpected turns, and express what that looked like in his milieu, even when it was uncomfortable for him. That is part of the point of Chaplain Mike’s post today. What you are calling for is the flip side of the same coin imprinted with the tactics of those with whom you disagree. Please, please think about this. Yes, point out the problems – and don’t simply bash people over the head with Truth; consider that such a move is rather like what many perceive Calvinism’s MO to be…. and it only engenders fear and resistance. It may alter behavior but it doesn’t really change people’s hearts. Only a vision of Beauty that engenders Thanksgiving and a desire for Goodness can do that.

        What is the Beautiful and Good to which you can point people?

        Dana

        • Dana, I don’t think Eeyore is focused on changing hearts in regard to the matters we are talking about. He, and many others, are focused on limiting the amount of harm that can be done in society by those opposed to supporting humane values, the amount of harm they can inflict on others. Indeed, isn’t that the purpose of all laws, including the currently existing ones? Not to convert, but to restrain? It is not their purpose to convert hearts, nor their function.

          • “(T)he other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change, because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion.

            Well, there’s half-truth involved here.

            Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart.

            But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated.

            It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.

            It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.

            So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government.”

            —Martin Luther King Jr.’s address at Western Michigan University, December 18, 1963.

            • *Every* civil law addresses at least to some extent “morality”. Morality is constantly being legislated.

            • >It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me….

              By preventing lynching, the law itself is an embodiment of love involving all those who worked to legislate it. It also prevents the hate-filled would-be lyncher from realizing the worst fruits of his hatred, and perhaps provides time and space for him to reflect, and even to repent and change his ways and thinking. Time is needed for such change, and the law, where it in the beginning is obeyed even solely out of fear, can provide the necessary space for grace to work and for hearts to change.

        • Things are *rarely* so black and white, yes. But rare is not never. 70% of Republicans think the election was stolen. Hundreds of thousands of people are falling sick every day, and thousands are dying. You have established Christian media leaders calling for armed insurrection and/or calling on people to ignore the disease tearing through our country. You tell me – if now is not the time for strident calling out of this BS, when would be more convenient? And no, not calling it out is NOT an option.

          • Yes, call it out, definitely. I’m not sure if “stridently” will help – there too much of that in the air already. Dr. Fauci is a great example: persistent, calm, not strident. Dr King’s words apply; they were pointed and true, not strident, and he realized that it was behavior needed to be restrained.

            We have to be careful about applying that restraint. It has to be applied to everyone, even to those in our own preferred groups, without favoritism if it is to be effective. If all “sides” complain, then it’s probably on the right track.

            Don’t let your frustration – and clear passion for what is true and right – carry you someplace unhelpful and unhealthy, and away from Jesus-shaped spirituality and life (the center of which is the Cross). I believe this is the greatest danger for Christians in this moment, applicable to all who consider themselves Christians.

            Dana

  25. swirling snow
    scraping shovel
    lonely echo

  26. Iain Lovejoy says

    I can only go on what Dreher has said in this one article – I hadn’t previously heard of him. Much of what he says about the loons on the “Jericho march” is spot on – it’s his continuing to completely misrepresent and demonise his opponents in a totally mendatious way in the same article that laments what is basically the direct consequence of his (and others like him) doing so which I have highlighted.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      [Supposed to be a reply to Dana]

    • Iain, if you intend on judging him then you must read more than one article to get the whole picture. Surely you know this; you are generally a level-headed and thoughtful person. See his Substack postings as well, for now free to read.

      Dana

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