Monday, June 15, 2009

The Gospel of Despair

Where does this end? There are a couple of ways this pattern plays out. The most likely one is that the extremist commandos go a bridge too far -- they're successful on a scale that scares the rational rebels into putting down their guns and bombs, leaving the really crazy actors back at the level of lone wolves...

The other (far less likely, but far worse case) scenario is that the entire country is persuaded to take leave of its senses and take sides, launching a civil war. Given the number of Americans, both left and right, who are thoroughly disgusted with the corporatocracy and increasingly convinced that Congress is too corrupt to deliver even the basics to anyone who's not rich enough to write their problem on the back of a check, it's not a far stretch to imagine a right-wing populist movement that sucks large chunks of the working and middle classes into a full-scale revolution. If the conservative movement does not take a stand against these extremists, they may find that their silence will give permission to actions that are far worse.

... The best thing progressives can do right now is stay in close touch with our base, do whatever we can to restore average Americans' faith in their government. In this incendiary environment, we can't afford to let them lose faith.

Tragedy at the Holocaust Museum: Stand Up To Terror
Thursday, June 11, 2009

-- By Sara

I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “right-wing”. I’m not sure it applies in these cases. The language implies a separate member of the same body - one bird, two wings. These domestic extremists, whatever their ideological framework are not on the far right wing, they are part of another bird altogether.

I’ve been doing some research on White Nationalists, including choking down Von Brunn’s book. These people loathe the “right-wing”. They aren’t conservatives; they are revolutionaries who anticipate a war they consider to be inevitable and imminent. The website “White Aryan Resistance” or WAR has changed its name to “The Insurgent.” Their model is no longer the organized militia, but rather the so-called Lone Wolf. As the examples from Orcinus suggest, they are more likely to resemble suicide bombers than secret societies.

The author’s point is worth considering for the church as well as for the nation. Americans ARE losing faith in the ability of their institutions to function. As a child of the seventies, I was raised to question authority. Today, we find ourselves questioning authority’s very existence. Is there any institution that does not lie, cannot be bought, will not betray those who put their trust in it?

There is nothing less biblical, less Christian than despair, yet the gospel of despair is being preached all over our nation today. We are being told there is no reason for hope; failure is inevitable, even desirable. Once it seemed quaint to mourn the loss of civility in our public discourse. Today we need to recognize that much more than good manners are at stake. We need to demand the best of our leaders, both secular and religious – but we also need to accept our own responsibility in the equation. Our language does have consequences and much more than the tone of our national debate is changing.

Fear has always thrived at the extremes. As that fear starts touch both the right and left banks of the political mainstream we can choose to oppose it, or else surrender to the prophets of disaster. It has been fashionable to throw the expression “culture wars” around in a metaphorical sense for some time. How can Christians keep it from becoming literally true?


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