The problem I see in Conservativism
From forum posts in January and a couple of weeks ago:
The thing with American conservativism, including evangelicalism, is national IDENTITY. From debating with them online for over 10 years, culminating in reading the fundamentalist biography Sword of the Lord by the brother of someone on a Christian forum, it is clear that they have to PROVE that this country is the “greatest in the world”, and its heritage of Western “culture” and economic system of capitalism was “BETTER” than everything else in the world.
Yet, things aren’t going so well in it now (morally or economically), but this has to be blamed on others. So they can’t admit any wrong on their ancestors’ part (or the socioeconomic system they believe in).
Right off the bat, colonialism, slavery, and later racial oppression is a big ugly stain on this record; the whole image of the “godly society” many have portrayed.
So there must be something wrong with the victims, that they not only are innately or at least “morally” defective today, as evidenced by all their “problems”; but likely (by implication) “deserved” all that in the past in the first place because of this defectiveness.
So for awhile, they had to completely ignore it, except to oppose changes generations ago, and once these changes were forced anyway (and culture, including often their own children, rebelled against the whole paradigm), they then went after the “forces” they saw responsible for these changes: the “socialists” and liberals, the sexual revolution, cultural changes like rock & roll, minorities (the beneficiaries of many of the changes, including “welfare”, “integration”, and “multiculturalism”), religious “modernism”, the century old archenemy of evolutionism, education and the media (who promoted a lot of this), and sometimes even the Jews (seen as pulling the strings behind nearly all of these movements; even as many Rightists posed as staunch friends of “Israel” and Jewry in general, based on readings of Gen.12 and the dispensational theology).
The premise is that God “chose” the nation, which included subjugating others and taking their land, resources and labor. The Old Testament could be cited in support of this. (This ignores that the New Covenant supersedes all of that).
So they decided that those things weren’t sin, and compensated for this by focusing purely on sexual sins, which they put themselves forth as being totally above.
The inital basis was Calvinism and a version of it called “covenant theology”. The “chosen” were identified by both being prosperous (including the power to gain and maintain prosperity—”providence“), as well as their morality, that is, “following Biblical principles”. God, in His sovereignty divided man into “vessels of mercy” and “vessels of wrath”, and would take from one and give to the other, both in this life and after death.
Later, Arminianism arose within Protestantism, through the influnce of groups such as the Anabaptists, and later, the Wesleys. Many of these groups initially opposed the politics of the more established churches, but eventually adopted them as they mixed in the culture.
Their focus was on “personal choice”, both in salvation, as well as morality. Hence, the American “can do” spirit of individual piety, “hard work”, and “earning” one’s prosperity (and that all prosperity of those who represent the system can be assumed to have been justly “earned”).
These two strains blended into the American Christianity we had come to know. They both believed themselves to be chosen by God in addition to proving themselves “worthy” through the great nation their fathers built and which they defend.
Whatever goes wrong must be blamed on someone else; everyone else; if not denied as wrong to begin with. In either system (election or free-will), the “cursed” people would still be “held responsible” for their condition; hence, all the blame being cast.
So the world was truly divided between the “bad” and “good”, even while scripture declared “all under sin”. They denounced all other religions and philosophies and moderate forms of Christianity for not believing in the doctrine of the sinfulness of all man. But while maintaining that so vigorously, they were able to exclude themselves from it on the premise of being “chosen” (election/justification) and “changed” (“Regeneration/Sanctification”). Therefore, everything they believed and did must have been right. All sin comes from everyone else. (This was the same thinking as the Israelites who Christ dealt with. Of course, the difference was, they rejected Him, while this new “chosen” group accepted Him).
This is what the Reconstructionists call “Presuppositionalism”. You just “pre-suppose” that what you believe is “just right”, because God says so. This has completely undergirded many conservative Christians’ method of argumentation.
So this is why the rich-favoring system of capitalism has to be justified at all costs, and the poor and minorities blamed for their plights. To support it is to “love” America and all it stands for (including “God”), and to oppose it is to “hate” America. They cannot admit any inherent evil or sin in the system.
So 30 years ago, listening to them was like watching super hero cartoons on TV. You had the total good guys and the total bad guys, “evil empires”, inferior cultures and subcultures, and everyone out to get the good Christians.
As much as they hate a “race card” being “played” on them, they fail to realize this entire premise is one of precisely the same sense of superiority and inferiority that led to the past actions!
Over the years since, the evangelicals at large have sort of mellowed out. They had been mellowing ever since they broke away from the true [old-line] fundamentalists in the 50’s (which you can read all about in the book I mentioned above).
Now, it’s pretty much just Dobson. And you don’t hear about him as much as you used to. Robertson has sort of gone off the deep end with a lot of wild statements in recent years. Falwell is gone. You don’t hear as much about Randall Terry anymore. LaHaye became more involved with his successful Left Behind novels. Robison is more into world outreach. The rest of the people you see on TV are mainly too preoccupied with some form of health & wealth (including “victorious Christian living” on a personal rather than national level) to bother with politics. [And Colson has just passed, since my drafting this!]
It seemed in the 80’s, they were riding high, but after even having Reagan in, with the grand climax of the defeat of the Soviets, the moral issues continued to fall to the wayside, with the Republicans becoming little more than “the lesser of two evils”, in both abortion and “big government”. Areas such as evolution, public morality and reverence of God, and now, gay rights; the impetus was just too great for them to have any sort of tempering influence.
So it seems they lost a lot of steam, or just gave up, and went off into those other pursuits. To my glee, many wised up, and began realizing they had gone off track in the political zeal. Hence, a very moderate “new-evangelical” body that has become less enthusiastic about politics changing things. They realized that with their central doctrine of the fallenness of all man, it was ultimatelfy futile. Hence, the more “inner” focus much of the body has taken.
You still have old-liners out there (BJU was an example), and while some may occasionally get involved in politics (such as Bush’s campaign stop at BJU), they had all along traditionally been skeptical of politics, seeing evangelism as most important. They of course denounced liberals and socialists along with the moral slide (in addition to opposing racial progress); but were never as much into political activism to begin with, and used to criticize the evangelicals on it.
So now, they just continue to spend most of their energy just bashing the new evangelicals on their “compromises” with “the world”. (They do have a point, often, as it seems the new-evangelicals often don’t seem to know what to do with themselves, and many just copy popular cultural trends and Christianize them).
So today, no politician fully embodies the values evangelicals hold. None are able to roll back the tide on abortion, gay rights and the rest of the moral issues. Most are even sliding on reducing the government. It seems the closest for them will be Mormons like Romney (and I believe, Rand Paul, who long ago dropped out), but many don’t want to vote for them on religious reasons. So someone like Gingrich is the next best thing. (I know early on in the last election, Huckabee seemed to be liked alot by them, but he dropped out, and hasn’t run again. Before that (’04) many of the more radical ones liked Peroutka [Constitution Party], and most of those who opposed him only did so on the grounds that they knew he wouldn’t win, and the votes would fall to the Democrats).
Meanwhile, seeing capitalism as a natural part of their “good” heritage (through the in-practice “corporatist” aspect of this can really be debated: what-the-founding-fathers-thought-about-corporations) they REFUSE to ever blame it for draining the economy. (That’s really where all the money is going).
After all, the rich “deserve” it all (they fiercely argue), because their name is on a payroll with a title; so their being bailed out and using the money for $89,000 pheasant hunts and million dollar birthday parties doesn’t count. They deserve it; “it’s their money, to do with as they please“, no matter what, because they’re our heroes; representing our superior system and it can’t ever be to blame. No; it’s just Obama’s fault for bailing them out. (“Corporate welfare” like that was always right and “the American way” when Republicans did it!)
Again, to see just how bad this sentiment has gotten, see this article (Especially the comments): http://www.hiphopmusicdotcom.com/why-i-hate-blacks.html
To be fair, I believe some blacks (And perhaps guilt-ridden white liberals) are also stoking the guilt, by not clearly enough stating the real issue (Which I believe is ultimately more economic regardless of race). Sharpton, our de-facto #1 defender, looks like a slickster, and has often done more harm than good.
Often, they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, or at least focus on the wrong points of an issue. Like in the Diallo case (sort of an antecedent to today’s Trayvon), focusing on the officers being hung, yet ignoring what the judge used to excuse them: “if Diallo had just done as the officers asked, this would not have happened”; ignoring among other things, that these were plain clothesed officers).
So the entire cause is just dismissed by conservatives and libertarians as “whining” to get “free handouts” or “special treatment”.
Whites; especially liberal ones, feel a lot has been achieved in race relations, yet obviously have some amount of guilt feelings (reacted to in the liberals by the traditionally altruistic stance, and in conservatives by the denial and reverse blame) so they cannot figure out what blacks still want. (Hence conservatives’ backlashing with charges of “whining” and “trying to get something for nothing” from them, and even some liberals reportedly thinking “we tried to help them and they don’t appreciate it, nor are helped by it” and then becoming more conservative).
Then, you have the conservative charge that the liberals are rigging these “handout” programs to “keep minorities enslaved” (dependent on the system) and also “buy their votes”.
So I believe both sides really need to change their tune, but there is just too much ego involved in everyone.
As Jung said: “If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick Shadow [all his own evil]. Such a man…is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself”. http://www.shadowdance.com/cgjung/cgjung.html
(And I’m coming to learn this too as I respond to such trash! Life is hard and we all want what we want, and I confess a jealousy towards conservatives because they are such good complainers and blamers —even while scolding others for precisely those things; but at least their complaining gets heard, and they get more of what they want, yet keep complaining as if they didn’t. This is how they sway the nation, and the liberals are not as good at answering).
Also, a good article I found at the same time: