Almost persuaded. But not quite.
In a post about the Christian right, DougJ at Balloon Juiceposes an interesting question:
I don’t understand modern Christianity. As I’ve said before, Jesus has
always seemed like a hippie to me, and I don’t think there’s so much in
the New Testament that resemblesMein Kampf. So, seriously, what is up with so many Christian leaders wanting to emulate Hitler, Stalin, Lenin Mao, Genghis Kahn, etc? Is there a simple explanation for this?
Well, there’s no easy answer. A lot of his commenters go for the “power” answer, but it’s not that simple. Evangelical Christianity is a complicated thing. I know I often mock, deride, and otherwise laugh at this phenomenon, but I’ve had lots of experience with it, and while I hesitate to say that I understand that way of thinking, I do believe I have some insight into it.*
It’s not just about power. It’s about what they believe is the power to do good. They don’t admire Hitler and Mao and Lenin for their achievements; they admire them for their ability to motivate people. They dream of motivating Christians to do extraordinary things, like Lenin and Mao did. They have no conception that they could abuse their power (then again, true believers never do); they think that if they could set the world on fire for Jesus, then paradise would ensue.
You can argue about how fucked up that vision is, but you can’t say that the people who believe in it are cynical exploiters; they really do think that they have the ultimate answer, and that the world would be better off if their vision prevailed.
Naturally, the problem with that is as follows: That’s what every would-be autocrat thinks. There’s no significant difference between what the hard-core Christianists think and what, say, people who dream of a restored Caliphate think. The only distinction is in what they call their god and in what prayers they say. The same general pattern applied at Nuremburg in the early 1930’s, or in any other mass rally.
The above photo is of an old-time tent meeting. If you aren’t aware of that phenomenon, you really can’t understand modern evangelical Christianity. The revival meeting is a large gathering of people who, by and large, agree with what the speaker is saying, and make commitments to do what the speaker says. Just like any mass rally, it’s a way to get group objectives accomplished. The evangelicals, looking as they always do to the (largely imagined) past for inspiration, see the old-time tent revival as a model for what to do. They ignore the uncomfortable fact that those meetings didn’t result in the new kingdom of Jesus being at hand (or they rail about the will of god being sidetracked by [insert bogeyman here]).
I’d be clearer about this, but this wine is fucking with me, for true. I guess the point is that, as easy as it would be to demonize evangelical Christians for being mindless drones, shit isn’t that simple. The leaders and the followers have a sincere vision for what they think would be a perfect world. That many of the rest of us find their perfection to be completely fucked doesn’t mean that they’re evil. Wrong, sure. Evil, no. Persuadable? Probably not. Which means that we just have to out-vote them.
Anyway, this is one of the perils of drinking and blogging.
*I’m aware of the irony of saying that a movement is complex, then making broad generalizations about that movement. So there’s no need to point that out.