Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Chris Hedges:'The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair'

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007) Donate to DU
 
checks-n-balances Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 07:02 PM
Original message
Chris Hedges:'The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair'
Edited on Sat Jan-20-07 07:03 PM by checks-n-balances
The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair

By Chris Hedges, AlterNet. Posted January 19, 2007

The engine that drives the radical Christian Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, is not religiosity, but despair. It is a movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their communities were plunged into poverty by the flight of manufacturing jobs, their families and neighborhoods torn apart by neglect and indifference, and who eventually lost hope that America was a place where they had a future.

(snip)

The danger of this theology of despair is that it says that nothing in the world is worth saving. It rejoices in cataclysmic destruction. It welcomes the frightening advance of global warming, the spiraling wars and violence in the Middle East and the poverty and neglect that have blighted American urban and rural landscapes as encouraging signs that the end of the world is close at hand.

Believers, of course, clinging to this magical belief, which is a bizarre form of spiritual Darwinism, will be raptured upwards while the rest of us will be tormented with horrors by a warrior Christ and finally extinguished. This obsession with apocalyptic violence is an obsession with revenge. It is what the world, and we who still believe it is worth saving, deserve...Those who lead the movement give their followers a moral license to direct this rage and yearning for violence against all those who refuse to submit to the movement...(and radical leaders) call for a theocratic state that will, if it comes to pass, bear within it many of the traits of classical fascism.

(snip)

They will have behind them tens of millions of angry, disenfranchised Americans longing for revenge and yearning for a mythical utopia, Americans who embraced a theology of despair because we offered them nothing else.

More at:
http://www.alternet.org/story/46908/

Chris Hedges, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and former Pulitzer-prize winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times, is the author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

My thoughts on this:
Chris Hedges is, as usual, onto something important here. Perhaps this explains how some people - except for the corporatists, the war profiteers and the just plain crazy people - could, unbelievably, still support GWB. Tragically, they're supporting the WRONG people & policies - the very ones that have led them into their condition of despair. And so perhaps they're the most misled people of all.

Seems to me that a big political challenge that remains is to offer such embittered people an alternative to what they've been led to believe. Their bitterness is tragically misguided, and politicians offering them Republican Lite aren't going to change anything for them or, for that matter, for the rest of us, either.

(Edited to correct grammar)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 07:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. He's going to be on Bob Edwards show on Monday, Jan. 22.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
teenagebambam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. I dunno......
....I'm a professional singer, I've taken a fair number of gigs at ALL varieties of Churches, and from empirical observation it seems to me that the more Fundamentalist the congregation, the more wealth is floating around.....It smacks of fascism, to be sure, but for different reasons.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. i think there is something in both of what you are saying.
in the case of fundies with money -- modernity threatens their power -- or their perception of power.

i.e. women in thier place , gay folk at the botom of the ladder and forced back into the closet, condemned to hell and jail, etc.

in the case of what's the matter of kansas scenario -- then you have what the author is talking about -- ignrance, poverty and fantacism meeting at a crossroads -- and you know who sits waiting at the crossroads right?

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. Despair does not need to be justifiable
Just as you can find poor people who live happy lives, you can also find rich people in the depths of despair.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
progdonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. many people are "rich" simply because they've loaded up on debt...
I'd wonder how many people in the audience that teenagebambam was performing before were actually out of debt and truly "rich." I'd bet most of them have a brand new SUV that's won't be paid off until 2050, a big house that's mortgaged up the yingyang, past college loans that are still outstanding, etc.

Certainly, there are many in the fundie crowd who are truly wealthy and support fascist policies because they want to remain that wealthy, but so much of the "wealth" that you see all over America is borrowed and will have to be paid off at some point... but not if the world ends and Jesus returns soon.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Maraya1969 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 11:18 PM
Response to Reply #9
19. Maybe that is where the term "Saved" comes from. Of course they say
it is "Saved" from eternal damnation but for most it is also a "Saved" from a meaningless life.

When I was a kid and went to this revival thing I was "saved". I felt like I had a new identity and a new reason to be. And I will never forget this woman who, when I told her I was upset that some people were laughing and joking during the service said: "Remember that you have something that they doesn't have".

Now I look at it as her telling me I was somehow better than those people and I realize that she felt like she was better than them also. And I also realize that much of what happened to me back then was a result of being afraid of going to Hell and this emotional high I got when I believe that I was not going there....because I was "saved".

I also think that had I not been removed that that group by geography I might still believe as they do. Because there is a cult like phenomenon that keeps you following and discourages personal critical thinking.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
johnfunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #2
13. Hedges addresses the link between Evangelifascists and wealth...
... in chapter seven of "American Fascists."

Big bucks congregations. Smacks of fascism? It's not a symptom, it's the full-blown disease.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #2
14. Often it's not that they have more money, it's that they show off what they've got.
Edited on Sat Jan-20-07 09:48 PM by LeftyMom
The churches themselves may be wealthier though, as they tend to place more emphasis on tithing and church growth and less on service to the poor than mainline protestants and catholics generally do.

Edit: There's also a tendency in fundie circles to associate wealth with "god's blessing" so Church becomes about social competion via showing off piety by talking in tounges and waving one's hands about during music as if one were a stoner waving a lighter at a concert and other strange behavior and material wealth though cars, clothes and all the usual methods.

In some churches, breeding is also a competitive event and those who produce the most healthy kids for jaysus without revealing any hint of financial hardship win.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LostInAnomie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
3. Chris Hedges is great.
I've read two of his books and intend on getting his latest. I bet this latest one is going to be his best. You can tell through his writings that he is a very compassionate man that hates to see his fellow man exploited by the powerful. As a divinity school grad I'm sure his take of these Theo-fascists will be devastating.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jaysunb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 07:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Theo-Fascist.....
I'd like to see this term shouted everyday until people take notice.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Larkspur Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 08:04 PM
Response to Original message
6. Hedges is confirming what Thomas Frank said in his book
"What's the Matter with Kansas?" Frank made similar observations that those driven to the Radical Right Xtian-fascists are former blue collar Dems whose jobs were sent overseas and they were left with either no jobs or low wage jobs.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
7. Many of the fundie churches have promised that all you have to
do is pray and everything will be alright. They also look down on the poor, sick and helpless. SOOOOOOOOO when their world starts to fall apart they are truly in despair.

I was raised to believe that God loves the down and outers and that when trouble comes He gives us strength to bear it not some absolute miracle to end it. Through the pain and suffering we learn and become stronger and above all we learn empathy. The future does not hold despair for me it holds challenge.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #7
16. yup
I've been unemployed and asked churches to help me find a job. None of them would lift a finger to help me find a job, because the preacher wanted as much of the money as possible. It wouldn't have cost them anything to find a parishoner that needed a person with my skills and would pay them, but they couldn't do it.

:banghead:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. I am sorry about your experience with churches but mine has
been very different. I have often been helped by people who are Christians. My granddaughter has a Habitat for Humanity home and my oldest daughter is in a foster home run by people who are taking care of her because they are Christain. People have helped us with food when we did not have any and housing when I and my girls were homeless. I will not deny them.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Occulus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #7
18. But see? You were raised to believe what amounts to yet another trap
What you're really saying here is that suffering is good for us because we 'end up being stronger.' Yet this is exactly one of the very same mentalities that enables the fundigelicals to get away with (in their minds) feeling morally superior to everyone else: if you're unwilling to suffer, you're spiritually weak and rejecting god, but if you are suffering, you are "bearing your cross" or, as you put it, "learning empathy".

They- the fundies- don't care about suffering because they always have some sort of religious justification for it (my personal favorite milquetoast platitude is "god works in mysterious ways"). They don't do much about suffering because "god helps those who help themselves." I went to a funeral this morning at a fundigelical church. One of the things the pastor friend of the deceased stressed over and over was that doing good works doesn't matter in and of itself- you have to accept Jeebus as eeore persohnl savyerr (I hope I'm getting their diction across by misspelling it) to get inta Hehven! And yes, that really is how it was said, and this really isn't the South.

Imagine. Good deeds don't matter. Not. One. Whit. I barfed in my mouth a little when he said that... but on top of that, the man underscored- for me- the complete lack of self-consistency in what these frauds preach. One moment, this old schlep is telling us about how god "forced me into a corner after thirty-odd years and gave me no choice but to do his works on the Earth" (I'm paraphrasing, but the gist was that he was telling us he was as much as forced into being a priest) but, not two minutes later, was telling us how God doesn't force us to worship him or in fact force us to do anything. The only thing that kept my jaw from dropping open and remaining that way was the fact that this was a funeral.

These people are in need of some serious mental health counseling and treatment. Good deeds don't matter if you're trying to get into "heaven"?

:wtf:

I mean, really. What are these people on???
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 11:25 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. Bull. I am saying that when life turns bad there is strength to face it.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
checks-n-balances Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 12:47 AM
Response to Reply #21
23. Wait a minute: You're both right
Having attended church regularly (and visited many others) for years, there are about as many different types of people there as in society at large. Some can be the most compassionate, understanding, inclusive, salt-of-the earth people in the whole world. Likewise, others can be the most petty, mean, selfish and childish (myself included at times, no doubt). Some of them understand, take seriously, and live the teachings of Jesus, while others may claim to follow Jesus and then act as though they've never heard of him.

But here's where I would place a lot of the blame: not just on human nature, but on LEADERSHIP. Many people have been taught a perverse rip-off of Christianity such as Dominionism, Rapture theology, or just plain Fundamentalism (often a combination of both with provincialism and fear mongering thrown in). Part of the reason many religious leaders continue to preach this stuff is that they aren't required to have a decent seminary education like the one Chris Hedges has. They haven't been educated for critical thinking, so the simplistic ignorance just continues in perpetuity. While it's true that sometimes the people in the pews can act un-christlike, those in the positions of leadership should actually be held responsible for contributing to what has happened to the Church and the political scene in this country.

Likewise, I hold the U.S. media and our political leadership most responsible for letting things with this administration get so far out of hand for so long. Never have these words been more profoundly important:

"Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity...We have a moral responsibility to be intelligent." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 12:37 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. As to the leadership - there I agree with you. I have been boycotting
my own church for about 6 *ss years now not because of the people in it but because of the idiot ministers. Last month I led my family to join the ELCA church in our town. The leaders in our particular church are very progressive and they are the main reason that my granddaughter has a Habitat for Humanity home. We walked through the church the first day reading the posters, looking at the programs and realized that this was the first "living church" that we had been in for a very long time.

When I talked about suffering I was thinking of my oldest daughter who is severely disabled thanks to water pollution. I took care of her for 45 years until I could not lift her anymore. That did not make me weaker - it taught me strength. I can help others because I helped her. I hate to see people suffer but the outcome often depends on our reaction to the suffering. If we assume that God does not love us because we sometimes suffer them we are reacting in a very defeatist fashion. A pattern that I see in fundie churches all the time. Suffering is just part of life. My second daughter says "You take what is and do the best you can under the circumstances."
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 08:37 PM
Response to Original message
8. As Pir Zia said
in his webcast, the two things keeping us from changing society are materialsim and fundamentalism. They appear to go hand in hand in a way, as this article shows.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
johnfunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. Pir Zia and Chris Hedges are on the same wavelength...
... and, tragically, one can convincingly argue that Pat Robertson, James Dobson and the cadre of top Saudi Wah'habi clerics are likewise in sync...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
WiseButAngrySara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 08:44 PM
Response to Original message
10. Fascinating post and thread. KNR. ....n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
johnfunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 09:34 PM
Response to Original message
12. Go buy Hedges's "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America"
... if you haven't already.

I've read two other similarly themed books recently, Sam Harris's "The End of Faith" and Kevin Phillips's "American Theocracy." Both are outstanding, but "American Fascism" -- filled with facts, case histories, and unflinching analysis -- is the book with which to start understanding how religious fundamentalism is undermining not only our nation but the very future of Western civilization.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
kineneb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 09:54 PM
Response to Original message
17. the rapture crowd is a sad bunch
since they base their premise on a false reading of Revelations, a book that almost did not make the "cut" to be included in the New Testament. And since the enemies in Revelations are the Romans, that time has already passed. We are all still here, no one is going to be "raptured," so we all damned well better hunker down and work to make the world a livable place. People have always sought an out by hoping the world would end, but it is still here, and should be for some time (although it might not be liveable if they continue their ways).

If they feel despair, then they need to look into themselves to find out the source of their suffering. Nothing from the outside can ultimately fix their attitude problems, they must do the work for themselves.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-20-07 11:28 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. Yep. St. John ate some magic mushrooms, or got some ergot-tainted bread . . .
And what do we get as a result?

"End Times" bullshit, rapture bumperstickers, the biggest death cult since Jonestown, and really, really shitty best-selling books.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MisterP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 01:03 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. technically, they're "Hamburger-Bun Christians"
Gensis and Exodus at the top, Revelations at the bottom--who needs content?!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #17
26. They seem to be a hateful bunch who will revel in the despair of
others as they float up to heaven. These are not truly happy people who think like this. Simply delusional and mean-spirited.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Hamlette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 01:49 PM
Response to Original message
27. it's a dangerous cycle
people turn to religion when they feel hopeless. Politicians used to tell us that government could help us achieve a better life. Now they tell us we should be afraid of evil and they can keep us safe which plays into religion at its worse.

Scary stuff.

Odd that I saw this post as I ran across his new book on Amazon this am. Anyone read it yet?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Sat May 25th 2024, 09:11 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC