The Right Persuasion

The Right Persuasion

Within the past weeks, America has seen an assault on the Christian right from all sides. Populating the news lately have come stories about beloved vampire writer Anne Rice bashing the right-leaning members of the church and then leaving it, and back in the news is the story that won’t ever end: Prop 8. The assaults on mainstream Christianity might seem like nothing new, but they’re taking a new form, not just mocking the faith of those who choose to follow Christ, but instead mocking the political beliefs of the Christian right. Simply put, the secular and religious left are beginning to join forces to attack the Christian right in hopes that they quiet down and stay home this November.

Recently, Anne Rice wrote on her Facebook, “Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and deservedly infamous group. […] In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay.

I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

Let’s forget for a second that the church is as varied politically as it is theologically, but for the writer of the adult world’s version of Twilight, Rice appears to be attacking the Christian right and not the church. With numerous protestant liberal ministers including Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo and even her Catholic Church and its social justice campaign, she appears really to be attacking the anti-Democratic Party wing, as opposed to theological aspects of the church. Rice’s comments are not an attack on Christianity, but instead on Christians who do not share her political beliefs. Rice’s comments should be viewed not as the work of a woman wrestling with God, but as a woman wrestling with the GOP.

It seems to me that Rice was looking for a way out, and she found it in blaming people for being less than tactful within the context of expressing their faithful beliefs in everyday life. I won’t defend mean-spirited hate speech from the religious right. I can’t; but it is hard to read the Bible and not come to the conclusion that certain lifestyle choices are referred to as sins. Regardless of one’s final interpretation, there are plenty of Christian denominations like the Presbyterians and Episcopalians who are willing to bypass traditional doctrines so as to be more politically correct in the 21st century. Rice could have quietly changed denominations, but instead decided to demonize all involved.

Then there is the Prop. 8 ruling. When one judge overruled the will of the people, we conservatives smelt a whiff of arrogance coming from the judicial bench. Obviously, Prop. 8 was inspired by Christian groups, but it was passed by a majority vote in the 2008 election. Yet this one judge has decided he knows better. He knows better how the political cycle should work. He knows better than the religious right. He knows better than the state of California. In fact, he knows better than the history of popular philosophical thought. He knows better than every society that has ever been at the center of the world. Because even in Greece’s heyday, when men had male lovers, never did they suggest that marriage’s definition be redefined. Thank God the 21st century has a judge more enlightened than all who ever came before him.

The Christian right has a few bruises to mend, no doubt, and this is coming right before a crucial November election.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I truly believe that Rice’s comments, the Prop. 8 decision, and even the timing of the New York mosque building all play into an agenda from many on the left to discourage Christians from voting this fall out of frustration with the process. But if the Christian right throws up its hands and retreats, then that would be the biggest sin of all. 

The Right Persuasion

The Right Persuasion

It’s August, which means the summer is ending. Soon, a new crop of high school students will move up from the primary educational ranks into secondary education. Soon, the 101 freeway will no longer have boats and trailers attached to vehicles on Wednesday afternoons. Soon, coffee shops won’t have late-night visitors enjoying the cool evening breeze outside, and the beaches will become weekend-only destinations instead of weekday getaways. Before the fall comes, let’s take some time to be grateful for so much in such crazy times before the election season splits us up again this winter.

Over the past few months, people may have thought the only news stories going on involved Mel Gibson’s nasty phone calls, Lindsay Lohan’s short stint in a jail cell, or Lebron James’ move to Miami from Cleveland. While those stories make for fun and interesting water-cooler chatter, there is so much more to discuss as the fall approaches.

Considering how much heartbreak is going on in the country with unemployment still at 10 percent and some states, such as Nevada, even higher, those of us lucky enough to have work should really be grateful for being able to support ourselves and our loved ones.

With two major wars still being fought in the Middle East, for those with children between 18 and 25 who are home, be happy that they are safe in Southern California. And for those who have children overseas and wearing military gear, feel proud that your offspring are defending our rights and keeping the war away from us through their sacrifice. They certainly need to be remembered during peaceful summer nights in our various beach and suburban communities making up Ventura County.

To those who enjoy the waves of our county beaches or who work the ports in Hueneme, take a deep breath of relief knowing that, by God’s grace, we don’t have to endure the BP tragedy as those in the great state of Louisiana have.

Sometimes it takes another’s hardship to remind us how blessed we are and how our suffering as a collective group may not compare to the suffering of others. Those poor fishermen and workers have lost so much, and their community will feel the damage of this for years to come.

Let’s not forget how lucky some of us are to be American citizens either. While I disagree with those who illegally enter our borders, I can still understand why. They must still be dealt with, but don’t forget to feel blessed for being born in the right country at the right time. When places like North Korea and China and parts of the Middle East mistreat women, children and minorities, we must remind ourselves how truly amazing it is to live in a country that respects all points of view, religions, ages and genders. We live in country with a black president, a woman Secretary of State, numerous news outlets with numerous points of view, and bookstores that sell Christian, Muslim and atheist books all in one section of the store and without rioting in the streets when these groups debate publicly.

The summer season is coming to an end. So before you go out to catch your last big-budget Hollywood flick or ride that very last wave before going back to school or work, take some time to remember those who aren’t able to enjoy God’s great earth in the same fashion. Think about how you can maybe help those whose summer has been far from fantastic. Put the politics aside for a second, and find a way to connect with those around you. Chat with a stranger who might look down on his luck. Take a friend to dinner who might not be able to afford to take you. Tell a soldier on temporary leave thank you for fighting for the freedoms you enjoy.

Before you know it, the warm weather will pass, and swim trunks and iced lattes will be traded in for winter coats and hot chocolate just as surf boards will turn into text books for the upcoming fall semester. So enjoy these last days, because I’m predicting a nasty political winter come November 2. 






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