chris hedges

Chris Hedges: American Fascists - The Christian Right and the War on America (Free Press, 2006) Not least among the illuminating moments in Hedges’ lovely anthology of anecdotes is the light it throws on the puzzling and shameless use of untruths by Xtian preachers in their attempts at political comment. The practice, it turns out, originates in their Sunday sermonizing where overt and inexcusable use is made of what might fruitfully be called parabolic obfuscation. In a word, the garden variety preacher simply makes up his charming stories and passes them off to his congregation as the truth. The moral good effected by the recitation of the parable outweighs the unfortunate situation that it simply has no basis in fact. The Xtian sees no reason not to address the unconvinced in the same way. Morally edifying narrations – or what the disinterested might call lies – are justified by the good they are meant to produce.

The examples are worth recording. Apparently somebody named James Kennedy instructs his followers to recruit others to his church by telling these others moving “childhood conversion stories.” (pp. 62 ff.) No matter that these stories are the products of the evangelist’s imagination as long as Kennedy and his church can acquire a new convert and presumably his money. For this reason I for one regard with some doubt the inspiring story of a couple named Crouch (pp. 166 ff.) who were saved by angels and a flash of light from an apparently unmotivated attack by Latin American gunmen. Since the incident occurred in ostensibly papist territory, its interpretation as an act of God was only too natural. Had it taken place in New Mexico who is to say but that space aliens would have taken the credit? Another goddist with an overactive imagination is one Gary Frazier who reinforces his theories of Mohammedan sleeper cells with the story of a doctor forced to become a terrorist or his children would be killed. No matter that the story is whole cloth. Frazier calls it “hypothetical.” In this context, there is no moral paradox in the current Xtian President’s unabashed use of lies to support his wars. His lies are Xtian sermons translated to the secular world. An equally serious case of Xtian mendacity is to be found in Hall and Hallgrimsson who quote (p. 669) paleontologist Niles Eldredge's stunned response to some goddist creationist reporting to the gullible press pretty nearly the opposite of a response Eldredge had given to a question about the fossil record. The application of false witness to issues of scientific fact (or indeed everyday fact such as what someone said) is the natural consequence of the general Xtian culture of untruth.

Expanding our field a bit, we are led to some clues as to why Xtians seem so little disturbed by the fact that their Gospels - written at least one hundred years after the events they purport to describe – were in fact an unbecoming mix of the most trite Mediterranean myths about crucified gods and, if they have any basis in fact at all, tidbits from the biographies of any number of Semitic troublemakers.