Sunday, August 29, 2010

The jawing of an ass

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Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck as the inheritors of Martin Luther King's legacy?

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck as the catalysts for the moment America "begins to turn back to God”?

Something smells. And I "refudiate" it.

Because the gospel according to Palin and Beck is what "refudiate" is to "repudiate," and it comes off just as ridiculously.

Leave it to Glenn Beck to trumpet how his gigantic publicity stunt -- and profit generator for Beck, Inc. -- is the beginning of a grand American revival, all the while publicly "refudiating" large parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ as "socialism" or "Nazism" -- or both, as he seems to view social-justice doctrine.

For example,
this was Beck in March:
"I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"
AND THIS is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (and has been for a long, long time):


1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.


1929 Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:

What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.35

1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.

1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,' above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity."37 No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a "neighbor," a brother.

1932 The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."38

1933 This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the forgiveness of offenses. He extends the commandment of love, which is that of the New Law, to all enemies.39 Liberation in the spirit of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred of one's enemy as a person, but not with hatred of the evil that he does as an enemy.

IT GOES ON like this for some number of pages. Including this:

1939 The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of "friendship" or "social charity," is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood.45
An error, "today abundantly widespread, is disregard for the law of human solidarity and charity, dictated and imposed both by our common origin and by the equality in rational nature of all men, whatever nation they belong to. This law is sealed by the sacrifice of redemption offered by Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross to his heavenly Father, on behalf of sinful humanity."46
1940 Solidarity is manifested in the first place by the distribution of goods and remuneration for work. It also presupposes the effort for a more just social order where tensions are better able to be reduced and conflicts more readily settled by negotiation.

BUT NO, this imminent -- but not eminent -- Christian revival is going to be sparked by a screwball demagogue who denies whole parts of the Christian gospel that answer the question "How shall we live, then?" Him and the tea-party darling, a gun-totin', babealicious Alaskan dingbat whose mind freezes up every time she's called upon to use it, and whose mangling of the king's English makes Yogi Berra sound like Sir Lawrence Olivier.

Don't believe me, however. Believe what's in your morning newspaper, in this case
The New York Times:
An enormous and impassioned crowd rallied at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, summoned by Glenn Beck, a conservative broadcaster who called for a religious rebirth in America at the site where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago to the day.

“Something that is beyond man is happening,” Mr. Beck said in opening the event as the crowd thronged near the memorial grounds. “America today begins to turn back to God.”

It was part religious revival, part history lecture, as Mr. Beck invoked the founding fathers and the “black-robed regiment” of pastors of the Revolutionary War and spoke of American exceptionalism.

The crowd was a mix of groups that have come together under the Tea Party umbrella. Some wore T-shirts from the Campaign for Liberty, the libertarian group that came out of the presidential campaign of Representative Ron Paul, while others wore the gear of their local Tea Party group, or of 9/12 groups, which were founded after a special broadcast Mr. Beck did in March 2009.

But the program was distinctly different from most Tea Party rallies. While Tea Party groups have said they want to focus on fiscal conservatism and not risk alienating people by talking about religion or social issues, the rally on Saturday was overtly religious, filled with gospel music and speeches that were more like sermons.

Mr. Beck imbued his remarks on Saturday and at events the night before with references to God and a need for a religious revival. “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” Mr. Beck said Saturday. “This country has spent far too long worrying about scars and thinking about scars and concentrating on scars. Today, we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished, and the things that we can do tomorrow.”

Mr. Beck was followed on stage by Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, who said she was asked, in keeping with the theme of the day, not to focus on politics but to speak as the mother of a soldier.

“Say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet, and you can’t take that away from me,” said Ms. Palin, whose son Track served in Iraq.

But Ms. Palin did not steer entirely clear of politics. In a veiled reference to President Obama and his pledges to fundamentally transform America, she said, “We must not fundamentally transform America as some would want; we must restore America and restore her honor.”

Many in the crowd said they had never been to a Tea Party rally, but they described themselves as avid Glenn Beck fans, and many said they had been motivated to come by faith.
RESTORE AMERICA? Restore her honor?

Just what the Holy Ghost does that have to do with "turning back to God"? The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a utilitarian scheme -- and it just may be that the divine purposes of the Almighty involve humbling America and destroying her "honor."

And obviously, the honor-obsessed Mr. Weepy is unfamiliar with the term "the scandal of the gospel." Or, as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth long, long ago:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside."
Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
THOUGH ONE certainly can argue that Beck and Palin -- and any number of tea-party types-- be pluperfect fools, when we go to the videotape, the record hardly shows Caribou Barbie and this cable-TV equivalent of a carnival geek to be "fools for Christ."

Actually, Jesus Himself warned us about what we witnessed in Washington on Saturday. Look in Matthew -- or, as I learned through hard experience to tell Catholics teens in youth group,
the first part of the last third of the Bible:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them.”
OR by their fruitcakes, as the case may be.

Somehow, the following seems like it wasn't just 47 years ago, but also a billion miles away:

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