Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin and Religion

I just watched this clip posted by James McGrath at Exploring Our Matrix, but I thought it raised some really important issues, and, therefore, should be reposted by any readers I may have that he does not (although he attracts far more readers than I do).

I might take issue with the unexamined overuse of the term "fundamentalist," although I was happy for the note that you can find Pentecostals throughout the spectrum of social and political issues--they are not just "fundamentalists" and the religious right. What clip failed to note, however, is that the Assemblies of God, which as a whole is quite conservative (although you will find more left-leaning folk at least among the laity here and there) is (or at least it used to be) the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. It is a somewhat decentralized denomination (technically it is called a "cooperative fellowship"), but its decentralization creates a degree of flexibility that, in fact, works to its benefit, allowing for its continued expansion. A flexibility that allows it to use more modern methods and innovative ways to mobilize, such as the youth-oriented Masters Commission mentioned in the video. In sum, this is an effective system of dissemination of theology, ideology, interpretation, etc., including the issues of the "end times" that forms the focus of the clip.

But the "self-fulfilling prophecy" remark particularly caught my attention, looking at how particular, prominently 19th and 20th century, interpretations of Revelation could shape people's perspectives in terms of foreign policy, transforming very complex issues into apocalyptic binary terms of "good" and "evil" that create more misunderstandings of the dynamics of events, transforming the variegated groups in the Middle East into a monolithic "other." If such a perspective dominantly shapes U.S. foreign policy, then these "other" groups can never get a fair hearing...and if someone is not being heard, then they will find a way...feeding back into the self-fulfilling prophecy.

On a lighter note, for those of you who have seen Thomas Trask in the past, has he gained some weight in this clip? And, to be a televangelist these days, do you have to have a double-chin? Perhaps I need more Ben & Jerry's to get that job.

1 comment:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Do you actually believe that foreign policy will be solely influenced by Palin? No, but Palin's religious conviction is just as necessary to represent in our free Republic, as any other.

So, what is your main concern? I don't think that the Middle East will ever see eye to eye. That does not mean we use every method to try to bring about peace. But, it also means holding people accountable if they are not open to dialogue and circumvent any means of diplomacy. It doesn't sound as if Iran is open to that type of interaction...