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Sunday, October 09, 2005

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Could have told you so


WASHINGTON — Senior U.S. officials have begun to question a key presumption of American strategy in Iraq: that establishing democracy there can erode and ultimately eradicate the insurgency gripping the country.

The expectation that political progress would bring stability has been fundamental to the Bush administration's approach to rebuilding Iraq as well as a central theme of White House rhetoric to convince the American public that its policy in Iraq remains on course.

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HiJacked Jesus


The American Christian right has hijacked Jesus Christ. It has made him into a brand, a logo, a bumper sticker. It celebrates his suffering on the cross, but largely neglects what he had to say. It prefers an Old Testament God, a "Jealous God, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children." It elevates success to proof of God's favor, and washes its hands of responsibility for the poor. It combines a self-righteous vision of Americans as the chosen people with shrill intimations of imminent apocalypse, to justify indifference to the rest of the world and to the planet itself. It sticks to the letter of the Bible with arbitrary selectiveness, so that it can endorse creationism and condemn homosexuality while acknowledging that (contrary to Old Testament wisdom) the earth is in fact round, and slavery is not OK.

It's a twisted, schizophrenic form of religion that mirrors the most reactionary form of Islam. (Not by chance, both the Christian right and conservative Muslims are at odds with women's rights, and fiercely homophobic.)

A lot can be said about the theological fallacies and over-simplifications of the Christian right. Take the way it reads the Commandments. What, for example, does "not to take the Lord's name in vain" mean? Is it a prohibition against using the word "God" in casual conversation? Or does it forbid Christians from going to war in the name of God? And what about "love thy neighbor"? Does it refer to the guy next door, who shares our tax bracket? Or is it about all of our fellow humans, whether similar or different? In fact, is it not an exhortation to love precisely those who are different?

Most important, though, is how Christians actually relate to Christ.

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