Friday, December 15, 2006

Well, That Didn't Take Long

[posted by Callimachus]

"Christianism" has jumped the shark.

That's what I thought when I read a post on this blog, wherein the author decries the kind of evangelical atheist who busies himself trying to turn everyone into a non-believer.

Certainly an atheist believes he is right and you are wrong, if you go to church. An agnostic doesn't merely say "I don't know if there is a God or not." He also must say, "and you don't know, either."

But there is a personality type that, regardless of what it believes is eternally restless unless it takes that belief out and bludgeons someone else's with it. That's what she's talking about. She expresses her frustration at people who blame God whenever people do evil. It's a theological question every faith has to grapple with, and Christianity has its answers going back a long way. Longer than Christianity iself; the grappling goes back to Job on his dungheap, back to Homer. Augustine wandered the markets of Mauritania grappling with them ages before George W. Bush was president or Andrew Sullivan was a blogger.

But now, it's all just "Christianism."

Look at the comments: Someone named David Byron pounds all over her like this:

So are you a rightwing christianist then?

I say "christianist" because no real christian would take such an insulting view of God as you have here, but christianists just have a form of religion as a crutch for their political beliefs, or prejudices would be a better word since they have no principles as such.

You talk a lot about morality there. But the fact is if your opinions were formed on the basis of morals you would support the Palestinians and not oppose them as Carter does. That's true regardless of your religion. It's a simple case in moral terms. The Israelis attacked the Palestinians.

The rightwing christianist is a fundamentally an authoritarian; a royalist. Loyalty to the cause is the only solid principle they know and all else is subject to change as they flip flop around chasing one or other ad hoc argument. If the authoritarian is told today to support Israel and tommorrow to support the Palestinians they will turn on a dime and scarcely even notice the distinction.

That sort of 'loyalty over morality' mentality also informs their religion. But for the true christian the concept of God's guilt for the evil of the world isn't something to be laughed away. To do so is to have an insultingly childish view of God. The atheist that holds God to account has a higher view of God than the christianist who never even thinks God has anything to be responsible for.

Perhaps Andrew Sullivan invented the word "Christianism" in this sense (I think he claims this) -- its contemporary use certainly is associated with him. He probably thought it was a convenient label to circumscribe and denigrate a group of people he thought needed special identification and denigration.

But that's the problem when you invent a label. You can invent it, but you can't control it. Other folks immediately pick up handfuls of them and run around slapping them on all sorts of things they detest, but can't be bothered to think about why. Refuse to make or accept excuses for Palestinian terrorism? Why, you're nothing but a dirty christianist.