Monday, October 09, 2006

Livin' It (And By "It," We Mean "A Ridiculously Polarized Form Of Religion That Ironically Mimics Radical Muslims")

Posted by codemorse


Baldwin preaches that free will is a lie of Satan -- we must shut off our brains, he says, and be led by what God tells our hearts. Furthermore, he writes, efforts to end global poverty and violence are just the sort of "stupid arrogance" that incur God's wrath, which we'll be feeling any day now in the coming apocalypse....

"I am smart enough to know that Satan is alive and well today," he writes. "Satan has all kinds of power, and he is able to control the minds of anyone whose mind isn't controlled by God."

....All of this might seem like the easily ignorable ravings of a Hollywood has-been if the book wasn't climbing bestseller lists. Baldwin writes that "God has called me to go and make disciples of the youth of America.

That is what I am going to try to do, and if you try to stop me I am going to break your face."

Boo-ya, Baldwin!

Do you hear that, unbelieving sinners? Baldwin is going to BREAK YOUR FACE if you try to stop him from converting the youth of America to Jesus Christ's philosophy of unconditional love!

In! Your! Face! Satan!

There's a popular movement to transform Christ into a figure of righteous anger and vengeance - based almost entirely on the book of Revelation. It's striking, and telling, that a spiritually-questionable and ultimately-unimportant book of the Bible has become the whole of the Bible for so many people. It's as if all that stuff about lovin' thy brother is just too much work.

the actor travels as a headline act with a group of skateboarders who provide entertainment, authenticity and conversion stories at "radical" revivals. The Livin It tour drew an audience of over a million in 2005, selling out stadiums from Atlanta to Kingston, Jamaica. At the Minneapolis Metrodome, the tour packed in 40,000 people in a single evening; the wait for an autograph after the "altar call" lasted three and a half hours. (Last year's X Games drew only 16,000 to a skateboarding competition.)

Ryan Dobson receives a shout-out in Baldwin's book as a messenger for "Homey," as Baldwin calls God. In Dobson's book "Be Intolerant," he rails against relativism, homosexuals, environmentalists and "inclusive, open-minded Christians," charging his readers to "get your armor on and take up your cross."

He knows just how to instill pride in the heart of his father. "I bleed conservatism, Dobson told me when I met him at a Christian publishing convention in Denver last year, crossing his ornately inked arms over a T-shirt that says, "Jesus Loves My Tattoos." "I see conservatives like me everywhere, at hot rod shows in Vegas, surfing top breaks on the coast, crazy motocross freaks like me living for Jesus. We know we're right, we have the power of the truth behind us.

And because of that, I see cities on fire."

Here we have what amounts to a near-perfect illustration of the differences between moderate faith and 'radical' faith. A thinking man will see that there is no fundamental difference between the rhetoric that Baldwin preaches and the rhetoric of radical Muslim fundamentalists. Both philosophies rely upon the assumption that the world is a damned and unholy place - and that only by cleansing it of the unbelievers will we earn God's love/respect/milk-and-cookies.

Were a Muslim to speak out that his faith knows "we're right, we have the power of the truth behind us. And because of that, i see cities on fire," what do you suppose the reaction might be?

Do you think the irony of Baldwin's conversion happening as a result of 9-11 resonates at all with the man himself? Do you think that he understands how an act of ignorant and violent radicalism has made him ignorant, violent and radical?

I'd guess not. To Baldwin, his brand of homo-hatin', God-as-homeboy Christianity is just plain radical, dude. Tubular.


At 12:31 PM, Blogger Wesley said...

Revelation isn't even supposed to be a end of the world prophecy. The whole damn book is a criique of the roman empire

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

Forget Bio-Dome. Go see his older, fatter, sweatier brother chew the holy fuck out of the screen in The Departed.

At 1:02 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

I will do so, sir.

Stupid roman empire...

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

"a spiritually-questionable and ultimately-unimportant book of the Bible"

While Wes isn't entirely off base (I do think that there's quite a bit of solid prophecy and lacking that some speaking directly to churches then and now) I think that the above statement is. Just because a bunch of whackos take it off onto some truly bizarre tangents doesn't mean that the book is questionable or unimportant.

Oh and I saw Departed last night and it is fuckin' brilliant.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Wesley said...

yeah the dpearted ruled. Pretty damn bloddy though a hell alot more than its source material. Also Some theloigians think that the book is a prophecey of the end of the roman empire itself

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

I think that like most biblical prophecy it's either a) just vague enough to be read as "multi layeres" (a la Nostradamus) ro b) it actually is. So it can be read as applying to the Romans, my bestest friend holds this historical view, or to our future. my wife holds this view, or to both, I hold this view. Loves me some fence sitting. ;-)

At 6:29 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Sorry, fence-sitter, but I'm calling you out on this one.

Please justify the importance of Revelation without placing one specific interpretation of the book on the argument table.

It cannot, to my mind, be done.

That makes it useless unless you're a biblical scholar. And Baldwin is, to say the least, no scholar.

Seeing the Departed this weekend. Looking forward to it after all your rave reviews.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

No problem. The first portion of the book is very relevant to pointing out the things that any church should be wary of and encourages certain things. See the second and third chapters.

I also love the imagery it uses when it describes Jesus in the glory and majesty of his new body. And it's description of Heaven and the Church. Very relevant in the encouraging of worship.

Also Satan totally gets his ass kicked.

To me those are very relevant things. Does that satisfy the Rev.?

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Oh and as a Christian who believes in Satan as either a) a literal force of evil or b) a figurative force that describes the worst of human nature or c) something in between, Satan getting his behonkey handed to him is thus important whether you believed it happened, is happening, or will happen.

At 12:49 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

I'm not sure what you mean by encouraging certain things. It seems to me that the second and third chapters of Revelation deal almost exclusively with God telling his people to stay faithful.

There's nothing in those two chapters that hasn't been rather exhaustively covered in previous books.

While it's imagery is evocative, I disagree with the idea that it's helpful in worship. It's largely helpful in provoking a desire toward premillenial thinking. It's the portion of the Bible that Michael Bay shot. It's lovely to look at, and exciting, and full of vivid imagery, but at it's core it's empty of any substantial meaning outside of its own existence.

Revelation is assurance that a day of reckoning is coming, but I've always felt personally that the longing for such a day was a weakness of sorts. My God expects me to take care of this earth and of my fellow men. I want nothing more than to make this world a slightly better place than when I left it, and the idea that God will come and tidy everything up (after violently, inexplicably and summarily destroying all) is less than desirable to me.

As hellish as this world can be, is it truly any worse than the fires of damnation that Revelation threatens to heap on us? Is it truly worse than watching all my best friends - none of them really staunch Christians - and presumably myself being cast off from God's grace and presence to languish in the pits of unbelievers?

Revelation has done great harm to the social fabric of our world, and I'm at an honest loss as to what it's given us in return to justify that chaos.

Satan getting his ass kicked, while undeniably a suitable finale to any thrilling action film, does not seem reason enough to this bear of very little brain.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

"There's nothing in those two chapters that hasn't been rather exhaustively covered in previous books."

That could be said of many of Paul's letters.

"It's largely helpful in provoking a desire toward premillenial thinking."

Premil thinking is only about 200 years old. If it didn't provoke it for 1800 years then I respectfully disagree. I htink modern circumstances and a fascination with the turning of a millenium were more responsible for that than the book was.

"Revelation has done great harm to the social fabric of our world"

No. And again I say passionately no. People have done great harm using Revelation as a tool. Those same sorts of people have done that same sort of harm using the gospels to blame Jews for killing Christ or the Pentateuch to instill a sense of moralism into our country and for that matter Israel in Christ's day.

The idea of Hell is nothing unique to Revelation and the day of reckoning for Satan and his minions is promised as early as Genesis. Don't make the mistake that many of the Premillers make and miss the grace and majesty of God and his promise of restoration and redemption fullfilled amongst what is only a small part of that revelation (the fire and brimstone).

Your friends and yourself still have a claim to that promise if you want to stake it (personally I see nothing in your theology that says you aren't already in that number). Part of staking that claim though, imo, means looking at this through the lense of "Evil has no lasting power over me or this world".

I fully understand how disturbing the picture of God's wrath poured out against evil is. I know that part of that wrath will be poured out against people and I've literally lost sleep and gained gray hairs over that idea. But I think it's part of who God is and has to be reckoned with. Without his wrath and judgment there would be no need of the grace that he shows in both this book and in the other 65.


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