Friday, July 24, 2009

Doug Giles' Theological Schizophenia

I knew Doug was a nincompoop, particularly when it came to the Bible, but geez. I don't even know where to start here. How about the fact that, in an attempt to co-opt Judaism's Prophetic Tradition, he unwittingly makes one of the most simplistic, superficial and downright offensive comments we've endured in print since Henry Ford?

the prophets were wrecking cranes to wayward Israel’s facades. They were imperfect, difficult dudes who called a spade a shovel for a perfect God. They didn’t give a crap who you were, who your mommy was, if you were the King or Pastor Whoop-Dee-Frickin’-Do. They were fiercely devoted to God and His ways.

..Yep, if you were out of sorts with God because of practicing whacked stuff or preaching Oprah instead of Obadiah, you were about to be publically roasted via the prophets’ sizzling invectives.
Need a mental image? Imagine Rush, Beck, Coulter, Miller or O’Reilly on steroids.
Doug, the only thing the Prophets have in common with any of the jackasses on your list is the utter brashness to throw all caution (in L&O's case, I'd add taste and judgment) to the wind that can only come with the certainty of knowing that God is on your side. The Prophets talked about things like supporting the poor, championing honesty, and exposing corruption among society's elite. With the exception of Shepard Smith, please enlighten me as to the last time any of your would-be-Prophets on Fox dared to point out a single element of the conservative agenda they didn't agree with (aside from bashing centrist Republicans for being too moderate, of course).

Apparently Doug likes the idea of a self-selected group of truthtellers telling society how screwed up it is-- as long as he makes sure they're the ones that agree with him-- because it lets him feel good about how smart he is, and how his opponents aren't only wrong politically, they're also in for a God-smiting.

if Israel turned from their profane BS (belief systems) and back to God, Yahweh would chill and relent from the attention-grabbing calamities He was heatin’ up on heaven’s back burner. The prophet, unfortunately, was officially out of a job if the Hebrews went the repentant route. Yep, Amos had to go back to fig picking.
However, when Israel blew the prophets off by condemning the messenger, categorizing the message as hate speech, jailing the prophet(s) or, as in some cases, killing the prophetic salvo, God would in turn switch to plan B to get His insubordinate group’s good ear.
God, not the one to run out of advanced repentance techniques, would allow Israel’s economy to go to hell, plagues to ravage their land, nature to convulse, and enemies the ability to pulverize them.
Yep, unless I’m reading the Bible upside down, it seems that when the nation went astray from God’s law and wouldn’t listen to the prophets’ calls to repentance and instead vilified the saving voices, God allowed one (or more) of the four aforementioned hammers to pound them until Israel became all ears.
This is, at least to me, a plain prophetic pattern within the Scripture. The $64,000 question you gotta ask yourself is this: If there is a God, and if the Bible isn’t a bunch of fairy tales written by a stack of whack jobs, then does God still roll today like He did with Old Testament Israel as He interfaces with 21st century nations that spurn His values to His face?
Which values? Kashrut? Tzniut? Niddah? Please do tell me, Rav Doug, which of the many mitzvot are you ever so certain God is irked about this time? Especially since your thesis is that God "rolls" like he did in the OT, where he seems to be a stickler for these sorts of things.

Ok, let's get this straight, so the crappy economy is God's punishment for... what, exactly? All the people in the midwest and the South eating pork? Eight years of Bush? What about the flush years under Clinton? My impression is he wasn't the most angelic of our Presidents. Maybe God was just asleep at the switch? Or was he biding his time, to kick us right when we least expected it, like, eight years after Clinton was out of office! Oh God, you sneaky brilliant devious bastard, you.
What with Doug being so gung-ho about the books of the Prophets, you might think that he'd have some understanding about the role of different religions in American society. And, like Doug, you'd be an idiot:
America’s not a Christian nation? Well, it’s not a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim (yet) or Tai Chi nation. I know Barack is auguring for the USA to become an Obamanation, but heretofore from what I’ve read regarding our founders’ beliefs and original intent for this experiment in self-government, this Republic has a massive intentional Judeo-Christian bent to it and not a religiously neutral one. Stevie Wonder can see that.
Yep, our founding fathers liberally mixed our nation’s political cement with the rock-solid truths of the Judeo-Christian worldview. Christianity wasn’t the state’s declared religion, but our framers clearly stated that Christ and Moses were where this bad boy came from.
Oh really? Please enlighten us, in which historical documents do the Founders chatter on about Moses (or Jesus, for that matter)?

Luckily, Doug brought quotes. Five whole ones, in fact, from John, John Q., and Sam Adams. Hmm, makes me kind of suspicious that he only bothered to look at a single family. I mean, would you use the Sharon clan to claim anything representative about Israel?

Kudos to Doug for bothering to supply some quotes (a sharp detour from his usual Prager-esque pattern of just rambling on for two pages about truths he holds to be self-evident), though it would have made it a lot easier if he'd also given the sources- it took five whole minutes of Googling to find where the info came from-- turns out the Adamses are the first three entries. Lazy AND plagarizing!

But I still feel the need to nit-pick. First, most of Doug's quotes only talk about Christianity in the most general of terms; for instance, one comment says "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity", in other words, that the values articulated in the Founding Documents (which have no explicit Christian content) are, in Adams Sr.'s eyes, essentially identical to Christianity's core. Also unfortunately for Doug, almost none of them are from any public documents, but rather are from things like diaries and private letters-- which can certainly show that the Adamses as individuals might have thought Christianity was awesome, but certainly didn't have any legal bearing. (Incidentally, both Presidents Adams were Unitarians, so I'm not sure how Doug squares that away with his vision of them being super-manly proto-evangelical Christ-warriors.)
With Sam Adams, Doug is on even flimsier ground. Wow, who would have thought that the governor of a state founded by Puritans as a quasi-theocracy would reference Christianity in public speeches? And even there, all Adams is doing is encouraging Massachusetts citizens to pray-- something that was regularly done, and is totally Constitutional. No problem, and not really even something all that controversial today, just look at Bush's Jesus Day.
The only quote that seems remotely close to what Doug's talking about (government support of Christianity) comes from John Hancock, a man that Doug would normally outright dismiss as a lace-covered pansy except that he happens to be conveniently agreeing with him:
And lastly, for now, we have John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence, president of Congress, Revolutionary general (you remember him, don’t ‘cha?) and governor of Massachusetts said the following, much to the secularists’ and wussy RINOs’ chagrin:
“Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement."
I tried to find more on the quote. The closest I got via the list-compilers was from, which added this tidbit:

John Hancock was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Continental Congress. He stated: "Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend you to every measure for their support and encouragement…Manners, by which not only the freedom but the very existence of the republics are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion."
Manners, huh? That's kind of an odd comment within the context of talking about what makes a state successful. Makes me curious...

After much Googling, I discovered that only a single website,, has the entire quote (taken from Hancock's Inaugural Speech as Mass. governor). And guess what? Not so simple.

Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement that shall not infringe the rights of conscience, which I rejoice to see established by the Constitution on so broad a basis ; and if anything can be further done on the same basis for the relief of the public teachers of religion and morality, and order of men greatly useful to their country, and who have particularly suffered in the defense of its rights by the depreciation of currency; as also for the relief of widows and orphans, many of whom have been distressed in the same way, and who are particularly committed by Heaven to the protection of civil rulers, I shall most readily concur with you in every such measure.
In other words: Hancock is saying that, in his opinion, Christian piety and virtue is important to keeping a state orderly and happy and therefore wants to support them, as well as support public religious education. It is interesting he makes a point of talking about various other interest groups he also feels deserve government funding.

He continues:

A due observation of the Lord's Day is not only important to internal religion, but greatly conducive to the order and benefit of civil society. It speaks to the senses of mankind, and, by a solemn cessation from their common affairs, reminds them of a Diety and their accountableness to the great Lord of all. Whatever may be necessary to the support of such an institution, in consistence with a reasonable personal liberty, deserves the attention of the civil government.
This one is pretty clear-cut. Hancock thinks it's cool for elected officials to impose their personal beliefs about taking a day off on their constituants. Plenty of states and countries still have Blue Laws and the like-- including Massachussetts, Israel and France. I don't disagree with Hancock's philosophy per se (actually it kind of reminds me of Heschel), it's just a basic disagreement about where you draw the line with government support of religion.

Then we get to that last, odd snippet:
Manners, by which not only the freedom, but the very existence of the republics, are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion and the good education of youth; in both these instances our fathers laid wise foundations, for which their posterity have had reason to bless their memory.
This is actually kind of funny, particularly given Hancock's being adopted by "Christian-Nation-Ho!"bags like Doug. Even though Hancock thinks Christianity helps keep a state on the straight and narrow, wants the government to fund religious education and be a government Sabbath Patrolman, he still has the insight to realize that religion is not the be-all-and-end-all-- he also points to the importance of education.
From a modern political perspective, Hancock does seem to be articulating some fairly conservative viewpoints. On the other hand, given that the man had never been to a non-Christian country, nor perhaps ever even met a non-Christian in his life, it might not be so surprising that he thought that his faith was the only civilized one around.
I close with a parting shot from Doug, master of the word... well, some words, at least:
all you RINO wonks who want Christians and Christianity scrubbed from the GOP because you think we are ruining the party, you ought to read the following, as well. Christians are ruining the party? Puh-lease. Uh, we started the party, dillweeds. You’re the ones who’re whizzing on it.
Actually, the French Enlightenment "started the party", Doug, as evidenced by the fact that even at their most pro-religion fervor, the Founders believed in balancing Faith with things like Reason, Freedom, and Truth. If you want to carry on about how awesome Christianity is, go nuts. Yes, there were plenty of Christians among the Founding Fathers. There were also quite a few that either weren't Christian, or were not nearly as doctrinally Orthodox as you might like to pretend. Many combined some Christian affiliation with Deist ideals; Jefferson made his own Bible by slicing out parts he didn't like, and I've read speculation that John Adams may have dabbled in Satanism in his later (and non-public) years. Ben Franklin, though raised in the Puritan tradition, stopped attending church in his early years and stayed away for most of his life.
Were any of these men Christian? By whose standards? Does it really matter? Whatever the answer, I kind of doubt they'd appreciate the degree to which you simplify or skew their names and words just to shore up your own POV, Doug. Yes, we all have agendas, but at least mine doesn't require me to pretend every Founding Father was the 18th century equivalent of Pat Robertson. Good luck convincing people on that, though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


If "hate bill"-obsessed Congress [and Obama] can't protect Christians from "gays" as much as it wants to protect "gays" from Christians, will Congress be surprised if it can't protect itself from most everyone?
If "hate bills" are forced on captive Americans, they'll still find ways to sneakily continue to "plant" Biblical messages everywhere. By doing so they'll hasten God's judgment on their oppressors as revealed in Proverbs 19:1.
(See related web items including "David Letterman's Hate, Etc.," "Separation of Raunch and State," "Michael the Narc-Angel," "Obama Avoids Bible Verses," and "Tribulation Index becomes Rapture Index.")
Since Congress can't seem to legislate "morality," it's making up for it by legislating "immorality"!

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