BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Revenge of the Megachurch

Happy Memorial Day.

Hope you've read Jeff Sharlet's article in Harper's on James Dobson, Pastor Ted and the Evangelical movement in Colorado Springs.

It's a must read.

Gonna spend the next few days breaking down a few sections for ya:
They are drawn as if by magnetic forces; they speak of Colorado Springs, home to the greatest concentration of fundamentalist Christian activist groups in American history --
And the most fast food restaurants ever --
--both as a last stand and as a kind of utopia in the making. They say it is new and unique and precious, embattled by enemies, and also that it is “traditional” --
Super white and neo-Christian: No Catholics, Jews, Muslims, gays, minorities, etc --
--a blueprint for what everybody wants --
As many different fast food restaurants as possible --
--and envied by enemies.

The city itself is unspectacular, a grid of wide western avenues lined with squat, gray and beige box buildings, only a handful of them taller than a dozen stories. Local cynics point out that if you put Colorado Springs on a truck and carted it to Nebraska, it would make Omaha look lovely. But the architecture is not what draws Christians looking for clean living. The mountains help, but there are other mountain towns. What Colorado Springs offers, ultimately, is a story.

Lori Rose is from Minnesota and heard rumors about this holy city when she lived on an Air Force base near Washington, D.C. Her husband isn’t a Christian, refuses Jesus, looks at things he shouldn’t --
Paris Hilton's commercial for Carl's Jr --
--but she has found a church to attend without him and joined a marriage study group there. Ron Poelstra came from Los Angeles. Now he volunteers at his church, selling his pastor’s books on “free-market theology” after services. His two teenage boys stand behind him, display models for the benefits of faith. L.A., Ron says, would have eaten them up:
Dude, I hear that.
L.A., Ron says, would have eaten them up: the gangs.
No.

The scene at the Cabo Cantina on Sunset, the price of gas at the Chevron on Sunset & Crescent Heights, and the price of movies at the Arclight.

That's the stuff that eats you up.

That...and whoring for work.

"You've got to ask yourself everyday, 'Am I gonna work the corner of Santa Monica and Orange, by the Shakey's, or am I gonna work the bar area at the Bellagio in Vegas?'"

Dunno.
Adam Taylor, now a pastor, grew up in Westchester County, an heir to the Bergdorf Goodman fortune, the son of artists and writers. In Colorado Springs he learned the Bible the hard way, each word a nail pounded into sin.

The story they found in Colorado is about newness: new houses, new roads, new stores.
Home Town Buffet, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn for Kids.
And about oldness, imagined: what is thought to be the traditional way of life, families as they were before the culture wars, after the World Wars, which is to say, during the brief, Cold War moment when America was a nation of single-breadwinner nuclear families.
Single-breadwinner meaning "males in total control, women BPK."

Can some people from the 50's come back and remind everyone that Beavercleaverland NEVER EXISTED?

That people drank themselves into oblivion, entered into loveless marriages and did crazy shit during this "brief, Cold War moment when America was a nation of single-breadwinner nuclear families?"

Please?

"Traditional way of life." God, that term just makes me...ugh.

"Fear based" is more like it.

This article is really amazing...so take the time to read the whole thing.

One last bit. A very intense Memorial Day editorial from Minneapolis' Star-Tribune.

Excerpts:
In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country.

In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

The "SMOKING GUN," as some call it, surfaced on May 1 in the London Times ("The Downing Street Memo"). It is a highly classified document containing the minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting at 10 Downing Street in which Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair on talks he'd just held in Washington. His mission was to determine the Bush administration's intentions toward Iraq.

At a time when the White House was saying it had "no plans" for an invasion, the British document says Dearlove reported that there had been "a perceptible shift in attitude" in Washington. "Military action was now seen as inevitable.

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.

BUT THE INTELLIGENCE AND FACTS WERE BEING FIXED AROUND THE POLICY.

The (National Security Council) had no patience with the U.N. route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

It turns out that former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were right. Both have been pilloried for writing that by summer 2002 Bush had already decided to invade.

Walter Pincus, writing in the Washington Post on May 22, provides further evidence that the administration did, indeed, fix the intelligence on Iraq to fit a policy it had already embraced: invasion and regime change. Just four days before Bush's State of the Union address in January 2003, Pincus writes, the National Security Council staff "put out a call for new intelligence to bolster claims" about Saddam Hussein's WMD programs. The call went out because the NSC staff believed the case was weak. Moreover, Pincus says, "as the war approached, many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein's alleged weapons programs."

BUT NO ONE AT HIGH RANKS IN THE ADMINISTRATION WOULD LISTEN TO THEM.

On the day before Bush's speech, the CIA's Berlin station chief warned that the source for some of what Bush would say was untrustworthy. Bush said it anyway. He based part of his most important annual speech to the American people on a single, dubious, unnamed source. The source was later found to have fabricated his information.

As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths -- the most since January -- comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious.
Yep.

More later...

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