Monday, October 16, 2006
If you’ve been reading this blog for two years or so—and if so, my god, why?—then you’ll remember that immediately after the 2004 election, I was so upset that I checked in for a three-week stay at Focus on the Family Ministries in Colorado Springs in order to learn how I could get right with God. (And if you haven’t been reading this blog for two years, you’re finding this out just now!) The episode actually started on October 31, 2004, when I read an essay about Christian businesses in some liberal-elitist magazine, and responded with this piece of secularist mockery:
God spoke to me this morning, and He said, “Michael, you better not say anything snarky or dismissive about that article in today’s New York Times Magazine about American evangelicals who are establishing Christian businesses, performing faith healings in banks, conducting Bible study in the Centers for Disease Control, praying with real estate clients that they get a good price for their home, and so on.” God also said, “you know, it’s not at all weird that so many people think that I speak directly to them. In fact, if you read the article carefully, you’ll find that ‘some workplace Bible-study groups . . . feature training in how to distinguish between God’s voice and random thoughts.’ So it’s not as if people are just making stuff up and attributing it to Me.”
I said, “But God, if You’re really God and not some random thoughts in my head, don’t You already know if I’m going to say anything snarky or dismissive about these people?”
He smote me then, and let me tell you, that “smiting” is some serious shit. It’s way worse than “smacking around” or “walloping,” that’s for sure.
So I’m not going to say anything about these people or their businesses or their beliefs. I just have an innocent question about the inspirational painting on the office wall of Riverview Community Bank president Duane Kropuenske, which is reproduced on the Magazine‘s front cover. The painting is titled “Unending Riches” and it’s a portrait of Jesus standing with two businessmen in what is clearly an executive office. In the background is a generic cityscape, framed in a large window. The businessman on the right seems to be introducing the businessman on the left to Christ, who’s shaking hands and wearing white robes.
OK, so check out what’s on the wall behind the shoulder of the guy on the left. It’s another inspirational painting of some kind! Have you ever seen anything like this before? A piece of inspirational workplace art that includes, in a mise en abyme, another piece of inspirational workplace art? It’s too weird. And more important, why would this particular office need an inspirational painting in the first place? I mean, Jesus Christ Himself works for them!! They’ve already got the power of the Almighty right there, standing behind the desk with the laptop—what more do they need?? Are you trying to tell me that even the firm that employs the Son of God has to festoon its office walls with “motivational” posters?
I just think that’s blasphemous.
Well, despite the demurral in the fourth paragraph of that post, that was pretty cheeky of me. They set me straight at FOF, let me tell you! And today, I’ll repost my first missive from Colorado Springs, November 13, 2004. Here’s hoping it shines some heavenly light on your Monday:
Hi folks! It turns out that the Focus on the Family Ministry has a “weekend furlough” program, so I have a spare moment to check in on the blog from out here in lovely Colorado Springs. They limit us to half an hour on the Internets, though, because here at Focus on the Family, they like to keep the focus on the family. Actually, our unofficial motto is “it’s the patriarchy, stupid”—but of course I can’t say that in public!
Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that there’s no cause for concern about me or my state of mind, and that my hosts are treating me well. Not quite as well as my other conservative hosts back in September—let’s just say there’s a lot less single-malt flowing around these parts—but quite well nonetheless. And before I go back in for Week Two of the program, they’d like me to say a few words to the readers of this most humble blog.
First, you liberals and progressives and leftists and Communists have to stop vilifying “Christians.” It’s counterproductive and wrong. Christians are not responsible for George Bush’s election. Christians are not intolerant; Christians are not ignorant. Christians are actually filled with agape; they work among the poor and the downtrodden, they give up all hope of material gain in this world, they turn the other cheek when they are struck, and they always do unto others as they would have others do unto them.
So you liberals need to distinguish between Christians and CHRISTIANs. Out here in Colorado Springs, we don’t have much use for most of that garden-variety Christianity stuff. Who needs a vow of poverty when you’re trying to establish a media network? Who needs agape when you’re counting down to the Apocalypse? No sir, there aren’t any of those Christians around here. Instead, we prefer to think of ourselves as
Homophobes for a
Inquisition of the
In the future, please get that straight and keep it straight. Lay off the Christians—they’re completely innocuous people. When you want to criticize the ascendant religious right, say “CHRISTIANs” or “Creationists and Homophobes” for short. We’ll know who you mean. And then we’ll come and get you.
Second, liberal-progressive-etc. writers like Rick Perlstein and Frank Rich have to stop claiming that we didn’t swing the 2004 election to the right. Don’t you people get it? It just doesn’t matter if the religious-conservative vote didn’t change appreciably between 2000 and 2004. No one wants to hear about your fancy-schmancy “number crunching” and your elitist “regression analyses.” That’s exactly the kind of talk you’d expect from the reality-based community. But the reality-based community is less relevant to American politics right now than Eugene V. Debs, folks. Here at FOF, we know that semiotically (though Dr. Dobson doesn’t exactly put it that way), we won, and we won big time. We are Gonna Get Paid (though Dr. Dobson doesn’t exactly put it that way, either) and all you liberal wonks and all your liberal media can go to H E double hockey sticks.
And that’s why—last but not least!—we’re taking back this country. First, we’re going to take away one of your favorite liberal words. Ask your George Lakoff if you don’t believe me! As soon as the election returns were in, Karl Rove began to speak of creating a “hopeful and decent society,” and William Bennett wrote, in the pages of the National Review:
Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law.
Do you know what that means, people? That means we mean we’re going to lock you gays and lesb***ns back in the closet or run you right out of town, right alongside the abortionists in their tar-and-feather overcoats. And don’t give me any grief about Bill B.’s private little vices. They’re all right with us, because we know he’s saved.
Now, why did we pick the word “decent” for this phase of our crusade, you ask? Because quite honestly, we’re sick and tired of hearing you people say to us, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” I mean, we heard it about Abu Ghraib, we heard it about the Swift Boat Vets, we heard it when Jim DeMint said that gays and lesb***ns should be barred from teaching positions, we heard it every time Dick Cheney opened his mouth. We heard it every gosh-darn week this past year from you liberal “decency” mavens, always whining about something and always claiming to be “decent people” simply because you have this amoral “liberal” attitude about the sexual practices of consenting adults. Well, we’re not going to stand for it a moment longer. Next time you ask us if we have any “decency,” we’re going to say, “darn right we do—that’s why we have an American Decency Association.” And we’re going to make sure—through both politics and law—that we purge this land of degenerates like you.
Oops, my half hour is up. See you all later! And don’t forget to repent while you still can!