Saturday, April 11, 2009

"A New German Christianity is Born"

That's the title of a recent post at Talk To Action by Bruce Wilson.


castle from Bruce Wilson on Vimeo.

I can't necessarily call this the strangest thing I've ever seen, but it is definitely different. Wilson's description seems sufficiently apt:
In short, this is footage from a German ministry near Tubingen, of a summer 2007 religious ceremony held at Hohenzollern Castle - the traditional seat of the Prussian kings and emperors.

It features Germans dressed as Teutonic knights wielding a sword, a golden mace, and a chalice... and a voice track sung in Hebrew. Towards the end of the video, the Prussian flag melts into the Star of David.

[snip]

The video I am presenting here is unaltered, as it was originally created by its maker/s, except that I increased the contrast and color saturation levels.

This spring, along with the Talk To Action commenter known as "Ruth", I will air our evolving understanding of what this video represents. But, to make things suitably brief I'll say this: Christianity is changing.

That change has been described through the work of David Barrett - whose World Christian Trends AD 30 - AD 2200 should be a basic desk reference for all who purport to write, in a professional capacity, on religion and politics. Barrett was only the chief editor - there were many people involved in the project that produced World Christian Trends. The goal of the project was to produce good empirical data that could be used to further the Christian evangelizing of the world. Like a Bible, World Christian Trends is mammoth - over 900 pages of onion-skin, triple spaced columns. It takes a magnifying glass to read.

The typologies of Christianity to be found in World Christian Trends strongly indicate this: Sarah Palin's Christianity 'has no connection to historic Christianity.' In other words, Palin's Christianity is very, very new. Indeed, it's off the map: as is, demonstrably, the form of Christianity practiced by Rick Warren and Ted Haggard.

As detailed in Barrett's World Christian Trends AD 30 - AD 2200, since the 1980's a new form of Christianity which, according to the book, has "no connection to historic Christianity" has come to encompass over 4% of the world's population" the Third Wave: 295 million Christians by AD 2000. Third Wave Christians seek to raise the dead and perform healing miracles, and they believe they must convert the whole world to Christianity, and 'perfect' the Christian church, in order to bring about the return of Jesus Christ.

Christianity is changing.

I personally found something rather unnerving and creepy about Sarah Palin's brand of Christianity, from the moment that I was first exposed to it. At the time I was tempted to view the brand of Christianity espoused by Palin and her ilk as some sort of weird Medieval throwback, especially to the extent that these folks seem to obsess a good deal about witches and exorcisms. As I read more of Wilson's blogging on the topic, I've found good reason to seriously question my original impression and realize that this so-called Third Wave Christianity is weird all right, but weird in a way that is arguably unprecedented. However this particular movement is characterized, I find Jay Taber's description of it as a new axis of bigotry quite apt.

Whoever seems to be spearheading this particular evangelical movement is adept at modern media manipulation - including of course the cooption of terms used by progressive movements of the recent past. An example of this is the cooption of the term "rainbow coalition" to promote a paranoid intolerance of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. For those of us who are Gen Xers, we probably recall that the Rainbow Coalition is a reference to the relatively progressive coalition of religious and secular activists promoting the advancement of civil rights during the 1980s. In the US, where much social and political discourse has been framed in a right-wing manner for much of my lifetime (to such an extent that the arguably hardline rightist government of the Obama regime passes for "progressive"), Third Wave Christian evangelicals are quite poised to capitalize on the political scene in the very near future. Their brand of Christianity is very much one of empire - much as the early Catholic Church was in the 4th century ADE - and quite antithetical to the rather subversive message that Jesus was spreading during his brief life. Be forewarned.

No comments:

Post a Comment