If Pat Robertson is an evil, lying villain...
Evan's interview with Rabbi Lerner starts at a great place: "Americans give a tremendous amount of credit to anyone who can name a pain that they've been experiencing but have been unable to locate."
And in my opinion the pain that the megachurch movement has located and tried to address is the mass alienation and loneliness in our commercialized society. The resurgent church leaders offer community and meaning to wide swathes of the American populace... even as it establishes permissable avenues for them to load their shopping carts with the same dreck the heathens do.
And following what I think is the argument that Lerner makes, the weight of it is for liberals to offer an alternative mechanism to deal with this pain. Without insulting them along the way. And I have some ideas about how to to do this, but I do want to insult "the flock" for a second -- at the outset.
If Revs. Pat Robertson or Rod Parsely are evil, manipulative lying villains who bilk their followers out of millions and abuse their voting power to enhance their own political standing, then what are we going to say about all the people who tune in to CBN each night?
I think it's incumbent on anyone in the "reality-based" community to come out and say that these people are a bunch of servile and deluded suckers. And to consider whether or not adherents to this kind of religion/lifestyle can be converted from the insane tribe they have joined. And whether or not I want them around as they engage in detox.
I think the truth is that the Christian Right flock doesn't know about other ways to reject the grotesque outcomes of our fully capitialized society, so they picked this one and got caught up in it. We're all trying to reject this Thing that demeans us, steals meaning from our lives, but the materials they are using to defend themselves from the rot are from centuries past -- only because they aren't aware of anything better.
It puts me in a position of saying I know better than they do. I think I do, but I'm willing not to be pompous about it... if only because I rely on millions of good people to help me find Another Way. So the trick is to offer something for these followers fall back on without making it injurious or unappealing...
And my is there a lot of "common ground."