Dumb Religion: The End of Daze
Thank God--or any other deity you believe in--this election is almost over.
This is the last column I'll write before the election, which makes me feel compelled to say something serious--something so profound that future generations will circulate the soggy article in their Waterworld universe as the Mad Max savages close in: "Must ... read ... Spikol ..."
Some think such an apocalyptic future is indeed near at hand. There's a lot of misery going on, and whenever that happens some religious fanatic jumps out of a burning bush and says the Four Horsemen are on their way. I always picture the Horsemen as extras from a Lord of the Rings movie, but I know that's wrong. The Lord of the Rings wasn't even written, let alone filmed, when the Bible was pieced together.
The most prominent doomsayer of the moment is David Jeremiah, leader of a massive broadcast ministry out of California who just published a book called What in the World Is Going On: 10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore. The clues include the oil crisis and the rise of Islamic terrorism. So far, so God. But Jeremiah also mentions things that strike me as odd, like the prominence of the European Union.
Really? That signifies the end of the world? God does work in mysterious ways.
Jeremiah isn't the only one who has that world-ending feeling. There's a combination of elements right now--climate change, war, financial collapse, SNL getting good again--that seem to suggest the End Times. And if you believe in the End Times, you're probably pretty excited. It's as if your favorite book is finally being adapted for film. You can't wait to get to the multiplex.
The New York Times' David Brooks wrote last week that the Republican Party has lost a key constituency: smart people. He said, "a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole." He cited the tiny number of Republicans in academia and the way our unsophisticated, inarticulate president's style fits the party to a T. It's gotten so bad, Brooks tells us, that the majority of lawyers, doctors, tech execs and investment bankers are now Democrats. And as Brooks points out, "It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community."
I found it interesting that Brooks didn't mention religious fanaticism-- a kind of anti-intellectual habit of thought embraced by certain members of the GOP base. In my secularist opinion, fundamentalism of any stripe goes hand in glove with irrationality, further alienating logical thinkers from the Grand Old Party.
Sarah Palin is a perfect example. She was brought on board to appeal to the evangelical segment of the GOP base. But while there are all kinds of palatable Pentecostal observance, Palin's brand via her Assembly of God church is seriously goofy.
Most of those living in what Brooks calls the "highly educated regions" the GOP has alienated would have a hard time relating to Palin's pastor, Ed Kalnins, who once suggested that people who voted for John Kerry might not get into heaven. (I got that from Fox News, so don't go blaming the liberal media.)
Kalnins also said, to those criticizing Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina, "I question your salvation, I really do." He believes the Iraq war is a "manifestation of the spirit world" and that Alaska is a refuge state--one of the few that the saved will come to when the approaching apocalypse occurs.
Palin says her connection to Kalnins' Wasilla Assembly of God church is behind her. But just four months ago she was at the church for a "laying on of hands" by Kalnins.