Learning to Drive the Jesus Machine…

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[Wayner-disclaimer] Ok, so there’s a political dimension to this post, but I’m not proselytising for any party or group. For the record, I have previously admitted that I am an evangelical (at the CIVA conference there was an interesting discussion around the term “religionist,” so you can use that too if you like) and am often completely frustrated by the politicization of Christianity in American politics and culture…and often by Christian culture in general. It’s one of the reasons I’m doing the Jesus series of images – including this one (in progress, unofficially titled, “Sorry Jesus”):

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ok, Here we go…

I just finished reading Dan Gilgoff’s “The Jesus Machine.”

As someone who grew up listening (involuntarily – though mom did her best) to James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio broadcast nearly every day of my youth, it was fascinating to see a straight-forward review of Dobson’s career and the development of the religious right from a historical perspective. I have to credit Gilgoff for maintaining a sense of impartiality in giving the account – from the separation of evangelicals from the Carter Administration (ironically, a conservative, outspoken evangelical) toward the Republican Party and through significant social, cultural and political events they have been involved in (and still are).

I would have probably had a slightly biased perspective. The fact that Dobson stepped into his own worst-case scenario by throwing his vehemently apolitical stance out the window and using his trusted influence to push his (and later the Republican Party’s) political agenda is…well, let’s just say it’s been problematic (you could substitute strings of @#$% characters to make similar emphatic implications for me). Gilgoff documents the successful and failed efforts by Dobson’s organizational megaforces to introduce legislation, elect officials and rally a voting base on particular issues. I found most of it sad and embarrassing.

“Progressive” (not my term) and otherwise frustrated evangelicals can be encouraged that Gilgoff also gives account of some evangelicals bucking the Focus teams and actually trying to make a difference in politics in ways that seem to be working…like helping poor people…and working to reduce abortion rates through education and poverty elimination…and (gasp) partnering with people across party/religious lines to accomplish mutual goals.

Thanks, Dan for pointing out a few.

-W

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Filed under religious propaganda, Unfiltered Thinking

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