Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Post-Election Reflections. I

The Inharmonious Quartet.

In the field of Medicine, specifically Pediatrics, there is a phenomenon called atopy in which certain allergy-based diseases tend to co-exist in certain families. Thus, children with asthma tend themselves to suffer from eczema or seasonal allergies, or else have siblings or close family members who also have asthma, eczema or seasonal allergies.

A similar phenomenon appears to happen in the social/cultural lives of some Americans who live in certain regions of the country. On admittedly thin personal experience, there appears to exist a link between bigotry, fierce nationalism, guns and religion. We all remember Obama's now infamous remark about people "clinging to guns and religion", a remark that first Hilary Clinton, then Sarah Palin attempted unsuccessfully to use to political advantage. In the heat of the political campaign it was impossible to discuss this issue rationally.

Now that the election is over, it perhaps is time for political operatives to more fully and seriously examine this issue. But not political types only--Christians too need to examine this relationship. The recent well documented increase in the sales of firearms coupled with the doomsday laments in some Christian circles in the aftermath of the election results is troubling indeed.

I have three questions:

1) Is there really a linkage between bigotry (racism), fierce nationalism, love of guns and religion in America or is this a misrepresentation pushed by the media?
2) If a linkage truly exists, what, from the historical standpoint, is the basis of this linkage?
3) Finally, why is this linkage supposedly concentrated in certain regions of the country?

The most disquieting component of this inharmonious quartet, for me, is religion. How did religion or, for that matter, Christianity come to keep company with such sorry bedfellows?

Interesting is the fact that bigotry, in particular, once interred in an individual, tends in many cases to stay resistant to the influences of increasing education and wealth. Case in point: the perpetrators of the hateful acts of noose hanging on the campuses of a few reputable Universities in the election aftermath; thankfully these examples are uncommon.

Far more disheartening, however, is the fact that organized religion--not to be equated, necessarily, with, but often conflated with the fellowship of Christ's followers--too appears not to be much of a modifier. One does not have to look far to find support for this assertion: places with the greatest outwardly show of religion, places where people go to church regularly and boldly declare their faith in God--also tend to be places where the worst kinds of bigotry/racism thrive. We may argue that these people are unregenerate Christians, Christians in name only, but still, what a poor witness this represents for the body of Christ as a whole.

Are we quickly--because of the poor testimony of a vocal fringe--in danger of becoming salt devoid of saltiness? If so, are we--the larger body--about to be discarded with the rest? We, who know what the Scriptures declare, of necessity and of alarm, need to avoid such a fate for the larger Christian body by boldly speaking about these issues and by challenging the standard but misguided orthodoxy of the “religious right”. It has been pointed out that Jesus reserved his harshest words for Pharisees. Perhaps, it is because we need to be most vigilant about those misguided doctrines that are closest to the truth. These, unlike those that are patently false (e.g., the teachings of the Sadducees), have the power to do the greatest amount of harm to the truth of the Gospel. - Gaius Dissentus.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Alien Warrior said...

I must confess that the view from my part of Texas is pretty dim. Some of my co-workers were so upset that they stayed angry for at least 2 days- I am not exaggerating. One guy’s wife took opportunity of his mood to change the carpets in the house because, as she told us, he was so upset that he would not notice it! True dat!. At Baylor University in Waco (the biggest Baptist University in the country) some students collected Obama-Biden signs and made a bonfire out of them.

I am thinking about applying for a concealed weapon license and will probably further boost the stats on gun sales. AL

November 18, 2008 at 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Annang said...

The road is indeed narrow, as the Lord said, and it is so easy to veer off it!!

I think there is a sociological explanation to the link between religion and extremism. It is called an unchecked zeal. Today's middle ground person can easily become tomorrow's extremist and, quite commonly, it starts with a genuine disagreement. Today's extremist was yesterday's person on the correct side of the argument. The change started when he or she stopped seeing how narrow the middle ground was and veered away

November 18, 2008 at 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Robbo said...

those four Gs do warrant some discussion and analysis. Guns, biGotry, Gingoism (hey Calorius, I know it is Jingoism) and reliGion. I do think that Education, or rather "Enlightenment", does play a role in removing some of the worst aspects of bigotry. I would suggest that a lot of what is going on is based on fear and ignorance. Sometimes, this small town mentality and culture can even get incorporated into the broad mindset of an Academic Institution and it would continue to attract a certain kind of Lecturer/professor/administrator and attract students from a certain kind of culture. The result is the persistence of an incestuous type of bigotry in which like-minded people feed on each other's fears and that would account for the behavior we see in an otherwise reputable University.

An old tro-tro inscription in Ghana was "travel and see" and the message was that, even a journey from Alavanyo to Asamankese could remove a few scales from a person's eyes. I think that is why many American Universities actively pursue diversity because they realize the great benefits and indirect education that foreign students bring to their campuses. Some small private American Colleges see it as prestigious to have undergraduate students from abroad and offer generous scholarships that are sometimes not available to similarly qualified Americans. One could call that a different kind of affirmative action that would cause a temporary constriction of Lou Dobbs’s anterior descending artery, if he heard about it.

We can only pray and hope that that Obama will govern in a way that will challenge the unwarranted fear and ignorance that is so pervasive in some quarters.

November 19, 2008 at 12:46 PM  
Anonymous alien warrior said...

Annang, your comment on, "Today's moderate becoming tomorrow's extremist" is spot on. I must then apply it practically to myself and it means that I have to, at all stages in my life, be flexible about the changing circumstances around me. It's a delicate balancing act between refusing to be drawn into a degenerate culture around you and also being adaptable enough to live in that same culture and have a message that is relevant to that culture.

I believe that the Bible supports that when it enjoins us to become all things to all men yet warns us to even hate the clothing that is spotted by sin. I think this is where Christ is the Master and He always has an answer for all times and for all things- taxes, marriage, giving, politics, moral matters etc.

November 19, 2008 at 1:33 PM  

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