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« Nothing more than feelings | Main | Lawyer fight! »

Aug 29, 2011

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Andrew Brod

The prophets of the Hebrew Bible (known to Christians as the Old Testament) cared deeply about society's treatment of the less fortunate (the widow, the stranger, the orphan) and much less about the sexual morality that animates the modern Right. The prophets weren't shy about issuing divine threats to secular authorities who fell short of those moral goals. An earthquake/hurricane combo doesn't sound very different from what they had in mind.

My view is that seismic/meteorological s**t happens. But if we're going to get Judeo-Christian religious, the Biblical record is more in line with Ed's view than Bachmann's.

Andrew Brod

My apologies: Bachmann, at least as quoted in the linked article, didn't get into sexual morality. What she talked about, however, is just as odd. She apparently thinks the recent smiting of the eastern U.S. was because of government deficits. Is G-d really going to get involved in fiscal policy? If so, is monetary policy far behind? What about paperwork reduction?

Well, I guess that's not much odder than Pat Robertson... if he's going to be our standard for normalcy.

Bill Yaner

I think of George Burns in "Oh, God" walking down the aisle toward Paul Sorvino as the blow hard preacher and telling him how much he wished people like Sorvino would stop speaking for Him.

But when it comes to interpreting God for the masses, Bachmann is walking on dangerous ground already taken by Rick Perry, the man God told directly to run for President. If only it would rain a little down there.

Andrew Brod

If only it would rain a little down here.

michele

Pat Robertson commented on the earthquake and hurricane:

"He cited Matthew's Gospel, which mentions an 'upheaval in the earth' as a sign of the End of Days. The earthquake is just a 'birth pang' of the world to come, Robertson explained."

He was referring to this Scripture passage:

"Jesus told them, 'Don't let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah.' They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don't panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won't follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come."

-- Matthew 24:4-8

This is obviously not the first time we've had earthquakes, famine and war since Jesus said this, but there is a spiritual foundation for what Robertson said.

Bachman said:

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."

I assume that this is what she was referring to:

"Then Moses said, 'This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.'

As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community."

-- Numbers 16:28-33

There's also this:

"...After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire..."

-- 1 Kings 19:11b-12a

To me, the problem with Bachman's comment is that she's referring to Scripture in which God sent earthquakes for very specific reasons, and He explained what those reasons were to the people who experienced the earthquakes -- the first earthquake was to punish disobedience among the Israelites and the second was to show His presence to Elijah, who had run in fear from Jezebel's threat, rather than trusting God.

In both instances, the earthquakes appear to be localized to the people God was speaking to. There's no indication that they were widespread earthquakes. And the people were not left to guess at or interpret why the earthquakes occured -- God made Himself and His purposes clear to them. Bachman, like Robertson, is speculating about natural events (hurricanes, earthquakes) that happen all over the world and affect many people. But there isn't a clear Biblical correlation to what Bachman said.

Bachman stated:

"He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?'"

She is speaking for God here -- quoting Him, actually. Unless she's had a direct, divine revelation from God that He sent both the earthquake and the hurricane for the reason she stated, then she is in error by claiming to know God's will and His words.

greensboro transplant

just curious, but is there audio of this? or at least a 2nd source?

Dave Ribar

GT:

No, we have to take most of the Old Testament on face value :)

Ed Cone

"This is obviously not the first time we've had earthquakes, famine and war."

Yes.

Even if you believe in the literal truth of the passage, there's no special indication that recent events are the ones predicted, and there is a long history of such assumptions not proving out.

Also, this: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."

And as noted, it's presumptuous to assume you know why things happen, and of course that hurricane did head straight for Pat's own hometown...

HJ

GT Are you asking for audio of Bachmann?
http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/08/bachmann-hurricane-is-gods-warning-about-government-spending/

polifrog

The prophets of the Hebrew Bible (known to Christians as the Old Testament) cared deeply about society's treatment of the less fortunate (the widow, the stranger, the orphan) and much less about the sexual morality that animates the modern Right. The prophets weren't shy about issuing divine threats to secular authorities who fell short of those moral goals. An earthquake/hurricane combo doesn't sound very different from what they had in mind.

My view is that seismic/meteorological s**t happens. But if we're going to get Judeo-Christian religious, the Biblical record is more in line with Ed's view than Bachmann's.

....

My apologies: Bachmann, at least as quoted in the linked article, didn't get into sexual morality. What she talked about, however, is just as odd. She apparently thinks the recent smiting of the eastern U.S. was because of government deficits. Is G-d really going to get involved in fiscal policy? If so, is monetary policy far behind? What about paperwork reduction?

Well, I guess that's not much odder than Pat Robertson... if he's going to be our standard for normalcy.

....

I think of George Burns in "Oh, God" walking down the aisle toward Paul Sorvino as the blow hard preacher and telling him how much he wished people like Sorvino would stop speaking for Him.

But when it comes to interpreting God for the masses, Bachmann is walking on dangerous ground already taken by Rick Perry, the man God told directly to run for President. If only it would rain a little down there.

...

If only it would rain a little down here.

...

just curious, but is there audio of this? or at least a 2nd source?

...

GT:

No, we have to take most of the Old Testament on face value :)


Intolerance runs deep among the tolerant...

Andrew Brod

Okay, so you've learned to cut and paste. Very good.

Now, your point?

David Wharton

I followed the link that Ed provided, and in the video there Bachmann mostly talked about the economic devastation the recession has wreaked on Hispanic and African-American youth (which should satisfy AB's theological concerns). Then I followed the video link to the hurricane & earthquake remarks that HJ provided, and I noted that when she said them, she paused, and the audience laughed.

An unbiased observer might conclude that her remark was tongue-in-cheek (though ill-advised and insensitive), and that her audience took it in that spirit. Others who wish to play gotcha politics will interpret it differently.

Ed Cone

DW, I updated the post earlier to reflect the joke angle -- but I also say that it doesn't really change the theological debate.

Sure, it softens her political image, but the underlying assumptions about God's pov are still in play.

I don't think that discussion is about gotcha politics -- I don't think Bachmann has a chance of winning the nomination in any case -- but that it's fascinating stuff in itself.

michele
"UPDATE: Bachmann says she was joking, which doesn't really change the theological questions."

Good to hear. (But I don't think Robertson was.) I think this makes the point that it's important to consider your words (and jokes) when you're running for POTUS. ;)

David Wharton

Didn't see the update, sorry.

But since Bachmann pretty clearly didn't intend to make any theological assertions with her lame joke, there isn't really anything in this episode that would tell us her "underlying assumptions about God's pov."

BTW, Ross Douthat has a good column today about journalism and the religious right.

michele

It also reminded me that I should avoid jumping to conclusions. ;)

Andrew Brod

If she was joking, then this thread just turned into a nothingburger. I mean, sure, the theological questions remain, but they were there anyway. They always are. This was about Bachmann's connection to those theological questions, and all we know now is that she can joke around a bit. That's a good thing.

Grant

But since Bachmann pretty clearly didn't intend to make any theological assertions

Eh? The joke was about God using hurricanes to get attention, not about His being concerned about deficit spending.

polifrog

Dr. Brod:

Okay, so you've learned to cut and paste. Very good.

Now, your point?

I would not defend causation, but just as I respect your beliefs in that realm, I respect Bachmann's beliefs as well as the beliefs of those who share similar convictions. Additionally, holding such beliefs can cause no damage to our nation.

As such, the ridicule and denigration on display in this thread is nothing short of intolerant. Additionally, that intolerance is being practiced by those who claim the mantle of tolerance.

Either be tolerant and shut-up or assume false character. It seems most of you have chosen the latter.

Andrew Brod

"Additionally, holding such beliefs can cause no damage to our nation."

Well, now, that's really the question, isn't it?

But again, it appears that in these particular remarks, she was just joking. So perhaps you could lighten up a bit as well.

Ishmael

There will never be a picture of either Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry in the dictionary by the definition of "tolerant".
Their kind of intolerance I consider to be dangerous, while you could knock over the intolerance on this blog with a wiffle bat.

Ed Cone

When someone makes religious beliefs part of a political or media persona, discussion and even disagreement are perfectly appropriate.

I'm not sure what it means to "respect" someone's beliefs.

Respect and defend their right to hold them? Sure. Be polite? Always nice.

Grant them unique privilege to say anything as long as it's wrapped in the mantle of religion? No, thanks.

I don't actually see much ridicule or denigration in this thread, but I do see in Frog's comments an attempt to bully people into not expressing their own opinions.

polifrog

Ed:

I don't actually see much ridicule or denigration in this thread, but I do see in Frog's comments an attempt to bully people into not expressing their own opinions.

What is it that labels a group of bullies ... bullies? Considering the numbers, can that individual rightfully be called a bully?

justcorbly

The thing about Bachmann is she draws her base from a lot of people who just might believe something like that. After all, who here would have been surprised if she said she was dead serious?

I don't believe in a God anything at all like the God I assume Bachmann believes in. But, claiming to speak for God, like Robertson, seems the essence of arrogance in any faith. It also diminishes God by asserting he/she/it can't communicate.

justcorbly

>>"When someone makes religious beliefs part of a political or media persona, discussion and even disagreement are perfectly appropriate.

I'm not sure what it means to 'respect' someone's beliefs."

As far as I'm concerned, public, expecially political, behavior is always open for discussion, no matter the motivation.

For me, "respect" comes down to a studied indifference about what goes on in someone else's head. I don't have the right to question their beliefs, and they don't have a right to question mine. We certainly do have the right to question what each of us do as a result of our beliefs.

David Hoggard

No, Frog... they (and the individual) would be known as the "religious right". Previously the "moral majority".

Nothing wrong with holding strong religious beliefs. But lots wrong with thrusting "G-d's will" on others.

If candidates define and align themselves with ANY religion as a selling point of their candidacy and qualifications, I've learned to run for the hills.

Same happens when someone wants to sell - or buy - something from me, and they open their pitch with "I'm a good Christian"... I know I'm either getting ready to be scammed, screwed, or otherwise not enjoy the possible relationship. (Same could be said if the person replaced their identification with Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, ... whatever... Just don't wear it on your sleeve, please.

That is a prejudice/stereotype I have acquired through life experiences. Not proud of it by any means - but it is certainly there

bubba

"Considering the numbers, can that individual rightfully be called a bully?"

As well we know, that's just standard operating procedure at this place. There's any number of appropriate ways to handle that sort of thing and those sort of people.

David Hoggard

Name three of those "appropriate ways" Bob. Please.

Meno

Burroughs had words of advice for young people on this very subject.

Bill Yaner

I still think George Burns played a great God.

michele

Wow, Burroughs is a sad person. :(

Meno

He wasn't lucky enough to know you Michele. Perhaps his stern father who sent him away to boarding school as a young boy should have looked into the future.

Jim Langer

When a candidate claims religious grounds and favor for running and their agenda, rallying to their cause with threats of violence against those of different faith (Perry's veiled ones against Bernanke), one should not run for the hills: one should stand and speak against blatantly unconstitutional attempts to usurp power and thwart the First Amendment. Bachmann's joke was lame. It's not too far from taking the Lord's name in vain, is it? These holier-than-thou sorts who would claim government, the media, entertainment (fat chance, there...it's full of scum...and plenty of so-called conservative media and polticians are just as twisted) in the name of their self-made churches and creeds must be debated and put on notice that thoughtful voters and citizens will not be railroaded.

Bill Yaner

I still think George Burns was hilarious.

old crank

One cannot speak directly about God, or even name God. A reference to the Deity must always be indirect. I am personally not offended by humor in doing so. I think you guys are just taking the occasion to knock Bachman.

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