Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Kingdom Coming or Kingdom Divided?

A few weeks ago, I heard an interview on Fresh Air with Salon's Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. The book's website describes the work like this:
In Kingdom Coming, Goldberg demonstrates how an increasingly bellicose fundamentalism is gaining traction throughout our national life, taking us on a tour of the parallel right-wing evangelical culture that is buoyed by Republican political patronage. Deep within the red zones of a divided America, we meet military veterans pledging to seize the nation in Christ's name, perfidious congressmen courting the confidence of neo-confederates and proponents of theocracy, and leaders of federally funded programs offering Jesus as the solution to the country'’s social problems.

With her trenchant interviews and the telling testimonies of the people behind this movement, Goldberg gains access into the hearts and minds of citizens who are striving to remake the secular Republic bequeathed by our founders into a Christian nation run according to their interpretation of scripture. In her examination of the ever-widening divide between believers and nonbelievers, Goldberg illustrates the subversive effect of this conservative stranglehold nationwide. In an age when faith rather than reason is heralded and the values of the Enlightenment are threatened by a mystical nationalism claiming divine sanction, Kingdom Coming brings us face to face with the irrational forces that are remaking much of America.

The interview with this soft-spoken, well-reasoned author disturbed me. One, because it was an uncomfortable view of a population I belong to at some level; that is, I am a Christian whose politics are informed by his faith. But there was something else that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I wondered if Goldberg wasn't missing something. You see, I do believe Jesus offers us solutions to social problems. That's because I believe Jesus offers us what each one of us desperately needs at our cores: reconciliationon with the Creator.

However, I also believe that faith and reason are not mutually exclusive, and that my Christian worldview is not part of an irrational force intent on remaking America. Is there no room in Goldberg's America for faith and reason? For Christianity and the Enlightenment? For belief and tolerance?

Today, I found this article on Slate. It gives me hope. It also reminds me of why I prefer Slate to Salon.


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