A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bloggin Richard Land, Part 1

I'm weak. Tonight, I gave in and purchased Richard Land's new book, The Divided States of America?: What Liberals AND Conservatives are missing in the God-and-country shouting match! For the $25 spent, I hope it's worth the money. We'll see...

Over the next week or two, I will be blogging about Land's seemingly "moderate" contribution to the shelves of your local bookstore.

Chapter 1: What's God God to Do with America

Land begins by pointing to those popular authors who blow a great deal of hot air and tend to aggravate many. Dick Land is an equal-opportunity offender. He takes short pot-shots at everyone from Al Franken and Michael Moore to Ann Coulter, Bernard Goldberg, and Michael Savage.

Noting that these colorful figures rarely raise the level of discourse, Land writes:

The problem with nasty shouting matches is that eventually they get boring for all except the few principals juicing their adrenaline and the followers feeding off the vicarious thrill. The most thoughtful inevitably turn down the volume simply by turning away.

Continuing, Land criticizes the media for "misleading the country into thinking there is greater divisiveness and less common ground than actual exist." Two examples of how the media does this follow:

I remember being questioned for an interview in which producers wanted me, as an Evangelical, to say that Pope John Paul II - one of the greatest historical and religious figures of the 20th century - was the head of a "false religion." I was not prepared to say such a thing because I don't believe it. Rather I said, the pope is the head of a doctrinal understanding of the Christian faith with which I disagree - a position that disqualified me from participating.

During another pre-interview I was asked if I, as an Evangelical, believed that Islam was an evil religion. I said, "No as a Christian, I believe that Islam is a wrong religion - Christianity is right about the truth, and Islam is wrong." I described "evil religion" as somebody doing something evil in the name of religion, whether the KKK burning crosses to terrorize African-Americans in a blasphemous distortion of Christianity or terrorists recruiting children to be suicide bombers in the name of Islam. That response wasn't what they had in mind. It was far too reasonable and not nearly extreme enough. "That's not really what we're looking for" the producer said to me, "but thank you for your time."

Wow, with comments like those - Richard Land sure doesn't sound like many of his fundamentalist brethren who run the Southern Baptist Convention. How many Southern Baptist leaders would make such a statement about Catholics or Islam?

After a little dumping on Jim Wallis and his so-called "leftist" politics, Land spends a few pages praising every conservative Evangelical's hero - Francis Schaefer. Yuck.

Land and I part ways with his characterization of the "liberal view" of church-state relations (aka the traditional Baptist view). He writes...

Separation of church and state means that God shouldn't have anything to do with American politics and public life, so we need to take God out of this country - and keep it that way.

To back up this nauseating statement, Land uses the example of militant atheist Sam Harris. I do wonder what Richard Land would say to fellow Texas Baptists from generations past such as G.W. Truett, T.B. Maston, and James Dunn who have consistently stated that separation of church and state does not mean separation of religion from politics. In fact, these Texas Baptists who adhered to the separationist principle understood that in a pluralistic democracy, religion and politics will mix, must mix, and should mix.

Land has done an excellent job of furthering the myth that separationists (like myself) wish to boot religion and God out of the public square. That's hardly the case. And Dick Land knows better.

Land concludes the first chapter with this:

So let's take a closer look. What's God got to do with America? Well, not everything...

but far more than liberals may think,
and a lot less than conservatives may assume,
in much different ways than either side acknowledges,
and for far more important reasons than you might imagine.

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Anonymous John Kaiser said...

Excellent and thoughtful blog you have going here. Keep it up.

12:51 PM


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