A visit with an Israeli Ambassador
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 08:35:15 AM EST
I had an opportunity yesterday to meet with the Deputy Consul of Israel, Andy David.

It was an honest, open interfaith dialogue around a table of religious leaders with a wide variety of thoughts and opinions about the policies of the Israeli government - especially as they relate to the Palestinian question.

Andy was articulate, brilliant, and well-versed not only in the policies and procedures of his government, but in the rather intricate and subtle defenses of those policies and procedures. His government clearly chooses well those who represent their interests abroad, and it was an honor for me to have been invited to sit at that table with him and some of the interfaith religious leaders in the St. Louis area.

Early on in our discussion, Andy handed out a map of the world. The map itself was a familiar site to me, but the particular way it was shaded and the Arabic writings that surrounded the map in the margins of the paper made little sense to me.

Andy explained to us what it was at which we were looking. Much of the map was shaded in green, and superimposed upon those green lands (which were also then outlined in black) was a large green flag. The rest of the world had a number of different colors. In the corner of the paper, in a small box, was a second map of the world - much smaller than the one occupying the entire pate - colored completely in green. In that small box was printed the words "One Hundred Years from Now."

Apparently, the Arabic language in the margins talked about all of the lands currently occupied by Muslim controlled governments or armies. Those lands were the ones shaded in green, and over them was the large green flag symbolizing Muslim control. The map in the corner suggested their overall goal - and the indication that if it takes one hundred years to accomplish this, they are willing to wait.

Andy further pointed out that the text books in most Arab countries never show a map with the nation Israel on it - it simply does not exist.

It was at this point in the discussion that one began to feel a little bit what it must be like to live in the state of Israel, surrounded by countries and governments whose ultimate goal is your annihilation, and who will agree to no peace settlement that includes your right to exist. It certainly changed my sense of understanding of what life for the people of Israel must be like.

My purpose here is not to write an apologetic for the people of Israel, or for the Deputy Consulate. I am not interested in winning over sympathy for the nation of Israel, nor in arguing the merits of their government's policies.

I simply want to note that those of us who have been engaged in ministry as religious progressives have for the last few decades found ourselves subjected to attacks from folk with a similar frame of reference. I do not think I am overstating it when I say that for many Christian fundamentalists, there is an accepted notion that the world must be given over in its entirety to Jesus. In other words, the same map of the world could be found on many web-sites of many Christian Fundamentalist groups the world over. They function with a soteriology that demands from them nothing less than the subjugation of the world to the Lordship of Jesus.

This impulse of many Christians can be found throughout our history: from the Inquisition, to the Crusades, to the Holocaust.

And much of the preaching from the right today implies, if not outright states, that the progressive, liberal church needs to be silenced and/or abolished. In my Feb., 2006 post on this site, I wrote about one such preacher (George Dohm) and one such sermon (The now infamous `Dog Crap' sermon):

George tells a story about a father sitting at a table with his children, who ask to see a movie which the father points out is too violent for them. They counter by saying there was not a lot of violence in the movie, only a little. The kids go to school, and the father prepares dessert for that night's dinner: brownies with dog crap baked into them. When he serves it to them later in the day, he points out just before they eat it what he has done, and of course they refuse it. He counters by saying: but its only a little!

George goes on to point out that the United Church of Christ is to Christianity what dog crap is to brownies: just a little bit of if ruins the whole thing.  In order for Christianity to be worth anything, the UCC must be removed from it. This is an incredible insight into the psyche of these activists: it reveals in no small measure what it is they feel justifies tactics that to every other clergy person would be egregious breeches of pastoral conduct and ethics.

For preachers and ideologues like George, nothing short of the annihilation of a progressive, liberal voice will do. The mind of the fundamentalist is the same, no matter which ideology it supports. I do not mean to suggest that we in the progressive religious community are experiencing anything at all like the suicide bombers and terrorist attacks that have been constant in the life of Israel since its inception; but I do want to acknowledge that Andy's sense of being haunted and hunted by an enemy that wants nothing short of your existential elimination is something of which I am becoming very aware.

 Michelle Goldberg writes toward the end of her book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of  Christian Nationalism:

"As long as the movement (Christian Nationalism) aims at the destruction of secular society and the political enforcement of its theology, it has to be battled, not comforted and appeased."

Much of what I heard Andy David talk about yesterday was the constant battle they are engaged in against an enemy that wants him, and his people, eliminated. We continue to write on this site to remind people what is at stake. There are those who want us gone, and we too must - we simply must - engage them in the defense of our faith, our church, our religious freedom: indeed, our very existence.

In the introduction to anthropology course I took, Islam was used as an example of a  specific type of diffusion.  It is given as an example in the introductory textbooks.

The normal diffusion of that religion is through conversion of the government (King, ruler, takeover of ruling body), and then getting the government to force the people to convert.  Unlike most of the history of Christianity, it is NOT something that is grassroots.  It is deliberate, planned, and for the people, abusive.

We've been seeing this going on around the world (ie, Sudan).  It is no different than the dominionist attempt to overthrow this country.

Anthropology, of any discipline, practices cultural relativism and tries to understand the emic viewpoint (the viewpoint of the other).  If the introductory texts of a discipline like mine say this, well, I think that says a lot.

Now that I've thought about it, I'm curious to see if there are any journal articles on Dominionism.

by ArchaeoBob on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 12:12:24 PM EST

On occasion, members of the renewal groups John has been writing about have posted comments in direct or sly rebuttal. It is clear however, that they do not support the purposes of this site, and participate for no other reason than to answer his posts.

Such people are participating under false pretenses, having checked off the box indicating that they have read and agree with the site's stated purposes. In the blogosphere, we call such people trolls. Trolls are not limited to John's posts, of course. And troll removal is a standard practice in the blogosphere and here, as necessary.

Such people are removed from this site by the owners as we notice them.  It is a big blogosphere, and anyone who does not support the purposes of this site, can find many other places to post their views.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 08:22:58 PM EST

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