Yesterday I thought I'd pushed the car radio button that brought up Oregon Public Broadcasting, so I wasn't all that surprised to hear Sarah Palin's distinctive voice.
It appeared that she was being interviewed by someone with a Christian bent. I figured that an excerpt from the interview was being played so it could be discussed from OPB's usual moderate perspective.
But Palin and the man she was speaking with kept on talking. I heard her refer to him as "Dr. Dobson." That spurred me to glance at the radio setting.
Oh my God! I had stumbled onto the dark side! Somehow I'd tuned in an FM station that carried Dobson's Focus on the Family brand of dogmatic fundamentalism.
I felt like a churchless eavesdropper, since I was getting an inside peek at how Palin describes her faith when she's on comfortable Christian media ground -- as contrasted with the godless mainstream reporters who have such unreasonable expectations for her.
Such as, that she be able to speak in coherent English sentences and make at least minimal sense.
You can listen to her conversation with Dobson here. I started to play the interview again, but I couldn't stomach hearing Palin and Dobson mangle rationality and reason in such an absurd fashion.
I recall that Dobson talked about how her detractors make fun of her Christianity.
Well, that's to be expected when someone expresses such ridiculous religious beliefs. If Palin or any other believer doesn't want to be mocked, they should keep their more bizarre notions to themselves.
Case in point: Palin and Dobson said that God is in charge of things here on Earth, but we also have free will. That's a big "but" which didn't come in for the serious philosophical discussion that it deserved.
So I got abjectly confused by how prayer was supposed to enter into the presidential election. On the one hand, Palin said the election is in God's hands and that however it turns out will be the right thing for America.
For a second I thought a miracle had happened. Palin's mind seemed to be on a halfway reasonable track.
In another interview I remember her trying to claim that she agreed with Abraham Lincoln when he said that God wasn't on either side in the Civil War, and that our job wasn't to tell God what to do but to accept His will.
Pretty clearly, though, this wasn't where she and Dobson wanted to head theologically. Because there was a lot of talk about how people are praying for her and McCain, which means that God should have a favorite in the election.
David Waters takes issue:
Last time I checked, Dr. Dobson, all four candidates on the major party presidential tickets are unabashed Christians. All four have had the "courage" to speak the name of Christ. Aren't all four deserving of our Christian prayers and appreciation?
Well, not in my view, since I don't see how a believer in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent personal God can justify telling the Big Guy/Gal Upstairs how to run a universe.
It seems obvious that Palin and Dobson are simply trying to use religion to justify their personal political preferences. And that isn't right. It's absolutely wrong.
A psychologist who used to be a fundamentalist, Valerie Tarico, has written a devastating "Open Letter to Sarah Palin."
She understands how deluded true believers like Palin are able to twist their minds into contorted knots and view anyone who doesn't share their dogmatism as a tool of the Devil.
You cannot affirm basic human decency or capability, because according to your dogma, we are sinful, weak, and dependent on God. And so, your decisions would not be based on expert advice or even your own reasoning, but on your gut-level, intuitive interpretation of God's will. This would allow you to do anything and claim you were led by God.
Your thinking necessarily is black or white. People and policies are either good or bad. After all, Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30). Under your leadership, diplomacy and cultural nuance would be less important than not blinking. In a spiritual war, you don't negotiate with the devil.
Regarding social policy, as a believer in individual salvation, you would emphasize individual morality and responsibility, not a community approach with structural solutions. You would be judgmental and controlling of personal choices regarding sex, reproduction, and library books instead of addressing global warming, torture, poverty, and war.
Your belief in eternal hell-fire, your deference to a literal Bible despite its cruelties and vengeful god, and your indoctrination to disbelieve your own compassionate instincts, are likely to leave you numb at your moral core. You might recall the verse, "If a man will not work he shall not eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). However, faith-based initiatives would be okay because they would use caring to evangelize.
I can't begin to imagine how scary a McCain - Palin administration would be for this country -- and the world. Fortunately, polls show that Americans are putting their campaign on life support.
That's great. But on November 4 we've got to be sure to kill this angry, judgmental, ill-informed, unethical fundamentalist beast, the final gasp of George Bush's failed policies.
The "beast" will not die - no matter who is elected. It will always lie in waiting.
But (in passing) cf. Mk 9:40 (KJV): "For he that is not against us is on our part." (And cf. further to Lk 9:50.) The texts indicate that Jesus (supposedly) "said" more than just one thing.
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | October 24, 2008 at 09:28 AM
There is always an opposing argument. The church that Obama attended for twenty years with Rev. Wright at the helm is pretty scary too, don't you think? Obama claims to be a devout Christian. He either has ridiculous religious beliefs like Palin, or he attended Wright's church for political expediency and is a liar.
Posted by: tucson | October 24, 2008 at 01:52 PM
Dear Brian (et al.),
In his interview, Dobson expresses his belief that "God's perfect will" will be done on November 4th, and Palin states that "the right thing will be done on November 4th." Not following Dobson's advice that we "don't believe the polls," however, this appears it will be the election of Obama - i.e., "God's will" (unless I stand corrected by upcoming history).
Anyone who so chooses might wish to examine Gil Alexander-Moegerle's 1997 book, _James Dobson's War on America_.
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | October 25, 2008 at 10:14 AM
Dear Brian (et al.),
Since history has not corrected me, it appears that "God's will" has now been effected. One might hope that Dobson and Palin reaffirm their previous statements.
Others yet interested in the topic might be interested in the October 31, 2008, article found at http://dogemperor.dailykos.com/. Personally I fear that we have not heard the last of/from her.
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | November 07, 2008 at 10:24 AM