Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Little Eichmanns On Trial: Support of the Hagees and Parsleys of the Christian Right

Is it a church - or a Wallmart?
How Can People Still Support the Christofascists?
(e.g., Hagee, Parsley, Hinn, Copeland, etc.)

Today is the 46th anniversary of the execution of Adolf Eichmann. There were different theories about Eichmann, one being that he was an un-influential follower, a cog in the wheels of Hitler's Third Reich. He was one of the "average" Germans who didn't really know what was going on or the worldview of his superiors. Indeed, there were a great many Germans who did not know about death camps like Auschwitz or about the experiments of Josef Mengele.

A very controversial essay by Ward Churchill ignited a firestorm when he described the workers in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns":

In "Some People Push Back," [Ward] Churchill argued that effects of decade-long economic sanctions on Iraqis, together with the Middle East policies of President Lyndon Johnson, and the history of Crusades against the Islamic world, had contributed to a climate in which 9/11 was what he called a "natural and inevitable response."

In an allusion to Hannah Arendt's depiction of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann as an ordinary person promoting the activity of an evil system, Churchill referred to the "technocrats" working at the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns."

Churchill compared the American people to the "good Germans" of Nazi Germany, claiming that the vast majority of Americans had ignored the civilian suffering caused by the sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s, which he characterized as a policy of genocide.

The essay was later expanded into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, which won Honorable Mention for the Gustavus Myers Human Rights Award in 2004.

O.K., this next paragraph falls into the category of "Is Vojir THAT anti-Christian? But please hear me out.

So, just who are today's "little Eichmanns"? I'm going out on a limb here by guessing that they are the congregations and viewers of Christofascists like Copeland, Hagee, Parsley, Hinn, etc. They are the ones who are the blind followers of intense hatred. Do they themselves fall into any subcategories? By all means: 1. the desperate; 2. the poor and (hence) uneducated; 3. the "spiritually lazy"; 4. the mentally vulnerable; 5. the traditional "followers"; 6. the gullible; 7. the just plain stupid. Let's go one by one:

1. The desperate. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Certain avenues of religion are really desperate measures. Some people will grasp at anything to make their life more meaningful or divorce themselves from pain and sorrow. If they find any form of comfort in it, they cling to it for dear life.

2. The poor and/or uneducated. Today's "prosperity theology" is like gathering together with a lot of people holding lottery or horse racing tickets. It's also free entertainment (so they think). Just as centuries ago, when European peasants were dazzled by the rituals and splendor of the church (and kept in ignorance - purposely), today's worshippers like the razzle-dazzle of a "man of God" screaming from the pulpit. They take some comfort in show of choir robes and music, even Christian Rock (with accompanying fog machines and lights shows, of course).

3. The Spiritually Lazy. How many people have read another religious book other than the Bible? How many people today can say they know the tenets of Buddhism or Hinduism by authors/experts in those fields? How many people can actually recite the Ten Commandments in order without any help? These people aren't stupid, but they don't want to be bothered about thinking of something so complex as spirituality. They want someone someone of authority to tell them what to think, what to feel, what to say, what to do.

4. The mentally vulnerable. This includes all those elderly in nursing homes who give money to televangelists. Some people really do think that they might be healed if they just touch the screen while their favorite "prophet" is on.

5. The "traditional" followers. It's a group psychology game. Some people really need to be part of a group - any group. The faith-group of their parents and relatives is usually the most comfortable... and convenient. I believe these people are the majority of the Hagee-Parsley viewers and congregations. It's just not worth it to explore any other spiritual options (hence, they could also fall into the "lazy" group as well)

6. The gullible. They may be part of several other groups, but they are also swayed by things like titles. Having an "Rev.", "Fr." or "Dr." in front of one's name insures that someone somewhere will believe him/her. How many people actually check (outside) biographies and institutional histories. Parsley's background is horrendous. Hagee's degrees could have been gotten out of a box of Crackerjack. James Dobson's honorary degrees (19) could have cost him several endowments or (cheaper) some well-placed government positions.

7. The just plain stupid. These are the people who should know better. They know that scholars of the Bible and Theology are out there and they know that they can access their works. They know that they have access to different ideologies. However, they don't care. Yes, this might include them in the "lazy" category as well, but to them, one ideology looks as good as another. One other trait of the just plain stupid: they feel an irrational urge to hate something or someone. When their preacher talks about hating the devil, they nod their heads. And they nod their heads when he talks about hating other people as well. This is stupid because it accomplishes nothing but antipathy - which is counter to human survival.

Looking inside many churches today, we can see all of these kinds of "believers":

It is hard to describe a “worship service” led by pastor and television evangelist Rod Parsley. Whether viewing at home by way of his popular daily television broadcast, Breakthrough, or as part of his 12,000-member congregation, his services could, perhaps, be described as a hybrid of pep rally, boxing match and professional wrestling with smatterings of Bible verses and hyped-up claims that take people over the edge of hysteria. It is primal scream set to spiritual aerobics. Parsley is the ultimate cheerleader and professional boxer combined. He deftly and quickly moves people into altered states of unreality. There is no question that he can be a compelling and convincing speaker. Neither does he have difficulty or qualms about hosting the worst of Word-Faith teachers and promoting their agendas. (G. Richard Fisher, Rod Parsley: the Raging Prophet)

So there you have them: the "little Eichmanns" who follow blindly. The Hinns and Parsleys already have their souls. But they want to see just how much loyalty and money they can wring out of them.

O.K., I have certainly run on! The sheer length of this post probably scared off more people than the ones who plowed through it, that's for sure. But if you have - thanks.

A Mega Church behind the scenes

Rod Parsley's "Church"

The Marilyn We Knew

Vs. the Marilyn We Didn't Know

Marilyn Monroe: beautiful and vulnerable. That's how people saw her. But what was she really like? Did anyone really figure her out completely? Was devoted DiMaggio privy to her innermost feelings? Was Arthur Miller? There was depth, but it was tortured by something else. Affairs with Kennedy's? Who knows? Did she hate fame? Did she come to hate her image? Was it the public who really killed her?

All those questions of a 36-year-old movie star who was more famous than anyone in the world. She would have been 82 today. She's left us craving for the answers to those questions - forever.