May 01, 2005


What an embarrassment. Even moreso because this guy is from my town. At least I'm not in his district.

Can someone explain to me how this is not plain censorship and bigotry?

Here's a little more.

Posted by Matt at 06:04 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 08, 2005

Neither New nor Improved

Well, he edited out the lies about James Watt, but Bill Moyers is still shopping this shrill piece of moonbattery around.

Here are my comments regarding this article when it appeared in the Mpls. Star-Tribune.

Posted by Drew at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 04, 2005

Christ at the Cinema

Thanks to Jonah Goldberg's piece on Groundhog Day, there's been a lot of talk about movies that have implicit themes that Christians will find relevant. Drew talked about it, as did Gideon Strauss.

Christians and film buffs interested in spiritually significant films should check out the Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films as established by the Arts and Faith Forum. This is a very challenging list, but worth exploring if we are to adequately engage the culture. Also, the Looking Closer blog is invaluable.

Posted by Matt at 02:59 PM | Comments (2)

February 01, 2005

Moyers has a Meltdown

A couple bloggers alerted me to this recent essay by Bill Moyers which was published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. In it, Moyers asserts that those crazy Christians are planning to destroy the environment in order to hasten the end of the world and the return of Christ. He's completely convinced of this premise and I don't even know where to begin with this exercise in moonbattery.

But I'll try.

The whole piece is a minefield of stereotyping and bigotry. All that's missing is Moyers presenting a "final solultion" for dealing with Christians. If Moyers was someone the general populace actually listened to, I'd be worried. Moyers is just a pale ghost trying to frighten people with his hysterical moanings, and you can see right through him if you bother to look. But it is worrying enough that the Star Tribune should print this anti-Christian rallying cry.

(Just for fun, count the number of times Moyers presents opinions as facts throughout the piece.)

For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.

What Moyers means is not just that there are Christians holding elected office (and that's scary enough for Moyers) but that there are elected officials that are (gasp!) backed by Christians! This is enough to cause Moyers to wet himself in panic.

Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality.

If we accept Moyers' definitions, then this makes Moyers himself both a theologian and an ideologue, as we shall see.

When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

The biggest danger comes from loony old columnists who are just plain oblivious. But I digress.

Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

Here's the column in Grist to which Moyers refers. It's another helping of fearmongering over creeping fundamentalism. I was planning to blog about it last week, but never got around to it. Thank you Bill Moyers for the reminder that you're not alone in your bigotry.

Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true - one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index.

That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Moyers acts as if he's just discovered a heretofore unknown people group. I must congratulate him on being able to fool PBS into employing him as a societal commentator for many years without ever letting on how ignorant he is of American society.

By the way, here's the Rapture Index. It looks to be a sort of Eschatological Atomic Clock. Moyers would have you believe that millions of Americans check this website regularly to find out how close we are to Christ's return. And that they destroy the enviroment to move the index ahead.

The Rapture Index looks to be the work of two people.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I'm not making this up.

Yes, Bill. That's one of many different beliefs about how the world will end. If you were honest you point out to your readers that there are other ways of interpreting the Revelation. Your only excuse is that you're just plain ignorant or too lazy to do any research into end-times beliefs. Which label would you prefer: dishonest or ignorant? There are no other options.

By the way, here's George Moonbat's Monbiot's article to which Moyers refers. It's yet another screed about those religious people who are "bonkers" and who apparently set George Bush's middle east policy.

Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed - an essential conflagration on the road to redemption.

Pet peeve: Bill, it's the book of Revelation. Not Revelations. There's just one Revelation, okay? I'd think a guy as smart as you, employed for years by PBS, would know that.

Anyway, note how Bill the armchair anthropologist speaks about "these people." It shouldn't surprise anyone that he singles out Texas. You know, . . . because George Bush is one of them! Booga booga booga! Hide the children!

The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144 - just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of God will return, the righteous will enter Heaven and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

Bill is also pretty ignorant of Google. Bill, here's a hint: you can find support for just about anything on the internet, and Google will happily guide you to the strangest things. Google is pretty cool that way. But just because you find it on the internet, Bill, does not mean that millions of Americans believe it. You can find my blog with Google, but that doesn't mean millions of Americans agree with me about everything written there. (Although they should, shouldn't they?)

For what it's worth, I'd never heard of the "rapture index" until Moyers brought it up, and I mark myself as one of those "crazy" Christians Bill claims follows the index like a pillar of fire. (Note to Bill: that's an Old Testament allusion. You may have heard of the Old Testament. It's in the same Bible where you find the book of Revelation.)

Here's more from the armchair anthropologist again:

One of their texts is a high school history book, "America's Providential History." You'll find there these words: "The secular or socialist has a limited-resource mentality and views the world as a pie . . . that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth . . . while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people."

No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.

It is hard for the journalist to report a story like this with any credibility.

You said it, Bill. I didn't.

Ask yourself: what is the point of Moyers piece? Or to put it another way, as a piece of persuasive writing, of what is this essay trying to persuade people? What is Moyers' solution to this problem? He closes his rant with these words:

The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free - not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma - the science of the heart ... the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.

Believe me, it does.

So what does he mean when he calls on his readers to fight and to act because the future depends on them? What, exactly, does he want his readers to do to preserve the future? The most obvious answer is that he wants them to fight and to act against those people who he sees as enemies of the future -- Christians. And how are they to act against the enemies? Moyers doesn't say. He leaves that up to his readers. Maybe violence is the answer. Maybe they're supposed to enact laws to ensure that Christians are not allowed to hold elected office. Maybe internment camps and such. I don't know, but Bill irresponsibly sounds the alarm anyway.

Ask yourself how this would play if Bill had used the same language to warn everyone that Muslim believers posed a threat to the future. Would the Star-Tribune run it?

Posted by Drew at 06:02 PM | Comments (8)