Fat Steve's Blatherings

Monday, February 07, 2005

Like calls to like

      The Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial board can almost always be depended on to say something stupid.  When it doesn't, it almost always compensates by printing a stupid op-ed article.  The latest example, truly breathtaking in its idiocy, was written by Bill Moyers (hat tip: Powerline).

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

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."

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.

      Right, Watt publicly shot himself in the gut, and the press just ignored it.  And I've got a special offer for you this week: buy the Brooklyn Bridge from me, and I'll throw in Buckingham Palace at half price.  Unsurprisingly, Grist has since published a correction, saying that Watt didn't say that to Congress, and may never have said it at all.

      Moyers then goes on to discuss the "Left Behind" series.  He says:
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. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank.

      Only one little problem.  I read the "Left Behind" series (OK, I have low taste; sue me), and what Moyers describes isn't the plot.  For example, the Rapture is the first thing that happens in the first book of the series.  I might also mention that the question of just what exactly the Book of Revelations predicts is a subject of controversy within the Christian community (source: a "born-again" of my acquaintance).  Apparently, when Moyers read and reported, he didn't actually understand anything he learned.

      Moyers goes on to assert that Christian fundamentalists are positively looking forward to the destruction of the environment, because it will hasten the second coming of Christ.  He notes:
Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to be relishing the thought.

      So I google the book of Amos, and the quote, and find this:
8.11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

      Moyer's source, by the way, appears to have been the online journal Grist, and they at least quoted all of verse 8.11.  Moyers just truncated it, to make it mean something it doesn't say.  Moyers is, remember, a distinguished journalist.

      There's more, all about how the Bush administration is going to destroy the environment with the help of the crazy fundamentalists.  They have to be resisted, blah, blah, blah.  For this stuff, no sources are cited.

      I don't know what's weirder: that liberals take Moyers and his kind seriously; that Moyers thinks his unsupported assertions and downright falsification will be believed; that the Strib can't be bothered to do a little fact checking on the articles they run;  or that the liberal/left wing of the Democratic Party thinks they can win with this nonsense.

      Update: it appears Moyers has apologized to Watt by phone, and promised to make his apology public.  Good for Moyers so far, and better if he follows through.



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