Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Little ole backwards lookin' me

I was reading Mark Shea's blog, and I came upon his post on this story on Pastor Ted Haggard, which ran in Harper's in 2005 and was posted on Harpers.org after Haggard's unfortunate "incident" back in November of '06.

"Pastor Ted," as he apparently prefers (?) to be called, held forth for the Harper's reporter, Jeff Sharlet, on a variety of topics. The graphs which attracted my particular attention, with my comments in itals:
One of Pastor Ted's favorite books is Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which is now required reading for the hundreds of pastors under Ted's spiritual authority across the country. From Friedman, Pastor Ted says he learned that everything, including spirituality, can be understood as a commodity. And unregulated trade, he concluded, was the key to achieving worldly freedom.

First mistake: Not everything is a commodity. For instance, faith, hope, love, and human beings are not "things" that can be bought and sold. I am as pro-capitalism as the next red-blooded American, but the free market is not the Gospel, and in its extreme form - which reduces priceless things like spirituality to mere commodities - it is not even COMPATIBLE with the Gospel.

Free-market economics is a “truth” Ted says he learned in his first job in professional Christendom, as a Bible smuggler in Eastern Europe. Globalization, he believes, is merely a vehicle for the spread of Christianity.

He's probably right that globalization could spread Christianity - if properly used.

He means Protestantism in particular; Catholics, he said, “constantly look back.” He went on: “And the nations dominated by Catholicism look back. They don't tend to create our greatest entrepreneurs, inventors, research and development."

Catholic countries "don't tend to create" innovative, creative people. Does he mean people like these?

"Typically, Catholic nations aren't shooting people into space. Protestantism, though, always looks to the future. A typical kid raised in Protestantism dreams about the future. A typical kid raised in Catholicism values and relishes the past, the saints, the history."

The Vatican doesn't shoot people into space, that's true. We do have a well-known, hundreds-of-years-old, Jesuit-run observatory, though. And it's true, Catholics are supposed to love history. I'm exhibit number one ;) However, somehow I think that my choice to pursue history as a specialization within my journalism major was motivated by multiple elements, not just by my stinky backward-looking Catholicness!

It's also true that Protestantism is in some respects an anti-historical movement; from a certain point of view, it couldn't be otherwise, as the oldest of the Protestant sects is only 400-odd years old, and Christ lived two thousand years ago. But just for Pastor Ted's information, I have met plenty of Protestants who are just as fanatical about history as I am. So there! The nerd-dom extends beyond the boundaries of Holy Mother Church!

I can't resist adding: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So if you really want to look forward, better look back, first.

"That is one of the changes that is happening in America. In America the descendants of the Protestants, the Puritan descendants, we want to create a better future, and our speakers say that sort of thing. But with the influx of people from Mexico, they don't tend to be the ones that go to universities and become our research-and-development people. And so in that way I see a little clash of civilizations.”

Hmmm. That's right, Pastor Ted, the "clash of civilizations" isn't between the Islamic East and the Christian West, it's between the good solid SUV-driving, Lysol-fresh, upper-middle-class American Evangelicals and the dirty Mexican Catholics. You know, those Latinos who are your brothers and sisters in Christ, in spite of having only a desire to work hard and live honestly and not having too many college degrees. I'm guessing that even if his neighborhood turned 90 percent Hispanic, Pastor Ted would never insert any Spanish into the prayers of his services. Forget about whether they are here legally or not - ministering to people in their own language might attract the wrong element, you know.
Full Piece.

I don't mean to beat up Pastor Haggard; he is surely suffering enough these last couple months; today there was news that he plans to leave Colorado Springs, give up ministry entirely for the time being and take up secular work. I hope that God will bless him in his repentance and give him and his family much-needed peace. I couldn't resist giving his comments a fisking.

Haggard's remarks to Harper's caused me to remember the comments of Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, who has suggested that Catholics in America have become so compromised by the surrounding hyper-Protestant culture that they are more Calvinist in their thinking than anything - they view criminals as irredeemable, they are very free-market based and tend to focus on the good of the individual instead of the good of the community. Interesting, and probably not untrue.

No comments:

Post a Comment