Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Newsweek Wants To Tell You About Those Rotten Evangelicals

 

explorerIt’s Christmastide, so it’s time once again for Newsweek to flex its theological muscles and slam Christians for their intolerable reading of the Bible. It’s a cheap trick. It’s easy to throw bombs at Christians. They’ll refute your claims, but they are not going to strap on a vest of explosives.
I’ve read the article, “The Bible: So Misunderstood it’s a Sin,” and — as a favor to you, and to help you preserve time to prepare your New Year’s Eve — I’m offering up time that would otherwise have been completely wasted (as opposed to mostly wasted) to fill you in on what you already know.

In 2013, Newsweek’s balance sheet showed the magazine in fiscal bankruptcy, so it’s little surprise that the magazine now demonstrates its moral bankruptcy by publishing an article bashing Evangelical Christians for their alleged Biblical ignorance and — naturally — for their refusal to stand with the current zeitgeist. No sensible person will pay attention to, or pay for, the magazine. However, plenty of senseless readers will glom onto the end-of-the-year edition, eager to read something that bucks up what they are sure they already know. Newsweek needs those readers and will fill them full of what they need just to stay afloat.

The writer, Kurt Eichenwald, writes for Vanity Fair, the New York Times, and a few other fish wraps. He’s written some books. Read all about him here. But when I Googled his name I couldn’t find anything that established his bona fides as a Biblical scholar. But I didn’t really need to research Eichenwald credentials. The article fully reveals the depth of his scholarship. He must have spent minutes actually trying to understand the history and theology of Sacred Scripture.

But scholarship is not what’s intended. This is a simple hit piece against (you guessed it) Evangelical Christians:

They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.

They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

And that, dear friends, is just the opening shot in what Eichenwald insists will be an impartial and deep reading of the sacred text:

Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning is not intended to advance a particular theology or debate the existence of God. Rather, it is designed to shine a light on a book that has been abused by people who claim to revere it but don’t read it, in the process creating misery for others.”

To borrow a phrase favored by Bill Clinton, it takes a lot of brass to say you’re not advancing a given point of view when you begin your argument by trashing your targets.

When the illiteracy of self-proclaimed Biblical literalists leads parents to banish children from their homes, when it sets neighbor against neighbor, when it engenders hate and condemnation, when it impedes science and undermines intellectual advancement, the topic has become too important for Americans to ignore, whether they are deeply devout or tepidly faithful, believers or atheists.

Now if you want to read the same tired propaganda about the Bible, Eichenwald is as good a place as any to start. At sixteen pages long, it could spare you the trouble of reading Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. Just make some mighty strong coffee. It will keep your eyes open as Eichenwald makes the standard, tired accusations: the books of the Bible are inconsistent; the English translations are poor to awful; many of the texts were just sort of crammed together, etc. It’s the usual cornucopia of non sequiturs and bombast.

Of course an actual Bible scholar — including, I would guess, some of those Eichenwald cites — would likely reply: “So?” The Bible is not, strictly speaking, a book. It is a library containing just about every genre of writing in human history. There are histories like the books that record the times of Solomon and David. There’s poetry, as in the Psalms. Deep reflections on God and the men he created such as Job and Ecclesiastes. The mysterious and mystical imagery of the Book of Revelations. And the Gospels, which are one part biography and one part pedagogy. The Bible is, at its heart, a theological text.

Now I am a Roman Catholic with an understanding of the Bible that sharply differs from that of my Evangelical friends. But lest anyone be confused, it is politics, not Biblical exegesis, that motivates Eichenwald. The essence of the article is an attack on Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Pat Robertson, Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry — all of whom make appearances in the piece — and all those Jerkwater Evangelicals who dare speak views at odds with liberal tropes. That’s what is really on Eichenwald’s mind. His criticism is leveled at Evangelicals who bring their faith into the public square so that. as Eichenwald explains, it is “no longer a matter of personal or private faith.”

Curiously, though characters such as Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson — who, supposedly, have made careers of bringing faith to the public square — are wholly absent from the piece. To Eichenwald, Evangelicals have invaded sacred space.

I suppose it’s a function of age and lassitude that I find the angry wrath of the Eichenwalds of the world amusing and and not a little sad. It’s obvious Eichenwald never met a conservative Christian he didn’t hate. And I suspect that he — like the magazine for which he writes — worships the Second Coming of the current leftist deity who occupies the White House. Naturally, Eichenwald will rage, since it looks like the secular messiah’s cloud has evaporated. Also, if God is good, the new Republican majority will be a gigantic stumbling block.

So let Eichwald throw his tantrum. It’s certain that tolerance of opposing views is something he cannot tolerate. I’ve already deleted my link to Newsweek and am off to cuddle up with a Good Book.

There are 25 comments.

  1. Basil Fawlty Member

    I actually read and enjoyed Eichenwald’s The Informant, a book about the FBI’s pursuit of the ADM corporation. However, the critter does have a rather exotic history. (Reader discretion is advised.)

    • #1
    • December 31, 2014, at 4:08 AM PST
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  2. Nick Stuart Inactive

    Billions of people have been reading/listening to/attending to the teachings of (at least parts of) the Bible for close to 6000 years. Anyone care to speculate on how long and how many people will be reading Eichenwald?

    • #2
    • December 31, 2014, at 6:14 AM PST
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  3. Larry3435 Member

    I am outraged at the factual inaccuracy of this OP! Vanity Fair is not good for wrapping fish.

    • #3
    • December 31, 2014, at 6:28 AM PST
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  4. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    I woke up this morning thinking the left is basically a new take on an old heresy: gnosticism. They are the keepers of the secret knowledge, the only truly saved, the ones who believe themselves the only to have accepted enlightenment (or The Enlightenment.) You’ve thankfully saved me from having to fully develop that thought into a post.

    Of course, they have been dealt with before…

    • #4
    • December 31, 2014, at 7:36 AM PST
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  5. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    Actually it isn’t that he never met a Christian he didn’t hate, it seems to me his entire knowledge of Christians comes from Hollywood movies, written by other leftists.

    Waving Bibles, screaming at homosexuals , condemning people, banishing children, creating misery these are all things we’ve all seen a million times in movies and TV but rarely if ever in real life.

    Another trick is to conflate all Christians with fundamentalists who are probably about 2% of Christians generally and if they believe the Bible is to be taken literally or the earth is 6000 years old, how does that hurt anyone, why would the author be so filled with hate over it?

    Someone is filled with smug , arrogant, colossal ignorance and hatred but it isn’t Christians.

    • #5
    • December 31, 2014, at 7:56 AM PST
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  6. das_motorhead Inactive

    Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning …

    Also known as trolling, just under the auspices of a formerly relevant institution. All this is is a larger-scale version of that phenomenon on Twitter where some dude with three followers and no avatar sits around in his underpants tweeting profane insults at someone who’s actually accomplished something.

    • #6
    • December 31, 2014, at 8:17 AM PST
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  7. Vance Richards Member

    And of course, Newsweek includes pictures of Westboro Baptist Church, because they are a pretty fair representation of the Church in America.

    • #7
    • December 31, 2014, at 8:28 AM PST
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  8. Ansonia Member

    Re comment # 7

    Can anyone give me any evidence that the Westboro Baptist Church wasn’t a small group of people acting, pretending to be the awful fundamentalist Christians we’re told are out there ? A lot I heard and read about this group seemed phony or suspicious to me, like hate vandalism that later turns out to have been staged by people who want to look persecuted or like people on the left who showed up at tea party rallies so that they could be photographed or recorded as Tea Party affiliated people acting racist.

    • #8
    • December 31, 2014, at 8:56 AM PST
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  9. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Excuse me, but what is a Newsweek? Is it a new website or something? The last I heard, an organization bearing that name was sold for a dollar… $1… to a philanthropist who was looking to flush a bunch of his money down a hole. Mission accomplished.

    It speaks volumes that more people will probably read this post than will read the source material for the post.

    At any rate, the snarling character of the article can hardly be surprising, can it? But let me come to their defense in a very minor fashion: significant portions of the American public do believe some wacky things. A not insignificant number of people believe that the moon landings were faked; a much larger percentage (alarmingly) believe that the Earth is 10,000 years old.

    The only explanation for such beliefs is religious inculcation. This is what I think so offends the sensibilities of an Eichenwald – that he looks around and thinks that almost one out of every 2 people he sees are what he would consider to be morons. He places the blame for that upon religion.

    No doubt he lives in “the bubble.” He exists in a state of epistemic closure, surrounded no doubt by a lot of college graduates with journalism degrees from Columbia, not realizing that he he and his compatriots are actually the dinosaurs.

    • #9
    • December 31, 2014, at 9:08 AM PST
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  10. Merina Smith Inactive

    Maj, a lot of people also believe that men descend from apes and that the whole thing started with a critter crawling out of some soup. These beliefs come from science inculcation. You’re right. It is amazing what wacky things people will believe.

    • #10
    • December 31, 2014, at 9:47 AM PST
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  11. Full Size Tabby Member

    Mike Rapkoch

    . . .

    But scholarship is not what’s intended. This is a simple hit piece against (you guessed it) Evangelical Christians:

    They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.

    They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

    . . .

    He has rather limited his targets. He seems to be completely overlooking various other categories of people who misquote and twist scripture, and who quote Bible verses out of context, including people who don’t purport to follow Christ, but insist on lecturing Christians on how the Christians should practice their beliefs. Newspaper editorials and letters to the editor are also full of opinions by people who don’t profess to follow Christ, but feel free to lecture Christians on how Christians must take some certain [left-wing] position on a political issue on the basis of one or two verses the letter writer quotes out of context.

    • #11
    • December 31, 2014, at 10:13 AM PST
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  12. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    I often think that the majority of the mainstream Left’s audience comes from conservatives linking to articles and clips with the intention of critiquing them, and that if conservatives simply shut up about these outlets’ lunatic ravings they would go bankrupt all the sooner.

    Remember, all these outlets depend on clickstats and pagelinks for their revenue. When one posts a link to a Newsweek/Vox/Huffpo/etc article, or one embeds a YouTube video from MSNBC, or a conservative radio host brings listeners’ attention to the latest example of Liberal Media idiocy, one is doing the Left’s job for them.

    Folks, the name of the game is “meme warfare”, and the rules are to inject the media viruses and the earworms into as many brains as possible by any means necessary.

    Take it from Paul Anka:

    Disclose.tvjust don’t look

    • #12
    • December 31, 2014, at 10:56 AM PST
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  13. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Merina Smith:Maj, a lot of people also believe that men descend from apes and that the whole thing started with a critter crawling out of some soup. These beliefs come from science inculcation. You’re right. It is amazing what wacky things people will believe.

    I would point out “correctly.”

    But to be fair Merina, on the one hand there is evidence which supports the one theory, and on the other hand there is an agglomeration of Dogma which was plucked from thin air by schizophrenics and charismatics during the intellectual infancy of our species.

    On the one hand there is a logical chain of causation which is easily reconstructed by people who haven’t been “inculcuated” and have reached those conclusions independently of one another, and on the other hand you have fantastic, unbelievable and supernatural explanations coming from sources which are dodgy at best and can’t be reproduced.

    People can’t be inculcated in science; they have to be taught how to use the various tools that make up the multidisciplinary approach which all scientific knowledge rests upon. Mathematics, physics, chemistry and thermodynamics have no agenda and rest easy only so long as nobody finds examples that overturn them.

    There is no overturning the non-falsifiable – you either believe one of the chinese menu options of the various faiths or you don’t, and the basis of that belief is strongly correlated with parentage.

    Your parentage has nothing to say regarding whether or not the fossil record exists. Its mute testimony doesn’t care about anybody’s faith traditions, and it tells its own story which can’t be faked or easily explained away.

    • #13
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:22 PM PST
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  14. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Misthiocracy:I often think that the majority of the mainstream Left’s audience comes from conservatives linking to articles and clips with the intention of critiquing them, and that if conservatives simply shut up about these outlets’ lunatic ravings they would go bankrupt all the sooner.

    Remember, all these outlets depend on clickstats and pagelinks for their revenue. When one posts a link to a Newsweek/Vox/Huffpo/etc article, or one embeds a YouTube video from MSNBC, or a conservative radio host brings listeners’ attention to the latest example of Liberal Media idiocy, one is doing the Left’s job for them.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! The problem is that we do actually pay attention to these boobs at the Dominant Liberal establishment mass media! They get far more attention than they deserve and if we were to not take the bait from these trolls as often as we do they would shrivel up. Quickly.

    • #14
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:24 PM PST
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  15. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Majestyk:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! The problem is that we do actually pay attention to these boobs at the Dominant Liberal establishment mass media! They get far more attention than they deserve and if we were to not take the bait from these trolls as often as we do they would shrivel up. Quickly.

    Rock n’ Roll would’ve been a fad if only nobody’d protested against it.

    • #15
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:33 PM PST
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  16. Basil Fawlty Member

    “People can’t be inculcated in science; they have to be taught how to use the various tools that make up the multidisciplinary approach which all scientific knowledge rests upon. Mathematics, physics, chemistry and thermodynamics have no agenda and rest easy only so long as nobody finds examples that overturn them.”

    You da Mann!

    • #16
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:34 PM PST
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  17. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Misthiocracy:

    Majestyk:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! The problem is that we do actually pay attention to these boobs at the Dominant Liberal establishment mass media! They get far more attention than they deserve and if we were to not take the bait from these trolls as often as we do they would shrivel up. Quickly.

    Rock n’ Roll would’ve been a fad if only nobody’d protested against it.

    Well, to be fair… I sort of like Rock ‘n Roll. It can stay.

    • #17
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:35 PM PST
    • Like
  18. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    The King Prawn: I woke up this morning thinking the left is basically a new take on an old heresy: gnosticism. They are the keepers of the secret knowledge, the only truly saved, the ones who believe themselves the only to have accepted enlightenment (or The Enlightenment.) You’ve thankfully saved me from having to fully develop that thought into a post.

    Well, most cults are mystery religions. Why should the Left be any different?

    • #18
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:35 PM PST
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  19. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Basil Fawlty:“People can’t be inculcated in science; they have to be taught how to use the various tools that make up the multidisciplinary approach which all scientific knowledge rests upon.Mathematics, physics, chemistry and thermodynamics have no agenda and rest easy only so long as nobody finds examples that overturn them.”

    You da Mann!

    I didn’t say “People can’t be politically motivated jackwagons with scientific trappings.” There’s no excuse for Michael Mann.

    • #19
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:36 PM PST
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  20. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Majestyk:

    Misthiocracy:

    Rock n’ Roll would’ve been a fad if only nobody’d protested against it.

    Well, to be fair… I sort of like Rock ‘n Roll. It can stay.

    Jimmy Swaggart was right:

    ;-)

    • #20
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:41 PM PST
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  21. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Misthiocracy:

    Majestyk:

    Misthiocracy:

    Rock n’ Roll would’ve been a fad if only nobody’d protested against it.

    Well, to be fair… I sort of like Rock ‘n Roll. It can stay.

    Jimmy Swaggart was right:

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/rW-p8RuVRF0

    ;-)

    Duuuuude… Alec Baldwin has got the act down. He could give Joel Osteen a run for his money.

    • #21
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:47 PM PST
    • Like
  22. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive

    Majestyk:

    Merina Smith:Maj, a lot of people also believe that men descend from apes and that the whole thing started with a critter crawling out of some soup. These beliefs come from science inculcation. You’re right. It is amazing what wacky things people will believe.

    I would point out “correctly.”

    But to be fair Merina, on the one hand there is evidence which supports the one theory, and on the other hand there is an agglomeration of Dogma which was plucked from thin air by schizophrenics and charismatics during the intellectual infancy of our species.

    On the one hand there is a logical chain of causation which is easily reconstructed by people who haven’t been “inculcuated” and have reached those conclusions independently of one another, and on the other hand you have fantastic, unbelievable and supernatural explanations coming from sources which are dodgy at best and can’t be reproduced.

    People can’t be inculcated in science; they have to be taught how to use the various tools that make up the multidisciplinary approach which all scientific knowledge rests upon. Mathematics, physics, chemistry and thermodynamics have no agenda and rest easy only so long as nobody finds examples that overturn them.

    There is no overturning the non-falsifiable – you either believe one of the chinese menu options of the various faiths or you don’t, and the basis of that belief is strongly correlated with parentage.

    Your parentage has nothing to say regarding whether or not the fossil record exists. Its mute testimony doesn’t care about anybody’s faith traditions, and it tells its own story which can’t be faked or easily explained away.

    Boy, where to start with this? From the fact that the Modern Synthesis is a highly debatable theory of speciation even among molecular biologists to the controversies surrounding the quantum mechanics to the especially unfortunate confusion as to the true nature of probability, we find that the claim that scientism—which is what you’re peddling here—is a necessary, sufficient, complete, reliable guide to the fundamental questions of human existence doesn’t hold up to even cursory examination. The insistence that it is demonstrates that there’s plenty of dogma to go around. I suggest you give The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions a read, come back, and try again, hopefully with a better understanding of scientism’s all-too-real limitations.

    • #22
    • January 1, 2015, at 9:09 PM PST
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  23. David Carroll Thatcher

    Basil Fawlty:I actually read and enjoyed Eichenwald’s The Informant, a book about the FBI’s pursuit of the ADM corporation. However, the critter does have a rather exotic history. (Reader discretion is advised.)

    Doesn’t his strange take on the bible suggest that Mr. Eichenwald’s view of the world is sufficiently off casting doubt on any of Mr. Eichenwald’s works?

    • #23
    • January 2, 2015, at 2:43 PM PST
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  24. Basil Fawlty Member

    David Carroll

    Basil Fawlty:I actually read and enjoyed Eichenwald’s The Informant, a book about the FBI’s pursuit of the ADM corporation. However, the critter does have a rather exotic history. (Reader discretion is advised.)

    Doesn’t his strange take on the bible suggest that Mr. Eichenwald’s view of the world is sufficiently off casting doubt on any of Mr. Eichenwald’s works?”

    I think you can be a pretty good investigative reporter, even if you hold silly views on the Bible.

    • #24
    • January 2, 2015, at 3:40 PM PST
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  25. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    I felt a learned a lot from his article. Though the fact that most of my fellow Anglicans are some of the most Liberal/Democrats I know would seem to go against his thesis that Christians are nothing but Republicans.

    • #25
    • January 5, 2015, at 7:16 AM PST
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