The great spiritual leaders of our nation, if you can call them that, are deeply concerned about the direction our churches and the nation are taking these days, and they have decided to do something about it. They are going to hold a national committee meeting:
These religious leaders have named this meeting A National Solemn Assembly of today’s great men and women of God. The idea of this meeting is to call the churches and people of our nation to repentance; to the ways of God, and to focusing on solving our many national problems.
Of course, it comes as no surprise that the creators of this event want millions of people across the nation to listen to these religious leaders and watch their deliberations. After all, what is the point in being a big-time religious celebrity unless one has what the old Soviet communists used to call “a pack of running-dog lackeys” to ravenously lap up every word they have to say and congratulate them for being the great religious leaders they already think—wrongly in my opinion—that they are.
My heart is more than a little cynical about this so-called National Solemn Assembly. I am predicting it will be nothing more, in the end, than the usual fundie suspects (and a few token African-American pastors, conservative Catholics, and Protestant Mainliners) engaging in the usual American fundie nonsense:
Preach the gospel that “The Church and All America Needs to Be Healed.” How do you do that healing? Convince church pastors, deacons, and elders to double-down, triple-down, and quadruple down on pounding Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical right doctrines and the conservative principles and values of the Religious Right into the minds and hearts of all American churchgoers—and especially make sure the Sunday school teachers pound the children to a pulp in their Sunday school classes.
They will preach Great Awakening No. 4 for all of the American people—in hopes that they too will awaken to timeless fundie truths—like say—the ridiculous and widely refuted notion of Biblical Inerrantism. This National Solemn Assembly will no doubt conclude with a televised national altar call. Nothing makes fundie religious leaders happier than a sappy, 19th century retrovision of just saved masses of rural hillbillies dancing around a revival tent like lunatics; gorging from covered dishes at a dinner-on-the grounds; and breaking out into spontaneous, old-time Southern Gospel sing-alongs.
“True” Christians will then be urged to go out onto the American landscape and transform our nation in the usual fundie ways—by screwing poor people, hungry people, and old people; by putting an end to Obamacare for the poor; by hating people of other religions (Islam in particular); by persecuting and purging the LGBTQ menace from our American shores; and by calling people to return to the traditional holy values that made America great. You know those traditional values: grubbing money; hating your disgusting neighbor; craving material goods; spending lots of money you do not have; seeking the highest social status one can attain; keeping up with the Jones family; skipping your daughter’s graduation because work comes first; hating out-of-work people; exchanging God’s grace for Old Testament law; slapping the “niggers” and “wetbacks” into their proper places (Africa and Mexico); waging more foreign wars to grind your children to hamburger meat; bringing that two-headed, brain-dead incest pregnancy to term; and showing off your expensive new clothes at church on Sunday morning. (The actual list of traditional American values is much longer and just as sad…much, much, much longer and sadder).
Did I forget to say voting Republican is a traditional American value in their eyes? The National Solemn Assembly claims no politics will be involved in their big meeting. Excuse me for not believing them. I seriously doubt it is a mere accident that this meeting will occur within just a few weeks of the fall 2016 Presidential election. Just watch these nonpolitical fundie leaders implicatively praise Donald Trump up one side and down the other as the only hope for our nation—a man after God’s own heart—just like King David—the man anointed by the oil-filled hand of Jesus himself to be the next President of the United States. That is what they said about George W. Bush—and look what happened.
A National Solemn Assembly? Please excuse me while I go puke. God forbid that these blind-as-a-bat religious leaders might say an honest prayer for God’s leading; take a realistic sociological, psychological, and anthropological look at American problems; identify the true nuts and bolts of those problems (rather than misidentify them or run from them like they usually do); roll up their sleeves; come up with some workable strategies to actually solve these problems; and then (with the leading of the Holy Spirit and a heart full of real love for Jesus and people) implement these strategies in the field by going to real people with problems and meeting them face-to-face wherever they happen to be, regardless of their social positions, cultural contexts, and environmental surroundings.
In reality, these fundie religious leaders and their followers at this National Solemn Assembly will never solve any American problems—and they may make the ones we already have much worse. Here are three good reasons why no problems will get solved:
(1) Their secular cultures (particularly rural “redneck” culture and Southern Scots-Irish culture) are so conflated with their fundie faith that they will be unable to separate the two, which will be absolutely necessary for any real problem solving to occur. It is awfully hard to solve problems like race hatred when 15 generations of a white, Southern, Christian family have taught its descendants that all African-Americans are “niggers” and God made it so as they danced around the Tower of Babel. Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical secular culture are welded with religion—like two pieces of plywood slathered with Elmer’s glue and bonded tightly. The only thing that will ever separate this kind of unholy bond is Holy water—steaming hot Holy water—mixed with changed hearts.
(2) Solving America’s problems will take money and willing hands–great masses of money and willing hands. These fundie leaders have neither. Steeped in spiritual pride and arrogance from having destroyed the historical Social Gospel Movement, the fundie leaders will be unable to move the large amounts of needed funds (and hands) away from evangelism pursuits and toward social justice problem solving. After all, America is drowning in sin; Jesus is coming back pissed as Hell about it and looking for vengeance at 10:03 p.m.—and the fundies have a desperate emergency operation underway to save as many people as possible before 10:03 p.m. arrives. Every fundie knows desperate emergency operations cannot tolerate distractions or interference by unBiblical nonsense like loving your neighbor as yourself. “Forget about those diseased limbs. Let’m die!!!” Better they suffer mercilessly for 80 years here on Earth than burn forever in Hell!!!”
(3) These so-called religious leaders will need a profound transformation of their own personal hearts from a focus on religious laws, rules, and moralism to new Christian hearts that focus on the Christian LOVE that pervades the words of Jesus, his disciples, and the apostles throughout the New Testament. You know—the hard parts they dislike and ignore. I suspect only the few token Roman Catholic and Mainline Protestant leaders have any real chance of acquiring that transformed heart full of real love for God and their fellow man. The Catholic Soup Kitchens are no accident of history. The Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical leaders, who allowed their followers to start ridiculing and despising New Testament LOVE in printed books during the 1980s, will be unable to attain that new heart of LOVE or shepherd their brainwashed flocks toward it. Since the 1980s, they have effectively redefined New Testament LOVE as one thing and one thing only: “preaching the gospel of salvation.” Just ask some rank-and-file fundies one day. Any day. They will tell you they have no Biblical obligation of LOVE whatsoever toward their fellow man—other than “preaching the gospel of salvation.” They will follow it up by saying, “Why preaching the gospel IS LOVE.” Fundie people have almost no interest in true Christian LOVE and the much wider spectrum of heart and action it Biblically entails, and in my opinion, they have little chance of ever attaining it. America’s problems will never be solved to any meaningful degree if that deeply abiding New Testament LOVE is not resurrected as the razor-sharp leading edge of any effort to solve American problems.