Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

I recently finished reading two books by Bruce Bawer. The first is titled While Europe Slept- How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Bawer, from New York, moved to Europe in the late 90's.

"In the Netherlands, where political dicourse had moved beyond 'culture war' platitudes, I felt light-years removed from the foolishness of fundamentalism. There, for the first time, I allowed myself to feel the rage that had built up inside me. Yes, I loved my country, but I also realized that I wanted to be away from it-away from the idiocy, the intolerance, the puritanism. More and more I felt that I belonged in Europe." (p. 10)

After years of immersion in the European culture in several EU nations, Bawer came to realize that behind the outward 'high culture' there lurked a denial of the realities of the present situation.

"The main reason I'd been glad to leave America was Protestant fundamentalism. But Europe, I eventually say, was falling prey to an even more alarming fundamentalism whose leaders made their American Protestant counterparts look like amateurs. Falwell was an unsavory creep, but he didn't issue fatwas. James Dobson's parenting advice was appalling, but he wasn't telling people to murder their daughters. American liberals had been fighting the Religious Right for decades; Western Europeans had yet to even acknowledge that they had a Religious Right. How could they ignore it? Certainly as a gay man, I couldn't close my eyes to this grim reality. Pat Robertson just wanted to deny me marriage; the imams wanted to drop a wall on me. I wasn't fond of the hypocritical conservative-Christian line about hating the sin and loving the sinner, but it was preferable to the forthright fundamentalist Muslim view that homosexuals merited death." (p. 33)

He asks a question that summarized the situation:

"In a war between people who had rock solid beliefs and people who are capable of nuancing away pure evil, who has the advantage?" (p. 161)

I tend to think that the U.S. has slipped closer to the European political/cultural situation than Bawer seems to. The American 'brilliant elite' strives ever to catch up to their European counterparts begging for similar results.

While Europe Slept is an excellent piece of work and I highly recommend it.

The second Bruce Bawer book that I picked up was Stealing Jesus- How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity. Owing to the respect that was earned through While Europe Slept, I wanted to understand Bawer's analysis on Christianity in America.

Bawer's observations on selected portions of Christians' activity in the U.S. were well taken. We often do act in hypocritical ways. However, Bruce's views on what Christianity actually means is based only on finely selected Scriptures. He deletes the whole Old Testament, Revelation, most of Paul's epistles, and ignores most of the writings of the Gospels.

In effect, Bawer creates a Christian doctrine similar to the elitist/multicultural/diversity doctrine of the European culture that he fisks so well in While Europe Slept. In other words he creates a Christianity from his own feeling and emotion just as the European elite have done while ignoring the truth within their own culture.

Don't waste your time on Stealing Jesus.

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