Episode 8: Cole Dutter and the California Drought and California Agriculture

On today’s episode we will be discussing the the California drought and its impact on and relationship to California agriculture.

Episode 8 – Episode 8 – Cole Dutter and the California Drought and California Agriculture.

Beyond this podcast I would encourage those concerned about this drought to consider the fact that this is a much smaller part of a global problem regarding the desertification of the world and the increasing scarcity and rarity of potable drinking water.

For more on this topic, check out the documentary film Blue Gold, which is free to watch on Youtube and linked below.

Thanks for listening, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Feel free to email me any questions, comments or concerns at speakfaithfully@gmail.com

-SF

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Episode 7: Damian Webster and the Two Row Wampum

damian webster

 

On today’s episode we will be discussing the Two Row Wampum with Damian Webster.

Episode 7 - Damian Webster and the Two Row

Thanks for listening, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Feel free to email me any questions, comments or concerns at speakfaithfully@gmail.com

-SF

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The Global War on Terror Racket

Major General Smedley Butler

War is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Maj General of the Marine Corps and  Smedley Butler, two-time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor

On September 11th, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States. I will never forget watching the planes fly into the tower, or the bomb threat that closed my school later that day. Like many I was shocked and angered.

While I did not understand the history that had transpired to bring about this attack I wanted revenge. 9/11 cemented my resolve to join the military and serve my country, a plan only foiled by the fact that I was medically disqualified.

Even though I was far removed from most of the US’s actions since then as I pursued college, graduate school and work, the Global War on Terror has still been a defining endeavor that has shaped world events and U.S. policy at home and abroad over the last 13 years. In many ways the Global War on Terror has cast a shadow over the world that no one could really escape. As Obama has now officially extended this war to Iraq (again) and Syria to combat the Islamic State, I am forced again to ask what this great endeavor has cost us and if it has even achieved its goal.

What has the Global War on Terror cost us?

The United States has paid dearly for the Global War on Terror, and has offloaded many more costs onto other countries, usually to the most vulnerable people in their nations.

The U.S. alone has spent $4-6 trillion dollars.

We have lost 6,639 service men and women and many more will be living with and dealing with the physical and psychological wounds for the rest of their lives.

We have killed at least 174,000 civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. This is a conservative estimate, and the number is likely much higher due to U.S. intentionally under-reporting and classifying civilians as combatants with no evidence. Millions more have been displaced, impoverished, diseased, traumatized and/or wounded due to our actions. Considering the dead civilians alone we have killed 63 times the number of civilians we lost in 9/11.

We now live in a world under pervasive, warrantless U.S. surveillance. Civil liberties, constitutional rights and freedoms in the United States have been degraded significantly and our respect for those rights abroad is non-existent if it ever was.

We have seen an exponential increase in the militarization of police forces as police departments cross train in counter-terrorism and receive military gear from the government.

We have further sullied our global reputation with our willingness to pursue this war through very immoral means including fanning the flames of sectarian war, funding death squads, utilizing torture, practicing indefinite detention and operating without consequence or boundary in the world of black ops.

We have sown the seeds for the very extremism and terrorism we sought to defeat, and future generations around the world will be dealing with individuals understandably seeking vengeance for our actions against them.

And what have we gained from all of this?

While we killed Osama Bin Laden, this did not end terrorism. After 13 years and all of the above costs, an extremist group now has a presence, influence and military equipment in Iraq and Syria that Al Qaeda had previously never achieved.

Perhaps most importantly, we are still afraid. Thanks to blowback from our actions and intentional fear-mongering by politicians and the media, a majority of U.S. citizens now believe ISIS has sleeper agents in the United States and support military action against the group.

The Global War on Terror Racket

I am tempted to suggest our political and military leaders have been inept, that they have misspent our money and pursued the wrong strategies.

If fear the truth is much worse.  If these failures were the result of incompetency we could elect new officials and promote different generals.

However, I fear that the failures of the Global War on Terror have not been bumbling mistakes but calculated moves designed to keep us and the world in a state of perpetual war and fear.

The Military Industrial Complex’s Golden Goose

The Military Industrial Complex, that Eisenhower warned us about, is now thoroughly embedded within the power structure of the United States. Initially the Cold War provided a climate of fear that made it easy for the US to garner public support for an arms race against the USSR. This arms race kept the world on the brink of World War III but financially ruined the USSR and made those in the military industrial complex vast amounts of wealth, millions of which was used to buy politicians and policy in DC.

Since the fall of the USSR, the military industrial complex has tried to keep its populace in a state of fear against an identified threat in order to maintain our outrageous annual defense spending and their profits. Sometimes these threats have been states and in other cases they have been non-state actors. Iran, Iraq, China, Russia, Terrorism, Communism and a variety of democratically elected and socialist leaders around the world have been cast as the imminent threat to the United States. The threat doesn’t have to be real, or even make sense, it just has to scare people into thinking a strong U.S. military active around the world is our only path to safety.

In many ways the Global War on Terror is the military industrial complex’s golden goose. Terrorism is a vague threat that can strike anywhere at any time. People’s reaction to terrorism is visceral and ill-informed; people demand military action be taken to make them safe without ever seeking to understand the situation or even do basic fact checking. U.S. interventions cause civilian casualties, foster extremism, and invite understandable resentment and retaliation against us. Retaliation against us by those that we have wronged reinforces the threat of terrorism and justifies more defense spending, more interventions, and more infringements on civil liberties..

This cycle of violence, fear and animosity does not benefit any average citizen of the world; it only benefits people in the industry of the war and those seeking their campaign contributions. While it is glaringly obvious the outrageous costs of the Global War on Terror have failed to win it, companies like Halliburton, which made $40 billion on the invasion and occupation of Iraq alone, and Raytheon, whose stock hit an all time high when Syria destabilized, will not let it end anytime soon.

With this in mind, maybe this September 11th it would be best if we did not double-down on nationalistic propaganda and restate our desire for another pound of flesh, one that has already been taken from people who had nothing to do with 9/11 sixty-three times over, and instead contemplate who is keeping this disastrous Global War on Terror going and how to stop them.

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Pray for Iraq but Question your State

 

Sen. McCain with leaders and operatives of the Free Syria Army, some of whom were members of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and are now members of ISIS.

Sen. McCain with leaders and operatives of the Free Syria Army, some of whom were members of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and are now members of ISIS.

Recently I have seen a host of “Pray for Iraq” memes, events and posts on my Facebook feed. Many, perhaps most of the people I know on Facebook are Western Christians from the U.S. and Canada. Many of them, including myself at the time, supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Some of them, even those admonishing others to stand in solidarity with those in Iraq, have rather broadly supported U.S. foreign policy and defended or argued for our actions in the larger Global War on Terror.

It appears that this sudden renewed attention and concern for Iraq has resulted from ISIS’ push into Iraq. ISIS subsequent behavior has cemented their reputation for being a brutal and evil organization centered on an extremist ideology. Some of ISIS behavior has been aimed directly at Iraqi Christians (and other minority groups) which is probably why many of my Christian peers identify with those suffering and are bringing attention to it.

I will not discourage people from praying for and expressing solidarity with Iraqi people, but  I think it is just as important, if not more important, for such persons to question the role of the United States in all of this and act accordingly. I say this because U.S. policy in Iraq is at the root of the rise of ISIS and the suffering of Iraqi civilians. Let me explain.

US Policy in Iraq, The Salvador Option and the Rise of ISIS

ISIS and their actions in Iraq coalesced in an environment of extremism and sectarian violence that was intentionally fostered by the United States. We encouraged this violence by categorically backing the Shia PM al-Maliki politically, economically and militarily despite his efforts to exclude other groups from the political process and power. We trained and equipped Shia militias and re-branded them as elite police units that have acted under his command. We turned a blind eye to the fact that these units operated as state backed sectarian deathsquads, responsible for numerous human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture. In fact, this is what we wanted them to do.

We fostered this sectarian violence in an attempt to split the resistance in Iraq. We wanted Shia and Sunni Iraqis to fight each other, instead of fighting US occupation forces in a coordinated manner as they did initially after the invasion. This tactic lowered the overall number of U.S. deaths, so U.S. politicians could quell increasing dissent at home and pull out sooner, but sowed violence, injustice and resentment that we knew would have a long-standing ill effect in Iraq. The fact that we pursued this form of counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq has been rather clear since at least 2006. This policy has been a bi-partisan endeavor as it was initiated under Bush but has been continued and even escalated under Obama as Obama increased funding to al-Maliki before the current ISIS push.

This is not the first time the U.S. has implemented this counter-insurgency strategy. In the context of U.S. policy this strategy is referred to as the Salvador Option after Salvadoran Civil War, a conflict in which we intervened by pursuing the this same strategy. This doctrine is essentially to “fight terror with terror,” though we often stay one or two stepped removed from the actual killing and torture to avoid any moral or legal guilt in the violence we are directing. As if to underscore how little U.S. foreign policy has changed since then, the same person who was our man on the ground in the support of El Salvadorian deathsquads also had a hand in Iraq: U.S. Col. James Steele. Gen. Petraeus, a key figure in the Iraq occupation, even visited Steele in El Salvador to study under him for a time.

Simply put, during the occupation the U.S. fostered a civil war that smoldered and sometimes raged for years for our benefit. Even after the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, after achieving its fundamental goal of privatizing Iraqi oil so that Western companies could profit, this violence still went on but has been largely ignored by Western media because there were no more U.S. deaths. Obama claimed the ending of an unpopular war as a feather in his cap, but the carnage went on, out of sight and out of mind.

The extremism necessary for groups like ISIS to form was created in this U.S. orchestrated environment of injustice, human rights abuses, political disenfranchisement, external occupation and exploitation. It was during this time that the U.S. encouraged Saudi Arabia and Qatar to help fund ISIS and perhaps even provided direct aid and training to ISIS when they were ostensibly primarily fighting Assad in Syria, another regime that, like Saddam’s, we supported and then turned onIt was in this environment that even people who did not agree with ISIS’ ideology collaborated with them because the alternative of the “democratic” U.S. backed al-Maliki regime was just as bad or worse. This collaboration is what has allowed for ISIS to make such rapid gains and get their hands on a lot of U.S. supplied military hardware. For those of us in the USA, horrified by the actions of ISIS, we must accept the fact that we created an environment where ISIS could thrive, we encouraged our allies to fund them, and we may have even funded and trained them ourselves.

Understanding and Stopping/Changing U.S. Policy is Fundamental to Stopping Groups like ISIS

My point in all of this is that many appear to assume that ISIS’ formation and ideology “just happened” like some force of nature in the region. Others, perhaps shaped by the intentional fanning of Islamophobia in the post-9/11 U.S., believe that ISIS is “just another” expression of violence and anti-Christian sentiment inherent to Islam (which it isn’t). The reality is that Iraqis, after having suffered under the U.S. supported Saddam, after having suffered under the US supported UN sanctions against Saddam, after having suffered the invasion and occupation of their lands by U.S. forces, after having suffered under the U.S. supported “Shia Saddam” of al-Maliki are now suffering under the occupation of ISIS, a group primarily formed in the wake of and by U.S. policy in the region.

The common thread in all of this suffering that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis of all faiths is U.S. policy, a policy dictated by the wealthy, a policy that primarily benefits the wealthy, a policy that offloads the cost of this policy onto others, and a policy which is often pursued by immoral means. To pray for Iraq but not consider how the U.S. has acted in Iraq and elsewhere, to pray for Iraq but not consider what consequences these policies have had for others, to pray for Iraq and not ask who has really benefited from all this, to pray for Iraq but continue to broadly and uncritically support U.S. policy is a recipe for a continuation of the status quo. More policies will be rolled out that benefit a handful of people while the violence, injustice, and misery caused by the pursuit of these policies will be offloaded onto other people, especially the most vulnerable in the world.

So by all means, Pray for Iraq, but Question the State.

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Gaza, Blaming the Victim, and Violent Resistance

blame_hamas_by_latuff2

Credit: Carlos Latuff

Blaming the Victim

During the most recent bombings and incursion into Gaza, many in Israel and around the world blamed Palestinians, especially and particularly Hamas, for the violence Palestinians have been suffering at the hands of Israel. People quite literally blamed the victim, suggesting Israel’s hand was being forced, and the massive disproportionate violence it unleashed in the last several weeks was something it regrettably had to do in order to stop Hamas. The rationale was that if only Hamas had never fired any rockets, or would cease firing rockets, or would never have built any tunnels, or had never stockpiled weapons, or had never kidnapped and killed the three Israeli teens, there would be no bombings or incursions and the regrettable but unavoidable collateral damage. Naftali Bennett, an Israeli minister, certainly employed this train of thinking when he accused Hamas of “committing mass-self-genocide.” The argument that Hamas intentionally incurs this violence upon themselves in order to drive up civilian casualties and win a public relations victory against Israel is also built upon this notion.

Nevermind the fact that it was admitted (but later retracted) by an Israeli official that Hamas wasn’t responsible for the kidnapping of the Jewish youths that sparked this all offnevermind the fact that the Israeli government knew the youths were dead but still raided Palestinian communities which inflamed tensions, nevermind the fact that Israel is laying waste to entire neighborhoods, nevermind the fact that the UN Goldstone report found it was Israeli, not Hamas, that used Palestinians as human shields, nevermind the fact that the larger systemic violence, dehumanization and humiliation of Palestinians pre-dates and post-dates Hamas’ existence, (etc. etc. etc.), this line of thinking is illogical and morally abhorrent to me.

Blaming the violence of oppression on violent resistance to oppression exonerates the oppressor, demonizes the victims of oppression and ultimately is a recipe for perpetual conflict and escalation. The ultimate cause of this conflict is settler colonialism; foreigners came into Palestine and asserted themselves as the rightful owners and sovereigns of the land through force, a situation that has had to be maintained through systemic violence and injustice against Palestinians. So, to paraphrase Miko Peled and others: violent Palestinian resistance is in response to much more massive violent Israeli oppression; if Israel wants Palestinian violence to stop, it needs to stop its violence against Palestinians, end the siege of Gaza and establish an inclusive democracy and justice in its nation. Blaming Palestinians or Hamas for the violence of Israel only serves those who want to see the conflict continue and the state of Israel to continue following its present course of increasing right wing extremism.

Lessons from Black Liberation

When various Israeli media outlets, spokespeople, rabbis, and politicians employed this argument, blaming Palestinians for casualties Israel has inflicted, and when various U.S. media outlets, spokespeople, pastors and politicians repeated these arguments, all I could think about was an interview I had seen of Angela Davis. Take a few minutes and watch this interview, part of footage filmed by a Swedish TV crew that was recently discovered and featured in the Black Power Mixtape.

While Davis was speaking from the context of black liberation and resistance to the systemic white supremacy in the United States, I believe this interview touches on a few points that I think are pertinent to any assessment of the use of violence by the Palestinian resistance that’s not hasbara.

First, if violence can be justified whose violence justifiable?

When asked if black liberation might be pursued through violence Davis’ words first point us to consider the underlying merits of the principles and goals that are being pursued by violent or non-violent means. In the grand scheme of things the Palestinians are pursuing a just cause whereas Israel’s overall goals appear to be maintaining a Jewish-Supremacist state built upon ethnic cleansing, land theft and Zionism. If there is any “moral” violence happening within that context it is coming from the Palestinian resistance, not Israel.

Second, if violence is used as a form of self-defense, whose violence is a form of self-defense?

Later, Davis’ words also bring up the concept of violent resistance as a necessary form of self-defense that should be expected when people are suffering from massive systemic violence. Since at least the Nakba, Israel has created and maintained its state through the violence against Palestinians in one form or another, regardless of if the Palestinians were violent or not. In this context it would be absurd to demand or expect no violent resistance from Palestinians.  In this context violent resistance is self defense. Even though violent resistance to a system of oppression like this often takes the form of asymmetrical warfare/guerrilla warfare that occupiers and their allies label as terrorism even the UN has affirmed “the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation form colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.” (Emphasis added.)

Third, if all violence is to be condemned and rejected (regardless of context) what violence should be the focus of this criticism and dismantled first?

Some Palestinians and some supporters of Palestine may be uncomfortable or unable to affirm every type or manifestation of violence utilized by Palestinians in their self-defense. Some may see certain types of violence as immoral (regardless of context), counter-productive politically or militarily in the long run, or are committed to non-violent methods for whatever reason. (I am one such person due to my faith and my allegiance to the teachings of Jesus.)

How can such persons work towards Palestinian liberation, affirm the Palestinian right to self-defense, recognize some Palestinians lament the censure of their right to self-defense by their allies, and yet to be true to themselves and their own principles? On this tension I believe Davis’ interview can also be instructive.

In Davis’ day there were white and black people who condemned all violence, saw violence as counter-productive, and/or feared the violence might directly impact them. When the Swedish TV crew asked Davis about the possibility of violence being used within the struggle for black liberation, it was a question born out of this concern regarding the use of violence.  

Davis responded to this question by appropriately situating this question within the context of the extreme forms of violence black people had endured at the hands of the State and the hands of white supremacists.

The message of this response I think was clear. People were wringing their hands about the possibility of violence being used within the struggle for black liberation but had been silent as violence against black people had raged unchecked for centuries. If people were categorically against violence, why were they focusing on the relatively small violence coming from the black resistance, instead of interrogating the much more deadly, much more widespread, and much more unjust violence that was being used by the State and white supremacists?

Put another way, if a person believes all violence is counter-productive or immoral and as such all violence deserves to be critiqued, condemned and dismantled, the source of the greatest and most unjust violence should be their primary concern.

Within the context of Palestine it is clear that the violence of the State of Israel should be the chief and primary concern of anyone categorically against violence. The death toll between Palestinians civilians and Israeli civilians incurred during Protective Edge underscores this point. Even with Iron Dome possibly not working at all, Israeli lost two civilians as Palestine lost 1,504, billions in infrastructure, and a humanitarian crisis that will take years to recover from, even if the siege is lifted.

To wring our hands about violence coming from the Palestinian resistance while diverting attention away from the violence coming from the State of Israel, or even equally focusing our attention, is to fall into a trap that ultimately serves the State of Israel.

While people such as myself may have to utter a word of censure to Hamas’ use of unguided rockets against civilian areas or similar behavior, we should save the lion’s share of our moral outrage and our efforts to dismantle systemic violence for the State of Israel.

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The Second Great Awakening and the Emptiness of Evangelicalism

Evangelicalism in the United States, and Christianity in the United States in general, has many problems. One only need to compare what is acceptable in Evangelical culture to the teachings of Jesus to see some of the more obvious conflicts. These problems go beyond the failings of individual leaders or the simple fact that human frailty constrains our ability to live out our espoused ideals. To me, Evangelicalism is empty; it is an easily distracted civil religion, led by charismatic leaders who may or may not follow Jesus’ teachings, that is easily co-opted by other agendas and ideologies.  I would argue that a lot of these problems stem from structural, theological and systemic issues at the foundation of Evangelicalism, some of which started during the Second Great Awakening. To explore this issue a bit more, after briefly introducing what the Second Great Awakening was, I want to focus on three problems within Evangelicalism that have come from this time: a focus on theatrics and technique, a focus on charisma, and the proliferation of a shallow Gospel.

What was the Second Great Awakening?

The Second Great Awakening was a second Christian religious revival in the United States that started in the late 18th century and continued into the early 19th century. This Second Great Awakening was actually a number of different revivals that unfolded in many different geographical areas, in many different denominations, but were nonetheless theologically and practically very similar. Revivalists in the cities and the frontiers hosted revival meetings that presented the Gospel to thousands of people at a time. Often these revivals events unfolded over the course of several days before moving onto the next area. During this time millions converted to Evangelical denominations causing a dramatic rise in their membership. Christianity in the U.S. still bears the impact of these movements. Today roughly one fifth of the U.S. identifies as a “born again,” evangelical Christian, direct theological and ideological descendants from this time.

While there are arguably some positive or progressive developments from this era, I want to turn to the three problems I think were initiated in this era and are still with Evangelicalism today.

A Focus on Theatrics and Technique

GSTS69420 VII-3

A depiction of a typical revival camp meeting on the Frontier.

The revivals of the Second Great Awakening were as much theater as they were preaching or teaching. The revivalists of this time recognized the importance of presentation, technique and entertainment to their endeavors and quickly incorporated them into their revivals. Everywhere a revival went, a theater like stage (such as the one depicted in the drawing above) was present. Plays, lighting, music and other methods started being used to cultivate an environment ripe with emotionalism and excitement to foster conversions. This was perhaps especially effective in the frontier revivals, where the remote location meant any large gathering of people would bear the promise of excitement far beyond what the area normally saw.

This begs the question if the revivals were the work of the Spirit or the work of man and emotional manipulation. Even in their day some revivalists worried conversions were being manufactured through the methods revivalists were using, not through a true conversion brought on by a genuine response to hearing the Gospel. The revivalist Nettleton, in worrying over the agency of God in the Second Great Awakening wrote, “Should a revival be desired, the machinery would go into gear and it would be created through sheer willpower and method.”

The practice of using theatrics and technique to cultivate a specific response from the congregation never left Evangelicalism. It can be found at large mass rallies and contemporary revivals but also in your average Sunday service. Walk into any Protestant church in the United States and they will probably have a designated stage with at least a modest lighting and sound system. Some churches have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lighting and sound systems that rival local theaters and cinemas. This theatrical apparatus is used to foster an environment of entertainment and emotionalism, ripe for religious experience. It is any surprise some hold a consumer attitude towards church attendance, where they attend churches so long as that church can provide the spiritual experience they are looking to consume or enjoy?

A Focus on Charisma

broadway tabernacle 2

The Brooklyn Tabernacle, created for Charles G. Finney, was either the first or the forerunner of the megachurch in the U.S.

The Second Great Awakening also rather quickly became centered around personalities. As the revivals unfolded a handful of specific revivalists became incredibly well known. Soon lecture halls and tents were erected specifically so that these famous revivalists could be heard and enthralled by as many people as possible, hopefully leading to a revival in the area. The creation of the Brooklyn Tabernacle (pictured above), built so that thousands of people could hear Charles G. Finney speak at one time, is one such example of this.

In the environment of the revivals it was charismatic leaders with strong voices, handsome faces, and winsome personalities who won the most converts, received the most attention, and gained the most sizable following. This led to a situation where personal charisma become the most prized trait in a Christian leader. Education, character, or knowledge of and allegiance to the teachings of Jesus, became afterthoughts to a leader’s ability to win and keep a cult-following through personality alone. For example while Nettleton expressed his worried that the revivals were not authentic and were being manufactured, Finney responded by basically saying, “Well it works.” History has shown that the unconcerned Finney is remembered by many while Nettleton is essentially forgotten.

This preference for charisma has never left Evangelicalism. In her piece The Line Between a Heretic and a Prophet is Thin, Suey Park, stated that “What I didn’t realize was how much white evangelical Christians would cherish this skill [the ability to perform and be liked]; the church often values charisma over character.” This Evangelical preference for charisma over character is not something new, and if anything it has heightened. Evangelicalism is today essentially captivate to super-apostles who write books, run mega churches, go on speaking circuits and launch movements, whose success is due more to their personality than any other aspect of their life or faith.

A Shallow Gospel, and Room for Other Ideologies

Most importantly the Second Great Awakening sparked the proliferation of a very shallow Gospel.

The revivalists employed an incredibly simple and short Gospel in their work. It went was something like this:

Humanity is sinful and deserves eternal punishment. To forgive us, God sent his only son Jesus to die for our sins. To get into Heaven and avoid going to Hell, a person has to pray to accept Jesus as their Lord and savior.

I call this Gospel the Evangecube Gospel, or the Heaven’s Gates Hell’s Flames Gospel after some more contemporary methods used to share this same Gospel. When combined with charismatic leaders using theatrics and techniques to stir up emotionalism, it was (and is) wildly successful at winning converts.

The problem is then that these newly minted followers of Jesus had a faith based on a dubious spiritual experience that was grounded in an understanding of the Gospel that is either woefully incomplete or an altogether false representation of the Gospel.

Even if accepted as the Gospel message, it must be admitted the Gospel of the revivalists is a very shallow or narrow Gospel that omits much of the scriptural story. This Gospel is devoid of any connection to or even mention of the history of Israel. This Gospel is devoid of any of Jesus’ teachings that He would have His followers embody and live out. This Gospel cannot be reconciled with the historical and cultural context within which it supposedly originated. While many verse-bites allegedly support this Gospel (*glares at John 3:16*), it cannot be reconciled with a broader reading of scripture. Ultimately this Gospel is about assuring a person of their individual salvation and not much else.

This shallow Gospel leaves a lot of room for other ideologies to creep into the lives of believers. This has produced a situation where people claim to be Christian followers of Jesus, and perhaps even identify their faith as the central aspect of their identity, who live their lives according to other ideologies, many of which conflict with the teachings of Jesus.

As history has progressed other ideologies have indeed taken root within American Evangelicalism, to the point where they eclipse the actual teachings of Jesus. Nationalism has crept in, allowing for followers of Jesus to violate Jesus’ teachings on non-violence without concern. Consumerism, capitalism and materialism has crept in, allowing for followers of Jesus to violate Jesus’ teachings on wealth. The pursuit of the American Dream has crept in, allowing followers of Jesus to pursue the well-being of their family while ignoring the plight of all others, despite Jesus’ teachings on justice and social welfare.

What does this all mean?

The Second Great Awakening set the evolutionary trajectory of Evangelical Christianity for decades to come, if only because of the sheer amount of people these revivals won to the Evangelical movement. A focus on theatrics and technique to craft an emotional/spiritual experience, the focus on charisma, and the proliferation of a shallow Gospel are three main aspects of Evangelical culture and theology that come from this era. Of these, the proliferation of the shallow Gospel is perhaps the most problematic. Because the Evangelical Gospel is so thin, it barely conflicts with other ideologies, so long as these other ideologies do not present an alternative pathway to personal salvation. This created room for other ideologies to creep in and even dominate Evangelical culture and theology, without anyone realizing how inappropriate these ideologies are for followers of Jesus. If this issue is to be addressed, the core definition of the Gospel in Evangelicalism must be addressed. Anything less will probably be as fruitful as polishing the brass on the Titanic.

 

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Episode 6: Christine Apa and the 24 Foundation

christine apa

On today’s episode we will be discussing the 24 Foundation (www.24foundation.org) and their work to help people heal through art with their founder and CEO, Christine Apa.

Episode 6: Christine Apa and the 24 Foundation

Thanks for listening, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode and feel free to email me any questions, comments or concerns at speakfaithfully@gmail.com

-SF

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