Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crazy Christians

Yes, I am stealing the title from the fictional Studio 60 skit that originally got Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford's* characters fired from the show. But ignore my lack of originality and hear me out. . . .

Let's start with a joke: What does Stephen Baldwin have in common with Justin's favorite actor, Kirk Cameron?

Apparently, they're both intolerant right-wing born-again douchebags.

{sound of drum and cymbal crash}

{dead silence}

{crickets chirping}

Seriously, though. From Salon:

To plenty of passersby strolling on the mall that day, Baldwin's nouveau Bible-thumping to the kids and parents gathered before him may have seemed like a desperate attempt by a B-list movie star to attract an audience. But, in fact, Baldwin's youth ministry has gathered tens of thousands of decision cards -- and faith-professing e-mails -- in the past couple of years. These days, Baldwin not only has the ear of young boys who cleave to his fundamentalist reading of the Bible, and whatever skein of celebrity still clings to his Jesus T-shirts. He has been named a cultural advisor to President Bush, a formidable follow-up to his invitation to speak at the Republican National Convention, where he announced proudly from the podium, "I'm here because of my faith."

Now Baldwin has released a memoir, "The Unusual Suspect," a reference to the one critically acclaimed film for which he's known. The book, the "Gospel according to Stevie B.," is part testimonial and part evangelical manifesto, a cocktail of anti-intellectualism and a biblical interpretation that would have Jesus spinning in his grave, had he stayed there. Baldwin preaches that free will is a lie of Satan -- we must shut off our brains, he says, and be led by what God tells our hearts. Furthermore, he writes, efforts to end global poverty and violence are just the sort of "stupid arrogance" that incur God's wrath, which we'll be feeling any day now in the coming apocalypse. I suppose when the star of "Bio-Dome" is advising the president and converting kids by the thousands to his gnarly brand of faith, the end is, indeed, nigh.


For Dobson, Baldwin and young Americans the nation over who yearn for the certainty this brand of Christianity pitches, the personal is political. Absolutism reigns in the new evangelical youth movement, shining through the chaos of modernity, global terror, media bombardment and glorious moral relativism. Baldwin pitches the ultimate dumbed-down fundamentalism, offering reductive, brainless theology. "I sleep good at night because I am totally content in the knowledge that God is in control," he writes, a conviction glittered up with the fact that it sprung from the mind of an honest-to-God celebrity.

But you know the worst** part? The idiot who starred in Threesome attacking Bono:

"The Unusual Suspect" features an open letter to Bono, lambasting him for lobbying for debt relief for developing countries instead of preaching the gospel on MTV. Bono must be in league with Satan, whom Baldwin spends a lot of time thinking about. "I am smart enough to know that Satan is alive and well today," he writes. "Satan has all kinds of power, and he is able to control the minds of anyone whose mind isn't controlled by God." Baldwin's theology -- and criticism of secularists and Christian poseurs like Bono -- is written with remarkable confidence for someone who can only recite six of the Ten Commandments and four of the Twelve Apostles.

Seriously. Attacking Bono because he focuses on charitable work? That's gotta be about the least Christian thing I can think of.

*It's always a bad sign when you can't remeber the character's names, right? I mean, aren't you supposed to think of them as their character?

**"Worst" as in "bizarro," or "wacko" -- or maybe just "WTF?" You know what I mean.


Bo W. said...

First, Go Cardinals (though the series may get ugly).

Well, as the “Evangelical” on the board (and one who has known about Dobson since his ministry started) I have been thinking about how to respond. I could write a long essay in response, first citing the error of Mr. Baldwin’s ways (but no one who reads this blog would be interested in a theological treatise of why I disagree with his approach), and second saying how I support Baldwin to some extent or at least arguing against the typical liberal “we have nothing better to do than bash Christians” Salon article (but I do not have time to get involved in blog debate). Wonder if Salon ever took Madonna to task for her cross episode?

So, I will say one thing pro and one thing con about the article. My anti-Stephen Baldwin comment is that I agree with Dara on the Bono thing. That is a true WTF. “By their fruits you shall know them.” Sorry Stephen, one does more good showing the love of Christ in their deeds than continually bashing the Gospel over people’s heads.

My agreement with Baldwin is his quote “I sleep good at night because I am totally content in the knowledge that God is in control." Maybe it does not work for you, but it does for me.

Can we change the blogs to discuss baseball or something now, haha. Go Cardinals! (See – there are things in this world that Justin and I can agree on!)

Nicole said...

The characters' names are "Matt Albie" (Matthew Perry) and "Danny Tripp" (Bradley Whitford). Though there may not be much point in remembering the names because if the show doesn't start doing better, it will likely be cancelled. Too bad, I kind of like it.

I'm not even going to touch the Christian discussion, but my perspective may be a bit skewed considering my husband is an atheist.

Dara said...

Bo: First of all, let me note your obvious restraint. And lest anyone think otherwise, let me state for the record that my post was not intended to be Christian-bashing. It's Baldwin-bashing, plain and simple.

Good theologians -- note the modifier -- of whatever stripe, get that way because they think. Deeply. They don't go running around telling people to stop thinking -- just the opposite.

And they certainly don't advocate an abandonment of charitable works in exchange for more preaching. Indeed, charity is a major part of most religions -- not just Christianity.

So, fine, Baldwin can sleep well because he knows God is in control. But unfortunately, until there are more religious folks that don't just blindly follow without thinking (unlike you, Bo), the rest of the world needs to worry.

Nicole: Erich's a scientist. Of course he's an atheist. And your perspective is no more skewed than anyone else who reads this thing.

I like Studio 60, too -- on the most part. I didn't care that much for the West Wing, but you know how much I loved Sports Night. I think it's more like the latter.

Unfortunately, though, I think that my inability to remember the character's names is one of its problems -- the audience is too aware that the actors are playing roles.

Bo W. said...

Dara - as always, thanks for the pleasant response as it is fun to have people who we can disagree with on some things and be civil. It makes life interesting. I have to throw out a different opinion on here from time to time to keep things from being completely one-sided! I know you weren't personally weren't Christian bashing - heck, we all love to bash the Baldwins, on one thing we can all agree!

Mr. Garrison - "What, the Baldwin brothers are dead!"

jinx protocol said...

Wait? Free will isn't a trick of the devil? Or is it? I don't know, I can't decide.

Um, seriously, people who know less about the Bible than Pauly Shore shouldn't be writing books about it.

This is the same guy who tried to name the foods in farts in Bio-Dome. Oh well, I guess everybody's got to have a schtick to pay the bills.

Stupid liberals, bashing upright and true Christians like Sir Stephen Baldwin. How dare Salon.