Palin and Magic/Mythic Christianity

Andrew Sullivan has a running series of posts on his blog trying to make sense of all of the bizarre mistruths coming out of the Palin candidacy. A reader of his offers an interesting attempt at an explanation:

Regarding the “odd lies” of Sarah Palin. I grew up in a deeply evangelical family, and through the lens of evangelical thinking the world is magical, populated with demons and angels, devils and gods. You are taught not to believe your eyes or your senses, that the wisdom of man is foolishness to god. That belief is Truth. That belief is Truth before reality is truth. What comes out of this is what I’ll call magical thinking.

You feel the presence of God, feel Him talking to you, feel the mission of your life, the purpose the plan the direction given to you by God. So everything becomes like a mythic fairy tale. You get in the habit of fitting the day to day realities into a ‘story’ the life story of God’s purpose in your life.
This is how Sarah becoming Governor is destiny.

Her memory is constantly rewriting the reality to fit her proscribed vision within an evangelical Christianity that has direct contact with god. If you see all of her ‘lies’ through this lens they begin to make perfect sense.

Thought I would share: I can totally feel what she is feeling. And if you look at those leaked emails, the prayer talk, and faith talk and god talk, it completely fills your thoughts every moment of every day.

Any thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Palin and Magic/Mythic Christianity

  1. This seems to imply that the politicians currently representing evangelicals make their policy based on the evangelical beliefs. I think it´s actually the inverse of that. I think the evangelical community modifies its beliefs and its doctrine because they become convinced by calculating “evangelical” politicians who speak their evangelical language and use their community know-how to push policy onto them.

    I cannot get my head around why, for example, within the Christian communties you are hard fetched to find in favor of sex education (and not just Abstinence Only), even though, it is demonstrated that this actually diminishes rates of abortion. Or why it is so difficult to find war protesters within that community as opposed to people that take on the “just war” stance and see our country as inherently Christian pushing a Christian agenda in foreign policy, when we are far from it. Or why there are not more people in the evangelical movement that want their tax dollars to end poverty in our country, or provide healthcare to everyone. The only answer that I can come up with is that it isn´t the Christian community effecting change in politicians, it´s politicians effecting change in and molding the Christian community to their liking.

    I don´t know, maybe I´m just cynical.

  2. Hmm… yes, I think these words are insightful. I was more or less raised among a variation on this mythical mindset, and I have some pertinent (yet personal) stories that come to mind.

    Although, while I believe there’s validity to what the writer is saying, I think it also has a way of letting the Palin camp off the hook by ascribing their misdeeds primarily to their spiritually-clouded worldview. Particularly among other believers, it always skews the dialogue when somebody plays the unsubstantiated “this-is-God’s-will” card. And at the end of the day, the common citizens, believer of not, should all agree that the politician needs to be held accountable to, at the very least, a secular standard of integrity.

    (sorry that got kind of wordy and jumbled, but I hope my point got across)

  3. Tiffany,

    I believe it’s a case where the motives of the two entities have become tangled and confused into one ideology. A good example of this is the fact that the notion of drilling off shore got the loudest applause at the Saddleback Forum. Very strange.

    “I cannot get my head around why, for example, within the Christian communties you are hard fetched to find in favor of sex education (and not just Abstinence Only), even though, it is demonstrated that this actually diminishes rates of abortion. ”

    This is the case because lowering abortion isn’t the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is government to adopt a “biblical” worldview. If we lower the abortion rate by employing sex educating and passing out condoms, the lower rate of abortions is still a net loss because they wouldn’t be lowered in a “godly” way. This isn’t about eliminating abortions. It’s about wanting our government to adopt the pro-life policy in order to get that much closer to a theocracy. Mabye I just upped the ante on cynicism. 🙂

  4. I think a lot of that is true. And I think our churches keep the congregants way too busy to even have the time to think about issues thoroughly–what we have is have is fast food politics. If people can identify one candidate as fundamental/evangelical, then that person is “God’s candidate”.

  5. “If people can identify one candidate as fundamental/evangelical, then that person is “God’s candidate”.”

    i really don’t think it’s that simple in evangelical communities, honestly. they might find someone to support as the “more biblical” candidate, but very very few evangelicals would call someone “god’s candidate.” most evangelicals are — as hard to believe as it may be — not quite that naive (though close). sure, there are some. but it’s far from the majority, even if the few are the ones that scream the loudest.

  6. Zach, yes, the drilling, the take on environmental issues in general, the staunch patriotism…I find it VERY hard to believe that some of these ideas originate in the Christian communities, rather they are craftily presented to them through biblical jargon and then stick there like glue.

    Ok, with the abortion thing, you have a good point. Sad but true. Silly me thinking the goal was to prevent deaths. But if the goal then is that the government adopt a biblical worldview that´s where the complete disjuncture is with free society, and I truly believe that freedom is an essential element in the true Christian message. And for me, frankly, the dialogue then comes to a screeching hault because if we can´t all agree on the point of freedom as being necessary, everything else is meaningless. It means the debate is not taking place within the same framework at all.

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