Friday, October 03, 2008

Evangelicals, Pentecostals and The Handmaids Tale: Welcome To Gilead, Part II

In my last post I referred to and quoted at length an excellent article by Cynthia Boaz in which she compares Sarah Palin to the evil "aunts " in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale a dystopian novel about the near future when the Religious Right gets control of the United Statres or at least part of it in which the country has been renamed Gilead so I thought I would share a couple of clips of the movie version and Bill Moyers interview of Margaret Atwood: Welcome to Gilead, Governor Palin /Tuesday 30 September 2008 by: Cynthia Boaz, t r u t h o u t

I would urge those who haven't to read the book it's my favorite Margaret Atwood novel though rather bleak. Or if you prefer watch a copy of the film version.

The Handmaid's Tale Trailer
From: mearbhrach
Added: September 20, 2007
Set in a fascistic future America, The Handmaid's Tale tells the story of Kate, a handmaid. In this America, the religious right has taken over and gone hog-wild. Kate is a criminal, guilty of the crime of trying to escape from the US, and is sentenced to become a Handmaid.

The job of a Handmaid is to bear the children of the man to whom she is assigned. After ruthless group training by Serena Joy in the proper way to behave, Kate is assigned as Handmaid to the Commander. Kate is attracted to Nick, the Commander's chauffeur. At the same time, a resistance movement begins to challenge the regime.
Other clips are available at YouTube.

Margaret Atwood on Religion 1/3 with Bill Moyers
Fundamentalism and Theocracy
Added: July 31, 2006

For more on Pentecostalism & The Assemblies of God see the website:
Official creed of Assemblies of God

Anyway here's food for thought about the rise of Pentecostalism, Charismatics & Evangelicals . This is all especially important given the rise of Sarah Palin who if elected will continue the works of George Bush and the Religious Right. With the present economic crisis it is a perfect opportunity for the Evangelicals to push their agenda on America. Is the economic crisis merely the result of deregulation combined with Greed or is it a sign for the True Believers to take action .This is not so far fetched as over and over again the Wall Street Meltdown is compared to 9/11 . It is as if the average citizens must help out these failed companies and their inept CEOs who even now are still rewarding themselves handsomely while ordinary citizens are left with crushing debts fearing their homes will be seized. But we are supposed to feel sorry for these super-wealthy greedy SOBs who brought about the downfall of these corporate entities. When really many of these individuals should be arrested, tasered and put behind bars. But no instead they are the one's drawing up the plans for bailing themselves out of this mess without offering any incentive tothe country. If American law makers & policy makers were sincere they would nationalize these corporate entities and if they can be salvaged any profits made would be reaped by the American people and not just a few corrupt CEOs.

On Mega-Churches & their ambitious and greedy entrepreneurs in a multi-billion dollar industry which goes under the name of Religion & Spirituality. Yes in deed their money to be made in sermonizing, faith-healing and the word of God. Mammon & Jesus together again. Or there's a sucker born or Re-Born every minute and they have more money than sense.

" Heroes are the media stars and entrepreneurs who lead mega-churches not those who reflect critically on the relationship betweeen religion and culture. The denomination has grown at least in part because at the grass roots it is thoroughly attuned to the tastes and jargon of the popular culture and has embraced and exploited modern technology." p. 7

Pentecostalism gradually emerged as a discreet religious movement among people who were certain that they lived in the days of prophesied restoration, revival, and consumation. Molded by a view of history that anticipated that an intense, brief recurrence of pristine New Testament faith and practice would immediately preceed Christ's physical return to earth, early Pentecostalism is best understood as an expression of restorationist yearning that was shaped in significant ways by the hopes and dreams of disparate groups of late nineteenth century restorationists." p. 12

" Pentecostals, like other radical evangelicals, were often people who experienced a deep sense of cultural loss, even betrayal. They perceived encroaching modernity as a sinister enemy eroding social values, bankrupting theology and displacing individuals. They responded by embracing a religious world-view that assigned alternate meanings and values, promised them divine wisdom, and gave them status as the despised few who were really God's victorious army in disguise. Full initiation into the group ultimately came through the manifestation of God's choice in the exercising of a spiritual gift." p. 12

Above Quotes from :
Restoring The Faith :The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, and American Culture, Edith L. Blumhofer, pub. 1993

Pentecostalism which originated at the end of the 19th century was an anti-demoninational movement whose folloers believed that the churches had gone astray from the original teachings of the teachings of the first Chritians of Jesus and the Apostles and those who were taught by them. Pentecostals were characterized as being a fringe movement or as being heretical. They introduced or reintroduced the idea that once one is Born Again the proof of this experience is shown by the outward signs of speaking in tongues, healing powers and the very real power of prayer and even the power or gift of prophecy all due to the what they believed to be the active indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Being saved or Born Again was not merely some vague form of spiritual or psychological renewal but meant a tangible physical change in one body, spirit and mind. If the individual did no show signs of these Gifts of The Holy Spirit then they had not really been re-born Something had gone wrong the individual had not been truly repentant or had accepted Jesus only on a superficial level such as through rational or logical argument rather than through a complete and utter emotional acceptance to the very depths of their soul.

As Monique El-Faizez in her book God And Country: How Evangelicals Have Become America's New Mainstream- points out Pentecostalism is no longer a fringe group within Protestant Christianity. They can no longer be dismissed as a fringe group of fanatics as in being referred to as Holy Rollers or akin to the Snake Handlers Cult. Much of what they taught has now become part of mainstream Christianity or what is now referred to as Evangelicalism in the United States.

" Pentecostalism is the largest Protestant group in the world and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds." God and Country pp. 66-67

Charismatic :

" an umbrella label that encompases both Charismatics and embracing of the gifts of the Holy Spirit... ( for instance speaking in tongues , healing powers, miracles and signs , and even the gift of prophecy , the elect)- " ...and of a more participatory style of worship in which congreganta are more likely to raise their hands and clap" God And Country p. 66

This is combined with the Prosperity Gospel which " teaches that God wants his children on earth to have material riches." p. 66 along with health , longevity, joy & happiness for the True Believers and especially for those who have been chosen who are among the Elect or The Saints of the New Church. From a Christian theological point of view historically much of what they teach include the major heresies in early centuries of the the offical Church of Rome. At that time there was only one body which was accepted as the True Church.

" Today praying for the sick is commonplace in even the most traditional of churches, and speaking in tongues is practiced in one of every four churches in America." God And Country p. 66

" But there's something a little Stepford-y about these church communities, where everyone believes the same thing and see the world in the same way. To Christians it's comforting to be surrounded by people who won't challenge their beliefs. These massive church communities are inherently isolationist, and in that sense are reminiscent of the post-scopes era of retreat. Even the outreach programs have an " us -and - them" mentality. In this world there are the Christians, who are members of the club, and the non-Christians who are not."
( GOD AND COUNTRY by Monique El-Faizy, pub. 2006 pp. 98-99 )

and so it goes,

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