Puritan Rage

Today, JK Rowling smartly slapped her ruler down on the waving hand of a reactionary critic doing my favorite thing:  telling her to shut up and go back to…well, not even writing, because he doesn’t like that, either.

The “Satanesque” stab is a giveaway; this is a person who probably professes Christianity, but would be better described as a Puritan.  The Puritans were (and are) more obsessed with the Old than the New Testament.  They can quote at length from the parts of the Bible they agree with, which are usually confined to the Pentateuch, but go into a slobbering, screaming rage when confronted with the actual words of Christ. Their religion derives less from the Bible, however, than from the writings of John Calvin, a French theologian from the Protestant Reformation.

Calvin is also the source of what we refer to today as “Prosperity Christians.”  Calvin preached predestination–that is, that anyone was who was saved was predestined to be so, and that one of best ways to tell who had Gods’ favor was to see how prosperous they were.  He also preached in God’s absolute sovereignty over man, and thus the clergy’s absolute sovereignty over the populace.  In other words, give yourself over to God and God’s self-proclaimed representatives on Earth.  (But of course, only certain representatives.  The Pope doesn’t count.)

The word “absolute” there is not an exaggeration.  Absolutism colors virtually every facet of the Puritan’s life.  He cannot abide a gradient, so anything that even slightly disagrees with his beliefs must be either strenuously disparaged and discarded, or, if his desires conflict with his beliefs, compartmentalized carefully, much like a child cannot have his potatoes touch his vegetables on his plate, or they are contaminated.  This is how anti-LBGT politicians end up playing footsie in public bathrooms to solicit gay sex. If no one knows about it, it never happened.

This absolutism, this inability to recognize or accept the dirty messiness of life, leads to hypocrisy, as above, with Senator Larry Craig’s scandal, or cruelty, as in the pray (and beat) the gay away reorientation camps to which Puritan parents subject their children.

And all of it, all of it, is infected with rage.  There’s a lot of Puritan rage right now.  Because a Puritan’s worldview is absolute, disagreement is not an option.  By disagreeing, you are insulting and rejecting their God, who will show you, you’ll see.  This sets off the most ridiculous and terrifying spews of language and violence completely at odds with everything Jesus ever said.  Hence, “shiterature,” which is, I think, supposed to be funny, but I’ve never met a Puritan yet who fully grasped the concept of humor beyond a child’s idea that if once is funny, a thousand times must be hilarious.

What is that rage?  Is it really the idea that their God is that offended and helpless that He requires the aid of a human to scream, spit and strike at others?  I doubt it.  I think it has more to do with the idea that Puritans are so terrified of having the wrong answer, that since there can only BE one right answer in their gradient-less worldview, that any hint of wrongness on their part is an indictment of all.  Every part must be defended.  Every absurdity, if part of the belief, must be fortified.  Every challenge must be not merely averted, but destroyed.

Or the whole thing falls, and that is impossible.

It’s the absolutism that is the problem with such Christians, the Seven Mountains proponents, the Dominionists, the Puritans.  It’s their absolutism which has to be broken, in order to reach them.  Until it is, there is no capacity in them for empathy, compassion, kindness or cooperation.  They actually believe they are in a war against anyone not like them.

And I really don’t know how to deal with that.  Because reminding them who Jesus was and what he preached is ignored, since they are now convinced that Jesus is coming back on their side to kill us all.

How do you deal with that?

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