I just returned from a clergy conference where David Gortner of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) conducted a very worthwhile workshop on evangelism. Sooner or later we Episcopalians have got to get with the program in a way that suits our theology. More on that later, but I want to finish up with the John Hagee question.
What discourages me about the lack of response to the Hagee endorsement of McCain is the strong implication that it is not news because it is not threatening to a majority of white Americans. It stuns me that for all his bombastic preaching filled with hatred and threatening God’s wrath on anyone who is not an ultra-conservative Christian, Hagee is not controversial. To the contrary, he is popular enough to be on daily national television, and it appears to me that he, and others like him, are understood to represent Christianity at its nationalistic best. His damnation of those who are not of his brand of highly politicized evangelicalism is not seen as an abomination but as a proclamation of the core self-identities of good, white, conservative Americans sheathed in the name of Christ. His is the voice of a nation acting out of fear, and a nation that acts out of fear is a nation in decline with little hope for the future. That really bothers me and leaves me deeply troubled about the future of our nation. Now I’ve got a treasured friend, a wheat farmer east of town, who will go ballistic if he reads this, but I also know he will think about it, and that’s all I ask.