Thursday, November 09, 2006

American Theocracy, by Kevin Phillips

I was so happy when I found out that this had been released as an audiobook. I have heard much about it, and I knew it would not be like a Bush-hating screed by Al Franken. Kevin Phillips is a very respected Conservative writer who has real problems with the Bush Administration, and I looked forward to this.

I am writing this just a couple of days after the Democrats took over Congress, so apparently rule of the Religious Right is over and the Rapture can begin. Just kidding. But I do mean to say that some things are going an as they usually do: the ebb and flow of ideological tides, washing out the side that has risen to its level of incompetence.

When I first heard a review of this book, my knee-jerk response was, "Great. Here we fundamentalist Christians are a minority of a minority, and we are the scapegoat for all the evils in the world. We are the new Jews. The cattle cars are in the distance and closing in."

Although I am still a bit stung by the way that bigotry against Christians is part of the current political zeitgeist, I do believe that some of your best critics are your enemies. They pull no punches, and sometimes they are right. For that reason, I think that this is an important book for Conservative Christian activists to read. For one, it might help us understand that if we want to advance the Gospel, that sometimes you would rather be wronged. Victory never converts, and it can be a stumbling block to those who might eventually believe, except that you are blinded by your desire for a tax cut.

In spite of the title, and some of the persisting disagreements I have with the author about religious issues, most of the book is about oil dependency and world financial markets. It's very educational, and worth wearing out a couple of high-lighters if you get the paper version of this book. It's rich in history, reaching back from the 1500s to the present for examples of where other maturing nations have failed. It's hard to argue with the patterns as you watch them emerge in your own lifetime.

I hope this will make Christians wiser as they continue to use their rights like every other constituency group. Simply bailing out is not the answer. And becoming more ruthless and demanding is counter-productive in the long run.

There is also an interesting feud taking place between Kevin Phillips and the New York Times Collumnist, David Brooks. It's worth reading about.


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