Tennessee the Model

The Tennessee Freedom Coalition

Notwithstanding the traffic ticket*, my three days in Tennessee left me with a decisively favorable view of the Volunteer State. I saw a lot of majestic scenery during the long ride across the state, but my close-up view began after I arrived at Wednesday evening’s event in the suburbs of Nashville. That’s when I had the chance to meet and mingle with some of the dedicated anti-jihad activists who are resisting the Islamization of their state.

Two of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition people I met that night will serve as examples of the caliber of Tennessee’s volunteers.

Andy Miller is the Chairman of TFC, and was our host for the evening. He’s a native of Middle Tennessee and an alumnus of Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Business Management. After graduation he moved to Manhattan for a career on Wall Street. He returned to Tennessee in 2000, buying a farm in Williamson County where he lives with his family. His profession remains in the area of finance, focusing on venture capital for local companies. He is also active in Republican Party politics, recently chairing “Tennessee Victory”, the GOP’s Get Out The Vote effort. His work helped the GOP to fully regain control of both houses of Tennessee’s Legislature and the Governor’s Office. Andy continues to be active in the Williamson County Republican party, including its Chairman’s Circle.

Lou Ann Zelenik is the Executive Director of TFC. Following graduation from Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering, Ms. Zelenik founded her own construction company, specializing in road work and utilities. This practical experience as a small business owner fueled her activity in local conservative and Republican Party politics; early on she helped organize local Tea Party groups. Such endeavors earned recognition for Ms. Zelenik: 2010’s Conservative of the Year (the National Fiscal Conservative PAC), and in 2011 a Lifetime Achievement Award (Rutherford County’s Republican Party). She ran for Tennessee’s Congressional District Six in 2010.

There were a number of other Tennessee volunteers in the crowd that night, including sixteen state legislators. Along with all the other activists from Tennessee and farther afield, they were there to greet Geert Wilders and Sam Solomon, who were to be featured speakers at Thursday night’s event.

Bill Warner was the third guest speaker for both events, but he is a local Tennessee boy, already well-known to most of the attendees. I have admired his work at Political Islam for several years, and it was a pleasure to meet him at last and talk shop with him and his wife.

Geert Wilders and Georgette GelbardIn the dinner line I met Rebecca Bynum, the editor of The New English Review, as well as Rabbi Jon Hausman of Boston, who has been active for years in the fight against sharia and Islamization.

A number of people came in from Canada, New York, and the West Coast to meet Geert Wilders, and I had the opportunity to discuss their efforts on behalf of our shared cause. Pictured at the right with Geert is Georgette Gelbard, who came all the way from Los Angeles to take part in this historic occasion

During and after dinner the three keynoters and a number of other speakers gave brief talks about the mission of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition and its resistance to the growing Islamization of the state.

The evening was warm and pleasant, the food was delicious, and the company unmatched. It was a night to remember.

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The following afternoon many of the same people made a road trip to Franklin, a town just south of Nashville. The occasion was a meet-and-greet for Mr. Wilders at the local Republican Party Headquarters, culminating in a press conference for TV reporters, newspaper writers, and internet journalists.

A small group of demonstrators gathered across the street from us, holding up signs and placards for the passing cars. There were about ten or twelve of them, and they were an orderly bunch — no anarchists or culture-enrichers, just ordinary middle-class Tennesseans with a liberal-progressive mentality.

I wandered across the street to talk to them for a few minutes. I always like to hear opposing points of view, and I’ve found that if I stay civil and let other people explain themselves, I can learn a lot about the basis for their opinions.

Two of the women were willing to talk and argue with me at length. They explained that they were opposed to Mr. Wilders’ brand of hate, as they perceived it. They felt that he was tarring all Muslims with the “terrorist” brush, even though only a tiny minority of them were extremists. They also said that he was condemning all of Muslim culture based on the behavior of a few violent people.

Protesting Geert Wilders in Franklin, TN

When I spoke to them about sharia, they responded by asserting that “those people” (pointing across the street) desired to reverse the separation of church and state, so they were just as bad. Not only that, Christians had done things that were at least as horrible as anything Muslims have done.

The last fellow I chatted with was of a slightly different political stripe. His main concern was the real cause for the destruction of the towers of the World Trade Center, which he believes were brought down not by the jetliners, but by controlled explosives. He kindly gave me a booklet he had written, which refers to a much longer book has made available online as a free download. If I have time over the next few weeks, I’ll go through his writings more carefully and post about them.

After speaking to him, I handed out my Gates of Vienna business cards to a few people and then made my way back across the street.

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The main event occurred that night (Thursday the 12th) at the Cornerstone Church, a mega-church north of Nashville. I got there early, and while I was waiting, I had coffee — the church has its own coffee shop, and serves espresso! — with Janet Levy, an activist and writer from California whom I had met briefly at an earlier event in the Washington area. We had a lengthy discussion about different aspects of the struggle against the Great Jihad, and shared ideas for future operations.

The main hall can seat about 6,000 people. When I spoke to Ms. Zelenik afterwards, she told me that about 4,500 people had been there, but when I looked around it seemed that the vast majority of seats were filled, so that may be an underestimate.

They all came to hear Bill Warner, Sam Solomon, and Geert Wilders talk about the true nature of Islam and the dangers posed by Islamization and the gradual imposition of sharia law. You’ve seen the text of Mr. Wilders’ speech, and with luck we will eventually be able to post videos of the event — which was recorded in its entirety by TFC — so that you can see how superb the other two keynote speakers were.

The audience was also treated to talks by several local people, including radio host Steve Gill, Andy Miller, and Lou Ann Zelenik. Ms. Zelenik is a real firebrand of a speaker, and her rousing talk ahead of Mr. Wilders’ speech set the tone for what came after. She told me later that she has had ten death threats, and I can understand why: this courageous woman tells the truth without mincing words, and it’s no wonder that the Muslims and their allies on the Left want her taken out of the game.

There was only one brief heckle during Geert Wilders’ speech — a man yelled from the back something about Jesus telling us to love our enemies. I saw no demonstrators, although one of the cops told me there had been a dozen or so out by the edge of the road, and by his description they may have been the same ones I talked to in Franklin. He also said there had been a few Muslims out there, but there was no trouble.

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Last week’s events in Nashville can provide inspiration for the rest of the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and anywhere else in world where grassroots groups are resisting Islamization. Tennessee can also serve as a model for future actions all across the American heartland.

This was the largest and most effective event of its type that I have ever attended, and one of the main reasons for its success was the mega-church environment. I realize that this doesn’t sit well with some of our atheist or secular readers, but it’s hard to argue with effectiveness.

The plans to bring in Mr. Wilders gained TFC some media attention a day or two ahead of the event, but most of the advance publicity was by word-of-mouth through churches, civic organizations, and the local Republican party. The venue was ideal for a large crowd, since it could seat as many people as a convention hall, and had enough parking to accommodate all their vehicles. The church already had the expertise and personnel to direct traffic, deal with crowd control, and provide security. With the local police co-operating, the setup was orderly and secure.

There was no entry fee — near the end of the evening, ushers passed around donation baskets, just as they would at a church service. But no one was obliged to pay.

The most moving features of the event were the religious and patriotic displays. We sang the national anthem, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and heard public prayers. This sort of civic culture was the norm when I was young, but has almost disappeared from much of the country in the decades since. It was a delight to discover that is alive and well in Middle Tennessee — for an old-fashioned geezer like me, it was a draught of cool water after a long, long drought.

The audience response to the speeches was uniformly positive and enthusiastic — Geert Wilders was interrupted by applause over and over again. One could tell that people had been desperate to hear these things actually spoken out loud. These were opinions which they had thought were forbidden, but which they now understood to be held in common with thousands of other Tennesseans. Mr. Wilders reminded them of their rights under the First Amendment — as he said, “here I can say what I want to say without having to fear that I will be dragged to court upon leaving this church.”

Thousands of people who had never heard of Geert Wilders have now listened to him and understood his message. A plainclothes cop told me he had known nothing of Mr. Wilders until he was assigned to the day’s detail. “Then I got online and googled him, and wow! There it all was.”

The more local cops who become aware of all these ideas, the better we will all be.

This is why Tennessee is the model. This strategy can be replicated all across Middle America. Nashville prides itself as being the “buckle on the Bible Belt”, but it’s a huge belt, and there are a lot of mega-churches across a wide swath of the country.

Lou Ann Zelenik told me several days later that she has received calls from pastors in other cities who want to do the same thing that TFC did in Nashville. So the model is already spreading virally, just as any good model should.

There are other excellent speakers, more volunteer organizations, and numerous venues out there waiting to be filled by the Tennessee model. This is how all the politically correct media roadblocks can be bypassed.

The truth will out, and the Tennessee Freedom Coalition is helping to make it happen.

*   For those of you who commented or wrote to ask me about the (expensive) ticket: Tennessee has a law requiring drivers on the interstate to move over a lane when they pass a stationary emergency vehicle on the shoulder. It makes sense —fast-moving vehicles sometimes run into cops and ambulance personnel while they’re standing on the edge of the highway.

I was aware of the law — there are numerous warning signs along the interstate — but I wasn’t used to it yet. Forty-odd years of conditioning have made me change lanes carefully and methodically on high-speed roads: check the side mirror, the rearview mirror, the side mirror again, and then look over my shoulder before I start to move.

I managed to do it successfully on several other occasions, but the time I got caught I just didn’t get started soon enough.

Oh, well — them’s the breaks. Besides, it was a small price to pay for the privilege of seeing the Tennessee Model in action.

30 thoughts on “Tennessee the Model

  1. You mentioned the megachurch environment may be an issue to some secular people here. It’s not for me, with certain reservations.

    I have nothing against megachurches or any kind of church, per se. I share the concern of some of the protesters you spoke with, regarding the separation of church and state. The CJ should make it very clear that it’s not a religious movement, only that religious people are doing much of the work, but the agenda isn’t to dominate or exclude secular people.

    It’s not always clear to me. I know the real leaders like Wilders agree with me on this, but so many other important figures, like Auster, for instance, would definitely scare secular people away. So, I hope the people who organise these big events plan for this and say the right things. Not to deny their own religious orientation, but just to reassure others that they’re welcome too.

  2. Baron,
    I know several fine CJ people in Tennessee and thank you for doing the state and what it is doing, Justice. I wish I could have been there.

    I wish Wilders would come to Oregon!

  3. Bill Warner was the third guest speaker for both events, but he is a local Tennessee boy, already well-known to most of the attendees. I have admired his work at Political Islam for several years, and it was a pleasure to meet him at last and talk shop with him and his wife.

    Bill Warner is one of the least asymptotic analysts of Islam I have seen out there — though a while back, I thought, tentatively, that I detected a hint of such in him. The frequent reader and commenter “Nobody” (aka “Infidel Pride”) has argued perhaps persuasively, however, that Warner’s phrase “political Islam” (for which I took Warner to task) is not meant to carve out an extremism from Islam, but is simply a rhetorically redundant metonym for Islam itself.

  4. “After speaking to him, I handed out my Gates of Vienna business cards to a few people and then made my way back across the street.”

    Sounds ominous did you make them an offer they could not refuse, Baron Soprano, the family business counter-jihad. Would have given anything to ride shotgun on that American road odyssey, sure I could have made an arrangement with the traffic cop that would have served all our interests.

  5. Not to deny their own religious orientation, but just to reassure others that they’re welcome too.

    The problem is that the secularists are pushing the Christians out of the public sphere and governance. Not vice versa.

    If the secularists are intent upon the seperation of Religion informing Governance and Law, they are using non Christian religous folks and religion (especially Muslims and Islam) to drive a wedge in service of that idea.

    The Seperation of Church and State is not the Seperation of Religion from informing Governance and Law.

    Christians created the most open societies on the face of the Earth, ever, not any other religious groups or atheists. Unfortunately, the Godless are intent upon driving Christians from the public sphere in these open societies that the Christians created.

    The nature of open societies leads to their destruction as the once aggreived seek to counter the forces that they percieve as a threat to them with their newfound power. Centrifugal forces of balkanization spin the nations apart.

    Time for the Christians to reign in the destruction of their Western Civilization, and to if not castrate, at least neuter the secularist Leftist and Islamist forces that are its main threats.

  6. Is there any way to find out in advance what sort of schedule Geert Wilders has? I am in Australia and would love to find out if and when he is coming here, in enough time to buy a ticket and organise things at home.

  7. EV, whatever disagreements secular and religious people have, it doesn’t have to prevent us all from working together to hold the fort of the West. States’ Rights can guarantee religious freedom for everyone, by separating incompatible populations from each other (voluntarily).

    If I were a major player in the CJ, I’d get a few representatives from each religion and non-religion, and we’d hash out an agreement of non-interference in each others’ business, after the eventual victory. Then everyone can sign it if they agree.

    No one would have to worry about losing their rights, because the agreement would state explicitly that, let’s say, in Alabama, there will be prayer in schools, no abortion and no gay rights. In California, there would be abortion, no prayer in public schools, and gay rights. Or, it could even be fine-tuned by counties. Dissenters could live anywhere, as long as they complied with the local rules, in public.

    This is the way people have always lived. Blaming people from other groups for Islam or any other problem is counter-productive. Your comment, and the fact that your views are so common in the CJ, is the reason we all need to agree on how to have official boundaries, because if we don’t fix this, a lot of allies will sit the whole thing out. For instance, the group across the street were protesting because they have been told things about Geert Wilders that aren’t true. How will they ever listen, if all they hear from some CJ people is that they, the protesters, are at fault for Islam in the West?

  8. latte island (and Escape Velocity),

    “I’d get a few representatives from each religion and non-religion, and we’d hash out an agreement of non-interference in each others’ business…”

    They’ve already hashed out an agreement, long ago; consequent upon a great deal of disorder and violence generated by Christian religious wars within Europe.

    Unfortunately, in the meantime, the order that emerged has had some serious flaws, including what is known as Leftism. However, Secularism is not synonymous with Leftism (nor is PC MC synonymous with Leftism), as many in the CJ (or AIM as I’d rather call it) like to think.

    Hard-core Leftists are by and large hopeless with regard to protecting the West from Islam; but thankfully, they represent a very small minority in the West. It is the vast swath of PC MCs in the West who are the demographic hope of the West, for they, unlike the hard-core Leftists, still retain, to one degree or another, Western rationality (just as certain sick persons still retain health, so long as they are treated and slowly begin to participate in their own treatment).

    [continued next]

  9. [continued]

    Modern Western Secularism didn’t pop out of the blue sky; it developed organically out of Christendom, over several arduous and often violent centuries of intra-religious conflict.

    I.e., from the 17th century forward, Western Christians became Secularists (and innumerable numbers among them, as the centuries proceeded, became those three categories of Christian decomposition we see all around us in the West — a) atheists; b) agnostics; c) wishy-washy Christians who go to church on Christmas and Easter and weddings and may even own a Bible, but for the most part don’t think much about religion and instead just go about the sometimes pleasant, sometimes frustrating, process of living their daily lives).

    The sociopolitical order of Secularism is one of the great feats of Western culture, and is the fruit of centuries of blood, sweat, tears and ingenuity (again, however, marred by certain unfortunate flaws, usually unavoidable when imperfect humans are involved in any massive complex process).

    Secularism provides a sociopolitical-cultural “umbrella” so to speak, within which all the various flavors of the Meaning of Life can co-exist, without any single one of them arrogating to itself the role of Judge and Legal Punisher of the others.

    Since Christianity did not historically remain intact, but splintered into tens, even hundreds, of competing Meanings of Life, too often this competition was fractious and bloody, and after a while, Westerners, being at heart rational (for the West was graced to invent Reason), got fed up with this and sought for a better way to organize societies.

    This neutral umbrella is not perfect: it tends to have an internal bias against religion, insofar as religion among concrete humans usually tends to become actualized in One Specific Religion — or, rather, in a Multitude of Specific Religions, each one claiming to know the Absolute Truth better than the others. In order to avoid the unavoidable conflicts that would arise (and did arise, horribly) when religion, with this tendency, becomes too directly involved in Laws, a neutral order evolved over time that was forced by logic (and reason) to generalize what is good in religion in such a way as to leave each Specific Religion (and its impatiently certain adherents) often dissatisfied with its seemingly under-represented role in ordering society.

    [continued next]

  10. [continued, final part]

    Modern Western Secularism was not invented in a laboratory in a single day: it took a long time of groping, experimentation, thought, and mistakes along the way (though there were certain scintillating moments of clarity in its development, most notably the exegesis of the American Revolution in the decade after 1776; and thereafter, in the (imperfect) miracle of the U.S. Supreme Court).

    In sum: Given that humans are imperfect, and that apparently God does not see fit to make any one of them (or any group among them) perfect (pace Muslims and certain other Gnostics here and there), it is wisest to leave the Meaning of Life out of the social order and its laws, even as we do our best to allow its divine mystery of the revelation of goodness to percolate (imperfectly) through — out of history and out of each individual conscience formed by a more or less healthy culture — to inform those laws.

    Certainly, as the West stands now (as far as any civilization can be said to “stand” at any moment in the flux of history), it could use a healthy dose of a reminder of the wisdom of the philosophical and theological insights derived out of its four pillars — Judaeo-Christian / Graeco-Roman. However, the application of such a “dose” ought not to be administered through force and violence, but rather by the long, slow and imperfect process of persuasion and example. I have hope that even among the minions of casually die-hard PC MCs, there exists a strong enough residue of classic reason (i.e., the reason that grew out of the aforementioned Western pillars) to provide the human tinder, so to speak, for a re-ignition of a recovery of (imperfect) Western health. (Tragically, it may take many — too many — mass-murderous attacks by Muslims in the coming decades to to rudely jump-start such a re-ignition.)

  11. Hesperado –

    “The sociopolitical order of Secularism is one of the great feats of Western culture [..]
    Secularism provides a sociopolitical-cultural “umbrella” so to speak [..]
    Since Christianity did not historically remain intact [..] too often this competition was fractious and bloody, and after a while, Westerners, being at heart rational [..] got fed up with this and sought for a better way to organize societies.

    This neutral umbrella is not perfect [..]”

    To start with the final remark, the so-called umbrella isn’t even neutral.
    And as if to illustrate this point, the above historical narrative – with its typical enlightenment overtones (“rationality” ascribed to secularism), entails no mention at all of the organized attack on Christianity by secular progressivists throughout the ages.

    Kind regs from Amsterdam,

    Q: Hesperado, what is the religious background of your family/parents if you don’t mind me asking?

  12. From Rummel:

    “In no case have I found a democratic government carrying out massacres, genocide, and mass executions of its own citizens; nor have I found a case where such a government’s policies have knowingly and directly resulted in the large scale deaths of its people though privation, torture, beatings, and the like.”

    “Absolutism is not only many times deadlier than war, but itself is the major factor causing war and other forms of violent conflict. It is a major cause of militarism. Indeed, absolutism, not war, is mankind’s deadliest scourge of all.”

  13. From A Study of War by Quincy Wright:

    “To sum up, it appears that absolutist states with geographically and functionally centralized governments under autocratic leadership are likely to be most belligerent, while constitutional states with geographically and functionally federalized governments under democratic leadership are likely to be most peaceful.”


  14. Latte Island,

    I think that, casually, the churches are in fact open to the secular, for example, allowing Geert to speak.

    I’m struggling to find a counter example of secular CJ groups inviting religious leaders.

    The secular side of the CJ has a little more responsibility here. They have slightly more rights under our secular supporting and oriented government:

    White churches (not so much the non-white) can easily be persecuted by the IRS and even lose church status by becoming involved in politics (although in my book, that is unConstitutional.)

    You non-religious folk don’t have this problem. We’re open, just protecting our main work.

  15. Sagunto,

    Unfortunately, I am pressed for time for the time being, but it might be helpful for you to know that Eric Voegelin is my favorite philosopher, and he deeply respected Christendom and the Judaeo-Christian assimilation of Graeco-Roman philosophy which formed the substance of Western civilization And, though he was not uncritical of what he called the “doctrinaire” ossification of theology in Western history (first showing signs in the “Nominalism/Realism” split of the High Middle Ages, then picking up steam with the Tridentine reaction against the Reformation, and even more so against the Enlightenment and its 19th-century aggrandisement, where both sides lost sight of the substance behind the symbolisms of religion), he saw this as an understandable (though regrettable) reaction to the slowly increasing sociopolitical dominance of Gnostic currents — among which he included the Enlightenment as one of the signal culprits.

  16. 1389 —

    I identified her in the text next to the photo: she’s Georgette Gelbard, from L.A. She gladly gave permission to post her photo.

  17. Sagunto,

    As to your question about the religiosity of my parents, I’m not sure how that matters, as there are plenty of children of religious parents in the West who grew up in those various stages of decomposition I listed before — not to mention the plenty of Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Orthodox, and even Baptists who are quite squishily liberal and PC and display that all too familiar spastic reflex of defense of Muslims we have unfortunately come to know all too well.

    At any rate, my father was an atheist professor of American literature whose parents were born in Austria, while my mother was a small-town Illinois girl (whose ancestors go back to a signer of the Declaration of Independence) of decaffeinated Methodism who didn’t instill much of Christianity in me other than having me attend Sunday school and Easter egg hunts. I learned more about Christianity from my years pursuing an undergraduate degree in comparative religions (during which I had a delightfully crotchety professor who opened one particular lecture with the one-liner “The Enlightenment caused atheism!”),as well as reading on my own, than I did from my parents. One of the best books I read about the meaning of Christianity was Greek Myths and Christian Mystery by Hugo Rahner (and of course, Voegelin’s essay “The Gospel and Culture” is required reading on the subject).

  18. “…one of the main reasons for its success was the mega-church environment. I realize that this doesn’t sit well with some of our atheist or secular readers, but it’s hard to argue with effectiveness.”

    As far as our ongoing struggle of persuasion of the broader West around us (to the extent that those among us within the ragged borders of the SAAIM perceive PC MCs not as evil Leftists with horns and tails and powerful cabals behind them but as relatively good, decent and intelligent people within a genuinely healthy and free (though not perfect) West with sincere intentions to defend Muslims from Western “bigotry”), there are two major handicaps this event has:

    1) “mega-church”


    2) “Tennessee” (i.e., the Deep South).

    Unless this mega-church and many of its Christian participants from elsewhere can document that they support unrelated PC-ish values and causes (like helping shelter and feed black victims of the Haiti earthquake; supporting social respect for gays and lesbians; etc.), their categorization as “typical” “Islamophobes” (i.e., Southern redneck Christian bigots) will be even likelier than usual — and such prejudice will be even further fortified were PC MCs to learn that on the contrary this mega-church and many of its Christian participants from elsewhere actively oppose many or all PC values and causes.

    On a related note, it would help the movement enormously if similar events occurred in, for example, a Unitarian church in Connecticutt, or a New Age Temple in Portland, Oregon; or a black Baptist church in Los Angeles.

  19. @ Hesperado:

    A belated response left over from last night. A thunderstorm took our connectivity just as I was about to say…

    Many thanks for mentioning Eric Voegelin.

    Perhaps because his Summa is in five thick volumes, few people outside his field will ever read him.

    However this is one good place to start:

    The New Science of Politics

    I agree w/you re this thinker. To our readers who aren’t familiar with Voegelin, he is worth every bit of effort and time you will spend on reading him. If you want to be truly literate in metaphysics, or whatever one cares to call what he does, this is an excellent place to start.

    Be sure to check out his other books, too.

  20. OTOH, Hesperado, you gave me a ROTFL moment with this more recent remark, which I just saw:

    it would help the movement enormously if similar events occurred in, for example, a Unitarian church in Connecticut, or a New Age Temple in Portland, Oregon; or a black Baptist church in Los Angeles

    My word! I’ve been to Unitarian Churches in New England and here; the last refuge of liberal Jews and doctrinally impaired Christians, both of whom are headed out the door, Unitarianism being a last stop since they long for some kind of spiritual community.

    Very nice people inhabit those spaces but they are clueless and immune to reality. They’re so afraid of their own normal aggression that they end up inevitably blind-sided by the fierce in-fighting they find surrounding them over, say, what color to paint the worship space.

    One of the Baron’s distant relatives loves the B’s paintings. She was the then-current prez of the Unitarian Church when she asked him to put up an exhibition of his work at her church.

    What a wonderful space for paintings! Easiest exhibit I ever hung. A lot of money went into the building of that place; it is an aesthetically pleasing environment. And a very wealthy one.

    We attended a Sunday service during the exhibition. They had a reception to “introduce the artist”. He’s an introvert, so it was painful for him. Not for me or the future Baron (he was in middle school then). We mingled and munched to our hearts’ content.
    Driving home, I asked the fB what he thought of the music and the sermon. “Not enough doctrine”, he sniffed. (No, I didn’t pursue it…)

    I know those New Age temples, too. There’s an ashram in our area. Those Hindu converts (mostly Californians) are still singing “what the world needs now…” they haven’t a clue re Jamaat ul Fuqra. When I told one of the leaders about Islam’s hatred of Hindus & the possible harm they face, he couldn’t hear it.. Even J-u-F’s murder of a fellow peace-lover in Oregon (iirc) couldn’t pass the brain barrier.

    As for the black Baptists…I have the most hope for them, but not in LA. California is too doomed. However, black Baptists in general do NOT like the Islamic radicalization of the guys who end up in jail and come out as either Black Muslims or the Jamaat-types. The church-going, law-abiding black Baptist isn’t brain dead, he’s just very careful.

    But then you have the showmen like Pastor Manning

    Here’s a typical YouTube sermon against Obama, whom he calls a “good house negro” — comparing O to field negroes, who were lower status during slavery.

    Obama is a Mack Daddy

    Manning is saying this in Harlem. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a Unitarian from Connecticut or a yogi from a New Age Temple somewhere to ever let such “hate” past their lips…

    Yep, there is much more hope for the Black Christian churches than there ever will be from those two white enclaves….

    I’m confused. Is it your own PC MC pov that makes you say the other venues would be preferable?? Perhaps I didn’t read carefully and I’m tired. I got the sense you found the notion of a mega church tacky. Or tackier than the Big Pink pseudo-Indian temple of the New Agers…

  21. Hesperado –

    Voegelin made it his business to dissect those established movements in society that identified themselves as doggedly secular and “humanistic”, oftentimes displaying an open hostility to traditional churches. So now, having read your praise for secularism, I wonder where and how exactly Voegelin would fit in.
    I have said earlier that your PC MC thesis comes with a sometimes astonishing de facto defence in service of established politicians and the modern political order of the West. I would maintain that Voegelin’s “Die Politischen Religionen” and “Science, Politics and Gnosticism” for instance, point in a quite different direction, much more critical of our current welfare-state system.

    Kind regs from Amsterdam,

  22. [Afterthought about Voegelin and protestantism, perhaps relevant to discussions about mega-churches and all..]

    Voegelin made a claim, quite similar to the one I always quote (made by the invaluable Chesterton, of course) that:

    the gnosticism of Modernity was rooted in – part of – Christianity, and the Protestant Reformation very explicitly stimulated its growth.

    Kind regs from Amsterdam,

  23. Dymphna (& In Hoc Signo Vinces, see my second paragraph below, & Sagunto, who may find the following at least generally relevant to his questions),

    It’s nice to find a fellow appreciator of Voegelin. I agree that those slender paperbacks you recommended are good and provocative introductions to his thought. (Just one slight qualification: his Summa (Order and History) was indeed 5 volumes, but only the first four were thick; the last one was markedly shorter than the rest, and also more intensely and abstrusely focused on one interior theme (consciousness in the Between, between the Beginning and the Beyond) and less far-ranging and historiographical and “philosophy-of-historical” (there must be a German word for that) than the first four.) I also found his many essays, which until recently were not found in any single volume (and now can even be found free on Google books), particularly stimulating — most especially “Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme”, which completely blew my mind when I read it back in the early 80s. I spent all day in a university library carrell just soaking in that long essay and occasionally reflecting, when my consciousness rose out of those luminously turgid pages now and then to look out the window, that I was reading simply the most important work of philosophy in the world.

    As for my recommendation of those church-venue examples, all I’m saying is that precisely because they would emanate from PC MC-ly “respectable” places, they would be considerably less vulnerable to the categorization PC MCs into which tend to lump Islam-critical people and groups; whereas a “mega-church” in Tennessee could not be a juicier Box ready-made for that categorization of theirs. I however never said it would be all that likely such venues would grow into realization — though I do not think it impossible.


  24. [cont.]

    Again, one particular nodus of this whole thing is how we perceive the ideological-demographic composition of those who disagree (in varying degrees) with us about our concern about Muslims qua Islam.

    Back when I started thinking in earnest about this whole issue, post-911, I recall fulminating solely against “Leftists”. Slowly, as I have thought further about this (exacerbated by such counter-intuitive phenomena as Bush’s repeated defenses of Muslims, along with, among many other like examples, seeing right-wing hawk Donald Rumsfeld point his finger at Charlie Rose one night and proclaim “the vast majority of Muslims are moderate!”), I have refined the problem to a field of at least three ideological-subcultural-demographic groups:

    1) Leftists

    2) Those who are rationally anti-Islam

    3) PC MCs.

    (Each category has varieties, of course.)

    The third category was forced upon me by logic: the growing realization that the majority of people and groups who are otherwise conservative about other issues (along with innumerable centrists and those who are vaguely apolitical), but persist in defending Muslims and Islam, led to the obvious conclusion that “Leftism” is not the only, nor the primary, problem.


  25. [cont.]

    The problem was much broader and deeper than that.

    But the broader and deeper problem, at the same time, could not be a conspiratorial cabal; nor could it impugn (in order to explain) masses of Westerners, who are relatively free and intelligent, as stupid sheep being more or less innocently led by the nose by some cabal.

    The problem became the puzzle of how to explain how millions of relatively free, good and intelligent people, reflecting an enormous variety of sociological positions in life (i.e., not simplistically divided into Working Class and Elites, but composed of a vast array of types in between those two quaintly anachronistic poles — this vast sociological variety itself a testament to the unique greatness of the modern West, capable of producing and sustaining it) tend to have a complex reflex response to defend Islam and Muslims.

    In sum, I have hope that a large chunk of PC MCs will in the decades ahead undergo a tectonic paradigm shift about Islam. If the Wall could fall so seemingly quickly and miraculously, I think the mental/emotional pattern that is holding so many PC MCs in their fixed reflex about Islam will reconfigure, without losing hardly any of its contents but only rearranging them. PC MCs, with regard to the problem of Islam (and not confusing that precise problem with a host of other sociopolitical issues we may dislike them for) are sort of like a good machine, or a good weapon, simply pointed in the wrong direction. They simply need to be turned around; they don’t need to be transfigured into something else, nor fought as enemies.

    Per Sagunto: I may differ somewhat from my mentor Voegelin in terms of Secularism; though knowing him as well as I do, I also recall the seeds of a perhaps fundamental accord between us in (just to take a couple of examples), for example, his tendency to distance himself from doom-knellers like Oswald Spengler and his “Decline of the West” (indeed deeming his pessimism to be precisely symptomatic of the very disease he, Spengler, thought he was palpating). Or the charming anecdote (which I will paraphrase) about how one day Voegelin was walking across the campus of one of the many colleges around the West which he visited and a fairly like-minded colleague crossed paths with him, his face dark with consternation.

    “What is the matter?” Voegelin asked.

    The other professor threw his hands up and indicated the West all around them.

    “The modern world — it’s doomed!”

    “Don’t be silly!” said Voegelin, “there are plenty of good signs of progress all around us!”

    This left his colleague speechless, assuming that Voegelin must be a pessimist about modernity.

    I.e., Voegelin walked the fine line of diagnosing a disease, without condemning the patient to death or to an Asylum for the Criminally Insane. He came out of the bowels of perhaps the darkest moment and place of Western Modernity — Hitler’s Germany — and yet he recognized this as an aberration, not as the West itself.

  26. Sagunto,

    Re “…the gnosticism of Modernity was rooted in – part of – Christianity, and the Protestant Reformation very explicitly stimulated its growth”:

    Voegelin in the 4th volume of his History and Order (“The Ecumenic Age”), wrote about the gnostic “tendency” at the heart of Christianity, in the Gospel of John and in Paul. A sorely underrated (and virtually totally obscure) philosopher, Simone Pétrement, even found Gnostic tendencies in Plato (without however detracting from his authoritative philosophical genius), persuasively argued in her book Dualism in Plato, the Gnostics, and the Manicheans (which Voegelin incidentally liked). Indeed, Voegelin, in his essay “Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme” argued that all humans have the Gnostic tendency to resist the Tension of Existence; to want to escape (or to transform, or to find the magical key to) the frustrating Mystery of Life; and to succumb to a darker gloom about the order of the Cosmos (as well as about the directly related order of the cosmion of Western sociopolitical structures).

    All this, however, is not meant to generalize the discernibly distinct complexities of the problem in real history; such as, for example, the role of the Reformation as both a symptom and an accelerant of a certain reconfiguration of the perennial problem of societies reflecting and upholding the balance of the Tension, or of teetering and sometimes losing that balance.

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