Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ketner Challenging Brown for SC District 1

"While the South is hardly Christ-centered,it is most certainly Christ-haunted."
-Flannery O'Connor

I'll explain the quote in a bit. I was reading this post on Palmetto Scoop about Linda Ketner the challenger to Henry Brown for the first Congressional District here in our Palmetto State. Granted saying that Palmetto Scoop is purely conservative diatribe and partisan vitriol is an understatement and to the likes of the publishers of said site - they probably take it as a compliment despite it's intent otherwise. But now that I've gotten my liberal "barb" in let me continue with the issue at hand.

Fogle in his article (parsed) a quote from Ketner in an Op-Ed piece in Q-Notes, the Gay & Lesbian Newspaper that covers most of the Carolinas. It's an old political trick that usually does what it's intended to do with less educated constituency, but myself and many others tend to rise above the bar that Fogle and his Republican't cronies tend to set as the marker for most South Carolinians.

Fogle only quoted the first two paragraphs of the piece and the first line of the third paragraph which included the phrase "those damned Christians."

One of my past girlfriends was Jewish and used to laugh at the contradiction between my unbridled regard for Jesus and my utter disdain for southern Christianity. I’d be carrying on about how embarrassed Christ must be for the actions of those damned Christians and she’d say, “There she goes again, trying to save Christ from the Christians!” I’d really like to make a bumper sticker, “Save Christ from the Christians,” but I don’t want my car keyed. In April at Passover and Easter time, lots of us went home for family get-togethers and many of us were encouraged to attend churches or synagogues that denigrate us. Beth and I refused to join the rest of the family at Mom’s Sanctimonious Temple of Homophobia and went to a neighboring and supportive church. There was no fight about it because this war had ended and a negotiated peace reached several years ago. But those damned Christians, they do aggravate the hell out of me and sometimes keep me up at night. Last night for instance.

End quote from Q-Notes and begin editorializing.
Yikes. Somebody is pretty angry. Somebody has a few unresolved issues with southern Christians. And less than a week into her campaign, somebody has a lot of explaining to do to “those damned Christians” whose support she will certainly need to have a fighting chance in the general election.
Fogle of course forgets about the rest of the article which went on to elucidate just what she meant by "those damned Christians" and "Saving Christ from the Christians." Paraphrased Ms. Ketner is reinterpreting what Ms. O'Connor said in the 50's. That in the (Protestant) South it's easy for people to gloss over bigotry and hatred or more commonly their own bias with Biblical literalism when they have not studied the scripture other than what their pastor says on Sunday, or what was concluded using eisegesis from their own reading without learned assistance. Simply put by focusing on single issues and ignoring the rest of Christ message it only proves one's ignorance of Jesus as much as the cultural Christianity of the American South of the 1950s and 60s with its ethos and trappings of Christianity filled with superstitions by people who simply didn't take the time to get involved in the faith of their fathers outside of perhaps their Sunday duties showed their ignorance of the religion they to which they supposedly belonged.

Commonweal has an interesting article which suggests that as the Republican agenda has reduced the evangelical base to nothing but 'values voters' it has created a definite fissure within that core constituency of American Evangelicals as the party only concentrates on abortion and gay-rights, then time and time again fails to deliver on these issues as evangelicals are at the same time entering an age of renewal and enlightment returning to their inherently 'progressive' roots: The old Religious Right is dying because it subordinated the views of its followers to short-term political calculations. The white Evangelical electorate is tired of taking orders from politicians who care more about protecting the wealthy than ending abortion, more about deregulation than family values. And the new Evangelical electorate cares about issues besides abortion and gay marriage. Poverty, the environment, the scourge of AIDS in Africa—these, too, are moral issues about which millions of Evangelicals care passionately."

So what does that mean for Ms. Ketner? Well I'm inclined to believe that with the shift in paradigm away from the divisive politics of the past few decades, as the "new liberals" begin to embrace the religious in their coalition of the wiling, Ms Ketner is a viable candidate in South Carolina in the First Congressional district. To quote the Commonweal article again: Religion is, necessarily, both conservative and progressive. Religion is rooted in tradition and survives through development and change within tradition. It applies old truths to new circumstances. It also reexamines old truths in light of new circumstances. The conservative insists that the tradition not be distorted merely to accommodate passing fads and fashions. The progressive insists on purifying and clarifying the tradition by freeing it from the cultural encrustations of the past. The conservative keeps the tradition alive by honoring it. The progressive keeps the tradition alive by adapting it, and sometimes by challenging it. The history of American democracy shows that religious conservatives and progressives need each other more than they know. The election of 2008, coming after a long period of profound division in our politics and within our religious communities, will mark the moment when we finally come to understand that truth.

But I'll just let Ms. Ketner have the last word:

"I have an arcade of Live Oaks on some land I own in the country and to me those oaks are living art. Their roots have been in that soil for 250 years, their newest shoots came out last spring; roots of tradition, shoots of growth, both in balance. It seems to me, that health for an individual, or a community, or a nation is found in achieving that delicate balance between continuity and change."

Linda will lead a new era in South Carolina, an era where our roots will be firmly in the best of our traditions, while our shoots respond to a new environment. That means ushering in new business and industry, more and better jobs, smart growth that maintains our matchless beauty and quality of life. It means affordable, accessible health care and an education system which provides excellence for every child in South Carolina.

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