Jesus Christ has always been an enigma to those on the left. Some liberal idealists embraced Him; many others on the radical left did not. Some on the radical left actually attacked Jesus by either saying He didn’t exist (a rather strange way of dealing with someone) or claiming he was demented. However, after World War II a rather cunning adaptation of Jesus was embraced by the Professional Left. The solution thought up by the Professional Left was as simple as it was devious; simply say Jesus was one of them.
A point of clarification; the term Professional Left was dubbed by President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs. I will use his definition of those on the left who guide and shape the movement. There is another group on the left whose views I want to clarify, those whom I would term the idealists. They are at their core very well meaning people who want nothing but the best for the world in which they live. While I believe these folks to be hopelessly naïve, their intentions are laudable. However, I do believe the intentions of the Professional Left are harmful for all involved; nation states, religions, along with the individual.
The shapers of the Professional Left have been around a long time, though it was perhaps the French Revolution where they first went from mere ideas, to actual governance. While the American Revolution was all about the stated French Revolution’s goals of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality, the French Revolution was nothing but class warfare and open warfare on religious believers. The French Revolution’s real goals were quite simple; claim you are for the poor by killing the elites, and then tell the poor to toe the line, or else suffer the same fate as the rich.
In a nutshell, that was the French Revolution, though you would be hard pressed to get many in on Professional Left or their friends in the mainstream media to agree with you. Few may want to realize that it was the elites of France, like Voltaire who helped set in motion the chain of events which would lead to the revolution that he would not live to see. The same turn of events occurred in Russia, some of the elites financed the very revolution that would kill many of their friends.
The elites were the very ones who influenced Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. One only need read the early Marxists and even those beforehand who greatly influenced Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels to see what kind of vitriol, hate and even genuine kookiness was thrown at the Son of God. Now it was the likes of Bruno Bauer who greatly influenced up and comers like Marx and Engels. It seemed Bruno was under the impression that if you don’t like somebody all you have to do is just pretend they didn’t exist. Some little kids have make believe friends, while some angry leftists just pretend those they wish didn’t exist never did.
Religion and the radical left had a love hate relationship for many years. Even famed leftists like the six time US presidential candidate Socialist Norman Thomas, who often used religious imagery in his speeches, and whose father was a Presbyterian minister, was often mocked by those on the far left for his religious views. However, it was during the heyday of Thomas’ political era that another leftist began to rise, though his rise was far more cunning and calculated.
The political right was vehemently against Thomas’ policies, yet always respected his integrity. Thomas’ 1928 Socialist Party platform contained several planks (ranging from voting rights to Social Security to Socialized medicine) all of which are now law in the United States. Thomas believed in being upfront and honest about his politics, he criticized Socialist countries around the world that did not hold elections, which in turn caused him to be mocked by the radical left. In 1944 Thomas stated that America would never knowingly accept Socialism, but it was already making great inroads into the natural fabric. He went on to say that eventually the nation would embrace his entire 1928 Socialist Party platform. (For more on this read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism.)
His upfront nature was a far cry from the subtle, yet more radical ways of Saul Alinsky. It is Alinsky who is admired by the far left in America today, even though it was Thomas whose party planks were forged into law. (The last plank Socialized medicine was passed earlier this year, but the implementation of it is still very much in doubt.) During the Depression Saul Alinsky was making inroads into Catholic neighborhoods and parishes in Chicago. His methods seemed subtle but his underlying message was radical. It wasn’t until 1971 that he released his infamous book Rules for Radicals which outlined all of his tactics and techniques.
Another one of Alinsky’s masterful techniques was to befriend liberal clergy and escort them and their often privileged congregants to the ghetto. The elite would see a side of Chicago (and America) they could have never imagined existed north of the Mason Dixon Line. Alinsky would then bemoan the fact that all of their money couldn’t help these people; the only thing that would really help them was to change the power structure. Liberal guilt would often compel these WASPy Republicans to become left wing activists and leave behind all what they had known and been taught really helps the poor to become members of the middle and upper classes. Somehow these elites were goaded into thinking that state control was better for the poor than the freedom to use their God given talents to forge a life of their own, not that of the state.
One such young woman who was enthralled by all of this, was a former Goldwater Girl named Hillary Rodham (later to become Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.)Her Methodist Youth Minister Don Jones would actually introduce the young Hillary, and many others like her to the activist extraordinaire himself, Saul Alinsky.
Though he never met Saul Alinsky a young Harvard grad named Barack Obama would come to walk the same south side Chicago streets that Alinsky once strode. The young Obama would meet those who actually were taught by Alinsky. The future president often boosts that much of his ideas about politics and the world were formed from his days as a community organizer in Chicago’s south side. Though he rarely met his famous Kenyan father, President Obama did say in his book Dreams From My Father, that many on his father’ side say they see the same vision in him than they saw in his famous Kenyan anti-colonial father. (For more on this connection read this Forbes article written by Dinesh D’Souza.)
Getting back to Alinsky, he was an avowed atheist though his infamous 1971 book Rules For Radicals was dedicated to among others Lucifer. This little known fact was seemingly ignored by almost everyone until 2008 when it came to the attention of many that Alinsky’s book and beliefs greatly shaped the two principal frontrunners in the Democratic Primary, then Senator Hillary Clinton and then Senator Barack Obama.
During the last few years, a firestorm of protest erupted in Catholic circles due to the influence that Alinsky had in some Catholic circles. Unbeknownst to the faithful, the Alinsky inspired Campaign for Human Development and ACORN was receiving aid from some Catholic parishes and dioceses. Many bishops and dioceses chose to distance themselves from such groups, once their modus operandi were disclosed. In addition, though Alinsky and those who subscribed to his beliefs were by and large atheists, they actually tried to change aspects of Christian teachings.
For example many Christians, especially Catholic ones have the mistaken belief that St Francis was some sort of hippy like saint, traipsing through the world like some sort deadhead (Greatful Dead follower) telling everyone all is well. In reality, he was a very tough determined saint who actually, during the middle of the Crusades, made his way to the Holy Land to try and persuade Sultan Malek al Kamil and all of Islam to convert back to the Catholicism of their ancestors. When the sultan replied that the only way he would meet with St Francis was if the man from Assisi would walk through fire, St Francis agreed. The sultan was so impressed, since he knew no imam who would do the same that he did meet with St Francis. Though he did not convert, the sultan gained a higher appreciation for Christianity after St Francis’ long journey. (For more on this read this excerpt from Frank Rega’s; When St Francis Preached To The Muslims.)
Some on the Catholic Left have fired back that if all of this is true about Alinsky, why did the famed French Catholic philosopher Jacque Maritain, who spent hours in Eucharistic Adoration each day, befriend Alinsky? The Catholic Left often goes on to say; wasn’t Jesus a radical just like Alinsky stirring up trouble, not only among the occupying Romans, but among Jewish religious authorities as well?
These are fair questions which need answers, for at least in the case of Jesus they have been bandied about for quite some time. However, the truth of the matter is Jesus was far cry from being anything like the Catholic left or secular left would have felt comfortable with had they been in his contemporaries.
First to answer the Jacque Maritain question; is it really a scandal to try and dialogue with someone if your intention is to convert them from an atheist to a believer? Jesus tried to dialogue with many non believers. We must also keep in mind that Alinsky didn’t write his infamous book, Rules for Radicals, in which he dedicated it to among others Lucifer, until after Maritain had died. Alinsky would die one year after the book’s 1971 release. Perhaps he was beginning to reveal a side of himself that no one really knew. The most troubling question is why would an atheist dedicate a book to God or in his case, Lucifer the Prince of Darkness, if he really didn’t believe? Perhaps Alinsky really did believe, at least in evil, and thus tried to pull more people down with him?
If Norman Thomas was the most honest among liberals and Saul Alinsky the most cunning, than the most insufferable had to be Weather Underground leader William Ayres. He and his cadre of trust fund, spoiled children used their conservative parents’ money to try and destroy the very economic system that allowed them have all of that wealth and privilege. It is hard to imagine that while Ayres was helping to plant bombs in the Pentagon and a New York City Police station, he was actually getting an allowance from dear old dad, Thomas Ayres who was the CEO of Commonwealth Edison. Ayres’ wife the infamous Bernardine Dohrn, actually cheered on Charles Manson and his brutal followers killing of Sharon Tate, and her unborn baby among others. Ayres and Dohrn had no use for religion and often mocked those on the left who tried to incorporate religious imagery in the movement.
One might think that even fellow radicals would find this behavior over the top, but not so for many radicals coming of age. Ayres continued to hold court and regale others about his radical days, while residing for the last couple of decades in a trendy Chicago neighborhood. One can’t imagine Bill Aryes and his band of misfit admirers lasting a day in the jungles of Latin America or Southeast Asia trying to spread their Gospel of Marx and Lenin, for if nothing else where would they find a cozy bistro or enoteca to sooth their well healed palates?
Some on the Professional Left have said suggested that Jesus was really a Socialist or even a libertine. Obviously, anyone who has even taken a cursory look at the life and teachings of Jesus would know that this is not the case. However, let’s briefly go over the facts. Liberals will point to Jesus exerting a certain sinner to sell all his riches and give it to the poor. Does this mean everyone is to give their riches away? Yes, it does if your possessions dictate your life. However, for most of us our possessions don’t dictate our lives. If Jesus truly believed that we should all give away all of our possessions than he would have told Zaccheus, who gave half of his possessions away (the way some do with the current tax structure,) to give away the other half. Jesus did not do this.
On the contrary, Jesus in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) took what little talents the third man had and gave them to the man who had the most; all the while throwing the man who didn’t use his talents into the darkness, which many believe was a metaphor for hell. I have a personal anecdote to add to this example for I personally witnessed a meltdown, in a church of all places, while on a family vacation.
My wife and I were sitting next to a young couple in Mass when the Parable of the Talents was used as the Gospel reading. The young lady seated next to us slammed down her missalette as the reading concluded and sternly folded her arms for the rest of Mass. I felt bad for the young man and on the church steps initiated some friendly chit chat after Mass. The young man confided in me that his girlfriend was somewhat of a liberal activist and wondered if I had any knowledge about the Gospel reading that might help his girlfriend.
My wife and I tried to engage the young woman in conversation but she was furious at Jesus, the Catholic Church and anyone who was even loosely affiliated with any religion. I tried to explain that Jesus was trying to tell us that we are given some talents by God and we must use them and not bury them as did the man in the Gospel. Try as my wife and I might, the young woman would hear none of it and stormed from the Church steps down the street toward her hotel room. It was a very revealing experience into the mind of someone who thought they were smarter than God.
Sadly among liberal Protestants and liberal Catholics, there appears those who try to change or put words in the mouths of the divine. Bishop John Spong of the Episcopal Church has given us a list of what he doesn’t believe i.e. the virgin birth of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus, the Resurrection of Jesus and on it goes. Perhaps it would have been easier to tell us what he does believe. The liberal Catholic writer Gary Wills (who was a National Review conservative in the early 1960s) is presumptuous enough to have entitled two of his books; What Jesus Meant and What Paul Meant. Thankfully, it took a good rabbi to set the record straight when it came to Wills scurrilous lies about Pope Pius XII. Rabbi David Dalin wrote the revealing The Myth of Hitler’s Pope, which set the record straight on the heroic work of Pope Pius XII, and his rescue of thousands of Italian Jews who were destined for various concentration camps.
It seems all of this nonsense of being smarter than the Son of God is directly traceable to the betrayer. One might also recall that it was none other than Judas who became incensed at Jesus for allowing Mary (sister of Lazarus and Martha) to pour expensive perfumes over him. After listening to Judas’ tirade about the cost of the perfume and how much of it could have gone to the poor, Jesus rebuked Judas by saying the poor will always be among you (John 12:1-7.) Can you imagine the political firestorm that would ensue if a conservative politician ever said, “The poor you will always have among you?”
Another area that some liberals get confused concerns Jesus and his views on sexuality; some liberals have the mistaken belief that Jesus was a libertine. They point to the passage in the Gospel of John when Jesus forgives a woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11.) However, this was nothing new for Jesus always recommended forgiving sinners. This is a personal thing we all have to do, lest we let revenge for the sinner dictate our life. However, Jesus did say to the woman go and sin no more. For many in our present culture, nothing two consenting adults can do could possibly be sinful. Remember Jesus also used the analogy of the sins and punishments for Sodom and Gomorrah throughout the Gospel. Everyone in the time of Jesus knew what sin happened in those two cities and the destruction that followed because of their sins.
All of the world’s major religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam had always taught against homosexuality. Catholicism had been one of the more liberal religions in that it taught that some people are same-sex attracted and though they should not act upon these feelings, they should be loved and encouraged as this was there cross. The Catholic Church had long taught that every human being is to carry a cross in this world. An organization exists for those who are same sex attracted called COURAGE. It has many chapters and members. For many years, some religions took the Catholic Church to task for being too liberal, some said the Church should tell anyone, who acts on their homosexual feelings and does not repent, that they are destined for hell. Now the Catholic Church is catching it from those on the left who say the Catholic Church is engaging in hate speech for saying those who are same-sex attracted shouldn’t act out their feelings.
Recently a profile was done in The New York Times on same sex attracted Eve Tushnet, the Ivy League educated Catholic daughter of Harvard Law professors. She has chronicled her growth in Catholicism and the logic of the Church’s teachings on sexuality, teachings exemplified in a recent letter on the subject from the prelate of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas Olmsted.
For the Church to change her teachings would be to deny, not only what Christ said in Matthew 11:20-24,) but His Apostles, not to mention Saint Paul’s lengthy discourse on the subject (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.) In addition to the Apostles, there is a rich history of saints writing on the subject, particularly the Early Church Fathers like Saint Augustine, St Justin Martyr, St. Basil and St John Chrysostom as well as Church intellectuals like St Thomas Aquinas, Saint Albert the Great (the greatest scientist of his time,) along with mystics like St Catherine of Sienna to name but a few. In other words, every one of these great religious minds, as well as almost every political mind until about the year 2000 would have to be wrong for same- sex marriage to be right.
Many who disagree with the Catholic Church tend to forget that homosexuality was much more common and approved of by the Roman government in the early Christian era than it is even in 2010. Many in the upper echelons of Greek and Roman culture experimented with all sorts of sexual practices. It would have been far easier for Jesus, the apostles, saints and popes to approve of this conduct than it would to disapprove of it. Christianity might have grown at a faster pace. However, there was a reason for this swimming against the tide, and the faithful accepted it.
One final example that liberals often use is to say that Jesus was a pacifist; after all they surmise didn’t Jesus say to turn the other cheek and those who live by the sword die by the sword (Matthew 26:52?) Yes, Jesus did say those things but in a completely different context. If we turn our cheek to those who attack us, we will let their hate and vitriol bounce off of us and not infect us as it has them. It doesn’t mean that we have to allow ourselves to be attacked or beaten up. For those who think we should we do well to remember that Jesus military and battlefield examples in his parables along with telling his followers to get another sword if they only have one (Luke 22:35-38) as Good Friday approached.
A final note on the financial front; If conservatives were all about spending money, accumulating possessions and not giving to charity, than liberals would truly have a point in stating that their beliefs were closer to Jesus. However, with the exception of a few spend thrift young new money Republicans, most conservatives are true to their name; conservative, which means to conserve.
The Presidential Election of 2004 and 2008 blew away all the old stereotypes. For it was the millionaires and the trust funders who vote for Senator John Kerry and Senator Barack Obama to be President, and in 2008 enough of the elites convinced the poorest among us to vote their way, while the Middle Class, by and large voted for the McCain-Palin ticket. An unusual alliance between the elites and the poor helped Senator Obama to become President Obama and Senator Joe Biden to become Vice President Biden. However, a cursory review of the charitable giving of the likes of Vice President Biden and former Vice President Al Gore shows that they like many liberals give but a pittance of their riches to charitable causes.
The agenda of the radical left is to water down religion, make it become some sort of trendy self help series infomercial that comes and goes with the rest of Johnny Come Lately. Many mainline American Protestant churches have lost nearly half of their members in the last fifty years, some went to Evangelical Churches, some to the Catholic Church and others stopped attending any church. It would appear that in the latter case, they took the relativistic sermons they were hearing to heart and felt like those delivering them that they knew better than the teachings of orthodox minded Christianity.
It is much worse in Europe, where it is estimated that more people attend Friday prayers at Britain’s mosques than attend Anglican Church services on Sunday morning. Recently, the leader of the Anglican Church, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams stated that he didn’t have any strenuous objections to Sharia Law being applied in Great Britain. Yet it gets worse for the Anglican Church. In addition to the laity, the Anglican Church lost a large amount of their clergy as well, and many more are coming to the Catholic Church, thanks to the Personal Ordinate offered by Pope Benedict XVI. (If this last paragrpah intrigues you, please read If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Had Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters.) along with The Coming Open Rebellion Against God.
One of the latest trends in the Episcopal Church (part of the worldwide Anglican community) centers around uniting the Eucharist with music of the popular Irish band U2 for something billed as the U2Charist. Though I greatly admire U2, and have many of their albums and cd’s, along with seeing them in concert, it was more than a little bewildering seeing something billed as the U2Charist. What’s next liturgical music incorporating the lyrics of Lady GaGa? (Here’s a link from the 2006 Episcopal General Convention held in Columbus, where the U2Charist took place and where I interviewed the openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.)
Dave Shiflett’s book Exodus chronicles the plummeting congregations liberal Christianity. The most extreme example of this can be seen in the Unitarian Church, which two to four former presidents called their own (depending upon your source.) It was also the faith of President Obama’s maternal relatives. By the 1990s, it was estimated that half of the Unitarian Church’s congregation was either agnostic or atheist. Two men David Burton and Dean Fisher have become evangelists in their own church preaching that yes God does exist. This is only the start of this theological madness. In some Ivy League Theology Departments half of the faculty is either atheist or agnostic.
Archbishop Edwin O’Brien has said that man will give his life for a mystery, not a question mark. Liberal Protestantism and Liberal Catholicism have resulted in people leaving those churches in droves. This is especially made manifest in ordination numbers. 64 to 6 and 14 to 4 stand out. What does this mean? In 2006 when writing my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I noted that even though the Diocese of Rochester had more Catholics than the dioceses of Lincoln and Omaha combined, Rochester had 6 men studying for the priesthood while Lincoln and Omaha had 64. That same year of 2006 Denver had 14 young men ordained to the priesthood (eleven in May and three earlier in the academic year,) while Los Angeles had four; a staggering statistic when one considers that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has 4,300,000 Catholic residents compared to 385,000 Catholics for the Archdiocese of Denver. In 2006, Los Angeles and Rochester were led by two of the most liberal prelates in the Church, while Omaha, Lincoln and Denver were led by three of the more conservative bishops in the US, a revelatory statistic to say the least.
While liberal convents are strapped for cash because they haven’t had a postulant in years, more conservative orders like the Sister of Mary in Ann Arbor, Michigan are running out of room due to the large number of young professional women coming their way. They are not the only conservative order growing; the Nashville Dominicans among others are also experiencing growing pains.
These statistics do speak volumes; when one succumbs to the Dictatorship of Relativism, as described by Pope Benedict XVI. Some may have witnessed their Catholic diocese suffering from years of priests and bishops who fell into error and near heresy, much like some in the Early Church when they were wooed by Arius or some other theologian who thought he knew better than the Church. Perhaps someone reading this may be a member of a mainline Protestant Church, who has seen much of their doctrine changed to adjust to the whims of the moment, all the while more and more leave their church’s pews for another church that will adhere to age old doctrine. The political and religious left may try to co opt the message of Christ but try as they might they cannot change the truth; for the truth will either set you free, or convict you of false witness.