Nate Cull, a ghost in spring is a user on mastodon.social. You can follow them or interact with them if you have an account anywhere in the fediverse. If you don't, you can sign up here.

A quote from a CS Lewis novel....

> You've got to get the ordinary man into the state in which he says 'Sadism' automatically when he hears the word Punishment." And then one would have carte blanche. Mark did not immediately follow this. But the Fairy pointed out that what had hampered every English police force up to date was precisely the idea of deserved punishment. For desert was always finite: you could do so much to the criminal and no more. Remedial treatment, on the other hand, need have no fixed limit; it could go on till it had effected a cure, and those who were carrying it out would decide when that was. And if cure were humane and desirable, how much more prevention? Soon anyone who had ever been in the hands of the police at all would come under the control of the N.I.C.E.; in the end, every citizen.

This was written in the 1950s in England, reflecting the thoughts at the time. But I think it also is a worthy thought for, e.g., Seattle, 2017. Who decides judgement? Who decides "deserving"?

@pnathan The National Institute for Coordinated Experiments is one of the greatest names for a Thoroughly British Evil Organisation ever. Other possibilities: T.E.A., C.AK.E., and P.O.L.I.T.E.

But I can see right here in this book the beginnings of right-wing demonisation of 'political correctness' and 'social engineering' and then 'SJWs' and the paranoid fear that any kind of socialism must be a dark, literally demonic, conspiracy.

And I'm not sure Lewis made the world better by doing that.

@natecull yeah I don't know about the book really.

But the idea that the putatively neutral beurocracy being this faceless administrator of policies that are actually very harmful; that very nasty priggish bit of human nature trying to Improve Others via fiat given free reign....

I'll write more about that on this thread when I have free time at home.

I think THAT idea is a very very good critique.

But I think the book has a lot of issues, and is better read as a capsule of it's time, not as a good advise book for today and today's issues.

@pnathan There's certainly a critique there, yes.

I'm interested because at the moment I'm trying to track down the origins of some particularly nasty New World Order conspiracy theories which you might think were long discredited but in fact are still very much active (and actively being spread) in the Evangelical Christian world. And suddenly thinking of That Hideous Strength I see another piece clicking into place in the jigsaw of their origin story.

@pnathan WHY do Evangelical Christians have such a shrieking religious terror of what others see as perfectly innocent governmental offices and regulations? eg the Federal government in the USA; the EU; the UN?

Because their heroes - including C S Lewis - have taught them to have that fear, over decades.

@natecull to be honest, I think you're imputing things that don't strictly exist and building a narrative that doesn't hold up to full scrutiny. It's all a lot more ambiguous and contradictory on the ground than it can seem.

@pnathan In what sense?

I grew up in the Evangelical-Pentecostal world and I can tell you that conspiracy fear was very real. Our family lived it for decades.

@natecull I would hesitate to generalize to a broad narrative from your own experiences. There's *definitely* hedge churches doing ye ole snakehandling, but my very strong impression of the denominations is that they are and have been reality-grounded.

@pnathan Which denominations, though? A lot of this conspiracy stuff is inter-denominational. Christian bookstores and TV are full of it.

Did you ever read Frank Peretti or the Left Behind novels? Tim LaHaye?That's what I'm talking about.

There's a huge market for it. If you've somehow managed to avoid these books in your denomination, you're very lucky.

@natecull Ahahah yeah I avoided that crap like the plaaaaague. it was so asinine. Largely I've bounced around foursquare and assemblies of god, to one degree or another, throughout my life.

@pnathan I was in Vineyard church for a while, and while they wouldn't *preach* conspiracy theory, their political action group was right-wing. In around 2003 I told the pastor I'd like to set up a peace issues group and received a very strange look and the advice not to get involved in peace because it wasn't a Christian thing to do

And so I left.

I have a brother who is a Pentecostal preacher who is on "the Elijah List" which is full of conspiracy theories. They went all pro-Trump.

@pnathan My brothers not a Trump fan. He literally sees miracles of healing when he prays. But it seems that many in that Pentecostal scene, in America, have gone full Trump, and a lot of those bought conspiracy theories wholesale.

If AOG isn't pro-Trump, that's a good sign.

@natecull @pnathan I'm not as in touch with AG & Foursquare now that I'm always on the road, but other than a few loud voices, I haven't seen them being strongly favorable to any #polly or an party for 10-15 years.

@lnxw48a1 @natecull

My impression, frankly, is that the Bush years contained the last real attempt by adults to implement Dominionism / theocratical approaches. I think the Obama years were kind to thoughtful people and a lot of lessons were learned on reflection.

Trumpism is seriously fringe in its cast. Not that it hasn't swept up normal types, but it directly panders to the weird. I also think that the atheist young nationalists are heavily undercounted. A lot of polls are land line only........

@pnathan @lnxw48a1 This is interesting, because it runs directly opposite to what I'm reading on all my newsfeeds about 'US Evangelical leaders' and a majority of Evangelical voters all coming down squarely pro-trump.

Most of my Facebook is NZ - where even the Evangelicals are also heavily anti-Trump - but I have a couple of NZ conservative Evangelical-Pentecostals who went to the USA and they're now also squarely proTrump.

Is there organised Evangelical resistance to Trump? If so, where is it?

@natecull @lnxw48a1 A lot of that data comes from polls, which skew *hard* towards elderly people with landlines.

My ***very*** strong sense is that Reddit's /r/The_Donald and similar forma are a significant cadre of the Trump voters. People under 30, very media-savvy, ***very** atheist. They don't show up on traditional polling mechanisms.

@pnathan @lnxw48a1 Yes, the alt-right are a powerful faction and aren't Evangelical.

Certainly white US evangelicals are only a minority of the whole population now (17%, according to this article - and 81% of them went for Trump).

But they're a key and very influential minority, because they command a very powerful domestic and international media apparatus.

It's the 'why did 81% of them go Trump at all' that bothers me.

I read this as 'Evangelicals going alt-right'.

usatoday.com/story/opinion/201

@lnxw48a1 @pnathan And that's why I'm interested right now in Evangelical conspiracy theories - because that sector of Evangelical beliefs overlap significantly with the fascist-adjacent hard right that preceded the alt-right, and those links have been there since the 1970s.

Eg: I am seeing a meme conveyor belt from Lyndon LaRouche to Cardinal Ratzinger via Constance Cumbey.

Was that planned? I doubt it. But birds of a feather flocked together, and sadly, Evangelicals have flocked with fascists

@pnathan @lnxw48a1 By 'Evangelical conspiracy theories', I particularly mean 'antichrist and end-times prophecy'.

In the 1980s this was pro-Israel, anti-Communist, and anti-Europe. It moved heavily into attacking the EU and UN in the 1990s.

I would be surprised if you've been in the US Evangelical church scene and been able to avoid any exposure to this material? It's, like, a good 50% of books in Christian bookstores?

@natecull @lnxw48a1 I haven't heard end times bs since growing up in the 90s. No one talks about it in any church setting I can recall since 2002 or so. And I've dabbled in ag, Foursquare, and Nazarene offshoots, along with visiting a fair number of others. I keep away from the really flaky types tho'.

Admittedly, my indoc is a little unusual. I was raised strict antinomian/anarchisty Charismatic, with a decently strong orthodox Anabaptist influence. We were never church members; we'd drop in and out of places, depending on the local control of the preacher. My folks are old Jesus People house church types and bailed out to be pure antinomians when the Sheparding movement hit. A lot of Latter Rain influence. All that said, doctrinally we've always been roughly Charismatic AG modulo the mysticism and ecclesiology.

@lnxw48a1 @natecull The thing I want to bang a bit more on is that I am getting the impression the NZ crew you're familiar with are more homogeneous than the USA Pentecostals. There are big differences between church and church in the US, even ones under the same denomination or "evangelical" umbrella. So, yes, some people got really into End Times stuff, other people got really into Anti-Communism, other people got into Anti-Abortion, and they got passionate and prolific (because that's what Christians culturally do when wound up: write and write and write), and they present a *stream* of thoughts.

But those thoughts do not per se represent someone in the pew, although they may influence them.

What I think is a valid criticism is that Pentecostals aren't very well educated, and usually prefer "real experience with God", however expressed, to someone actually having education. There's real discomfort with demanding someone spend some time learning before they do teaching.

@pnathan @lnxw48a1

Yeah, other than AOG and Baptists the other denominations you mention literally don't exist in New Zealand:

* Foursquare, Calvary Chapel and Nazarene don't exist
* Reformed isn't a denomination here
* Our main Evangelical-Pentecostal-Charismatic flavours are Baptists, Elim, AoG, Vineyard, and local NZ ones

But we have a lot of overlap with US via bookstores, conferences, US-based TV

It's that media I see, more than the churches.

*Someone* bought all those Left Behinds.

@natecull @lnxw48a1 Pedantically: reformed isn't a denomination, its a family of denominations, all very conservative calvinist. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformed for an example.

I have a certain fondness for the Reformed world myself, they believe in seriously thinking about their beliefs far more than any other crew *I've* met in the "bible-believing" wing of the Christian faith. (Also tend to suffer from snobbery, but that's predestination for you).

wow it's time to go to bed, i can barely type

Nate Cull, a ghost in spring @natecull

@pnathan @lnxw48a1 I guess you've never met The Elijah List folks, then?

elijahlist.com/words/index.htm

(A good thing, on the whole; this website is absolutely terrible! So many horrible ads. But my brother keeps talking about it. I don't think he really got that from NZ; but he knows people like, eg, Cindy Jacobs.)

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@lnxw48a1 @pnathan so maybe this crowd isn't nearly as influential among US Evangelicals as I have the impression from my brother that they are - it would go a long way toward putting my mind at ease if that were the case.

@natecull @lnxw48a1 ah man, I've heard of it, when I talk about it with christian friends, it's sort of like "did you hear what those nutters SAID" kind of thing.

The wackos are out there, no denying it. I really don't see them as *normative* though.

I don't see the wackos in church. maybe they are there? but I see more hipsterism, more "old man yelling at cloud"ism, more anti-abortion-ism, and more authoritarianism.

@natecull @pnathan I haven't run across Elijah List, and I've spent the last couple of years in Missouri and Louisiana. In fact, I drove through the HQ city of the Assemblies of God today. I don't really do media (Christian, secular, or whatever), so I can't answer that aspect, but none of the churches I've visited or attended in either state seemed to be havens of Trump love.