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Grasping For Power, With A Dash Of Desire To Be…

Popular, from the musical Wicked, with Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenowith

Every once in a while, I read something so gobsmackingly discordant that it jars my perception of reality.  This isn’t one of those times.  Via NYObserver:

…Not only is the political-evangelical alliance “built primarily on personal relationships” and “connections formed outside of Washington,” but the networks that now bind various professional elites constitute nothing less than a new freestanding grid of social power: Christian philanthropic boards and corporate-sponsored “parachurch” groups promote a new form of elite cohesion, “not by social class or shared backgrounds,” but “by faith.”

Mr. Lindsay is clearly correct in one sense: The leaders he’s talked to are beset with the self-consciousness and status anxiety of an elite still familiarizing itself with the confident exercise of power. The growing ambit of evangelical power—spanning the boardrooms of corporate behemoths like Johnson and Johnson and Wal-Mart up through the top echelons of the Bush White House—has fueled a deepening schism, he notes, between the “cosmopolitan” temperament of movement leaders and the “populist” convictions of the evangelical rank-and-file. The jet-setting, boardroom-friendly leadership seems pointedly uneasy with the “evangelical kitsch” that down-home believers embrace, such as Christian pop or the pulpy Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Movement leaders feel more at home in parachurch groupings, where power speaks to power—and oddly, in the nation’s great suburban megachurches, which mix populist presentation styles with a steady diet of business-friendly homilies. One businessman tells Mr. Lindsay admiringly that his megachurch pastor “could have been CEO of a Fortune 10 company.”

The cosmopolitan strain of elite evangelical life is most evident in Hollywood and other culture industries, where evangelical leaders have actively urged adopting the interest-group politics of their avowed lifestyle enemies in the gay and lesbian community. As one ministry executive explained, “If we could get an Ellen DeGeneres figure who is likable and popular to ‘come out’ as an evangelical, many more people would have positive impressions of the movement as a whole.” Evangelical screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi reports being pleasantly surprised to hear from a staffer of the showbiz TV newsmag program Inside Edition that “Christian is the new gay.”…

American elites neither accumulate nor exercise power in a vacuum: Their victories come at someone else’s expense—and so long as evangelical leaders manage to portray those rollbacks as mere collateral damage in a righteous struggle against dread secular liberal humanism, then they’ve achieved a confident show of strength in the arena of social myth, where power matters most.

I’ve read the Bible a number of times, and I just don’t remember the call to clique and amass personal wealth and power to the exclusion of those less fortunate alongside the Golden Rule.  

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

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