Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ann Coulter on Christianity and Judaism

I generally ignore Ann Coulter. She has always seemed to me to be purely sensationalist and for that reason unworthy of comment or attention. However, when she claims to speak for Christianity as if all Republicans are Christians (or even that some Republicans would be exemplary Christians) and then in answer to a question about what America would look like essentially says everyone should be Christian, and then speaks of Christianity as perfected Judaism (which is a poor way of speaking of the way the relationship of Christianity and Judaism is viewed from a Christian perspective.), then it is time to take notice.

I think Christians should not defend her stick figure presentation of Christian faith, but point out her jingoistic notions of Christianity, and the ways in which she seems to use Christianity for her own ends which are truly unclear to me, except as a means for notoriety and celebrity. She clearly has an understanding of the Politics and of Christian faith. Its not that she doesn't know what she is saying. Rather she says things to project an image of of herself and a particular distortion of Christian faith, that at points sounds both right and wrong at the same time. She believes in an image of herself, as some defender of American Christianity.

This confusion of nationalism and Christians faith of American Christianity that I think people should be actually up in arms about, even evangelical and conservative Christians. If she weren't talking about politics and power and America as a nation, Her comments would simply be a fairly facile and lacking in nuance (but true) description of a theological view of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. The problem with her remarks is that they approximate (I use that word deliberately) the rhetoric and POV of German Christianity of Nazi Germany. However not as a simple reiteration of that either in its antisemitism nor even in logical outcome. Its approximation is in the deliberate mixing of Christian faith (or what passes for Christian faith) and a nationalist agenda that seeks to equate patriotism with Christian faith. Her comments are frightening because we know where such rhetoric and out look can go though I would say her comments are not nor should they be read through the lenses of Nazi antisemitism.

The problem isn't antisemitism of her remarks but her confusion of nationalism and faith as if to be an American and to be a Christian can and should always be the same thing. Of course part of what makes it so easy for such confusion to take place and for it to go largely unnoticed and commented upon is that confusion of the Church with Christianity or Christendom, and that many Christians especially Protestants of any stripe rarely make a distinction between these and not infrequently use these terms more or less interchangeably. In fact I have been caught in this linguistic quagmire even in this post. You see technically for Coulter to have been right (sorry Young Fogey but she is wrong though partially correct) she needed to speak of the Church, the Body of Christ, as the one people of God which God began to gather with the creation of the people of Israel. This Body of Christ the Church cannot be confused with American Christianity, nor the Christianity of Marcion, or any other form of Christianity that attaches itself to this world and its power politics which are passing away.

From my view she speaks truth the way many heretics do: by getting some things right while speaking distortions of the truth that are hard to pick out because they sound kind of true or only a little bit off. Let's remember that the Anti-Jewish Marcion was attempting to both make Christianity be something native and powerful to the culture and attempting to defend his notions of God against criticism, and was a Christian. My point is not that Coulter is a Gnostic or anti-Jewish in the way Marcion was but that she is a heretic (with her own American heresy) like he was and like all German Christians were. We should be concerned that these distortions can be perceived as the truth. If we must defend the kernel of truth in her statement we should not do it in the context of discussing her comments. If we have any love for the Church and orthodox catholic Christianity we should stay as far away from appearing to defend Coulter or her remarks about Judaism as we possibly can, because taken in their entire context her remarks are an heretical distortion of what ever truth she may have spoken.