SECTION TWO 

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COLUMN 115, MARCH 1, 2005
(Copyright 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)

CHRISTIAN EVANGELS BELIEVE IN LOONY FAIRY TALES THAT THREATEN &
ENDANGER ALL OF US


BILL MOYERS

An email from Peter Coyote reminds us that Muslim fundamentalists aren't the only ones who believe in idiotic fairy tales. Peter has sent us a piece by Bill Moyers pointing out that Christian fundamentalists have loony ideas that are equally as dangerous to the world. Whereas Islamists believe martyrdom will get them laid in paradise, Christian fundamentalists believe the end of days is so close that they're rushing toward them with open arms. They've even helped install a government in Washington to hurry us to Armageddon. When the world is destroyed and everyone is dead, Christ will come and raise his true believers. A Fairy tale not much different from that of the Muslim maniacs.

"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal," Moyers begins. "It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington."

Moyers goes on to write:

"Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

"Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

"Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true--- one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index.

"That's right---the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the Left Behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

"Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

"As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

"I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels 'which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man.' A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed---an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144---just one point below the critical


They believe
environmental destruction
is a good thing


threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of God will return, the righteous will enter Heaven and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

"So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer---The Road to Environmental Apocalypse. Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed--- even hastened---as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

"As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election---231 legislators in total and more since the election---are backed by the religious right.  

"Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: 'The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land.' He seemed to be relishing the thought.

"And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, 'to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?'

" Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the Lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, America's Providential History. You'll find there these words: 'The secular or socialist has a limited-resource mentality and views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece.' However, '[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth ... while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people.'  

"No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers. He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.

"It is hard for the journalist to report a story like this with any credibility. So let me put it on a personal level. I myself don't know how to be in this world without expecting a confident future and getting up every morning to do what I can to bring it about. So I have always been an optimist. Now, however, I think of my friend on Wall Street whom I once asked: 'What do you think of the market?''"I'm optimistic,' he answered. 'Then why do you look so worried?' And he answered: 'Because I am not sure my optimism is justified.'  

"I'm not, either. Once upon a time I agreed with Eric Chivian and the Center for Health and the Global Environment that people will protect the natural environment when they realize its importance to their health and to the health and lives of their children. Now I am not so sure. It's not that I don't want to believe that---it's just that I read the news and connect the dots.

"I read that the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment. This for an administration:

"* That wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act protecting rare plant and animal species and their habitats, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the government to judge beforehand whether actions might damage natural resources.

"* That wants to relax pollution limits for ozone; eliminate vehicle tailpipe inspections, and ease pollution standards for cars, sport-utility vehicles and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment.

"* That wants a new international audit law to allow corporations to keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the public.

"* That wants to drop all its new-source review suits against polluting, coal-fired power plants and weaken consent decrees reached earlier with coal companies.

"* That wants to open the Arctic [National] Wildlife Refuge to drilling and increase drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last great coastal wild land in America.

"I read the news just this week and learned how the Environmental Protection Agency had planned to spend $9 million---$2 million of it from the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council---to pay poor families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have been linked to neurological damage in children, but instead of ordering an end to their use, the government and the industry were going to offer the families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing, to serve as guinea pigs for the study.

"I read all this in the news.

"I read the news just last night and learned that the administration's friends at the International Policy Network, which is supported by Exxon Mobil and others of like mind, have issued a new report that climate change is 'a myth, sea levels are not rising' [and] scientists who believe catastrophe is possible are 'an embarrassment.'  

"I not only read the news but the fine print of the recent appropriations bill passed by Congress, with the obscure (and obscene) riders attached to it: a clause removing all endangered species protections from pesticides; language prohibiting judicial review for a forest in Oregon; a waiver of environmental review for grazing permits on public lands; a rider pressed by developers to weaken protection for crucial habitats in California. 

"I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer---pictures of my grandchildren. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, 'Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do.' And then I am stopped short by the thought: 'That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world.  

"And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy? Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain indignation at injustice?

"What has happened to our moral imagination?

"On the heath Lear asks Gloucester: 'How do you see the world?' And Gloucester, who is blind, answers: 'I see it feelingly.'

I see it feelingly

The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free---not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma---the science of the heart ... the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.

Believe me, it does.

[Bill Moyers was host until recently of the weekly public affairs series NOW with Bill Moyers" on PBS. This article is adapted from AlterNet, where it first appeared. The text is taken from Moyers' remarks upon receiving the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.]    ##

" Copyright 2005 http://www.startribune.com/copyright Star Tribune. All rights reserved.


FOR AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP LISTENING TO BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, PEOPLE WILL WANT THIS BOOK

"A masterpiece!" --- SALLY GROSSMAN, widow of Bob Dylan's brilliant original manager, Albert Grossman.

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"Required Reading for anyone and everyone who considers themselves fans, followers, students, or those just plain curious of the Golden Age of Popular Music"---GARY PIG GOLD, FUFKIN.COM.

"I love the book. I love the way you can open it to any page and start reading and it keeps you reading. The book is just fun to read." --LEVON HELM, Drummer of THE BAND from Big Pink.

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"Adam Duritz (he's the lead singer and writer for the famed Counting Crows). . .was at my studio and couldn't put the book down."---STEWART LERMAN, RIGHTEOUS SOUND INC.

". . .a must read for anyone who loves, music, loves life, loves rock and roll."---TSAURAH LITZKY, author of The Motion of the Ocean, Baby on the Water, and  Goodbye Beautiful Mother.  

"I recommend it."---DOUGLAS HOLDER, IBBETSON STREET PRESS.  

".  . .It is a fascinating, insightful read. You are such a wonderful writer."---STEPHANIE LEDGIN, Music Journalist.

"I could not put this book of yours down for a minute."---ED GALING, POET LAUREATE OF HATBORO, PA.

"Quite simply, Al Aronowitz is a living legend"---JOHN FORTUNATO, THE AQUARIAN.

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BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, VOLUME ONE OF THE BEST OF THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST

The sometimes scattered chronicles of the rock journalist's friendship with a few of the most recognizable music icons in rock and pop history.

It certainly takes a bit of hubris to say that "the '60s wouldn't have been the same without me." But coming from Al Aronowitz, the former music columnist for the New York Post who was often called "the godfather of rock journalism," such sentiment is perhaps justified.  Here, in a compilation of many of his unpublished manuscripts, Aronowitz describes in candid yet affectionate detail his friendships with Bob Dylan and the Beatles.  As a music writer and fan who recognized the musicians' limitless potential early in their careers, Aronowitz decided to bring them together for the first time, in a New York City hotel in 1964, a meeting that also involved the Beatles' introduction to marijuana. His prescience was soon bolstered by the 1965 releases of Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited and the Beatles' Rubber Soul, both seminal albums that altered the landscape of pop music.  This landmark moment is just one of Aronowitz's colorful memories and musings of being a hanger-on with these legends and their associates, including The Band, Beatles manager Brian Epstein, poet Allen Ginsberg, deejay Murray the K and others.  Specifically provocative are the accounts of Dylan's erratic behavior and short temper, which often led to fitful confrontations and even the ending of friendships, including that between Dylan and the author.  It's also evident that Aronowitz was particularly fond of George Harrison, and the two remained friends until Harrison's death in 2001.  Most remarkable is the close proximity he maintained to these gods, whether he was at their homes, hoteI rooms, recording studios, or concerts.  Though his personal life certainly had its share of woes (particularly bankruptcy and his wife's death), Aronowitz exhibits a marked sense of pride---and rightly so---for playing a key role in music history,

An enticing backstage pass to the meeting of arguably the two most influential acts in rock history.


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". . .If you are truly interested in the 'behind the scenes' events of people who spawned an entirely new direction in the time we identify as the sixties, this book is truly for you!"---JOHN ANDERSON, HOST OF THE "ON THE HORIZON" RADIO SHOW

IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM," TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."


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