Patagogy

I just subjected myself to about fifteen minutes of Pat Robertson, having come across his show while flipping through channels. Pat was standing with a whiteboard, answering nitpicky questions e-mailed to him by viewers. One asked if there might be demons walking among us, disguised as humans, as there were in Genesis, breeding with human women. Pat replies with a chuckle and says no, he doesn’t think so, not anymore. Sure, people can be demon-oppressed, demon-influenced, or demon-possessed, but there aren’t demons in disguise or human-demon mutant hybrids.

Yes, he actually said “mutant.”

He went on to say that Adolf Hitler was demon-possessed, and that he didn’t think there was any doubt about that, then mumbled something about Satan being a murderer. Sorry, Pat, there is some doubt about that. See, for all that Christians–particularly your brand of conservative wingnut Christians–seem to be about guilt, belief in things like demon possession really undermines that concept. See, if a demon was at fault for the Holocaust and the various evils perpetrated in Hitler’s name, then how can we justify considering Hitler evil? The doctrine of demonic possession is perilously close to moral relativism, and I don’t think anyone wants that.
Then again, people who believe that morals are arbitrarily decided by God are already most of the way to relativism as it is. Nevermind, Pat, I’m sure you’re just being consistent.

Another letter asked whether it was possible to do something so terrible that God would turn his back on you and refuse forgiveness. Pat responded by saying that there’s a passage from a questionable (!) part of the Bible which says that if you tell Jesus to leave and never come back, you become apostate and are SOL.
Another writer said his pastor didn’t believe in Satan, and thought that evil was a choice made by people. Pat immediately tossed out some figures as to how many times the terms “Satan” and “Devil” were used in the Bible, said that the pastor was wrong, and that he was apostate and needed to get Jesus because he clearly didn’t believe the Bible.
So, in one case, the doctrine of apostasy comes from a “questionable” part of the Bible (to Pat, this is probably a rarity. To people with brains, the whole damn book is “questionable”), and a few minutes later, it’s solid enough to use to condemn a fellow pastor. Because, according to Mr. Robertson, “if you don’t believe in Satan, you don’t believe in Jesus,” since Jesus believed in Satan. That’s right, Pat. God forbid a Christian suggest that people take responsibility for their actions, rather than blaming them on invisible demons. We certainly can’t have accountability; it’s always the fault of the devil, or alcohol, or previous molestation, or the seductiveness of young Congressional pages, or the Democrats. And they say that liberals always want to shift the blame.

Throughout this little exercise, Pat proved that he’s exactly the worst kind of teacher. He’s got a whiteboard and marker, but it’s clear that he forgets about them as he lectures. Every couple of minutes, he’ll remember that they exist, and that writing things on the whiteboard helps people learn. So he’ll write out a couple of words from his schpiel and then go on with the lecture. These words might be important to the speech (like when he listed the demon-affects), or they might be completely random and insignificant (such as when he wrote “death of Jesus” as part of a response to another question). It’s like he’s seen teachers teach, and is mimicking their actions, without actually understanding any of the reasoning behind those actions.

And when I say “it’s like,” I mean “it is.”

He closed with a quotation from 2 Corinthians which I really think sums up fundamentalism pretty well: “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Wonderful. Try that sometime. Just close your eyes and walk around, having faith that God will guide you rightly. Any injuries are just a test of your faith! The more you put your trust in God, the more chance you’ll have of being closer to Jesus! Guaranteed!

Hell, even the devout blind carry canes. If you deny your senses in favor of faith, at best you’ll end up looking like an idiot. At worst, you’ll get yourself, and possibly others, killed. It’s one thing to have faith in the insensible. Only a fool would choose faith instead of sight.

After all, there’s a reason it’s called “blind faith.”

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