Friday, July 29, 2011

a few links making some polemics about higher education

http://www.slate.com/id/2300107/pagenum/all/#p2

http://chronicle.com/article/The-Big-Lie-About-the-Life-of/63937/

http://www.economist.com/node/17723223?story_id=17723223&CFID=157679668&CFTOKEN=82403941

http://chronicle.com/article/Graduate-School-in-the/44846

http://chronicle.com/article/Just-Dont-Go-Part-2/44786/

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/03/04/81-graduate-school/

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/02/01/47-arts-degrees/

... Being in graduate school satisfies many white requirements for happiness. They can believe they are helping the world, complain that the government/university doesn’t support them enough, claim they are poor, feel as though are getting smarter, act superior to other people, enjoy perpetual three day weekends, and sleep in every day of the week!

After acquiring a Masters Degree that will not increase their salary or hiring desirability, many white people will move on to a PhD program where they will go after their dream of becoming a professor. However, by their second year they usually wake up with a hangover and realize: “I’m going to spend six years in graduate school to make $35,000 and live in the middle of nowhere?”

After this crisis, a white person will follow one of two paths. The first involves dropping out and moving to New York, San Francisco or their original home town where they can resume the job that they left to attend graduate school.

At this point, they can feel superior to graduate school and say things like “A PhD is a testament to perseverance, not intelligence.” They can also impress their friends at parties by referencing Jacques Lacan or Slavoj Žižek in a conversation about American Idol.

The second path involves becoming a professor, moving to a small town and telling everyone how they are awful and uncultured.

... These degrees enable white people to spend four yeas of their lives reading books, writing papers and feeling great about themselves. It is a known fact that Arts students firmly believe that they are doing you/society a favor by not getting a job and reading Proust. They use this to protest for reduced tuition, more money for the arts, and special reduced student rates on things like bus passes.


In the last six or seven years I have at different times considered getting another degree, particularly a master's degree. Ten years ago I had visions of getting a master's in theology or biblical studies or philosophy or some other degree in a field of knowledge where learning is pursued for its own sake. When people talk about anti-intellectualism in American society and particularly in American Christianity, but most of all conservative Christianity, there is some foundation to the complaints. But at another level it can also be boiled down to the sarcasm outlined in Stuff White People Like.

By the time I graduated with my mostly useless bachelor's degree in journalism I had discovered that the professor who took over the teaching post knew zero about the local journalism scene. Unlike his predecessor he was completely useless for networking any work after I graduated. Whereas before I was taught by a seasoned East Coast professional writer who also knew the publishing scene in the Puget Sound she got replaced with a layout editor from south in the state. I trust he was a decent layout editor but the quality of the writing in the journalism students took a dive, unsurprisingly. By then I had discovered that I was fresh out of college with a useless B.A. and no visible chances at even landing a minimum wage job (I did eventually get one of those).

And scarcely more than two months after graduating from college with my B.A. I realized that grad school was never going to happen. I didn't have the money for it and I realized I never would. I also realized that all the things I had wanted to study in grad school were things that would never land me a job ... anywhere ... of any kind. I gave up on the idea of grad school for years. Then around 2004-2006 I got the grad school bug again and began to look at possibilities for continuing education. This time I wanted to go get a degree that would be professionally useful. To make a long and tedious story very short I began to realize that I didn't want to gamble tens of thousands of dollars I didn't have (and certainly don't have now!) getting yet another degree that will not land me a job. The recession/mancession has just made this discovery more acute and unpleasant.

I considered music as a possibility for grad school and then realized that a graduate degree in music would be completely useless, no, even counterproductive. I wouldn't really appreciably expand my capacity to study and understand counterpoint in grad school. I wouldn't expand my understanding of music history in any way that I couldn't do by way of a wonderful city library system and musically enthusiastic friends and family.

What is more the sorts of historical and formal analysis of music that happens in grad school settings would not help me become a better composer. A better performer? Maybe, probably even definitely, but not as a worthwhile endeavor for the price I would pay. Whereas in my 20s I idealistically supposed that knowledge pursued for its own sake was valuable I have drawn close to the end of my 30s with a chastened perspective. You should not learn merely to make yourself a smarter or better person but to be of better service to other people as well. This is not necessarily an altruistic observation, though it can include altruism. Paradoxically we are most likely to be happy and helpful to ourselves if we are of some use to others.

I am not happy to say that at this point I have doubts about the viability of getting a college degree but I look back on my journalism degree with ambivalence. I thought at the time I was working on the degree I would get an actual journalism job. In my late teens I thought I could somehow contribute to journalism that was not as liberal as that of a lot of mainstream media. Well, now I have nothing but ambivalence about how liberal mainstream media is and what "conservative" journalism looks like (often not much better than liberal or mainstream journalism in the end). What is more it turned out there were few jobs available in the field anyway.

Even pursuing an A.A. at a community college has not worked out. It turns out once you get a B.A. federal aid disappears. It doesn't officially disappear but it practically disappears because a great deal of the funding options you would have had before getting a degree are contingent on you not already having a degree. It also turns out that if once you've gotten a B.A. that isn't very useful the way to get financial aid for any continuing education that isn't a master's depends on whether or not you're married. It is one of the persistent ironies in my life that I realize here that as a never-married man there are plenty of things in the welfare net that I am not eligible for. It adds a new, ironic twist on the idea that single people are selfish or irresponsible. Yeah, parents should be allowed to support their kids but depending on how one wishes to spin things it would appear that all those people living off of government hand-outs are not necessarily the "selfish" single people but families.

I am at a stage in my life where I do not consider going back to school to be a wise path. The more I look at the expenses of school and the likely results the less reasonable it seems. If I were to marry and have children I honestly could not say that I would encourage my children to go to a four-year college. I might say that getting an A.A. in a useful field like accounting or some technical field might be better. Or, as Fearsome Tycoon has sometimes put it, I would advise (over against my own example!) that a person get a major in something that is a useful career path fitting one's competencies and then minor in something fun. I majored in journalism and minored in music composition and it's a weird and sad irony to me that in the last year I made some money arranging and composing music while my primary field of study has been, well, not super lucrative!

Then again, in the last year I have had opportunities to write a lot of material for my friends over at Mockingbird. So, by the grace of God and due to a ton of work, I am finally getting some things done related ot my fields of study. It only took about fourteen years! In fact because I have been slowly building up a network of musical and literary and theological contacts throughout the world I have come to realize that there's nothing I could gain from grad school that I have not, by the Lord's mercies and a lot of effort, managed to obtain already. So while I have often been depressed and sometimes do get depressed about the dead end I seem to be in and how education is not even an option to get out of it I can feel somewhat grateful that, as the Christian saying puts it, that God has closed so many doors on higher education. It is for me better to have not gotten yet another useless higher education degree but have opportunities to do work that I have enjoyed doing, however modest the pay, than to have ended up in academia like I dreamed of in my late teens and early 20s.

HT: City of God" On Religion and Violence

http://www.civitatedei.com/2011/07/on-religion-and-violence/

Dan over at City of God has a good post on religion and violence. As New Atheists have been asserting for years religion causes violence. Or does it? The shrill screed of Frank Schaeffer withstanding, Anders Breivik is not conclusively turning out to be a Christian in an evangelical or fundamentalist style. If Breivik is not exactly the kind of conservative fundamentalist right wing Christian Frank Schaeffer needs him to be to say "I told you so" does this make Breivik's actions less troubling? A Frank Schaeffer who sees Christian right wingers as literal breeders of terrorism and terrorists is hardly different from the right wing Christian he demonizes that sees Islam as the bed upon which terrorism and chaos is conceived. I've already written elsewhere about how Frank is basically the pot calling the kettle black.

Atheists who would say religion was what Hitler used to gain power conflate the nature of religious belief with the civic use of religion and the nature of the content of religious belief required to be considered part of a religious community. These three things are not the same even if particular branches of religious belief integrate the three things with unusual purity. A committment to "Christendom" may turn out to not be a commitment to the core of the Christian faith so much as an ethnic, national, and racial identity of which "Christendom" is a mere part, perhaps not even the most important part. A good many New Atheists are too intellectually lazy to pierce through the veil of their own prejudices. As the episodes on South Park titled "Go God Go" demonstrate, even in a future with no religion this is no assurance to us now that there will be war no more.

The idea that without religion there will be no wars is itself an innately religious idea, a religious idea of the most apocalyptic sort. They will beat their swords into plow shears and study war no longer. They will no longer train for wars because wars will not happen. The Prince of Peace will reign. Yes, as certain pastors insist upon the point, it is true that Christ will defeat all His enemies before establishing that eternal peace, but the end point is still peace. More germane to my point, the notion that an atheist can imagine that there will be more peace without religion is fundamentally assasine because the supply of arable land, clean water, food, work, and social connectivity is not going to automatically be more plentiful just because no one believes in any god. Injustice, poverty, inequality, racial strife, rape, murder, neglect, abuse, theft, tyranny, and exploitation will never go away merely because religious ideas have been swept from the planet. What will change are the rationales used to justify these activities. An atheist who is unable to observe or concede this has a vision of reality more blinkered than a fundamentalist of any stripe.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises is not the most inspired title

but I'll go see Nolan's third and final Batman film anyway. I'll even forgive that he's using Bane, a character I always took to be a lame one created by committee just to break Batman's back. I'll also overlook that he's using Catwoman, a character I was hoping wouldn't show up. Back when The Dark Knight came out people were jonesing for Angelina Jolie to play Catwoman. Nope, not this guy. I may be one of an assumed minority of guys who doesn't think Jolie is as hot as hyped and don't find myself convinced by her actorly chops. I suppose I'll tip my hand at this point and admit that I think Anne Hathaway comes off as more attractive and interesting than Jolie. That's just how my taste in women works.

But all that is rambly patter. What I'm really here to announce is that I have begun the work on the next phase of the series of series for Mockingbird. The Dark Knight rises. I've had a lot of stuff going on by way of family birthdays this month, work search and research, and tending to an injury. But work has officially and finally (!) begun on new phases in the DCAU project.

I am also still progressing as fast as possible (not as fas as I'd like) in getting one of my compositions ready for publication.

Priestly Rants discusses how God chose and favored a liar and a schemer who became a polygamist and played favorites among his children

http://priestlyrant.com/on-ish/2089.html#more-2089

One of the things that Christians like to overlook is that those saints whose names we remember were as famous in their sins as they are now in their sainthood. They are saints in death, to put an overly simple spin on things. They struggled within and through sins, some sins being ones they never entirely overcame. Samson didn't exactly stop being a stupid horndog until his death with the Phillistines and even the most pious imaginative cover-up cannot avoid dealing with the reality that that closing act of genocide was also a suicide.

Yet Samson makes the roster of faith in Hebrews 11 along with Jephthah, who by his rash vow made himself guilty of sacrificing his own daughter. Here was a man who put faith in God's ability to provide a victory and then by the foolishness of his oath immediately put himself in a position where he was stuck offering a human sacrifice. Perhaps even more disturbing is the note that God doesn't intervene to stop that sacrifice. Just as remarkable, the daughter asks that she have a year to bewail her virginity before her life is sacrificed. This is a sadder tale than Christian college dorm residents eluding to "let me bewail my virginity" can even do an injustice to.

And God not only lets it happen in Hebrews the Lord permits the author to discuss Jephthah as one of the heroes of the faith. Peter in his epistles (we'll just skip over the debate about authorship, shall we?) refers to Lot as a hero of the faith who was upset by the rampant immorality of the region. As a certain pastor put it, we just have to take the apostle's word for this because there's no evidence from the text of Genesis that that's even close to how things went down. Which by no coincidence leads me to my next observation.

There are a lot of Christians who believe that God would and should call only those most worthy to accomplish big things for the kingdom of God. This ignores the substantial flaws of Jesus' own followers. It plays well for leadership conferences and training regimes to say we should pick the best and brightest but as many commentaries on the Gospels have pointed out it would often seem as though Jesus hand-picked the worst and dumbest. The best of the worst and dumbest were still doing things like denying they knew Jesus when the chips were down; or petitioning Jesus for the ultimate sidekick roles. The worst by measures of loyalty sold Jesus out to crucifixion but were apparently good at handling money. This may be a "biblical" warning that anyone who is considered a financial guru in your Christian circles is likely to be a betrayer. But never mind that. I am not really here to discuss fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes sold to believers.

Fellow evangelical Protestants like to talk about the scandal of the cross. I like to talk about that, too, but often the scandal of the cross is that it's even more scandalous than I would really like it to be. It's scandalous because out of love Christ bore death to save me from sin and death. But in day to day life the scandal that is brought home is that Jesus did not just die for my sins. That's a covenient thing to forget when I am feeling like I'm sinned against or not getting things I wish I could get because I either feel I deserve them or simply want them. Now for some men and women struggling with resentment against the Lord that withheld thing may be a spouse. In my case I struggle with remembering that just because other people have jobs does not mean the Lord does not provide for me in a loving way (I have much to write about the significance of this at another time).

There are huge themes in scriptural books that can be easily overlooked if we obsess about details. This is most true of prophetic books. Consider all the stupid fantastic notions people will get in interpreting a book like Ezekiel. People will read themselves into a chapter like Ezekiel 8 or 9. They will construe from this that they are like Ezekiel and get to see into the real workings of God's people and God's justice. That's precisely the wrong way to look at it. If you volunteer yourself to have keen insights into hidden workings of the Lord you've joined a legion of nameless and mostly forgotten people known as self-appointed prophets. Most of those prophets didn't even rise to the dubious level of false prophet, still less prophet of the Lord. Most of those people are forgotten in the sands of time, unnamed, unknown, unimportant, and perhaps unconsidered.

God did not pick prophets and priests and kings because they displayed either a competence for that role or qualification for that role. In a time and place where some Christians talk glibly about "kingly gifts" and not so much about "priestly gifts" or "prophetic gifts" this is unsurprising. The idiom "kingly gifts" makes the supposition, it seems, that if one has kingly gifts then one should be a king, or perhaps that because one already is a king of some kind one should have kingly gifts. Not everyone who is a father acts like a good father should, however. Not everyone who is a chief executive officer acts like a good one should. If the Peter principle holds then the idea that people rise as far as their imcompetence will permit them then those who rise to the top are not necessarily those who are fit for the job so much as those who aren't kept from rising to the top because better people for the job simply did not appear--this could have been because they lacked the interest or the opportunity rather than through a lack of skill.

What all of this should lead us to consider is that we, like Israel the man and Israel the nation, were not chosen because we were so very good. We would like to convince ourselves that we got where we are, if we're in a good place, because we did good things and are good people. To deflect this through a less than ideal expression of piety we are not so good at conceding that we are where we are in part because of what would be called dumb luck. The race is not to the swift, nor victory to the strong, nor wealth to the wise but time and chance happen to them all.

The core failing of any kind of prosperity teaching is to deny that time and chance happen to us all and that it can give death and failure to one while conferring success and longevity to the other. The person who has the most kingly gifts may toil away at some lower-level managerial job making things run for the person who runs the show and talks about having kingly gifts he/she doesn't actually have. The world is full of generals who became famous because they delegated and then took credit for the brilliance of their subordinates. The Desert Fox wasn't just some isolated tactical wunderkind, he had a great support team, but it is more convenient for military legends and romanticized notions to imagine Rommel was just this brilliant guy coming up with genius moves on his own.

A Christian, particularly a modern American conservative Protestant, is stuck asking the question of men like Jacob, Jephthah, and David. These are men whose character flaws stuck with them their whole lives. Yet David particularly was permitted to reign for decades when by contemporary evangelical standards he should not have been allowed to even get his job. This is one of the more pervasively disconcerting things I have considered about believers and leadership. It would appear that one of the scandals of the cross is that the Lord lets people carry on in positions of influence--these people are possessed of character flaws they would consider disqualifying in any other person who displayed them to such a degree yet they do not stop holding their positions of power or influence themselves.

No, instead they just keep going on in the certitude that God has appointed them and that this seems to mean not that they should really keep repenting of the things they think disqualify others but that they get to keep on keeping on. That God permits the unfit to accomplish things is easy to understand, but that God permits double standards and hypocrisy to run rampant is troubling, and it is troubling because I can see it in myself even more easily than I could decide to see it in others. Just when "we" as Christians can tell ourselves that we get the scandal of the cross it seems that that is precisely the point at which we probably don't get it.

When you or I operate within the ideas that we have what we have because we have earned God's divine favor we're not operating from a position of gratitude for the Lord's kindness. We are operating within the assumption that because our spiritual ducks are all in a row and that we are not guilty of any sins that disqualify us from being cool that we know about that we are safely in the position to speak up, even if it's only from the generousl sliding of scale of not being as bad as someone else. That God has so conspicuously chosen lying, scheming, manipulative polygamists in the course of founding the family of faith should give us pause.

We find it easy to talk about the wideness of God's mercy when it extends to keeping people in the family of God we want in the family. It becomes a scandal when it extends to people we refuse to even acknowledge place their faith in Christ. It becomes a scandal when God blesses with material wealth and the admiration of others men and women we wish the Lord would smite. Jesus said that God sends rain on the just and unjust alike. Job noticed that the Lord allowed very wicked people to prosper. Koholeth noticed this, too.

Christians in America never tire of talking about how only those who deserve to be in power should be in power. Well, of course, we have a nation with the historical luxury of having defined how we want ourselves to be run by committee. Then we find over time that even our best committees end up leading to people making decisions that doom us. We have no problem invoking covenantal language and analogies to God's people Israel when we are going for Manifest Destiny or going for a mandate to get things we want done. It doesn't even matter if we're talking strictly Protestant or Catholic here since Manifest Destiny was an ideological concept shaped over decades by Christians in America of every stripe. It is too simple to blame the other teams we don't identify with as Christians in imputing crimes to America, if we don't indict our own team where it has failed then we have become Pharisees, able to say we have been enslaved to no one while living in a Palestinian vassal state in the moment of our utterance.

What Jesus and other prophets beneath Him reveal to us is that this has never been true. The role of a prophet is to point to Christ but the role Christ Himself plays as prophet is to remind us, who consider ourselves Israel, who we really are. Not just the idealized child of the promise but the swindling polygamist who plays favorites. We are incapable of realizing what all the flaws we may see in ourselves or, worse yet, in others may yet be in the age to come as the Lord refines and redeems those things within us and others that to our eyes or others' eyes may be considered utterly beyond redemption.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Frank Schaeffer continues to overcompensate for his role in forming the Religious Right

I read Crazy for God and mostly enjoyed as a page turner but since that book got published Frank seems determined to present a story in which he is so different from his old man that he can make a cottage industry out of debunking everything conservative Protestant. Trouble is that some of us actually read the mediocrity that was Addicted to Mediocrity. Schaeffer may have concluded he was some kind of closet case non-evangelical non-Protestant but that doesn't make him less an architect for what we can now broadly call the Religious Right. For folks happy to read whatever he writes about Obama as the last best hope America has in a venue like the Huffington Post what Frank used to do probably isn't as important as what he writes now but the trouble is that for those of us who paid attention to both stages to any degree the snake is still selling snake oil, just for an ostensibly different cause.
One of the things he doesn't clearly articulate in what I have read of him so far (admittedly just a couple of books) is the idea that not just the goals but the methods he has embraced are problematic. He still comes off as a screeching idealogue now who has merely changed formal alliegances. And if by his account he bullied and hectored his old man into making abortion a wedge issue for religious conservatives then why should Frank spend so much time selling himself as different from his old man and reacting to the religious right as a bunch of Muslim terrorists in Christian trappings. Schaeffer himself didn't mind suggesting that actual doctrinal differences could be set aside in the pursuit of political and social goals.
There are those who think that Driscoll is a crazy shill using controversy to sell himself. There seem to be some real teeth in this criticism since when a week elapsed after he pinged requests for stories about effeminate male church musicians he was going on about how he didn't have a platform to talk about his views on social issues. We were being told to believe, despite more than a decade of preaching that included all sorts of remarks about chickafied dudes and social issues, that somehow Driscoll didn't have a proper platform yet for opining on cultural issues and that the solution to this was to set up a website after he and his wife and kids are done vacationing in Europe. There's also a book coming up that deserves promotion, too. So we can all sit tight until Driscoll returns and can tell us what the real issues are again. That's swell. Cause a controversy, redefine the issue around what you say it is instead of what the controversy is about, and then go on vacation to come back and steer discussion again.
Which would seem scandalous and unusual if that hadn't been Frank Schaeffer's shtick before Driscoll ever started a ministry. Schaeffer differs only in the sense that he's officially announced he's changed alliances. He's no longer an architect of the Religious Right. But instead of demonizing the left and making the case that only unfettered capitalism makes the most sense inlight of scripture he's going the other way. Schaeffer is in some senses the less compelling would-be demagogue in a pop culture setting but not because he lacks the will to demonize anyone who disagrees with him. This he does with alacrity regardless of what his actual views may be. He's the lesser public figure because given his mediocrity he is only able to either achieve or sustain this status by dint of the reputation of his old man.
Even my most sympathetic reading of Frank's criticisms of his father leads me to conclude that Frank is a man who has built his whole life managing and directing his father's legacy as a selling point for himself, whether it was bullying Francis into making abortion a wedge issue within the conservative movement when Francis considered it "a Catholic issue", or it was a case of constantly talking about the anti-government violence dear old Dad approved of if abortion could not be legally and non-violently eliminated. Frank finds it easier to take that path than to, it seems, completely deal with the implications of his claims about himself to have fostered in his own way what he now so eagerly calls right wing Christian terrorism.
That he sincerely regrets what he did in the past I grant as a matter of assuming the best. That is not strictly necessary and not, especially given how Frank talks about other people, even what the fellow could be argued to deserve but that's how I'm handling this. The problem in Schaeffer's approach now is precisely that he is the same old hectoring, bullying impugning would-be demagogue sort he came off as twenty years ago when he was trying to be a champion for right wing Christian causes. He's still the same lazy mediocre punk he was before he changed horses. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with being a mediocre punk. Jesus came to save mediocre punks like Schaeffer and jobless losers like me.
It's just too bad that Schaeffer seems to be a man who goes through life continuously buying his own hype, whether that's in his right wing architect mode or his champion of Obama mode. In both cases he still has to build his sales platform on the work his dad gets noticed for. He never had a chance in that respect. It would be as impossible to ask him to not become a coat-tail rider on a parent's legacy as it would be to ask that none of the Lennon boys ever try writing a song; that Jacob Dylan would never take an interest in music; or that the Zappa children wouldn't get involved in entertainment; or that Barrymores would not be in the film industry.
The flip side of some forceful personality building a "legacy" is that legacy becomes the damned thing your children feel they have no choice but to deal with; they have no choice but to endlessly live in the shadow of and within the constraints of the "legacy" you built ultimately for yourself (or, to be fair, for others). If the legacy is big enough, as is that of J. S. Bach you may find centuries later that there are no members of that family name who get listed as professional musicians of any kind. After all, if great-great-great-great-great-grandpa obtained the pinnacle of Western art music what's the point of continuing the family legacy? It's not that it's a bad legacy it's that anything you attempted to add would automatically just count against you. I would suggest that in terms of American evangelicalism Francis Schaeffer gained such a legacy. If anything Frank selling himself as the anti-Francis is the only plausible business move he has with a legacy he can neither live up to nor escape.
So on the one hand I can almost get why Frank seems to act like he constantly needs to exploit or direct attention about his dad. That's all he's got and in that respect he's sort of a tragic figure, doomed to always be within the shadow of a father who whether loved or reviled is always going to be the more important figure. If Roy Baumeister and others have noted that male social circles by definition only have a limited amount of respect to go around and you're the son of one of the biggest alpha males in American Christianity in the 20th century then if you don't choose a path in some way connected to it then you've got nothing.
On the other hand it's taken with such mercenary alacrity it is hard to see as very sympathetic in the end. He may persuade himself that he has worked hard to not be in his dad's shadow but obviously since he can't help connecting himself and his dad in public utterances at length the jig has been up for some time now. It's not possible for me to feel there's any convincing case to be made that Frank Schaeffer would have gone anywhere without his dad's legacy constantly hanging over him. Frank is most persuasive when he mines ambivalence and confusion. Whenever he grasps for certainty, even if it is in the form of protesting certainty, he seems to just falter.
And to tie things up and put a ribbon on it, this gives me another occasion to sound a cautionary note bout neo-Reformed brothers who want a "legacy". Think of the children. No, seriously. Look at Francis Schaeffer's legacy and look at how his kids have lived. Not just the non-annoying kids who aren't even on the radar. Look at Frank specifically. Frank is what you get when a guy who tries to measure up to a family legacy established by a patriarch figures out that it is simultaneously not in him to ever live up to that legacy and yet who also is completely incapable of escaping it. He then spends his life trying to repudiate it in some way and yet can't do it without being beholden to it. It is possibly the ultimate no-win situation in a parent/child relationship. "Legacy" becomes the strait jacket from which even a petulant and uncooperative child cannot possibly break free.
The miserable pathos of Frank is that even when he tries to distance himself from Francis he reveals that he's the same old Frank. Not unlike Driscoll using a controversy he's stirred up to shill an upcoming book, Frank can use a recent terrorist activity as a moment to say "I told you so" about how certain he was far right Christians are tools. He is in his own way a kind of proto-Driscoll. Proof that absurdist vitriol is not confined to either left or right or some kind of center. So maybe Frank predicted Christian rightests fomenting terror. Big deal. Tom Clancy has sold a lot of books about military topics but does that make him a terrorism expert, too? Novelists and entertainers right and left sure are confident that they can pontificate accurately on stuff.
If he were more honest about his own advocacies he'd not just pin the blame on Christian rightists but also concede that as the architect of those ideas and alliances thirty years ago it was part of what he was pushing for. When Paul had his conversion moment he stopped persecuting Christians and started working to bring the message to the Gentiles. Arguably both his message and his methods changed. Frank would have us believe he had something vaguely like a Damascene moment but his methods suggest that the change-up was not nearly as big as he's convinced himself it is.
Per my long-ago citation of Adolf Schlatter, we do not remove our share in evil by condemning evil in others. Frank's legacy as a Christian right wing activist isn't going to go away no matter how many times he spins the Christian right as a bunch of anti-American terrorists because a black man is in the Oval Office. Some people don't care that Obama is black and consider it uselessly moot to debate about whether he's really an American citizen. Some folks can just not like his administration's policy decisions. Frank would rather assume that literally any disapproval of Obama's policies could only be motivated by stupidity from the far right or left. Whatever, dude. Proves the point that Frank is a leopard whose spots have not changed since he changed alliances. A guy who in the wake of a terrorist act can say "I told you so" is not any better than a guy who in the wake of a tsunami can explain how God's sovereign will is to use it as a gentle reminder that we should repent. It's still capitalizing on the deaths of others as a way to prove "I'm totally right". The tragedy may not be that people keep doing this, that's mundane, the tragedy is that someone who thinks he's left that all behind is still playing the game and doesn't seem to realize he's still at it.