The Quality of Mercy at HuffPo

The Huffington Post may be the bastion of progressive ideology but lately its been revealing some remarkable insight into our culture. As we shall see, the audience, on the other hand, not so much. Let me take you through a couple of posts I found recently:

We begin with America’s favorite pagan holiday, Halloween, or as the church goers where I come from call it: Fall. Lauren Bravo laments the choices of Halloween costumes for women. Bravo quotes 2004 film Mean Girls as the source of what she calls the “Slutty Halloween” phenomena.

“In Girl World,” explained Cady, “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.”

I won’t say Bravo is outraged. More like peeved:

The problem, you see, isn’t so much that Halloween offers the chance to dress slutty, but that recently it seems to have become the only option. It started small enough, with sexy she-devils, minxy vampires and the ‘underwear with arbitrary animal ears’ get-up so well illustrated in Mean Girls. But then (probably as all the fancy dress shops started selling out of red PVC), it spread. And lo, we were forced to sluttify every costume we could, just to keep up. . . Halloween is the epicentre of this. In Railway Children terms, it’s when we’d be ripping up our red flannel petticoats and waving them frantically in front of the train. The Ladyflesh Express. Final destination: Nakedsville.

She goes on to explain how women are forced to become tarts. It seems that its a matter of competition with other women as to who can have the most casual sex. If you are dressed as Raggedy Ann, you won’t attract the right sort but if you dress as sexy Raggedy Ann you will. Ah feminism. You’ve sure come a long way Baby.  Bravo also mentions the concern about children after she notices a little girls costume with the word B**** emblazoned down the side of the leg. However, Bravo hardly notices the connection between the two:

But while demonising our infants is a new worry to add to the Halloween list (we’ve been sending them out to beg sweets from strangers for ages, after all), it foreshadows the phenomenon adult humans face every year.

Foreshadows? Really. That’s it? How about this: The reason the little darling wants the trampy outfit is because she sees no reason for adults to condemn it. Sure, our liberal society says, “Its wrong for you sweet heart. You are only (fill in the blank) and could lead to some perv into getting the wrong idea.” But sweet heart doesn’t buy arguments that are contingent on how many calendar years have passed. If its wrong for her, why isn’t it wrong for Mommy or Aunt Fay? We could never admit that what we celebrate has a direct effect on what our children desire. We would rather cling to the notion that age of consent laws will preserve our culture.

Christian Post has a transcript of Harold Camping’s apology and announcement of retirement.  But is this really just Camping’s Non-Apology Apology? He is retiring but not “stepping down” over the scandal. He admits he made a mistake but offers no apology for all the people who followed him and gave something like 80 million dollars to Family Radio between 2005-2011. Here’s the gist of his “apology”:

God in His own timetable and in His own purposes will reveal truth to us when it’s His time to do it. In any case, we do not have to have a feeling of calamity or a feeling that God has abandoned us. We are simply learning. And sometimes it’s painful to learn. We are learning how God brings His messages to mankind, and my my, we have claimed to be a child of God, and therefore as we search the Bible, we’re bound to feel the darts of the Lord. Sometimes He gives us the truth and sometimes He gives us something that causes us to wait further upon Him.

I think there is a disconnect here. Camping makes what he considers definitive predictions about the state of the church (Churches are all corrupt except ours), society, and the end of the world. However, he’s not a prophet. Sometimes God reveals the truth and sometimes God hides the truth to make us have more faith. This seems to be what Camping is using as his justification for all he has done. I mentioned in a previous post that I have been frequenting a discussion board, departout.com , And I have to say, Camping’s dwindling diehard followers were making this claim before Camping made his farewell message. The prevailing narrative is that God is testing them. They do not stop to consider the incompatibility between a God who reveals the truth and a God who intentionally obscures his timetable but makes searching for that mathematical formula the major facet of his worship.

However at HuffPo the quality of mercy is some what strained. The major criticism is that Harold Camping should give back all of the money given to Family Radio if he would truly repent:

Ah Harold, the people who have lost everything for your lunacy. Perhaps you should sell off what you own to reimburse them. Christ would support that, I think.

Did he give back the money that his followers donated to him? He needs to do that.They have nobody to blame but themselves. There was no scam. If you were too stupid to not realize that his prediction­s are bogus, then you deserve to lose your money.

If I understand Camping however, he would never do this because it would rob God’s people of their chance to trust God. He shouldn’t return the money because he didn’t do anything wrong. God just didn’t reveal the truth to him.

Camping did apologize for one thing:

Incidentally, I have been told that I said back in May that people who did not believe that May 21 should not be the rapture date, probably had not been saved. I should not have said that, and I apologize for that.

Notice the distancing language  “I’ve been told that I said back in May . . . ” He said it before May. He said it in his literature back in 1988. Here’s someone quoting his book Wheat and Tares (though I cannot verify this quote because its been removed from Family Radio website–so please let me know if its inaccurate):

“Therefore, an integral and important part of the Gospel that is to be sent forth during the time of the final harvest is the command that if they have not already been driven out of the church, they are to come out of the local churches, which God now calls ‘Babylon’.”

If this is correct, Camping made his mathematical hijinks part of the gospel. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then its a heretic.

Finally, not all is whacked out at the HuffPo. They added a new columnist to their roster. There is a great piece by none other than Billy Graham on growing old and finishing the race well. There is little that is new in Graham’s post but it is suffused with gentle grace:

God doesn’t want us to waste our latter years or spend them in superficial, meaningless pursuits. Instead He wants us to use them in whatever ways we can to influence those who will come after us. He wants us to finish well, and one of the ways we do this is by passing on our values and our faith to those who will follow us. In Psalm 71:19 we read, “When I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation.”

Same Billy Graham. No predictions. No grand standing. And No apologies. Scripture and Narrative.  The contrast with Camping couldn’t be more stark. Both are in their 90’s but the legacy will be quite different. Even the normally snark and vitriol of Huffington Post commentators is peppered with mercy:

Inspiring. I don’t follow religion because it should make the world a better place but instead it has caused more misery than anything else. But I respect people like Billy Graham who share my values of being kind, helpful and trying to make this world better. If you leave this world a little bit better for you having lived then you have surely succeeded no matter what you believe.

If I have 1/10th the clarity of thought at 93 that you do Rev. Graham I would consider myself very fortunate.
Thank you for modeling a life of love, compassion and integrity.

Remarkably most of these were from non-Christians. There was criticism of course of Graham’s influence with Presidents, his wealth, and the usual vitriol at the Church itself. However, as this ode to Billy Graham by The Swirling Eddies intimates, there is something different about Billy Graham even if you don’t agree with him:

I don’t know about those other guys
there’s somethin’ in the back of their eyes
but billy, you’re the man
who don’t use slight of hand
ain’t wearin’ no disguise
I love you, billy

I love the simple things you say
and you never seem to get in the way
no one is quite like you
compassionate and true
“just as i am”, I say
I love you, billy

 

 


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