Madness, Christianity, and the Left

Somewhere out in cyberspace, there is a cartoon portraying two salamanders sitting on a rock while having a conversation.  One of the critters says, "In the lost city of Atlantis, I was Shirley MacLaine."

A little background to the joke: Ms. MacLaine was interviewed by Matt Lauer a few years ago.  She talked about her remarkable long-term memory, which was so accurate that she could recall her former identity as a citizen of the lost city of Atlantis.

We'll leave the ironies inherent in the juxtaposition of the now disgraced and nearly invisible Mr. Lauer and Ms. MacLaine to be unraveled for another day.  We'll merely note that Ms. MacLaine's belief in her former life as a citizen in Atlantis was not questioned by Mr. Lauer, who gave her credence because of her fame, longevity, and acting skills.  It seemed that he believed her because her feelings about her former life in Atlantis were strong and deep.  She was spouting nonsense but was being taken seriously by Lauer, who asked no questions, required no facts, demanded no proof.  MacLaine's sincere conviction apparently was enough to validate her fantasies. 

Lauer gave absolutely no hint if he thought Ms. MacLaine was crazy, though not too long ago, Ms. MacLaine would be considered mad, or at least compassionately recognized as a victim of senile dementia.  She would have been regarded much as an elderly man who claims he is Napoleon Bonaparte reincarnated.  Such a man certainly would not be taken seriously, much less granted an interview on national TV.

At least not so far. 

We should be glad that people with senile dementia or other severe mental problems are not treated as badly as they were in the not so distant past.  But lately, a new and dangerous form of thinking about mental illness has arisen – one in which those formerly considered insane are now considered normal or at least trendy, and one in which sane religious folk are considered nutcases unworthy of public office or other positions of responsibility.  To put it another way, what was once considered mad is now deemed sane, while people once considered sane are now the ones attacked as being mad as hatters and as vicious haters.

For some time, it has been in vogue among the left to consider Christianity itself an insane belief system.  Certainly, such seems to be the case for some of the talking heads on ABC's The View.  According to Joy Behar, one of the most dangerously insane people in the United States is the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence. 

Let's be frank: a well known spokeswoman has so thoroughly absorbed the left's definition of insanity that she believes she can trash without consequence a good man whose core beliefs are based on beliefs held by Judaism and Christianity for over four thousand years.  Of course, she would never dream of trashing the Muslim mayor of London in a similar manner.

The fault in Behar's stars lies with the ideological extremists pushing politically correct ideology, a belief system that has created a change in the meaning of sanity.  The current leftist reversion to paganism and pagan mythology teaches that the concept of morality is infinitely malleable and entirely subject to individual human will.  That concept increasingly means that the left deems Christians, who believe in a universal moral order, insane – Christians, who hold to a sober analysis of the human condition while also holding an elevated view of what it means to be a redeemed and restored human being.  Christians, whose narrative of several thousand years has been the basis of Western civilization, are deemed mad.  They are the outliers in a country that was and still largely is Christian.

Such inversion of truth is what happens when a society is pagan or reverts to paganism, as is clearly illustrated in the case of the Apostle Paul, who was deeply involved in pagan (politically correct and politically reinforced) politics similar to that of today.

Summoned to appear in court by the Roman rulers of his day, Paul testified concerning his conversion to Christianity before Festus, procurator of Judea, and King Herod Agrippa II, who was in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice. 

Paul spoke before the two men about the core claims of billions of Christians throughout the ages: Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again.  He presented the case for Christianity compellingly, clearly, and persuasively.

The response from the two leaders before whom Paul was being tried?  Agrippa was not persuaded.  Festus shouted, "You are out of your mind.  Your great learning is driving you insane" (Acts 26).

Not much has changed since the time of Festus and Agrippa.  The women of The View would doubtless wink at Agrippa's incestuous relationship with his sister and would mock Paul for trying to persuade them of the foundational beliefs of Christianity.

Such is the cynicism and downright hatred on the part of the left that a person like Mike Pence, who believes in the Christian ideals of what is just, good, noble, and pure, is seen as an inherently hateful person clinging to rags of superstition.

Fortunately, Pence is speaking out against the virulent hatred of Christians promoted by Behar and others like her.  He recently said:

To have ABC have a broadcast that compares Christianity to mental illness is just wrong… I call them out on it, not because of what was said about me, but because it's just simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of intolerance.

The vice president went on to say he considers his sustaining faith essential to his walk, adding that he and his wife regularly start their mornings with prayer and Bible-reading.  "I am not unusual," he stated.

He is right about the intolerance as well as the fact he is not unusual.  Tens of millions of American Christians and hundreds of millions around the world consider the core beliefs of Christianity the bedrock of their existence. 

But Behar, as well as her fellow atheistic leftists, would have all Christians categorized as insane because they pray to God and expect to hear something back from their creator, Father, and Redeemer.

The question remains: who's crazy and hateful?  Who is sane, and who is not; who is lying, and who is telling the truth? 

Is the reprehensible person someone like Mike Pence, who behaves in a dignified and moral manner and who tolerantly invites those in opposition to his beliefs to dialogue with him?  Or is it people like Behar, who are ignoramuses knowing virtually nothing of history and Christianity and who descend from the line of Festus and Agrippa?

In the long run, Festus and Agrippa were, and modern-day scoffers like Behar are, merely obscure historical footnotes.  They will scarcely be remembered.

But Paul, the eloquent defender and expositor of Christianity, will prevail.  So too will the Christ who founded the Church that will prevail even though the very Gates of Hell are against it.

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she received the prize for excellence in systematic theology.  She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.

Somewhere out in cyberspace, there is a cartoon portraying two salamanders sitting on a rock while having a conversation.  One of the critters says, "In the lost city of Atlantis, I was Shirley MacLaine."

A little background to the joke: Ms. MacLaine was interviewed by Matt Lauer a few years ago.  She talked about her remarkable long-term memory, which was so accurate that she could recall her former identity as a citizen of the lost city of Atlantis.

We'll leave the ironies inherent in the juxtaposition of the now disgraced and nearly invisible Mr. Lauer and Ms. MacLaine to be unraveled for another day.  We'll merely note that Ms. MacLaine's belief in her former life as a citizen in Atlantis was not questioned by Mr. Lauer, who gave her credence because of her fame, longevity, and acting skills.  It seemed that he believed her because her feelings about her former life in Atlantis were strong and deep.  She was spouting nonsense but was being taken seriously by Lauer, who asked no questions, required no facts, demanded no proof.  MacLaine's sincere conviction apparently was enough to validate her fantasies. 

Lauer gave absolutely no hint if he thought Ms. MacLaine was crazy, though not too long ago, Ms. MacLaine would be considered mad, or at least compassionately recognized as a victim of senile dementia.  She would have been regarded much as an elderly man who claims he is Napoleon Bonaparte reincarnated.  Such a man certainly would not be taken seriously, much less granted an interview on national TV.

At least not so far. 

We should be glad that people with senile dementia or other severe mental problems are not treated as badly as they were in the not so distant past.  But lately, a new and dangerous form of thinking about mental illness has arisen – one in which those formerly considered insane are now considered normal or at least trendy, and one in which sane religious folk are considered nutcases unworthy of public office or other positions of responsibility.  To put it another way, what was once considered mad is now deemed sane, while people once considered sane are now the ones attacked as being mad as hatters and as vicious haters.

For some time, it has been in vogue among the left to consider Christianity itself an insane belief system.  Certainly, such seems to be the case for some of the talking heads on ABC's The View.  According to Joy Behar, one of the most dangerously insane people in the United States is the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence. 

Let's be frank: a well known spokeswoman has so thoroughly absorbed the left's definition of insanity that she believes she can trash without consequence a good man whose core beliefs are based on beliefs held by Judaism and Christianity for over four thousand years.  Of course, she would never dream of trashing the Muslim mayor of London in a similar manner.

The fault in Behar's stars lies with the ideological extremists pushing politically correct ideology, a belief system that has created a change in the meaning of sanity.  The current leftist reversion to paganism and pagan mythology teaches that the concept of morality is infinitely malleable and entirely subject to individual human will.  That concept increasingly means that the left deems Christians, who believe in a universal moral order, insane – Christians, who hold to a sober analysis of the human condition while also holding an elevated view of what it means to be a redeemed and restored human being.  Christians, whose narrative of several thousand years has been the basis of Western civilization, are deemed mad.  They are the outliers in a country that was and still largely is Christian.

Such inversion of truth is what happens when a society is pagan or reverts to paganism, as is clearly illustrated in the case of the Apostle Paul, who was deeply involved in pagan (politically correct and politically reinforced) politics similar to that of today.

Summoned to appear in court by the Roman rulers of his day, Paul testified concerning his conversion to Christianity before Festus, procurator of Judea, and King Herod Agrippa II, who was in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice. 

Paul spoke before the two men about the core claims of billions of Christians throughout the ages: Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again.  He presented the case for Christianity compellingly, clearly, and persuasively.

The response from the two leaders before whom Paul was being tried?  Agrippa was not persuaded.  Festus shouted, "You are out of your mind.  Your great learning is driving you insane" (Acts 26).

Not much has changed since the time of Festus and Agrippa.  The women of The View would doubtless wink at Agrippa's incestuous relationship with his sister and would mock Paul for trying to persuade them of the foundational beliefs of Christianity.

Such is the cynicism and downright hatred on the part of the left that a person like Mike Pence, who believes in the Christian ideals of what is just, good, noble, and pure, is seen as an inherently hateful person clinging to rags of superstition.

Fortunately, Pence is speaking out against the virulent hatred of Christians promoted by Behar and others like her.  He recently said:

To have ABC have a broadcast that compares Christianity to mental illness is just wrong… I call them out on it, not because of what was said about me, but because it's just simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of intolerance.

The vice president went on to say he considers his sustaining faith essential to his walk, adding that he and his wife regularly start their mornings with prayer and Bible-reading.  "I am not unusual," he stated.

He is right about the intolerance as well as the fact he is not unusual.  Tens of millions of American Christians and hundreds of millions around the world consider the core beliefs of Christianity the bedrock of their existence. 

But Behar, as well as her fellow atheistic leftists, would have all Christians categorized as insane because they pray to God and expect to hear something back from their creator, Father, and Redeemer.

The question remains: who's crazy and hateful?  Who is sane, and who is not; who is lying, and who is telling the truth? 

Is the reprehensible person someone like Mike Pence, who behaves in a dignified and moral manner and who tolerantly invites those in opposition to his beliefs to dialogue with him?  Or is it people like Behar, who are ignoramuses knowing virtually nothing of history and Christianity and who descend from the line of Festus and Agrippa?

In the long run, Festus and Agrippa were, and modern-day scoffers like Behar are, merely obscure historical footnotes.  They will scarcely be remembered.

But Paul, the eloquent defender and expositor of Christianity, will prevail.  So too will the Christ who founded the Church that will prevail even though the very Gates of Hell are against it.

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she received the prize for excellence in systematic theology.  She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.