Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Carson explanation

She's hardly my favourite writer, but I reckon Amanda Marcotte is right about Ben Carson:
His exaggerated tales of sin and redemption sound bizarre to most Americans, but they are par for the course in the evangelical circles that Carson is trying to win over...

Hammering messy real world experiences into trite fables about sin and redemption is standard operating procedure in conservative Christian circles. So is the exaggeration. Tales of your behavior before you were saved are embellished for maximum drama. What’s important is not the literal truth, but reinforcing fundamentalist notions that the world outside of the Jesus bubble is a depraved hellhole.

Take, for instance, Christine O’Donnell, the 2010 Republican candidate for Senate from Delaware. During her campaign, tape surfaced of her claiming she had been to a “Satanic altar” with “blood” on it during her days when she supposedly “dabbled into witchcraft”. The story was obvious nonsense and she tried to downplay its significance without coming right out and admitting what was likely true, which is that she had taken some silly incident from her youth and reformed it into a tale of Satanism and depravity with which to impress her fellow Christians.

Carson’s claim that he was a violent youth who renounced his sinful ways after praying has to be understood in this light. In Christian circles, the literal truth of such stories doesn’t matter nearly as much as their usefulness in spreading the word that Jesus is the cure for all your problems. A story about Jesus’s ability to save you from murder is just more memorable than, say, a tale of renouncing your habit of shoplifting.

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