Sundays With The Christianists: How Satan Did Western Civilization
Welp, it took us over a year, but we've finally gotten around to reading a book that we warned you about in August 2013: Colorado radio preacher Kevin Swanson, one of our favorite minor-league Christianist nutters, went and wrote a book last year called Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West. As the title suggests, it's all about the death of Western Civilization, which is on its last legs due to what most of us would call the greatest works of our own culture.
To Swanson, of course, stuff like Greek philosophy, the Enlightenment, and even, maybe, the U.S. Constitution isn't really what made Western Civilization great anyway -- no, for Swanson, the real deal is Biblical Christianity, and anything that detracts from the pure unvarnished truth of the Bible is actually a temporary distraction that will ultimately crumble away. It's a bit hard to pin Swanson down on what an ideal reformed Biblical world would look like, but we get the impression that it would be equal parts Martin Luther and Puritan England, a bit like Galt's Gulch, only governed by John Winthrop. Maybe Swanson would keep modern technology and medicine -- just as long as nobody uses the theory of evolution to develop medical treatments. This is a guy who considers Thomas Aquinas a dangerous influence because he tried to integrate Christian thought with the polluting ideas of Aristotle.
The real surprise about Apostate is that for the most part, especially in the early going, it doesn't sound very much like the Kevin Swanson we've come to know and loathe through his cray-cray radio show. Remember, this is the guy who has informed us that the birth control pill leaves women's wombs studded with scores of tiny dead fetuses. According to Swanson, scientists found that
with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.
We're about a third of the way into Apostate, and at the risk of disappointing you, Dear Wonketteers, we have to confess that there's no single passage to equal that. We have a feeling that since he's doing a "serious" book, he's holding back -- Swanson is pretty popular with the homeschooling crowd, and so he seems to be trying his best to stick to hardline fundamentalist doctrine while tamping down his impulse to go off on his favorite weird tangents. Not that he's especially restrained -- for instance, he openly worries that our increasingly pagan culture is not only accepting homosexuality, but that witchcraft and cannibalism are a clear and present danger to America (one of the nice things about an e-book -- we can do a quick search and let you know that he warns of the dangers of cannibalism ten times throughout the text).
Now, you may well be asking, Dok, why are you bothering with this minor wingnut radio guy from Colorado anyway? Are you really out of Bob Jones University textbooks? Also, will there be more hot anime demon girls? Excellent questions! As we say, Kevin Swanson is kind of a big deal in the world of homeschooling, and that's a good reason. And while there are plenty of weirdass rightwing textbooks to come, it's also worth looking at the "thinking" that drives Christianist homeschoolers like Swanson and his adherents. Then there's all the demon stuff, which we'll get to in a bit (along with more demon girls). Finally, there's this hilarious trailer for the novel, which is just a brilliantly paranoid thing and makes us want to see the movie:
Christians imprisoned for quoting Leviticus! It's totally going to happen!
The goal of Apostate is to show just how far America has fallen from Biblical ideals that were never actually in place here, but that we were much closer to in the 17th Century. And as for Europe, forget it -- they're in even worse shape, Bible-wise. Swanson knows exactly how we got to this sorry state: through the influence of pernicious humanist philosophers, whose ideas took hold in academe and then were spread through cultural vectors, mostly literature, but later film and popular music. And then, the Government Schools polluted the minds of our children to the point that it's nearly impossible for Christianity to make the last desperate culture war stand that Swanson is certain America needs.
Like any good fundamentalist, Swanson is pretty sure that real, pure Christianity is almost extinct because mainstream churches have compromised too much with humanism, a problem going back to the very founding of Harvard and Yale, which were mostly Puritan at first but also, because they taught Latin and Greek classics, fatally flawed from the start, even before they fell to the Unitarians. Swanson really hates Unitarians, with their heretical denial of the Trinity, not to mention their ungodly worship of coffee, Subarus and Toyota Prii. Here's how bad Christianity has it today:
The Western world has lost any meaningful faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is evident in its dress, music, politics, and economics ... There are millions of possible examples to which we might refer in order to prove this point, including the abandonment of Christian burial (in favor of cremation), the neglect of Sunday worship services, the pattern of birth implosions, the widespread acceptance of witchcraft and cannibalism (vampirism), and body mutilation, as well as the wholesale acceptance of homosexuality in the schools, university, and media. Now, more people celebrate the Day of the Dead (Halloween) than the Resurrection of Christ (Easter). The most popular children’s book series of the 20th Century concerns a fictional hero named Harry Potter who is immersed in witchcraft and trained by a homosexual.
Cremation! Tattoos and piercings! Cannibalism! Witchcraft! Daniel Radcliffe! It's so bad, says Swanson, that only half of one percent of young American adults hold a truly Biblical worldview, according to a loony 2009 poll that might make for a good "Sundays With the Christianists" post in its own right.
Needless to say, it's not just a handful of influential philosophers and writers who brought us to this sorry pass, where despite the presence of Campus Crusade for Christ chapters at virtually every college and university, only half a percent of young Americans are really Christian enough. At the end of his introductory chapter, Swanson explains that
As Christians who still hold to a supernatural reality, we would be negligent to ignore the spiritual elements of this apostasy. Although the self-conscious materialist rejects any notion of a supernatural or spiritual world, it is surprising how many of the apostates were afflicted by spiritual forces, and actually gave credence to them in their writings.
Obviously, all this rebellion against God's authority -- for most of recorded European history, mind you, but accelerating in the 18th Century -- has to be the work of The Dark One:
If the breakdown of morals and family life, and the rise of tyrannical governments and the slaughter of the innocents are deemed evil conditions, then all of this must have something to do with unseen, spiritual forces. Somehow, Harvard College moved from Trinitarianism and Reformed Puritanism to Unitarianism and Transcendentalism, more rooted in the Bhagavad-Gita than the Christian Bible! Also, the first of the bloody humanist revolutions in France were inspired by the first of the humanist, intellectual apostates -- Rousseau and Voltaire. Surely, man must take responsibility for his own sins; but there is also a devil. When there is no obvious explanation for the powerful conspiracies, the reign of terror, mass murders, genocides, homosexuality, apostasy, and the like, we can be sure that the devil is involved. This tsunami of apostasy that rolled over Europe and America in the 19th and 20th centuries can only be the result of spiritual powers greater than man himself.
It's demons all the way down, in other words, and Swanson promises to show us exactly how Satan himself helped writers like Hawthorne and Twain write their fiction -- after all, Hawthorne himself referred to The Scarlet Letter as a "hell-fired tale," and Twain wrote Letters From the Earth in the voice of Satan. No way could that merely be a literary pose -- it's demonic possession! We can hardly wait to get to Swanson's chapter on Twain, given this preview in the introduction, where he calls Letters From the Earth "evil incarnate":
Mark Twain takes on the persona of Satan himself in this work, recording 30,000 words of pure blasphemy in the form of letters written by the devil to the archangels Gabriel and Michael. These “Letters from Hell” provide interesting insight into the innermost thoughts of the arch demon himself.
You know, because obviously Twain wasn't just a writer and satirist. He was taking dictation from the Evil one himself, an arrangement which more than one writer on a tight deadline has probably made.
Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West. By Kevin Swanson, 2013. $9.99 on Amazon Kindle.
Next week: Kevin Swanson has some real problems with philosophers, because all knowledge is already in the Bible, and why would you want to add to that?
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.