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Monday, June 12, 2006

If Ann Coulter's a Christian, I'll Be Tony Norman

Now that its original meaning has been hopelessly distorted by hatred and bad vibes, the term "Christian" really should be banished to the hall of linguistic abominations where it belongs.

Say "Christian" in mixed company and the image of a bejeweled evangelist hawking a right-wing social agenda will come immediately to mind.

Very few think of Christians as the same folks who embraced lepers and other social outcasts even before faith-based tax credits kicked in to provide "incentives" for doing the Lord's work.

Once upon a time, being called a Christian was an invitation to participate in one's own beheading. When Christians weren't worshipping in catacombs or refusing to bend a knee to the emperor, they were turning up their noses at every form of social control.

Christians were once anarchists who believed in a kingdom that transcended the petty ambitions of politicians and assorted antichrists.

A mere three centuries after the Galilean Jew who got the ball rolling was strapped to a gurney and executed, Emperor Constantine "legitimized" the wild-eyed cult of peace by turning it into the mascot of imperial power it has remained ever since.

Over the centuries, the term "Christian" has become identified with piety and economic striving for its own sake. Lost in the scramble for respectability is a sense of indignation at the machinations of empire.

Never mind the example set by the itinerant rabbi Christians claim to follow. Not too many of them seem to notice the religious wars, pogroms, inquisitions and rationales for chattel slavery that occur whenever hands clasped firmly in prayer also clutch the reins of temporal power.

In a country that flatters itself with the sobriquet "Christian nation," the majority of American "Christians" support the death penalty without experiencing a second of cognitive dissonance.

A disturbing number of Christians can't get past the book of Leviticus without gathering rocks to stone every stray "sodomite" crossing their path.

Alas, the Jesus that reigns over America takes delight in schemes to expel illegal aliens from the land.

Because her blond mane and feral eyes give her an uncanny resemblance to all four horses of the Apocalypse, the American Jesus has a soft spot for Ann Coulter, despite her hateful shtick.

In her latest best-selling tirade "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," Ms. Coulter demonstrates why she's a "Christian" and her political opponents are the spawn of Satan.

In "Godless," a book that proves there is often truth in advertising as far as titles are concerned, Ms. Coulter proves her love for humanity by questioning the motives of the widows who successfully lobbied for the creation of the 9/11 Commission.

When she's through with her shoddy hit-piece that includes speculation about whether the widows' husbands were planning to divorce them before al-Qaida spared them a visit to divorce court, you can't help but feel you're in the presence of something supernaturally despicable.

No one slings mud imported straight from the Stygian depths quite like Ms. Coulter, a McCarthyite-smear artist who loves generating revulsion across the political spectrum every time she has a book to flog.

Her exaggerations, hackery, lies and bad faith are dutifully pointed out by critics every time she hits the book circuit, but the insincerity of her Christian profession is rarely commented upon. This has always bothered me.

Recently, I realized that Ann Coulter's gall in calling herself a "Christian" isn't any of my business. The problem is my own stupidity in identifying myself as a "Christian" when the word is devoid of its original meaning and has even come to stand for its metaphysical opposite.

I continue to believe in the things I've always believed about the faith, but I can't be a Christian in a world where Ann Coulter can call herself a Christian without fear of contradiction.

I'm open to suggestions about a new spiritual handle since I've already removed "Christian" from my lexicon of spiritual name-dropping.

I wouldn't mind being called a Jew of some sort, but I don't think those good people will have me. Since they're only 3 percent of the population, you'd think a brother could catch a break. Alas, I bring too much baggage to the table.



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