I Thought John Fea Is Evangelical

John linked to a report from Baylor on the outlook of Trump voters. Among those voters are these characteristics:

• are members of white Evangelical Protestant churches

• consider themselves “very religious”

• think of the United States as a Christian nation

• believe that God is actively engaged in world affairs

• fear Muslims and refugees from the Middle East

• believe that women are not suited for politics

• oppose LGBTQ rights

Here’s what’s odd about this finding. I’m betting John and I are on the same side of these bullet points.

He and I consider ourselves very religious.

He and I think the United States is not a Christian nation.

He and I believe likely that God is actively engaged in world affairs since we tend not to be deists.

He and I do not fear necessarily Muslims or refugees from the Middle East, though I bet if those Muslims or refugees had fought for ISIS John might be a little afraid as I would be.

He and I do not think that women are unsuited for politics, though John was far more congenial to Hillary Clinton than I was.

He and I likely overlap on rights for LBGTQ folks, though I also suspect that the extent of those rights might be qualified.

In which case, neither John nor I fit the profile of evangelicals who voted for Trump. And yet, John still self-identifies as evangelical. I do not and have not for at least 25 years.

In which another case, why does John object to Trump as strongly as he does? Is it because he identifies as evangelical even while the majority of evangelicals voted for Trump? That disconnect could make you wonder about the group to which you belong. I imagine if Bruce Springsteen came out in favor of Trump, John would have as much psychic discomfort as I would if Ethan Coen trashed J. Gresham Machen.

In which a third case, isn’t what matters here not someone’s religious w-w but his or her politics? I can belong to a communion that includes (or used to) Kevin Swanson and that’s okay because the OPC does not require fidelity on political or cultural matters. But if you are part of a religious group that includes a wide swath of Protestants and think that faith should inform a lot of what you do — not to mention that the group has been identified with a certain political trajectory for FORTY years, evangelical support for Trump might give you pause. In other words, if you think religion and politics need to be consistent, then you might assume that a self-identified Calvinist is also a political conservative (which Donald Trump is not). But doesn’t that also mean that if you are an evangelical, your politics should align in some way with the rest of the evangelical world? Being evangelical surely doesn’t make you a liberal (though evangelical professors seem to think otherwise). And oh by the way, some of the biggest opponents of Donald Trump like Russell Moore also oppose policies like gay marriage. In other words, you don’t need to oppose Trump and go over to the editorial page of The New Republic.

Even so, nothing on that list of Trump voters’ attributes is inherently Christian.

Regarding those qualities now as sub-Christian is going to take a little more work than simply finding Trump repugnant. Ever since Ronald Reagan, most Christians in either the Democrat and Republican parties would have agreed with those convictions.

In which a fourth case, Donald Trump justifies rewriting the rules governing yucky evangelicalism.


You Don't Need to be David Simon to Know that Arcade Fire Does Not Play Jazz

But watching Treme will help.

The missus and I have finished season three of Simon’s latest HBO series and it holds up even if it is not as good (to all about me) as The Wire. Both series are about medium-large historic American cities under siege — drugs in The Wire’s Baltimore and hurricane Katrina in Treme’s New Orleans. The characters in both are grizzled survivors, not victims, who don’t get any help from large bureaucratic organizations — police, city government, federal government — to assist their struggle to survive. In fact, the organizations that are supposed to play umpire so that bad people don’t profit from others’ suffering are either inept or have palms out positioned to be greased by profiteers.

Unlike The Wire, Treme is missing the cops/murder mystery dimension. Originally I was not interested in The Wire because I figured it would be another gussied up cop show — Hill Street Blues for the new millennium. But I was wrong. The legal dimension of the show always supplied a story line, which in turn helped to make sense of the Dickensian set of characters that come and go. It led me to conclude that “the law makes it better,” meaning, without the clear sense of injustice in pursuit of resolution through justice, arguably the narrative that holds this here planet earth in some place of cosmic meaning, a show like Treme wanders. In season three, legal aspects of Treme receive more prominence and drama heightens as a result. But this viewer has a hard time understanding what holds all the characters’ lives together other than the city.

Of course, the one prominent feature of Treme that might yield coherence — more in the form of a documentary — is music. If I were a fan of jazz I might enjoy the series more, but usually during every episode I say to my wife, much to her annoyance, “too much music.” A constant battle in the show is that between authentic New Orleans music, which includes jazz (in various forms) and zydeco for starters, and the tourists who know nothing about music and come to town to hear celebrity acts that are distant from the city’s musical heritage. Again, I don’t know enough music to weigh in on any of this, but the show did allow me to discern that Bruce Springsteen and Christina Aguilera, who recently appeared at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, were likely there because of folks trying to profit from a national perception of the city rather than because they represent anything indigenous to New Orleans or Louisiana.

Christina Aguilera! Really?