Thursday, October 15, 2009

Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal

What an eye opening book. Every Republican should read it.
Unfortunately, there are so many errors at the beginning of the book, some may not make it past the first 40 pages or so.
Some of the errors are just typographical in nature, such as “presenßce” on page 26. Some of the errors are careless in nature, such as, “After graduating from Calvin College, a conservative Christian school in Iowa...” on page 36. Calvin College is actually in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Some of the errors show poor editing, such as “St. Paul’s Xcel Center” on page 284 which becomes “St. Paul’s Excel Center” on page 287.
Some errors show incomplete research or just confusion. For example, Blumenthal takes some time to explain the history and influence of Rousas Rushdoony. But consider the following quotes. “Upon graduation, Rushdoony entered the clergy as a minister in the ultraconservative Orthodox Presbyterian Church...” from pages 17-18. “Then Olasky...abandoned his Jewish background to join Rushdoony’s ultraconservative Presbyterian Church in America[,]” on page 40. Actually, neither of those statements is correct. Rushdoony was ordained into the PCUSA (not Presbyterian Church in America, PCA) in 1944 then subsequently left that denomination in 1958 and joined the more conservative Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Some errors show a lack of Blumenthal’s understanding of the large and complex world of Christianity. Blumenthal speaks of, “...Calvinist-inspired teachings of John Wesley...” on page 55. Wesley was definitely not inspired by Calvin. Consider these statements from “In contrast to George Whitefield’s Calvinism ... Wesley embraced Arminianism.” And, “Wesley ... expressed himself strongly against the doctrine of Calvinistic election and reprobation.” John Wesley was as Arminian as you can get!
Some errors show shoddy research. Consider his claim that John Calvin “burned dozens of heretics at the stake” as recorded on page 23. His footnote says his source is page 153 of The Complete Idiot’s to the Reformation & Protestantism. That “fact” is not there. When one looks at the Complete Idiot’s Guide and other sources on Calvin’s life, the truth is that there was only one heretic, Servetus, executed under Calvin’s authority. Calvin did not want Servetus burned at the stake, spent many hours with him, begging him to recant, but in the end did nothing to stop the execution (see page 159 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Reformation & Protestantism).
Granted, these errors are not essential to Blumenthal’s argument about the Republican Party. However, I read a book like this one to learn new information. If I find so many mistakes regarding what I do know, is there any assurance there are fewer or less serious mistakes in what I don’t know?
It is too bad Blumenthal could not have been more objective in his writing. His message is important but his bias will turn potential conservative readers away. For example, saying of James Dobson that “sadomasochism [is] at the core of his philosophy” is going to alienate many potential readers (see page 63).
That said, I am very glad I read this book on how the Republican Party has lost its way. The revelations in it are disturbing. If Blumenthal represents how non-Christians see what the right has done in the Party, Republicans are certainly in trouble.
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