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Sarah Palin, who seemed for a while to be receding into obscurity, has come roaring back into the public eye, appearing on sundry talk shoes to shill her new book, a paen to  Christmas as it is understood in the tribal reaches of rightwing Christianity. There are bills to be paid and somebody  has to put the moose on the table - hence Palin's latest essay into the us against them  "war" on Christmas that has become as inevitable a marker of the season as renditions of "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," and evidently just as important in getting rightwing holiday juices flowing.

Consequently, it's not surprising that among Palin's numerous book tour bon mots is a funny little riff expressing her baflement over Pope Francis' efforts to move the Catholic church in a more inclusive and less dogmatic direction:

... He's had some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me. There again, unless I really dig deep into what his messaging is, and do my own homework, I’m not going to just trust what I hear in the media.”

She continued: "I'm kinda trying to follow what his agenda is. You know he came out with a couple of things in the media but again I'm not one to trust the media's interpretation of somebody's message but having read through media outlets,"  the former Governor of Alaska said.

Palin's virtue, if that is the right word, is that she has a talent for expressing what those on the right really want to say, but don't usually for fear, often with good reason, that people will think less of them.  It thrills them to finally hear it laid out in public and they respond with adulation for Palin who has the courage of their deepest, often hidden beliefs. If Sarah can say it and get away with it, then they can also. For this reason, her puzzled reaction to Pope Francis is instructive.

Palin has such a hard time reconciling what she has been reading about Francis with her idea of a Christian leader that she clutches at straws and stipulates that, given the possible misreporting of what she has dubbed the "lamestream" media, it might not even be true.  Why do the Pope's actions, which however welcome they may be to liberals are far from revolutionary, excite such unease?

The obvious answer is that Pope Francis is attempting to espouse real, New Testament Christianity. He seems to believe that  Church leaders should model in their behavior  the precept that " whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me" (Matt. 25:45).  He expects prelates to live as if they too believe that " it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," (Matt. 19:24). The implication that believers should follow suit is clear. You can easily understand that this might not sit too well with a conservative movement that equates poverty with unworthiness.

There is more at issue, however, than the rightwing's fuzzy social Darwinism. The real bone for Palin and her ilk is the Pope's rejection of righteous, religious militancy. He may not actually be a social liberal, but he isn't waving pitchforks and seeking out confrontations either.  

Francis' more live and let live attitude has to disturb conservatives, rightwing evangelicals especially, who are both frightened and angry about the changing world in which they find themselves.  In a column attempting to explain why House Republicans shut down the government although everyone knew it was not a very smart thing to do, Francis Wilkinson accurately describes the electorate that the lawmakers behind the shutdown serve:

A lot of Americans were not ready for a mixed-race president. They weren't ready for gay marriage. They weren't ready for the wave of legal and illegal immigration that redefined American demographics over the past two or three decades, bringing in lots of nonwhites. They weren't ready -- who was? -- for the brutal effects of globalization on working- and middle-class Americans or the devastating fallout from the financial crisis.

Their representatives didn't stop Obamacare. And their side didn't "take back America" in 2012 as Fox News and conservative radio personalities led them to believe they would. They feel the culture is running away from them (and they're mostly right). They lack the power to control their own government. But they still have just enough to shut it down.

Liberals and progressives are usually astonished, amused, and often infuriated by silly rightwing claims of victimization. Palin's "war on Christmas" book is only the latest manifestation of what many consider no more than a dishonest and absurd strategy of trying to out-victim the real victims. But while the actual claims are mostly bogus, what Wilkinson identifies as the "abject terror" that many rightwingers feel is real. He quotes a Democracy Corps report that says "evangelicals who feel most threatened by trends embrace the Tea Party because they are the ones who are fighting back."  When people believe that they've been backed against a wall,  they often feel that they have no recourse other than to fight.  

No wonder the Christian warrior Sarah Palin is flummoxed by the new Pope. There seem to be some in the American Catholic Church who are in the same boat. When you've taken up arms and are securely planted in your bunker, it's deeply disturbing when you think you see your general waltzing over the battle lines, arm-in-arm with the enemy.

Originally posted to Thisbe on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:02 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  For the wingnuts around us, (12+ / 0-)

    it just wouldn't be the Season of Peace without a war to wage!  

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:17:35 PM PST

  •  Dominionists meet Franciscans. (11+ / 0-)

    Who has the better message?  Who will people follow?

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:22:38 PM PST

  •  Conservative Catholics are feeling abandoned. (10+ / 0-)

    Yeah, they're not liking this new Pope at all:

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    "Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica." -Abraham Lincoln

    by hotdamn on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:29:11 PM PST

  •  Palin would fold very quickly if she (8+ / 0-)

    ever had to debate this new Pope.

    My guess is that he's quite a bit more studied up on the New Testament than she is.  Palin couldn't even remember what reading sources she read regularly.  

    She recalls a girl in my high school class who enjoyed the role of riding shotgun in cars with boys and shouting outrageous things out the window, purely for shock value and the easily-wib esteem of the lads with her in the car.  

    But the car always drove off, and this girl never had to explain her behavior to the people she shouted at.

    Palin is like that in many ways.  She is half-practiced at disruption and outrageous claims, then always drives off, believing she is unaccountable for what she's said.  

    It's a darned good thing voters rejected the ticket for which she was chosen as a vice presidential candidate.  

  •  She says in that same interview with Jake Tapper (10+ / 0-)

    that it's her faith that got her through the tough times, that gave her perseverance to carry on. This from the woman who quit her job as governor.

    Her knowledge of Darwin and Social Darwinism is so off-base it doesn't deserve comment. But I did earlier today.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:35:14 PM PST

    •  For someone who claims to have faith (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Remediator, Debby, highacidity, martini

      She seems to very strongly want validation of it from the government.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:52:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If Not For Her Faith... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kayak58

      ...she would have quit in the first quarter of her term instead of sticking it out until halfway through.

      On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

      by stevemb on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:57:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hunter's book on the War on Xmas is much better (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, Ahianne

    if you have a subscription, you can read it free.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:47:11 PM PST

  •  Wow! ... It's Painfully (Palin-fully) ... (5+ / 0-)

    ... obvious that Mrs. Palin is still TRYING to make up for that epic FAIL during the Katie Kouric interview ...

    ... all this talk about "doing her homework" and "following the news", but not being sure she can trust what she has read ... it made me throw up in my mouth a little bit!

    --GA

    Appraise the Lord! : Tax Church Property. O <-- Circle of Trust. YOU are Here: ------------> x

    by Great Ape on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:54:12 PM PST

  •  Godwin moment here... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Debby, Rosalie907, martini

    I'm sure those guys in the bunkers at Normandy felt awfully under attack when our boys landed...

    But my sympathy is still not with them.

    When you base your entire worldview on repeating circles of hate and fear - sooner or later your orbit takes you around to the other side and the bill comes due.

    That we finally have a follower of Christ as Pope, even if not as liberal as would be ideal - must rightly be shockingly scary to the people who've been smearing Yeshua's legacy into the dust for the last 2 thousand years.

    The roaches always win if you turn out the lights.

    by Jyotai on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:11:10 PM PST

  •  It's a shame someone as ignorant as Sarah Palin (7+ / 0-)

    can have so much influence over so many. Hopefully this good pope, Pope Francis, won't be forced to curtail his "liberal agenda" because the likes of the Tea Party Queen finds him puzzling. I'm not catholic, not even religious, but I really like this new Pope and hope he lives a long life espousing an ideology alien to the former mayor of Wasilla, and the current Queen of Mean.

    "Let's stay together"--Rev. Al Green and President Obama

    by collardgreens on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:26:06 PM PST

  •  Palin might be looking for someone to primary him. (5+ / 0-)

    If so, it will be a shock to her to find out that's not how the Papacy works.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:30:29 PM PST

  •  I'm a Catholic in name only (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, Ahianne

    And have been since I was in my 20's.  It is a pleasure that we now have a Pope that understands and relates to the poor and quotes God and speaks of the poor and other issues that true Chistian's have been been looking at for years.  He knows that we're all God's Children and that we must help those among us that have the least.  I actually would love him to spend a week in and with our Congress who haven't listened much to Sister Simone but I'm sure will listen to him.

    As for Sarah (the ignorant) Palin after she's finished her book tour she's fade back into the distance and we won't see or hear from her until the next Conservative get together.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011) Voting is a louder voice than a bullhorn.

    by Rosalie907 on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:33:36 PM PST

  •  The new Pope seems to reject "effortless" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, terrypinder, Ahianne

    Christianity but instead feels that manifesting faith should be work.   This flies in the face of modern Evangelical theology (and I would say even ultra conservative Catholics are moving towards some sort of Evangelical form of theology as they politicize their faith, which is one sad byproduct of buffet religiosity)
    For example, a few tenets about modern Fundamentalists is that they believe in many cases, "once saved, always saved" which means future bad acts do not threaten salvation.
    Also there is the belief that works are not the manifestation of faith but is irrelevant so that salvation is possible even for a person who never does any good works.  Finally, there is the conviction that "accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior", preferably in a public place before an audience is sufficient.  Faith is not meant to be understood or studied or even placed in context.  There is also no need for the other two partners of the Trinity.  Belief in Jesus alone is sufficient and one does not need any sort of understanding of this belief.  Instead it is a visceral reaction to facing one's own mortality it seems.

    Once having assured your own salvation, it appears to these Neo-Pharisees that your next job is to assure everyone who does not believe as you do that they are going to Hell while there is no way you can screw up your own personal salvation.

    It sounds convoluted and self serving but if it is, it would seem one of the most irritating thing for such a person would be to find out that maybe more than a single "Come to Jesus" moment, followed by decades of bad acts and scaring the "be-jesus" out of your fellows with threats of Hell is required for salvation.

    Think of it as the TV dinner of theology for Americans who would like to be saved but really lacks the time and patience for salvation      

    •  Growing up (0+ / 0-)

      During the Vietnam war it seemed like the catholic church and the fundamentalist church I went to as a kid were far apart.

      Then over say the last 30 years I felt like the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Fundamentalists came very close together.

      Pope Francis seems to be moving the church more in the direction that I remember as a kid again.

  •  The PR Pope (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Great Ape, petral, Betty Clermont, Apost8

    1. Has Pope Frank personally advocated for women priests? No. He upholds the status quo.

    2. Has Pope Frank personally advocated for gay marriage? No. He upholds the status quo.

    3. Has Pope Frank personally advocated for gay adoption? No. He upholds the status quo.

    4. Has Pope Frank personally advocated for women's reproductive rights, including the right to use contraception? No. He upholds the status quo.

    He does, however, have a new media advisor- former Fox news correspondent Greg Burke. Now that's progressive.

    "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". –George Orwell

    by crescentdave on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 09:16:55 PM PST

    •  I agree with you that he isn't especially liberal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Great Ape, crescentdave

      and is not instituting any substantive changes apart from a slight change in tone. It is tellling that even this shift away from anger and rigidity has some speculating about possible schism.

    •  And his first "reform" was putting Vatican $$$ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Musial

      under control of his appointees. He says he wants a "poor church" but neither he nor any of his bishops are divesting themselves of their assets.

      While the media reports his talk, talk, talk, there is a media blackout of any scrutiny of his behind-the-scenes appointments and actions.

      (See my previous diaries. Betty)

      •  at this moment the big issue is peace (0+ / 0-)

        with Iran relative to militant racist Christianity. Francis and Catholics are less likely to indulge Israel's opposition to normalization of relations in the middle east.

        •  Interesting point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Musial

          I'm not up to speed on this point, but it would be a positive change. I'm just not convinced that the Vatican's support or lack of support for Israel even hits their radar. Given their belligerent attitude and behavior towards the U.S., it just doesn't seem to carry much weight.

          "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". –George Orwell

          by crescentdave on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:26:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm an atheist, but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, Remediator, stevemb

    ...I am amused that the Pope is doing his best to emulate Jesus as Francis understands His philosophy.

    And he is getting treated just like Jesus was by the Pharisees.

    Orwell was an optimist.
    My Home Page

    by RepackRider on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 10:34:18 PM PST

  •  Applying labels (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, kayak58

    like conservative & liberal to Pope Francis are as silly as   applying them to Jesus. He's trying to shift emphasis, change the "conversation."  If he's a genuine reformer, he going to reform the Vatican, & that will take years & make enemies inside the Church institution. Right wing protestants are always selective regarding what the Pope says. If the Pope speaks out against war & economic exploitation (which Pope John Paul II did plenty of times), they don't listen. Get Palin drunk & she'll call the Pope the "Whore of Babylon."

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 12:32:18 AM PST

  •  Palin is correct about distrusting the media (0+ / 0-)

    Pope Francis Asks Global Catholics What They Think” and “Pope Francis' latest surprise: a survey on the modern family” are two of last week’s headlines telling us “Pope Francis is making new waves by launching a survey of his flock on issues facing modern families — from gay marriage to divorce” in preparation for a Synod of Bishops on the family.

    “Not true” Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said. A document was sent only to bishops’ conferences asking for their response  and only the English, Welsh and Belgian bishops chose to poll their parishioners. Bottom line: “The synod’s work will be based on Catholic doctrine and not on current public opinion, officials said.” And regardless of what any synod recommends, the pope is the ultimate authority.

    “Could Pope Francis make women cardinals?" was the headline of an article about widespread "feverish speculation” including in the U.S. when Fr. James Keenan, a well-regarded moral theologian at Boston College, started a post on his Facebook page soliciting nominees for the first female cardinal.

    “Just nonsense,” Lombardi responded. Labeled a “spoof story” by one Vatican reporter, he reminded us that “this would not be at all in line with the Argentinean pope’s teaching....[I]n his interview with the director of Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica, Francis stated: “I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of ‘female machismo,’ because a woman has a different make-up than a man.”

    It was reported that Pope Francis “expelled” and “banished” Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany for spending $43 million on his residence “at a time when the pontiff is stressing austerity.”

    Tebartz-van Elst was, in fact, “granted a leave of absence" until an audit of his diocese is complete. Stressing austerity? Among the "group of eight” cardinals Bergoglio hand-picked to help him govern the Church, German Cardinal Reinhart Marx spent around $11 million renovating his residence in Munich and another $13 million for his house Rome. Australian Cardinal Pell spent $30 million on his own Roman "casa per ferie."  

    Pope Francis was “challenging” and “criticizing” U.S. bishops according to the media when, in fact, the American episcopate “applauded the pope’s words” that Church leaders are “obsessed” in their public statements about abortion, gay marriage and contraception.

    The bishops' actual response shouldn't be surprising because, months before Bergoglio was elected, the National Republican Committee issued its “Growth and Opportunity Project,” dubbed an “autopsy” after the 2012 election, which developed a “plan for growth which calls for tolerant attitudes on…social issues such as abortion and gay marriage” and “emphasized a change in tone on some matters, rather than demanding a shift on policy positions.”  Even Tea Partiers “see the social issues [anti-gay, anti-abortion] as a distraction.”

    In contrast, a total media blackout occurred when Pope Francis concealed his dismissal of two prelates for sexually abusing minors, giving both men time to disappear before being apprehended. Months later, their whereabouts are still unknown.
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  Matthew 25 is such a problem for her. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne

    It's amazing how well she and others ignore its plain language.

    BTW, best to Pyramus.

  •  I have a coworker who is retiring far too early (0+ / 0-)

    due solely to his absolute belief that the world economy is collapsing Jan 1st, 2014 when the ACA takes effect.  Totally a fear-based decision, but one that has haunted him for the twenty years I have known him.  So sad.

  •  Papal Betrayal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb, kayak58

    You gotta understand; for centuries -- and I do mean centuries -- Protestants have considered the Catholic Church to be the Whore of Babylon. If you don't believe me, check out some of the woodcuts in the German Bibles printed during the Reformation.

    In the 19th Century, Thomas Nast drew a cartoon depicting Catholic bishops as crocodiles and the virtuous (Protestant) Public School Teachers as the only thing Protecting Our Children from the Papist Threat.

    The current alliance between the Religious Right in America and the Catholic Church is a recent thing, and the only reason why the Evangelicals put up with Catholics is because they hate some of the same people.

    If the Pope backs out of the Conservative Agenda, why then the deal is off.

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

    by quarkstomper on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:34:51 AM PST

    •  You're corret about the traditional animosity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kayak58, quarkstomper

      American Protestants have shown the Catholic Church. My mother, daughter of immigrant Irish Catholics was born in the 1920s. She remembers highly creative pamphlets distributed by the Ku Klux Klan that described Catholic attrocities - girls kidmapped and held in convents, etc. Catholics were just as much an object of Klan ire as Jews or African Americans.

    •  I try to remind my Catholic family of this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quarkstomper

      I remember it from the 60s: in my parochial school we all wrote letters to Gaylord Nelson, because he had stood up for the right not to pray in school - so we Catholic kids did not have to say protestant prayers in public schools, should we ever find ourselves in one. Which many of us did, eventually.

      We were religious outcasts because Catholic, and don't get me started on the ethnic jokes about Italians back then. We were mocked, bullied, and despised both for our ethnicity and our religion.

      I'm no longer a Catholic but I can't understand how the church would get into bed with evangelicals - except that opposition to abortion and contraception makes strange bedfellows.

      You can observe a lot just by watching. - Yogi Berra

      by kayak58 on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:00:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Funny Thing about School Prayer... (0+ / 0-)

        I once came across a Jack Chick tract that was against School Prayer... and the reason why was that Jack was afraid the issue was a Trojan Horse to sneak Catholic prayers into our schools!

        That wacky Jack.

        Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

        by quarkstomper on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:06:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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