Skip to main content

The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

Also watched “Fraility” a disturbing little film about faith and families—don’t know what else to say about it.

And finished “The Family…” Is it paranoid? Conspiracy theorist? It seems well-researched and has certainly taken on great meaning in light of recent events to pundits of the left such as Rachel Maddow whom I respect (and—full disclosure--kind of lust after because I love smart nerds).

According to the book, there is a quiet, not-quite hidden or secret, but shadowy nevertheless, organization, known now as the Family who works behind the scenes of Washington politics and from there the world. In it’s guise of innocent prayer groups it places “influential men in key places” thereby spreading JESUS throughout the world. But theirs is a Jesus unrecognizable to me or to most Christians whether they be holiday Christians or Evangelicals.

Theirs is Jesus unfettered by scipture, focused on the 'global picture' and therefore unconcerned about the tiny players (read you and me, the poor, the victims of dictators) and unhindered it seems by common sense. I didn't realize as I started this, but perhaps that is why I was thinking of World Citizen by Sylvian:
We raise the men
Who run the fascist states
And we sell them arms
So they maintain their place

We turn our backs
On the things they've done
Their human rights record
And the guns they run

Their concern is with "key men" in high places. That is, their belief is that God has "chosen" some men to have power (they must be chosen by God, right? Else why would they have power?) and that those chosen should be prayed over and with to spread Christianity, or rather complete loyalty to Jesus as they avoic the "Christian" label as they find it "off-putting." This is not proselytizing in the traditional sense, this is a new world order.

They take as their inspiration the story of King David, chosen by God despite what we would consider evil and sinful behavior. In fact, Governor Sanford (a member of The Family) referenced King David in his strange, rambling apology for his infidelity and deception of his family and his constituents.

I have always had a problem with the story of King David. Why should this sinful and proud man be so beloved by God. I try to rationalize it as C.S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist does by saying that an all-powerful God is beyond our comprehension, so his actions cannot be limited by human sensibilities.

But it falls kind of flat. This is one of the cenral tenants of The Family. That these petty sins of minor men are unimportant for the 'great men' who are 'loyal' to God.

This means that they celebrate Hitler, Lenin and Stalin as men who 'got it'--the uniting and leading of men. They befriend and supposedly pray with dictators such as Suharto of Indonesia. The crimes against humanity are nothing compared with power. That's why men like Sanford or John Ensign seem to have so little real remorse and do not resign. After all they have a greater good to do.

But The Family is not limited by party lines. It's members are Democrats as well as Republicans. Independents as well as party-liners. All united by their sense of being chosen. It is Ayn Randism with the face of God. Even Hilary Clinton has participated in The Family's prayer breakfasts although she is not one of the elite.

At its very mildest it is an old boy network providing a ladder for those hoping to rise in politics. The author, Jeff Sharlet, begins his story in one of the family's houses, Ivanwald, with other young men, some Christian some just looking for a leg up.


Popular posts from this blog

Driving in Boston

Inching along in a log jam of traffic yesterday on the Mass Pike I watched an Audi a few cars in front of me weave in and out of traffic determined to find the lane that was "moving" and yet for the whole half an hour that we sat there he ended up still only a few cars ahead of me. Sure there were times his lane pulled ahead, but then mine would catch up and he would switch back. The only thing he accomplished was to make the line that much slower. There was a great article that a friend sent me years ago on the physics of traffic and it has been determined that weaving in and out of tight traffic will really gain you nothing and in fact cause the very blockages that you believe you are defying. (Sidenote--an unfortunately side effect of so much of interest on the internet is that it is impossible to store all of the articles that interest you over the years in the vague belief that you will someday want to reference them to others) The article also pointed out that if all d…

Adapting a book--The Prestige

I was completely blown away by the movie of The Prestige, and I thought then about reading the novel, but it seemed too soon. So I carried the author's name around with me for over a year (Christopher Priest) and then, finally remembered to buy it through an odd sequence of events. We watched The Painted Veil based on the novel by Maugham starring Edward Norton, and while I decided I didn't want to read The Painted Veil because of it's differences from the film (which was more romantic and tragic) it reminded me that I had wanted to read Fight Club (the movie version of which starred Edward Norton) and that reminded me that I had wanted to read The Prestige (which did not star Edward Norton, but was up against The Illusionist which did). it's all Edward Norton's fault.

The Prestige is a very good novel, and yet, the movie differs from it considerably. And I am still trying to figure out what exactly that means. The central premise is the same, AND HER…

The end of Cloud Atlas

Feel I must write this--promised it to myself, can I finish before midnight (when I said I would go to bed at 11)?

Where was I?

Oh, yes, section 5, where it gets interesting--because it's the future, at least 25 years, hopefully more. I say hopefully, because I don't want to be living in this future. The section is called "An Orison of Sonmi-451." An Orison (I had to look it up, proving I don't remember my Shakespeare) is a prayer, but in this future world where language has taken as many turns as in Orwell's 1984, it is more a confession or final statement. Sonmi-451 is a clone (as the name might suggest). The section is not entirely original. It owes much to Brave New World and Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made into the film Bladerunner). I find it interesting that 40 or so years ago--when Dick wrote his book he believed that future slaves would be Androids, replicants. Now we are much more likely to presume they will be clones,…