Well, I keep playing, and for osme inexplicable reason, they keep inviting me back. Come down to the Downtown Bar (1st and Main streets) in Pueblo tomorrow night, Tuesday, November 25th for a free show. I’ll play mostly originals and a handful of familiar covers starting at 8:30 or so, and going until 10:30-ish, or until everyone gets tired of listening, whichever comes first.
Come chill at the grooviest venue in town and enjoy a mid-week respite before the holiday ruckus begins.
With the growing diversification of our North American population, nearly any way you slice it, previously coveted blocs of voters are becoming increasingly fragmented. There’s no longer such a thing as winning “the black vote,” or “the female vote.” Even as we become increasingly complex in our ethnic makeup, so are the nuances of belief and values within demographic groups.
It’s a topical conversation around many tables these days to suppose when the Republican Party became so closely linked to evangelical Christians. Did it happen under Reagan? Was it a gradual reaction over decades to the increasingly secular mindset of the Democratic Party? Did George W. Bush, himself a self-proclaimed born-again Christian, win them over with his populist, folksy rhetoric?
Actually, the most influential figure in the migration of evangelicals to the Republican side of the ticket can be traced directly to Karl Rove.
A recent New Yorker article outlines how Rove, in parsing out trends within Catholic voters, figured out a formula, which was: Catholics who attend religious services regularly are overwhelmingly socially conservative overall, while Catholics attending Mass less often are more socially liberal. Applied more broadly, this trend continued throughout all mainline faiths.
So what better place to woo a passionate and millions-strong coalition upon which a new Republican party would be built than within the walls of America’s churches?
Powerful leaders like Pat Robertson, John Hagee and James Dobson became the focal point of Republican courtship. The relationship flourished more or less until the onset of the current political season, and subsequently, the emergence of John McCain as the Republican nominee.
McCain, always one to speak his mind, made no friends with Hagee and his crew, labeling some of them “agents of intolerance” in a speech. He has since mended fences with some religious figureheads out of a mutual desire to maintain control of the presidency, but the marriage is, at best, ambivalent.
Barack Obama presented a unique opportunity for Democrats to re-enter the religious discussion, given his frequent and public claims as a man of faith, while also being strongly Democrat. At the same time, many evangelicals began to resist the monolithic label of being ad hoc Republicans. There was greater social relevance in embracing “bridge” issues like climate change, poverty and genocide, rather than focusing so intensely on the “wedge” issues of abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage.
It’s not been an easy road to travel for Obama, however. From rumors of his supposed closet radical Muslim agenda to his ties to the firebrand Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama raises many eyebrows within the broad and increasingly diverse evangelical camp.
More important than the way evangelicals swing for either candidate this year is, I believe, the importance that no single party has a chokehold on the Christian faith’s vote. As we’ve seen with groups that lean toward one party or the other too faithfully, there’s always the risk of being taken for granted by one side, and effectively written off by the other.
The challenge, then, falls to each voter, each family, and each community to determine what they believe is best for the country at that given time. It requires critical thought, a discerning eye to cut through the rhetorical clutter, and vigilance not to fall victim to party fidelity over issues and present-day needs.
The day either party takes for granted that they are assured a carte blanche vote in their favor is the time when all members of that group should consider the value and power of their support. Just as women, Latinos and African-Americans can no longer be depended upon to carry the Democrats, neither can the Republicans trust that the evangelical vote is in their back pocket.
If it leads to more independent thought and action, the shift is welcome, and long overdue.
Every month in PULP, the alt-monthly publication for which I serve as an editor, I run a Q & A column called “Faith 2.0.” The idea is that people can submit questions about faith, religion and theology, and I’ll at least make an attempt to produce an answer.
Following are the questions and my responses for the November issue:
Whats the difference between an atheist and an agnostic?
Though theyre often grouped together, sometimes collectively called skeptics, there is a distinct difference. The word agnostic comes from the Greek, a gnostos, which means to not have knowledge of God. In early Greek culture, believers were called Gnostics, and proclaimed to have knowledge of Gods existence; so agnostics identified themselves as separate from this group. Today, the term agnostic refers to people who are generally unclear about their beliefs, or are skeptical but not entirely certain about the existence of a divine being. The term atheist, also from the Greek a theos meaning no God, suggests one who is firm in their belief in the non-existence of God.
Why do some churches have crosses, while others have crucifixes?
The Catholic Church traditionally has used the symbol of Jesus on the cross to remind people of the stories of the suffering Christ, as this is central to Catholic teaching. The Protestant movement, begun by Martin Luther in 1517, sought to distinguish itself from the Catholic Church in many ways, including removing images of God from worship, which they considered a violation of the Mosaic Commandment against graven images. Also, with their emphasis on the resurrected Christ, Protestants represented this difference with an empty cross.
If you’re in the Co. Springs / Pueblo area, come on down Saturday night to the Downtown Bar at First and Main streets in Pueblo. It’s a great small venue, and I’ll be doing the first headlining gig I’ve played on a weekend in some time.
There will be a warm-up act around 9, and I’ll play around 10 until 11:30 or so. Come hang out, have a tasty beverage and enjoy some groovy tunes.
Here’s a link to a map in case you want to know more specifically where it is: CLICK HERE
Time is tight this time of year for the candidates competing for executive office. Last-minute pleas and positioning can consume more hours than there are in a day.
So how is it that this humble reporter was able to gather all four major presidential and vice-presidential candidates together for a sit-down at the same time? Call it good karma that, and a killer pot of coffee and some bitchin scones. Politicians are suckers for a scone, it turns out.
Following is a transcription of the discussion that took place:
PULP: First of all, thanks to each of you for taking time out of your busy schedule. I know youre very busy
Biden: What the hell is that supposed to mean, you little punk? Are you looking for a fight?
PULP: Not al all, Senator. I was just thanking you for your time.
Biden: Oh, OK. I thought you said something about my mother. Proceed.
PULP: Senator McCain, well start with you.
McCain: Fire away, cowboy.
PULP: Its been suggested by some pundits that you tend to change positions on issues based on what is politically expedient. Do you care to respond to that claim?
McCain: Yes I would.
PULP: Great. Any time youre ready.
McCain: What was the question?
PULP: Maybe well come back to you. Senator Obama, some of your detractors have implied that you tend to speak over the heads of the American public. How do you feel about that?
Obama: Much like Osiris did in the fourth century when Theodosius influence became the status quo.
PULP: Excuse me?
Obama: Let me put it more simply for you. Its kind of like being the only male witness to the early bacchanalia. You know what I mean?
PULP: Not at all.
Obama: You disappoint me.
PULP: Governor Palin
Palin: Thats Vice President Palin.
PULP: But you havent been elected yet.
Palin: But I will be. God told me so. Governor Palin reaches for the last scone.
Biden: You may be a girl, but if you touch that, Ill break every finger in your friggin hand.
Obama: Come on, Joe.Lets not perseverate into one of your perorations.
McCain: Was that English?
PULP: I think Senator Obama was just trying to get Senator Biden to calm down.
McCain: Who the hell are you?
PULP: Im the reporter conducting this interview.
McCain: What was the question?
Palin: For Gods sake, John, he hasnt asked you anything.
McCain: Yeah, what do you know? Youre just the governor of some piss-ant state up by the Arctic Circle. Go hunt some caribou or whatever it is you people do up there.
PULP: Senator, Governor Palin is your running mate.
McCain: Right, good one. Am I being punked here?
PULP: No sir. You picked her just before the RNC.
McCain: Why did I do that?
Palin: Because of my record as a reformer, remember?
McCain: This, coming from the woman who oversaw the largest per-capita earmarks for any state in the union.
Palin: But what about the Bridge to Nowhere? I said thanks but no thanks, remember?
PULP: After the federal government pulled their support for the project.
McCain: Yeah, Sandra. Chew on that.
Palin: Its Sarah, you moron, and were on the same side.
McCain: What was the question?
PULP: Senator Biden, do you care to address the remarks attributed to you in the New York Observer about Senator Obama, where you described him as an articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy?
Biden: Well, he does have outstanding hygiene habits. Go on, give him a sniff.
Obama: Joe, I really dont think
Biden: Is that lavender? I think its lavender. Or maybe Patchouli.
PULP: The thing is, Senator, that some folks have suggested it was an implicitly racist comment.
Obama: Joe, please get your nose out of my armpit.
Biden: Me? Racist? Do you think Id stick my nose in a black mans armpit if I was racist?
PULP: I dont know, senator.
Biden: Why dont you move on to another question, son, before I remove your skull from your body and make it my own portable outhouse?
PULP: Senator Obama, you continue to have to address concerns about your perceived lack of experience. Does this concern you?
Obama: Not at all. I mean, look at Tzipi Livni. People have been saying the same thing about him.
McCain: Yeah, who?
Obama: The Kadima party leader in Israel.
Palin: I can see Israel from my house in Alaska.
PULP: Dont you mean Russia?
Obama: Im surrounded by simpletons.
Biden: You call me that again and Ill take you out back and rearrange your family tree.