Let it be borne on the flag under which we rally in every exigency, that we have one country, one constitution, one destiny. -- Daniel Webster

Thursday, August 31, 2006

More on the Fascism of Now

A major focus of this web log in recent weeks has been the way theologians and the church in Germany essentially supported Hitler and fascism. But up until very recently the likeness of Nazi Germany to the United States of today has been deemed virtually non-existent. Now, however, the realization that the current U.S. administration is essentially fascist is beginning to set in among thinking people in America, as the material presented below indicates.

I am grateful to Alma M. for alerting me to an article by author and radio host Thom Hartmann as introduced by Stephen Mitchell of the Church and Society Network: Advocating for Peace and Justice Committee of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church. Here, in this article, is important history about fascism in Germany in the 1930's and '40's which already had its echo in American politics of that time. And here, too, is present-day history-in-the-making as the current American President, placed in office and supported largely by huge corporations, commands the Oval Office, albeit with waning influence. This waning influence represents the hope of the American people for a just society both here and abroad.

I present now an excerpt from the Hartmann article as well as a link to the original as posted on Common Dreams. I believe you will receive new information and new insight into the U.S. political scene of today.


In the years since George W. Bush first used 9/11 [2001] as his own "Reichstag fire" to gut the Constitution and enhance the power and wealth of his corporate cronies, many across the political spectrum have accused him and his Republican support group of being fascists.
On the right, The John Birch Society's website editor recently opined of the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretap program: "This is to say that from the administration's perspective, the president is, in effect, our living constitution. This is, in a specific and unmistakable sense, fascist."
On the left, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., specifically indicts the Bush administration for fascistic behavior in his book
Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and his Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy.

Genuine American fascists are on the run, and part of their survival strategy is to redefine the term "fascism" so it can't be applied to them any more. Most recently, George W. Bush said: "This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

In fact, the Islamic fundamentalists who apparently perpetrated 9/11 and other crimes in Spain and the United Kingdom are advocating a fundamentalist theocracy, not fascism....

[Edited for punctuation by TMP]


For the entire article please visit:
< http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0828-23.htm >.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Theologians Under Hitler -- the DVD

It has been my privilege to view the newly-released film entitled Theologians Under Hitler based on the book of the same name by author Robert P. Ericksen. The film, made possible by a grant from the United Methodist Church, is, if anything, more shocking than the book, as various scholars speak in plain language about the theologians Emmanuel Hirsch, Paul Althaus, and Gerhard Kittel, all highly respected in their day.

How could such men be so wrong about Nazism? This film by Steven D. Martin gives a face to the book and shows clearly the culpability of men, who though learned and articulate, nevertheless came to dramatically faulty conclusions about Hitler and his social movement.

The cover of the DVD asks, "Could it happen again?" Numerous persons in America have come to believe that in a certain essential way it has happened again -- this time in the United States, and by projection, around the world. Clearly there are important differences between Hitler's Germany and the U.S. of today. Yet hallmarks of authoritarianism are all too apparent all around us: elevating the importance of the state at the expense of the individual including an attack on civil rights; the making of scapegoats as a way to unify; the use of "terrorism" in like fashion; the disdain for learning; and numerous other characteristics. (For a complete list of the elements of fascism, see elsewhere on this blog.)

Let us not be duped, but rather let us see clearly what has happened to our country in our time. And let us not be apologists for any kind of injustice, but rather let us be bold as we uphold the ideals of freedom and justice and oppose any attempt to hijack these hallowed doctrines for selfish gain.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Theologians Under Hitler -- Conclusion

In past weeks readers here have learned something about the book Theologians Under Hitler by Robert P. Ericksen. I have now finished the book and am ready to give a brief wrap-up.

This book is an excellent review of three prominent German theologians of the twentieth century: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus, and Emmanuel Hirsch. All three, to one extent or another provided "theological cover" for the Nazi regime. Occasionally, Ericksen succumbs to a purely academic parlance. And at times he seems to attempt to defend the theologians. On the whole, however, he is appropriately critical.

The book ends with a strong paragraph, part of which I shall quote below. With a fair understanding of Nazi Germany, we have a chance to avoid its pitfalls. Let us be about the happy business of understanding.

Ericksen concludes:

The scenario to fear, then, is one in which a combination of crises makes life difficult: a lost war, economic collapse, shortage of oil, shortage of food. If this is coupled with a meaningful attempt to follow democratic principles, to allow true freedom and give a true politcal [sic] voice to the plural groups within society, beware. Then we will hear calls for toughness, for law and order, for national unity. We will be tempted to sacrifice some democratic principles and civil rights for national wellbeing. In short, the crisis will begin to resemble that of Weimar Germany [the period after World War I and before Nazi Germany]. Will we avoid being the Kittel, Althaus or Hirsch of that time? Will we avoid using our intellect to rationalize a position that protects our comfort and best interests, closing our eyes to the pain created for the different or less fortunate among us? ... hopefully, our consideration of Kittel, Althaus and Hirsch will encourage us to ponder these questions, to keep searching for a solution to the crisis of modernity, for a fair and just social and political ideal within the modern world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Leedstown Resolution

Your Musical Patriot has recently confirmed that he is a direct descendant of one of the signers of the Leedstown Resolution -- a document which vigorously opposed the Stamp Act -- along with Richard Henry Lee, Henry Lightfoot Lee, Laurence Washington, and others.

This document, important as a predecessor of the Declaration of Independence, made clear that its signers were willing to suffer any physical danger in order to resist the Stamp Act. While pledging allegiance to the Crown of England, these brave men nevertheless wrote: "...we do determine, at every hazard and paying no Regard to Danger or to Death, we will exert every Faculty, to prevent the Execution of the said Stamp Act in any Instance whatsoever within this Colony."

Today the Stamp Act is a relic of history. However, the "U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act" is very much with us, yet also resisted. The spirit of the patriots of early Virginia lives on in its descendants, both blood descendants and spiritual descendants.

Please visit this web log again soon for further information about the Leedstown resolution.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Summer's Break

Summer beckons, and thus I have the opportunity to take a bit of a break from this web log.

Before leaving, yes, I have done some more reading in Theologians Under Hitler. In due course I will have more to say about this book.

I hope to send some messages your way, dear reader, while on break. In the meantime, best wishes.

-- The Musical Patriot

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Theologians Under Hitler -- Gerhard Kittel

Chapter 2 of Theologians Under Hitler tells the story of Gerhard Kittel, theologian of note in Nazi Germany. The first part of the chapter deals with Kittel's elaborate defense of his words and actions. The defense was written while he was in prison following his arrest for Nazi activities. The interest of this part of the chapter is in the way Kittel writes about himself in the face of facts known and unknown. There is a certain crawling and weak nature to his defense. Though fairly brilliant, the defense put forward by Kittel comes across seeming less than luminous and forth-coming. I am eager to read more in order to come to a better judgment.

What will we say when the Bush years are over? Did we stand up against torture? Did we stand up for civil rights? For that matter what will we say about our actions when President Clinton lowered the boom on the poverty-stricken and threw single mothers into the workforce often leaving young children to fend for themselves at home alone?

It has been one of the major themes of this blog that the United States has a form of fascism now. It is not the fascism which is completely out in the open. Much is hidden. This will continue to be a thesis of this web log, and I plan to enumerate more details in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Theologians Under Hitler -- The Crisis, Part 2

Having now finished chapter one of this book*, I can say I have encountered important history regarding theology in the twentieth century. Theologians dealt with have included Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, and Rudolf Bultmann, plus Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Some or all of these names may be familiar to you.

It is clear as I have continued reading that the world was in a crisis of faith for the past approximately two hundred years whether it knew it or not. I remember many sermons over the years dealing with this subject. In a book like this, however, the matter is dealt with with more particulars and with greater depth. As a result the crisis is rather more lucid and understandable, even if not all questions are answered.

I am grateful for this book as it has me appreciate more the extent of our current world crisis. I see that the crisis is really nothing new, but an extension of unresolved matters despite the best efforts of some brilliant minds. That the crisis has been solved in outline is hopeful news, the telling of which must wait for a later date. (I am searching for the right time and mode of explanation.)

For now, Theologians Under Hitler can serve as a useful foundation and background for an understanding of our present time. And with a dysfunctional United States Presidency, and thus a federal government seriously hampered, it is all the more necessary to at least attempt to comprehend how we got to this point.

At this point I am glad to quote the last paragraph of chapter one. Robert P. Ericksen writes:

This chapter opened with an acknowledgement that Hitler was evil. Therefore, to support him was wrong. Before condemning his supporters, however, we must recognize the complexity of the crisis which faced Germans in the Wiemar period. We must further acknowledge that neither rationalism, intellectual capacity nor Christian values protected Kittel, Althaus or Hirsch from supporting Hitler. This is a disturbing conclusion and one which requires careful consideration if we desire the Hitler phenomenon not to recur.

If this sounds like an apologia for the miscreant theologians, I shall reserve judgment pending further information. I for one passionately wish the Hitler phonomenon not to recur. I see it as completely unnecessary. Yet as we have the essential mindset of fascism present at the highest levels of the U.S. government now, it is of pressing need to understand, but more importantly oppose this leadership. It is in trying to meet this necessity that the posts of these days are presented. In coming days and weeks I plan to present as many of the main points of this book as I can within the constraints of this format. For now, let us remain ever vigilant, lest our democracy and freedoms slip loose from us as in a momentary passage of time the bright sunlight turns to late evening darkness.

*See immediately preceding posts.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Theologians Under Hitler -- The Crisis

I am currently reading chapter one of Theologians Under Hitler which is entitled "The Crisis." In Part B of this chapter, the expounding has been almost exclusively about theology with little or nothing about Hitler. The author deals with various kinds of theologies such as "rational-scientific," and "systematic." I will not attempt to describe these. However, the explanation of these approaches to theology and the telling of how they came to be is interesting and I assume helps set the stage for what is to come. As a musician, I was particularly interested in Albert Schweitzer's The Quest for the Historical Jesus.

What I can see so far is that the rise of rationalism as espoused by such writers as Voltaire and the increase in scientific knowledge and discovery, created a crisis for the church. In order to have any reason for being at all emergency action had to be taken. When I finish the chapter I will write more.

But for the time being, I can say that through this book I am coming to a clearer understanding of the cultural background which existed in the century before Hitler, particularly the religious situation. Since the book focuses on theologians rather than Hitler, this should prove invaluable to an understanding of the theologians I wrote of yesterday.

Please excuse me now, for I am overdue for an appointment with Theologians Under Hitler.

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