The stupidest sentence ever written

Under the subject line, “The stupidest sentence ever written?” a reader sent me this:

“I can’t imagine Jesus standing on the border to turn them back.”
Joseph Sobran

Indeed. At a John Tanton writers’ conference around 1994, Roy Beck gave a talk on pro-open borders Christians, telling us how they interpreted Jesus’ parable of the final judgment in Matthew 25 (“When you did it for one of the least of these, you did it for me”) to mean that every illegal at the border was literally Jesus. Then in 1999 I went to a two-day conference in Washington, D.C. chaired by Paul Weyrich and attended by mostly conservative Christian evangelicals, to discuss his “cultural separation” proposal. When on the second aftenoon of the conference, I mentioned among many other issues the need for border control to protect our culture, the up-to-then peaceful meeting erupted in outrage. “Would Jesus stop people from coming,” someone said. I and a friend who attended the meeting were stunned by the stupidity of these people. It created a lasting impression in my mind of how the supposedly most conservative faction in American politics were open borders fanatics. (If they are not open-borders fanatics, in the sense that they do not actively campaign for open borders as such, their theological opposition to any border restrictions adds up to the same thing.)

And now Sobran, who is not an emotion-drenched evangelical but a quasi-erudite, former National Review Catholic intellectual, utters exactly the same mindless cliché as the evangelicals. To me, this represents something beyond mere sentimentality or stupidity. It represents the dissolving of the rational faculties that is brought on by the fatal error of hypostasizing the transcendent—of mistaking a symbolic expression of spiritual truth (such as in a parable) for an object to be achieved in concrete political society. Let’s face it. Without a normal dispensation of common sense (didn’t Jesus say to be wise as a serpent as well as gentle as a dove?), without a proper appreciation of the needs and requirements of human life in this God-created world, without a love of place and country and particularity, Christianity is a suicidal creed.

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A reader writes:

Your post about Sobran’s moronic statement is spot-on. People who mouth those sorts of absurd platitudes—one might just as well ask whether Jesus would join the Army Rangers, and try to conclude something useful from it … .

You’re right. Idiocy of that sort surpasses a problem of IQ. The explanation is psychological. I have long thought that conservatives’ love affair with literal-minded evangelicals was an ill-considered tryst. I know one such heretic, and I have always detected a powerful tension between her conservatism and her evangelicalism. The notion of a humanity which is truly and finally “saved” in the here and now, one whose relationship to Christ justifies and purifies their motives, thoughts, and desires, to say nothing of the brimming adolescent emotionalism associated with the Campus Crusade mentality, seems to me a dangerously shallow reservoir for cultural renewal.

Anyhow, fight on. Thanks very much.

I thank the reader for his vivid and insightful description of the evangelical mindset. But what do the Christian literalists really want? Van Wijk writes:

Your post “A new theory on Bush” helped me articulate a thought I’d been chewing on since you posted the quote by that idiot Sobran: “I can’t imagine Jesus standing on the border to turn them back.”

Sure, it makes a great soundbyte, but what happens when we follow it to its logical conclusion? Does God want another corrupt 3rd-world country to take the place of America? Would it please God to see birthrates quadruple and medical standards decline resulting in widespread death from treatable illness? Does God want the farms to fall into hands which will bring the United States down from a breadbasket to a destitute wretch, resulting in the occasional famine (South Africa is a great example of this)? Would it please God to see the streets churning with ethnic gangs who assault, rape, and steal with impunity because they’ve paid the policia off this month? And on and on and on…

Even if this very thing came to pass, the leftists wouldn’t admit that it was because of porous borders and amnesty. To admit such would amount to heresy. No, they’d rationalize it the same way they rationalized America out of existence.

Doubly disturbing is the fact that there are no mainstream Christian philosophers out there to refute Sobran’s statement. I think this is because most of them agree with him. These folks are not really Christians at all, but rather a bunch of agnostics and deists who believe that if Jesus really was holy, then he must be of equal standing with Muhammad, Buddha, Vishnu, Gaia, and whichever sect is hot this month. The Bible is a gigantic metaphor, and any mention of infidels or righteous violence or sins that make life inconvenient must be oh-so rationally explained away.

But if what you say is true, and Bush is a tool of the Almighty, then we must suffer him, all the while waiting for the day when the time for talk will come to an end.

LA replies:

Look at it this way. Read my article on liberal Christianity and
, and then ask yourself how many Christian leaders, theologians, intellectuals, bishops, pastors, priests—as well as regular white Christians, would agree with what I say there, let alone SAY what I say?

That shows how deep the dilemma is. My affirmation of traditional nationhood within a Judeo-Christian worldview is perfectly reasonable and sensible, and in accord with historic, non-liberal biblical understandings. Yet for the modern liberal Christian West, it is in another universe.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 26, 2006 09:50 PM | Send

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