Hey, honey, let's blow the kids' college money on a Suburban, 'cause Jesus is a-comin' soon."
That's not a direct quote from the new Kevin Phillips jeremiad, American Theocracy. It's just my paraphrase of the book's peculiar thesis, which strings together an unholy trinity of oil dependence, public debt, and especially "radical" religion as major threats to U.S. security.
You could very well be a part of the vast Rapture-wing conspiracy Phillips laments in the course of more than 400 pages. Are you now, or have you ever: (a) attended a megachurch; (b) driven an SUV; (c) read any of the Left Behind books; (d) voted for President Bush; or (e) lived in the South? If you match at least two of these criteria, Phillips believes you are causing America's downfall.
Odd, yes. But obscure this book is not, based on glowing reviews in reputable media and its bestseller status. Let's hear directly from Phillips, the former Republican strategist described (by his publisher) as "America's premier political analyst."
Only three paragraphs in, Phillips warns, "The Rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the gop into the first religious party in U.S. history."
Later: "Suburban megachurches, in turn, find themselves explained as offering the spiritual equivalent of a shopping mall: Would you like psychic healing today, Hindu breathing exercises, or just a little observant mood music?" The corresponding footnote offers no insight about where he found such a church. Something tells me Phillips forgot to talk to Rick Warren or Bill Hybels.
No Matter the Facts
The 2004 election seems to have unleashed doomsday predictions about ...1