Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Liberation or Liberalism?
Jackie sent this short article by Jeff Sharlet, a journalist who covers the evangelicalism and politics beat.
He compares liberation theology and the origins of the Obama campaign, in contrast to the current more liberal and Social Gospel oriented message of recent days. I think Sharlet is right in his perception of this shift, but I also think that it is inevitable. Can a radical liberation ideology be contained within the limits of existing institutional structures, like the presidency or a presidential campaign, for that matter? I don't think it can. It is by nature an outside agitator.
I find Sharlet's description of the Social Gospel as paternalistic to be interesting as well. A combination of manly overseeing, racial uplift (elite blacks in the nineteenth century also invoked this kind of message), but Sharlet doesn't get to the many many women who did similar social work with less overbearing methods. Imperialism at home, imperialism abroad. I'm not sure what this means for the twenty-first century because I think that ultimately, the Obama-Social Gospel comparison starts to break down when we look at foreign policy points, among other things.