Writing a column in the Ottawa Citizen, Marci McDonald -- of The Armageddon Factor fame -- complains that she's been treated rather unjustly by Canada's conservative media.
Citing sources of attack such as Ezra Levant, David Frum and Blazing Cat Fur, McDonald decries the injustice of it all, and insists that she had no malignant intent in mind.
"I've found myself in a firestorm of controversy, the object of distinctly un-Christian invective and the unbridled wrath of the right-wing blogosphere. Charting the uneasy minuet of religion and politics in Stephen Harper's Ottawa appears to have given me a level of notoriety summed up in a current title on the best-seller list: I am, as one friend quipped, the girl who kicked the hornet's nest."Others would argue rather differently: they would argue that McDonald invented the hornet's nest out of nearly whole cloth, then deliberately punted at conservative and Evangelical Christian Canadians.
If she didn't do so herself, she's clearly been content to decline to speak out against the numerous Canadian ideologues using her book as a tool of cultural warfare against conservatives.
She in particular identifies Ezra Levant as the alleged source of her woes. But within her complaints about Levant's admittedly-vociferous criticism of her comes an interesting admission:
"We clearly missed four errors among the litany he alleged and will correct them at the earliest chance.If ony there were only four errors in McDonald's book. But as many experts have pointed out, McDonald's work is indeed laden with errors -- factual, interpretive and conceptual.
But his zeal does raise an obvious question: Do four errors in 400 pages constitute what he calls an 'error-riddled' book?"
One must turn again to the review of McDonald's book by Yale PhD candidate Molly Worthen, who points out the numerous follies of McDonald's book.
To start with, Worthen points out that McDonald has polarized Evangelical Chrisitians into two camps:
"She reduces their diverse beliefs to two extreme nodes: Christian Reconstructionism, a theocratic vision that seeks 'dominion' over society by reinstating Mosaic law; and dispensationalist premillennialism, a view of the end times in which human history tumbles into chaos until Christ sweeps up believers in the Rapture and fights the final battle of Armageddon."Moreover, McDonald's source notes reveal an effort to simply transplant politically-motivated fear mongering from south of the border north of the 49th parallel:
"Her source notes reveal that her account relies heavily on a handful of books by American journalists who over-simplified evangelical thought in an effort to galvanize liberals during the George W Bush era."Moreover, as it turns out, McDonald doesn't even have the most damaging insinuation of her book -- the suggestion of a theocratic bent amongst Canadian Evangelical Christians -- right:
"Some of her subjects may indeed dream of ruling Canada by divine mandate, but she paints all – from Dutch Reformed to Lutheran to Mennonite – with the same theocratic brush, despite the fact that many of these churches have either rejected or severely qualified their views of Christian 'dominion' and the Rapture-centred vision of end times. Although most evangelicals still believe that prophecy has something to do with current events, premillennialism has mellowed significantly in recent years."In other words, McDonald suggests that the idea of premillienialism is becoming more dangerous at a time when it is, in fact, becoming less dangerous -- if there was ever any significant danger at all.
Worthen also points out that McDonald rushes to find any hint of Christian Reconstructionism so she ignores key elements of the philosophy of politically-engaged Christians:
"The Evangelicals that McDonald meets occasionally declare their 'biblical worldview' or denounce the myth of neutrality in the public sphere. What she takes for the language of Christian Reconstructionism is actually a feature of Reformed cultural theology, a broad tradition that urges Christians to engage in all spheres of life through a unified worldview. To miss this point is fundamentally to misunderstand the intellectual position of many evangelicals. They have critiqued secular ideas of objectivity and the exclusion of religion from the public square by suggesting that in this postmodern age – when even atheist philosophers doubt there is just one true understanding of reality – Christian presuppositions are no less valid grounds for a worldview than those of secular rationalism. McDonald does not take on this argument, nor give the reader any hint of this broader context."Based on all of this -- the assessment of an actual expert on Evangelical Christianity -- it's clear that McDonald's book is troubled by far more than simply four of the errors cited by Ezra Levant. Yet just as McDonald has yet to intercede against the Murray Dobbins and Dennis Gruendings of Canada who are intent on using her book as a weapon in a culture war that they are gleefully eager to fight, McDonald seems to have yet to respond to this criticism.
Better for McDonald to tackle the Levants and Frums of the world -- whom McDonald's target demographic already despise -- than the criticisms offered by experts. All while McDonald tries to pretend she's playing nice with the real experts on Canadian Evangelical Christianity -- individuals like Lloyd Mackey, who knows the subject far better than she does -- and insisting that she's a moderate.
Apparently, people are supposed to simply overlook passages such as this, in which she suggests that Canadian Evangelicals would transform Canada into a:
"Christian nation [in which] non-believers ... have no place, and those in violation of biblical law, notably homosexuals and adulterers, would merit severe punishment and the sort of shunning that once characterized a society where suspected witches were burned."This, despite the fact that McDonald simply has it wrong. The extreme fringes of the far left, who so desperately want McDonald's conclusions to be true, will ignore simply ignore this. It's always been their modus operandi.
McDonald, in the meantime, will continue to aid them by playing the victim card.
It's a sad, sad gambit from someone whose work has been judged, tested, and found wanting.