If it hadn’t happened, it should have, and probably somebody else would’ve thought of it. But a Wall Street lawyer has written one of the most provocative political thrillers which must be this era’s acme of “What if…?” stories. I’m referring, of course, to Frederic Rich’s outstanding foray into literature, “Christian Nation."
Before discussing the novel, I’ll give the caveat that it’s clear to any reputable theologian that the very title itself is oxymoronic – that is, the two words contradict each other. Jesus said to the disciples, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” That hasn’t however, stopped thousands of slick preachers, rabbis and imams on the political make from claiming otherwise.
Rich follows the “alternative history” genre of science fiction perfected by Harry Turtledove, which is always light on the science and heavy on the social commentary. While real time events make political fiction of necessity problematic, he tells a good story which some variation of could if the right ingredients mixed, prove possible. I will say this without equivocation, though: Rich has not underestimated the evil of the American Religious Right one iota.
In the novel, John McCain narrowly won the 2008 election. But three months later, while on a state visit to Russia, he began to give a speech, collapsed to the floor, and was dead within minutes of a cerebral aneurysm. It was good I wasn’t eating or drinking anything when I read that when the speech was broadcast live, instead of watching it, the Vice-President was watching “Bridezillas”.
More to come...
I don’t want to give any (or too many) spoilers, but, after Palin is sworn in and gives a speech stating that the United States is “a Christian Nation,” she has to pick a replacement for herself as Veep and settles on some Senator named Brownback (!) who continues to be mentioned as a minor character in the story. That would have been good for Kansas because then he’d never have become Governor, but much worse things happen in the novel that I won’t go into here. Bottom line, things get awful, and this nation which built a wall of separation between church and state becomes another Iran or Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, albeit with Christian symbolism instead of Muslim.
Theocracy is always a useful tool for those who seek power and control over others. Whether presented with promises of riches in the here and now (i.e., the “success gospel”) or pie in the sky by and by, there are always some suckers, or at least geese ready to be plucked.
The fact is, in a free society, legislation which favors one religion over another is always wrong. Antidiscrimination laws, in contrast, prevent harm. No religion requires its followers to be bigots. This is always a personal choice. Requiring businesses to treat others respectfully does not harm them. Those which refuse to do so cannot honestly say they are “following Christ” or Aqua Buddha or whoever is your short duration personal savior. Segregationists in the Old South claimed to be motivated by the Bible as well. Characterizations of such regulations as “bullying” are merely an attempt to fool the public which only works with the most thickheaded.
Thankfully, due to the benevolence of God and the inherent sense of fair play of the American people, those things about which Rich speculated could come to pass have not, and we are spiritually blessed because of it. This is the Greatest Country ever in no small part due to Mr. Jefferson’s wall, that between the church and the state.
The title is based on a blurb I red on a right-wing criticism of the piece I found on a blog, but I couldn't find it again, so perhaps it's lost to the ether. But that's what one critic called the book. To me, that's high praise indeed.
I wrote Rich an e-mail praising his work and he graciously wrote back. I asked for a sequel but he was noncommital.
Here's a link to the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/...
And here's one to the website for the book. Nice video preview included: http://www.readchristiannation.com/...