Vocabulary: Premillennial dispensationalism

This is not a comic strip:

Premillennial Dispensationalism: Designed by J. Dennsion Jr. Typeset by Clarence E. Veld. (via New York University; undated)

This is just one of those phrases that has escaped me. I knew there was a term for the scheme, but never knew what it was. Bill Maher raised the issue a few years ago on Larry King Live in 2003, and on his own show, Real Time, the next night. I mention Maher because I remember that episode. And I remember the Larry King appearance.

And that’s why I love the web. From Larry King Live, August 28, 2003:

MAHER: They don’t want what President Bush is trying to push for in the Middle East. They don’t want a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Because then, if you had a peace then the Palestinians, the Arabs would have part of Jerusalem.

And we can’t have that, because when Jesus comes back, which he’s going to any day now, it has to be the way he left it. It has to be that the Jews control Jerusalem, because when he comes back to take all the good people up to heaven, the Jews have a place in that situation. Which of course, Larry, is to die. Or to convert. So in other words, they want the Jews to retain all of Israel. Because when Jesus comes back down, the Jews have a job to do, which is to die.

KING: You lump Mel Gibson in that group?

MAHER: Oh, yes. He’s even further to the right than that. He’s truly in the wacko. He’s in part of that group, I forget what they call them, not conservative Catholics or something, but they don’t believe in Vatican II. In other words, Pope John and the reforms are no good. Do the mass in Latin. The Jews are the Christ killers.

And Real Time With Bill Maher, August 29, 2003:

MAHER: This is also the week when a little boy was killed because he was autistic, and his parents thought he was possessed by demons. So during the exorcism, they smothered him. This is all just to make the case, as I always love to do, that religion is stupid. [laughter] [cheers] [applause]

Now, in addition to this, with all the press Mel Gibson has been getting about making his movie about Jesus, I think people would like to know that the road map to the Middle East which our president is trying to put forth – and I agree, it’s a good plan – is opposed by some people in our government, including Tom DeLay – they call themselves Friends of Israel. And what they really are, are people who do not want to share the Holy Land, because in the Bible, the Jews have the Holy Land, and when Jesus comes back, the Jews have a part to play, which is, of course, to die.

As a punch-line delivered during unsettled times, I remember thinking it had some weight. The audience reaction noted in the Real Time transcript was not entirely comfortable. It sounded like a really crass joke, which it is, except that it’s not.

Enter Salon.com political writer Michelle Goldberg. In 2006, W. W. Norton published her book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. No, I’ve not read it yet; I only heard about it yesterday.

Which, incidentally, is the reason I bring any of this up. Earlier this year, Ms. Goldberg spoke in Seattle at Elliott Bay Bookstore, and KUOW, on Thursday’s edition of Speaker’s Forum, broadcast portions of those remarks. It’s a fascinating talk, and finally introduced me to the phrase “premillennial dispensationalism”.

Seriously. I knew there had to be a word for it.

California Democrat hurts GOP’s feelings

Wow. Someone actually said it.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA):

You don’t have money to fund the war or children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.

Jonathan Weisman briefly covered the GOP response for the Washington Post:

In the wake of the failed veto override, clips of Stark’s comments were posted on YouTube and were being e-mailed around by Republicans. GOP news releases have been furious. The National Republican Congressional Committee called Stark’s statement “an outrageous and delusional tantrum.”

Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) declared that Stark “dishonors not only the commander in chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America’s armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security.” He called on Stark to apologize.

The 18-term congressman, however, responded only by calling those who voted to deny children health care “chicken hawks.”

It is unseemly at least that the GOP, after pushing Bush’s war agenda through several years of accusing dissenters and doubters of treason, should be upset that someone finally made the obvious point.

So I’m sorry if the GOP’s feelings are hurt, but that’s a risk they run. If the truth hurts, perhaps they need to take a few minutes to think about their position.