Friday, November 04, 2005

Jimmy Carter has lost his flock -- can he call them back?

Jimmy Carter woke up one day and realized that his culture, his community, had left him overnight. The evangelical deeply religious southern baptist community he knew and loved had turned to the dark path of patriarchal fundamentalism, to hatred and to war.

Since he's Jimmy Carter, he's written a book to call them back home: Our Endangered Values : America's Moral Crisis: Books.

I skimmed the book in Barnes and Noble. It's not long. Carter establishes his religious credentials early on -- and they're impeccable credentials. He is a serious, dedicated, insightful evangelical who strives to live as a disciple of Christ. I'm a hard case, but I'd fear to withstand Carter's will to save. This man is a rock-ribbed religious traditionalist. He is not, however, a modern fundamentalist. He is their very antithesis.

He's quietly and passionately horrified by the path America has taken, and by the role of religious fundamentalists in that path. He comes across as puzzled but patient, as persistent in his efforts to retrieve his brethren as he was saving souls in Lock Haven Pennsylvania. (My wife and I did ER shifts there during our family practice residency, so I actually know of the place! In 1987 it was a town that had been frozen in time around 1950 or so.)

If I were the praying sort, I'd be praying for his success.

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