How Long, O Lord?
Commenting on Pat Robertson's latest outrage may seem like the blogospheric equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, but I will try to add a bit of value by offering a theological perspective on the Rev's persistent habit of asserting that God Almighty will smite anyone who disagrees with Robertson's views on society and politics.
Certainly every religious person of any faith tries to do God's will, and to humbly try to discern it in all public and private decisions. But it's a peculiarity of fundamentalists (again, of every faith), and of the Christian Right in particular, to embrace their own interpretations of God's Will as clear, certain and infallible, and to attribute a willful disobedience towards the divine order to anyone who might happen to hold a different interpretation. In the end, this tendency leads its practitioners dangerously close to the position that they literally speak for God on any matter they decide to talk about. In Pat Robertson's case, he's gone well over that line, and apparently thinks his judgments and God's are identical, which to my point of view is self-idolatrous and indeed blasphemous.
I've speculated at length elsewhere that this fanatical certainty that God has a clear position on every secular matter--and that dissenters know this and are consciously in rebellion against God--reflects the dire spiritual danger today's cultural warriors have risked by providing religious sanction to the entirely secular conservative agenda they have chosen to emphasize over every task. After all, if they're wrong in thinking that the clear lesson of Holy Scripture for today's Christians is to criminalize abortion, demonize gay people, and reverse the changing gender roles of recent centuries, then they are the kind of "false prophets" that Holy Scripture warns us all to fear and reject, right?
In that sense, Robertson stands out less for the breathtaking arrogance of his pronouncements, than for his remarkable lack of discretion in broadcasting them regularly.
Still, you have to wish he'd finally retire and share his views less broadly, if only because of the scandal he so often brings to his faith and his country. (Wikipedia has an excellent summary of his fatuous fatwahs over the years).
When I first heard that the Rev had breezily announced Ariel Sharon's stroke was a direct Act of God, like many Christians, and many Americans, my first thought was please shut up.
Or, to quote one of the preachers in the repertoire of the late Richard Pryor: "How long? How long? How long--must this b---s--- go on?" --