By ART CHANCE
I was raised in Baptist confinement; the “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it” variety.
There were three kinds of Baptists in the rural South; the Missionary Baptists, the Progressive Primitive Baptists, and the “Old Line” Primitive Baptists. The Missionary Baptists are the ones you might recognize; they had a nice church with a steeple in town and there were nice cars parked around the church on Sunday morning. They’re the ones you’d associate with the Southern Baptist Convention and what passes for mainstream Protestantism these days. I was brought up to think of them as snobs, though not so much as Methodists and Presbyterians, but they did have some pretty girls, so I went to church there from time to time. I’ll always have a warm spot for them for the night we beat a nearby rival, a rivalry so intense the game had to be played on a neutral field, in football for the first time in 28 years, and when the team and band buses arrived back in town in the middle of the night, somebody opened the church and played “Alma Mater” on the carillon for the whole town, whether they wanted to hear it or not.
I sprang from the more déclassé sector of Baptist dogma and I had a divided family. My Father’s side were “progressive” Primitive Baptists. My grandfather and grandmother were charter members of the church, and my grandfather and later my father were deacons. We gave the land for the parsonage to the church.
I was something of a disappointment.
My mother’s side were “Old Line” Primitive Baptists. Union Primitive Baptist church was out in the country and didn’t have running water or modern facilities. It didn’t have stained glass windows or art work on the walls. It didn’t have a piano or other musical instrument. My grandfather was a deacon and the singing leader and most of the singing was “call and repeat.” Most of you don’t know what that is, but most of you have heard Joan Baez’ version of “Amazing Grace” on “From Every Stage,” the only Christian song you can sing or play in polite company these days. She does a lot of it in “call and repeat,” in which she sings out the words of the next verse for the audience.
Other than at Union Church, I remember it most from field hands working in cotton and tobacco fields. Someone was the song leader, maybe the foreman, maybe a pastor among the group; he; always he, led the singing. Most of you have no idea what chopping cotton or cropping tobacco in the 100 degree Georgia heat is like, but singing Gospel songs as you did it seemed to help.
That was the state of the World 50 or 60 years ago. Two hundred years earlier, you could have a trial by water (or worse) to see if your beliefs adequately conformed to “community standards.” A couple of hundred years before that, you would be offered a choice of the hot fire if you could afford it, or the slow fire if you couldn’t, as your soul was tried by fire.
You have to really be a student of history to know about Arianism, Catharism, Nestorianism, Appolarianism, Gnosticism and all the other “isms” that could get you tortured, flayed, blinded, burned at the stake or boiled in oil for the first 1,500 years or so of Christianity’s development. Only some of the notorious Inquisition was about testing just which flavor of Christian you might be, though it got pretty tough in places, but if you were a Muslim or a Jew trying to “pass” as a Christian, your life might well be forfeit.
The Left never had a Council of Nicaea or a Stalin. Constantine had a convocation of Christian bishops in 325 AD who were tasked with setting out what it meant to be a Christian. They produced the Nicene Creed. The assembled bishops were mostly from the Eastern Empire. The great losers were the Arian Christians, but they remained a force in the church for centuries, albeit a persecuted force. The most evident result was that the creed defined heresy, and the church, particularly the Eastern church, set out to extirpate heresy.
There is a good argument that Byzantine losses to the Persians and later to the Muslims among the Jews and other Semitic residents of the empire were in large measure attributable to persecution by the Orthodox Church. As the Muslims became ascendant, many Orthodox but heretical Christians chose conversion or dhimmitude over Orthodox persecution.
Fast forward 1,500 years; communism was little more established in Europe in the mid-1800s than Christianity had been in the 300s, perhaps less so. Various cells, cadres, and communes had tried to establish socialist/communist/communal governments throughout Europe and even to some extent in the U.S. all through the 19th Century.
You can trace most of the “isms” that bedeviled the U.S. in the 19th and early 20thCenturies to the Seneca Falls Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848. Marx’ “Das Kapital” wasn’t far behind in 1867. By 1871 proto-communists established the Paris Commune and rejected the authority of the French Government. It only took a couple of months for the French Army to reject the authority of the Paris Commune, but revolutionary groups were here to stay.
World War One proved too much for the tottering Romanov Dynasty in Russia and it succumbed first to a social Democrat democracy and ultimately to the communist Bolsheviks, thus establishing the first communist national government, led first by Vladimir Lenin. Autocracy is the only form of government Russia had ever known, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was even more autocratic than the Romanovs, but different people got to be the autocrats. Anastasia screamed in vain!
The aborning U.S.S.R. faced a civil war with revanchist elements, the “White Russians,” and various schisms between factions inside the nominally communist ranks. Bolshevik means something like majority, but they were anything but; they were just loud and violent.
Lenin kept the unholy alliance together until his death in 1928. Among the many ideological schisms, the most consequential was that between Lenin and another Bolshevik, Leon Trotsky. To use today’s words, Lenin was a bureaucratic communist; his intent was to harness the bureaucratic power of the state to the Communist Party.
Trotsky believed in ongoing revolution; he was more anarchist than communist. Lenin’s successor, Stalin, was cut from different cloth and had nothing of Trotsky’s dissidence; he threw him out of the U.S.S.R. Then, when Trotsky, ensconced in Mexico, continued to try to influence events in the U.S.S.R., Stalin simply had someone put an ice axe through his skull.
That was the communist version of the Council of Nicaea; adhere to the ruling dogma or get an ice axe in your head. To be fair, the Christians weren’t any more gentle; burned at the stake or an ice axe in your head: you pick it.
Through World War II, American communists were doctrinaire Stalinists. After WWII, the U.S. rigorously suppressed doctrinaire communism. The net result, however, was not really the suppression of communism, but its dispersion. In the 1950s and 1960s we saw the rise of the New Left in the US. The epicenter was Chicago and a Trotsky disciple named Saul Alinsky. Chinese Maoism was a derivative of Trotskyism, and lots of American young people spent the 1960s with a copy of Mao’s “Little Red Book” in the pocket of their ragged Levis. It quietened a bit in the Reagan-Bush years, but returned in new bespoke clothes with Bill Clinton.
Bill and Hillary Clinton raised a fist and yelled “Vinceremos.” They meant to restart the revolution. Fortunately, it cost Bill the Congress and he tucked his communist tail between his legs and made nice with Newt Gingrich. Hillary, who wrote her master’s thesis about Saul Alinsky, remains resentful and tries to remain relevant. Bill seems to content himself with finding comfort with women who aren’t Hillary.
The Left did not rest after the Clinton retrenchment; they took your children, if you were foolish enough to send them to college. In scenes reminiscent of a Tom Jones concert in the 1970s, college girls were throwing their panties at the stage at Obama rallies in the ‘00s. Donald Trump was an unanticipated interlude that caused the Left a fit of apoplexy. I won’t discuss how the Left “defeated” him.
To bring this to today, the communists, excuse me, Democrats, control the Congress and the Presidency; they can do pretty much whatever they want subject to their ability to cow the courts. Their tool of manipulation is the Covid scamdemic. Covid has become a messianic religion. You either accept the gospel of St. Anthony Fauci and his ilk, or you are a heretic.
I don’t look or act like a sensitive new-age guy; the Karens don’t even have to know, they couldn’t tell anyway, whether I’m carrying Covid or not; one look at me without a mask and they bustle off in the opposite direction with a distraught look on their faces. They are genuinely afraid, and St. Anthony and the “Jab Inquisition” have done that. St. Anthony doesn’t have to be Slo Joe’s Torquemada, there are millions of Karens out there to do it for him.
We have some “doctor” screeching at the medical board about “misinformation.” Who gave her the power to determine what constitutes misinformation? She doesn’t work for Facebook, which reserves that right for itself.
This doctor and her soy boy disciples would like nothing more than putting the dissenting doctors, most of whom are more qualified than their accusers, to the stake; what better place than in front of Loussac Library, the leftists’ holy temple in Anchorage.
We have exceeded even a medieval level of ignorance and superstition; we’ve made it all the way back to the Dark Ages.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.