Saturday, September 27, 2014

Did Adolf get right with God?

Let's talk about Hitler again, shall we? That's always a fun topic, right?

Here's the thing. The God-botherers keep trying to avoid the sad truth - that Hitler was, in fact, a Christian. I've just had a 3-day argument with a guy on Twitter who doesn't want to admit it, and he had two different arguments. The first is just to lie about the subject, and the second is to claim that Hitler wasn't a Christian because he didn't follow the proper "Christian virtues."

Here's the problem: Hitler was an amazingly private man. He didn't share his private thoughts with a lot of people, and that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. On the one hand, we have the writings of Goebbels and Bormann, who claimed he spoke badly of Christianity to them. Unfortunately, these were private conversations with no way to verify them, and both men were open, contemptuous atheists, who wanted Hitler to believe the way they did.

And then you get books like Hitler's Cross, written by Erwin Lutzer, an evangelical pastor, who desperately wanted Hitler not to have believed in the same things he did.

But on the other hand, we have his extensive use of Christian themes in his writings and speeches. We also have the fact that the Wehrmacht had the motto "God is with us," which seems fairly straightforward.

We also have the fact that Hitler was raised Catholic, and went to a monastary school; he was even an altar boy. The Vatican had an agreement with the Nazis called the Reichconcordat. Hitler never left the Catholic church, and (unlike Goebbels), was never excommunicated. But, to be honest, he wasn't Catholic. What he actually was, was a member of the religion he sponsored and supported, the Deutsche Christen (German Christian) movement.

See, the problem with standard Christian doctrine was that it was a little too Jewy for Adolph and his party boys. So, back in 1907, a guy named Max Bewer wrote a book called Der Deutsche Christus ("The German Christ"), where his theory was that Jesus was a product of Mary cuckolding Joseph with some German soldiers from the Roman Garrison (that's the body - the whole "spirit" thing still comes from God).

Philosophically, they ignored (and in some cases, removed) the Old Testament (you know, what some people even today call "the Hebrew Bible"), and pushed what they called "positive Christianity" (Positives Christentum) - less stress on that Lutheran "sinfulness" thing, more on redemption (in fact, if you strip away the Nazi overtones, it's similar to what mega-churches preach today).

Was Hitler a "good Christian"? Well, that's where you have to define your terms. Was he raised a Christian? Yes, he was. Did he go to church? Why, yes. He did. He also prayed with his troops, and insisted that chaplains travel with his troops, too.

Did he attend church every Sunday? Probably not. He was a busy man: had a country to run, other countries to invade, people to oppress. Kind of like Donald Trump.

An argument can be made that "Hitler was more of an opportunist than a good church-goer." But that doesn't negate his Christianity: my grandfather, an Army chaplain, used to talk about "Et Cetera Christians" (ETC - Easter Thanksgiving Christmas).

Most Christians go to church out of habit, mouthing the words because that's expected. And then they go about their daily lives, slandering people, ignoring the sick and the hungry, and generally ignoring all the good things that Jesus Christ supported ("Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:31-46)

And remember: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10) And while you may not agree with him, Hitler always thought he was doing good works
So the basic argument against Hitler being a Christian boils down to "Some people who hated Christianity said he hated Christianity too!" and "Some of his writings opposed the other churches and he didn't like the Jewish parts of Christianity! I'm going to ignore all the pro-Christian things he said!"

Once you strip those away, you're left with "Well, he did un-Christian things," which would certainly be an effective argument to make, if you were likewise going to say that nobody can be a Christian: Hitler may have done more horrific acts than most, but who actually lives up to the words of Jesus?

For example, even if you're lying about Hitler, you're still lying.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Early reaction to Twitter

As I might have mentioned, I recently started playing around with Twitter. Sweet Jesus, it's a unique environment. With only 140 characters to play with, it's like swimming in a crowded whirlpool, and having people grab you, yell something in your ear, and get pulled away by the tide.

I'm noticing some various trends among users. I find a lot of them fall into several categories.

There's the celebrities, of course. People famous for being on TV, or in movies, or writing books or whatever. I've heard that 1% of Twitter users are celebrities, but 99% of the other users follow them. Which might be accurate; I don't know. Some celebrities just tweet about their lives. Others try to use their celebrity to promote the things that are important to them, like causes. Or... instagram filters.
Here's a little fact nobody mentions: if you're looking to get more jokes on your feed, comedians are a weird bunch. Many of them will try out jokes on Twitter, but a lot don't seem to want to "waste" them like that - and, really, that's understandable. When you make your living having people pay to hear your jokes, you don't want to give them away for free.

So sometimes you end up with streams from comedians like Iliza Shlesinger (@iliza), who seems to mostly tweet pictures from her Instagram feed. But most often, you get a lot of tweets like "Had a great time tonight, @HeliumComedy in Philly! Thanks for coming out!" or "I'll be headlining at the #ItchyKitty in Reseda tonight! Be sure to stop by! Tickets at the door!"

There are a lot of people who apparently don't have anything to say. All they do is read their stream, and occasionally retweet ("RT") something somebody else has written. They don't tend to add anything to the discussion. But then, just to keep things exciting, I guess, they'll find somebody who looks interesting and poke through their feed. Then they'll favorite or RT a long string of things from that same person, and then, after that brief flurry of activity, I guess they just go back to grazing through their Twitter stream passively, like bipolar cattle.

Trivia: "starbang" is to favorite a lot of tweets in a row (because the symbol for "favorite" is a star, see?). There's probably a similar term for obsessively retweeting somebody else's words, but I haven't run across it yet.

There's also a weird subclass of Twitter users (or maybe even superusers) that seem to have allowed Twitter to take over their lives. They tend to tweet or retweet constantly, and I'm not entirely clear that they do anything else throughout the day.
I mean, I'll tweet some random, semi-funny line every so often, but these people spew unrelated jokes every 15-20 minutes. And then regurgitate a string of retweets, and then back to spewing their own "humor." I guess it's easier than getting a life...

I'm coming to realize that for a good 99% of users, if you follow them, it's best to just turn off the ability to see their retweets. It's just a good policy.

You know all those mindless idiots who believe everything Fox "News" and Sarah Palin spew? Yeah, a lot of them have Twitter accounts. They can be fun for a while - they tend to block you before too long, though. (I wonder if I've been blocked more often than I've been retweeted? That's an interesting question; somebody's got to have an app that'll show those stats...)

There's also a collection of what must be bots out there - programs that just spew whatever tweets they're designed for. There are "users" who just tweet ads for random ezines (I'm looking at you,; I'm starting to suspect that the entire ad department for a lot of these ezines is a Twitter user sending out promos for their latest slideshow.

Also, if you answer somebody with a quote, you'll suddenly find yourself followed by quotebots (everybody from Gandhi to Marilyn Monroe) - it's weird. (Also, some of these things that claim to be quotebots are just adbots. Go figure.

It's a strange world out there. I'm just sayin'...