Sunday, December 06, 2015

Review: Christian Nation by Frederic C Rich

Frederic C. Rich retired from one of the United States's largest law firms. He also found time to write a speculative fiction (by now, nearly alternative history) novel set in our time about the takeover, via election, of the United States by Christian dominionists and reconstructionists.

The author maintains a website with more information about the book and a list of questions for discussion. You can search for the book at your local independent book store or at a library near you.

While the book is alternative history, its pre-2008 public events and persons are real. Governor Sarah Palin, R. J. Rushdoony of the Chalcedon Foundation, Michael Harris of Patrick Henry College and the Home School Legal Defense Association, Doug Coe of The Family, Senator and Presidential candidate Ted Cruz (whom President Palin nominates to the Supreme Court in the book) and others are real people who have advocated dangerous policy choices. It's worth reading the book while connected to the Internet to learn about how close some of the changes described in the book are to reality.

The book draws heavily for inspiration from Hannah Arendt's writings, Lewis Sinclair's It Can't Happen Here and Chris Hedges's American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

The novel is not great literature, but it is worthwhile edutainment. It prompted lively discussion in the book club I attended.

Fascist movements seem to need an enemy to galvanize their followers. In this novel, gays and lesbians are that enemy. Fortunately, the Untied States has, in a relatively short period within my lifetime, made great strides in rejecting discrimination against gays and lesbians. For this reason, I am not as concerned about this as the animating force behind a Christian takeover of the United States. I think the future envisioned by The Purge movies is at this point a stronger possibility.

I highlighted this book in this blog because many of these issues are more pressing in Muslim-majority countries, and, for reasons I don't understand, some North American Muslims seem to get sucked into those countries' issues.

There were several passages which I believed to be particularly insightful. Click to enlarge images:

The protagonists leave Manhattan and travel to the Pennsylvania countryside to attend a wedding in a mega-church. There, Sanjay, the first of the group to take the threat of a Christian takeover seriously, notices the significance of the building's architecture and its organizers' proficiency in entertainment:

Later, Sanjay also points out how the religious conservatives no longer decry violence in entertainment:

On p. 40, Greg, the character who later works with Sanjay and Governor Michael Bloomberg in rebellion against the United States and subsequently survives the Holy War prisoner camp and whom the opposition recruits to write a memoir, describes how the promoters of the new version of Christianity asked people to favor their interpretations despite their rational misgivings.

On pages 49-50, Greg observes that communal participation is essential in punishments such as flogging and stoning.

Read the 2nd aya of Sura al-Nur.

Christian Nation: A Novel from WW Norton on Vimeo.

For more thoughts on fascism, read Umberto Eco's essay on Ur-Fascism. Also, check out my other blog entries tagged fascism.

Updated February 25, 2016: Just saw new advertisement for the next installment of The Purge franchise. Looks amazing!