Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Francis Schaeffer was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps as a luminary of the Christian Right in the United States. He spent his early years in the rarefied world of L’Abri, the mission his parents founded in Switzerland in 1955. In the late 1970s, he helped found the “pro-life” movement in the US with his father and the late C. Everett Koop, who became Reagan’s Surgeon General. During the 1980s, he worked with R.J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism or Dominionism.
Schaeffer became disillusioned with fundamentalism during the 1980s and ultimately renounced his former beliefs. Over the past several decades, he has worked to explain Reconstructionism to the secular public. In his new book, Sex, Mom and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway, Schaeffer discusses the anti-feminist politics that came out of his family’s religion. A recent media firestorm casts doubt on the mere existence of Reconstructionism, but my recent talk with Schaeffer suggests reinforces the sense that the movement remains politically important.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace: business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. And we know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.
The e-mail came from Patrick Madigan, a top lawyer in the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, on August 23. “Effective immediately,” it announced, “the New York Attorney General’s Office has been removed from the Executive Committee of the Robosigning multistate.” And just like that, Eric Schneiderman, the top law enforcement official in New York– the state where Wall Street is situated–was kicked off the nationwide committee of state law enforcement officials investigating Wall Street fraud.
In a sane society, Attorneys General would show themselves unfit for such a committee by exhibiting too close a relationship to the subjects of the inquiry. In this one, the opposite was true: Schneiderman has too upstanding a record as a corruption-gadfly for the establishment’s comfort. In the New York State Senate, Schneiderman took on the culture of corruption in Albany, passing tough ethics reform measures while campaigning for even tougher ones. This led him to do some kicking out of his own, when he chaired the committee to eject a crooked senator for the first time in modern history, and won unanimous support, at a time when political divides between Democrats and Republicans had essentially thrust Albany into gridlock, for a measure adding tax fraud to New York’s whistle-blower law, hailed as America’s strongest law to root out fraud against taxpayers (and Schneiderman, now Attorney General, at last finds himself in a position to use that law).
In the 1970s to early 1980s, thanks largely to second-wave feminism, there was a surge of gender neutral parenting. Androgynous children’s clothes abounded; Free to Be You and Me was the chorus of this counter-culture movement. Minus socialization to the contrary, went the theory, boys would love dolls, girls would engage in down-and-dirty, truck-centric play, and neither would be distinguishable from the other without peeking inside their brown corduroy pants.
It did not, surprise!, go entirely according to plan, as boys and girls both asserted that no, they didn’t want to dress and act as indistinguishable automatons.
The battle for marriage equality in New York state has reached a crucial point. Also: A familiar one. The New York state assembly passed a bill legalizing gay marriage last Wednesday — one of three bills to do so, the other two having been passed in 2007 and 2009 — and the bill is currently stalled in the Senate, where the previous bills were defeated. Governor Andrew Cuomo has worked to rally tie-breaking Republican support, and conservative Christians are lobbying for language that would allow religious organizations such as adoption agencies to continue discriminating against same-sex marriages.
But, the situation feels new. And exciting: The bill has been characterized as a “tipping point,” not only for New York, but for the country. Its passing seems more than likely; Cuomo’s strategy of getting several Republicans to vote in favor of the bill, so that none of them has to be “the one who voted for it,” is apparently working. Even opponents of the bill are conceding that, if same-sex marriage does not become legal in New York now, it will become legal: It is, in fact, “inevitable.”
ABC’s Castle wrapped up March sweeps with a two-parter episode to lure viewers in, perhaps with the goal of combating a ratings slip. It seemed to work; 8.99 million viewers tuned in for ‘Setup’ and 10.11 followed through to see what happened in ‘Countdown.’ The desperate grab for viewer eyeballs is a reflection of deeper problems with the series, which has undergone a radical shift since its premiere, and not in a good direction.
Castle started airing as a midseason pickup in 2009, at the same time ABC started airing The Unusuals. Both shows were presented as crime dramas with an unusual bent, mixing elements of comedy and absurdism into the usual format of grim people running around and flashing police badges. Apparently viewers weren’t that enamored with the idea of two quirky crime dramas set in New York City, because only one of the shows made it to a second season.