I found what you're saying very helpful. Your second point raised a few things on which I'd like to hear your take.
You said, "The challenge for those of us within Christianity who oppose such perversion is how to stand against it without taking up its weapons: slander, double-talk, fear, hatred, violence and the like."
This is the challenge for all of us who oppose the hatred that passes for holiness and patriotism in our time. How do we stand against it? How do we not get infected by the fear when the airwaves are dripping with it? How do we hold to truth when the government has mastered Orwellian Newspeak that makes the very idea of truth questionable? And, how do we not take up arms when militarism seems to have replaced diplomacy around the world?
I don't think Jesus ever expected there to be such a thing as a Holy Roman Empire or a Christian Nation. Judaism and the Hebrew Bible is replete with rules of war and a warrior God who deploys human troops, but Jesus came at a time of Jewish political and military impotence, and pointed us in a new and different direction. I cannot imagine Jesus teaching a doctrine of "Just War." And John of Patmos' global holocaust in his Book of Revelation, based as it is on the apocalyptic fantasies of the equally impotent Qumran Jews and their War Between the Sons of the Light and the Sons of Darkness, is anathema to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. Are those of us who follow Jesus (and I would count myself in that group as long as it is Jesus we are following and not the Christ for whom I admit no connection whatsoever) supposed to be conscientious objectors, pacifists, anti-war prophets?
Just imagine what might happen if all Christians suddenly said "no" to war. First, Israel would be attacked from all sides. Second, unless John Hagee is correct and the certain destruction of Israel would trigger the End Times and the Second Coming of Christ, Israel would blow itself up in a nuclear Massada that would decimate the Middle East with nuclear fallout and mass death that would make the region uninhabitable for centuries.
Oil production would plummet, and, unless T. Boone Pickens has his windmill farms up and running by then, the world goes dark, cold, and still in a few years at best. Food production falls, transportation of goods on a national scale (let alone a global one) is reduced to a trickle, and I don't get to use up my Frequent Flyer Miles on American Airlines. All of a sudden we are all living in Colonial Williamsburg except I don't own a cow, let alone know how to milk one.
The only thing that will keep America from being conquered by Communists or Muslims is the fact that by the time this happens China and Dubai will already own most of the country, so why bother?
OK, I'm having fun, but what do we do with the nonviolence at the heart of Jesus' teaching? It seems to have gone the way of nonviolence in India, and for the same reason: maybe community when it reaches a certain size cannot function without violence. Maybe Mao is write when he says that all power comes from the muzzle of a gun. Maybe you cannot overestimate the human passion for violence. After all we are the descendants of Cain not Abel.
I think the author of the Cain and Abel story believed this to be true. After murdering his brother, Cain goes off to found the first city. The Bible is telling us that once we humans move beyond simple agriculturally based communities we are doomed to murder and, as we organize into larger and larger groups, mass murder. Did Jesus see this and deliberately aim his teaching at individuals rather than at kings and nations as did the earlier prophets and the later Muhammad? Is this why he used agricultural metaphors rather than urban ones when trying to explain God and godliness?
I love to hear your thoughts on this, and while meeting to talk over Mexican food is always welcome, unless our readers come with us, you had better post something as well.