What Might Have Been: President of the United States
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is a counterfactual historical novel. The story focuses on a Jewish family by the name of Roth living in an alternative history in which Charles Lindbergh, the Nazi sympathizer, wins the 1940 election on the platform of keeping America out of the war. Despite the consternation of many Jews across America, some prominent rabbis become convinced (not without good reason as it turns out) that Lindbergh’s “Nazism” is calculated to put America in a better negotiating position vis a vis Hitler. Call it politics. Call it the ambiguous future.
Roth’s book emphasizes the unknown. If his story was straight historical fiction, we’d all be able to look up how the story ends. Instead we get familiar ingredients (Nazis, Jews, America, Hitler) but an unclear finale haunts the proceedings. Continue reading
Father Dwight Longenecker really has got it made. He’d be the first to tell you just how much of a crazy ride it’s been, and how much he’s grown over the years. From his humble beginnings as a brainwashed fundamentalist Evangelical to reaching the Billy Corgan-level Roman Catholic blogger-star status he has today, it seems like that his conversion story is the gift that won’t stop giving. Considering just how often he mentions it on his various blogs, it’s also clear that Fr. Dwight is really quite simply in awe of this path he’s trod, and wants very much to share with you this awe he feels (helpfully distributed into no less than five different testimonials! Get ’em while they’re hot!). I mean, Evangelical Dwight probably only had one conversion story, whereas OS Fr. Dwight 2.1 has conversion stories. Yep. That’s right – plural. Apparently the Roman Catholic church is so much more superior to other denominations that even your testimonials get an upgrade, like Papal bull hormones spurting through a syringe into your spiritual bloodstream.
But just in case you couldn’t get enough Fr. Dwight from his numerous bios and testimonials, he also has several books he’s authored for sale on his website, many of which are tailored for the aspiring Roman Catholic convert in all of us. He’s even got a nifty little Screwtape Letters knock-off series for those of us who just don’t find C. S. Lewis, ya know, Christiany enough. While reading Fr. Dwight’s contributions to Christian culture, one is reminded of the comedy sketch from the show Portlandia where Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein depict Etsy-esque crafty-types who can’t resist “putting a bird” on everything – except, in Fr. Dwight’s case, instead of a bird, it’s a Papal Seal.
Now, before you assume that the main point of this article is to deride Fr. Dwight for using his conversion to Roman Catholicism for financial gain, I must clarify. There’s really nothing wrong with wanting to make a buck. Plus, if your Patheos-hosted blog will even let you put your Pay-Pal information right on your front page, I’m not going to belittle you for scooping up some dough to keep your five blogs running. As Fr. Dwight will make very clear, he’s a sucker for tradition, and the Roman Catholic church has a very deep and long-standing tradition of using their religion to make some dough. Some of Rome’s most famous adherents were known for this kind of wheeling and dealing, for the Seat of Pete’s sake!