The congress person from my district — Lauren Boebert — makes a big noise about her Christianity and about her guns. She’s also a hate-filled little person who is now under investigation for lying about (and stealing) campaign funds. In a discussion with others from my district about how this phenomenon got to be the surrealistic horror she is, someone who lives nearer Rifle, the town where Boebert is from, said, “Boebert was radicalized by her church.” The woman then went on to describe the church.
“Radicalized by her CHURCH? Who ARE these people? How does that happen?” I woke up this morning with that in my mind.
In the process of making coffee, I thought of my own novels. One is about the Crusades. One is about the Reformation. One is about fleeing Europe to escape religious persecution. The radicalization of Christians by a Christian church is a very old and very common story. This isn’t the first time Christians have been whipped up into a weapon-wielding frenzy by something purporting to be faith.
This is The Palastinalied, or the Palestine Song, a Crusader song, written in the 13th century by Walther von Vogelweid, one of the most well known (in his time and ours) composers of Minnesangs or lyrical ballads. It’s a hymn and a marching song sort of like “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Wikipedia has a translation of this song.
There are aspects to this whole moment in time that, to me, resemble the idea of a “holy war.” Not good. Those things always go sideways and for a lot of people, there was no homecoming. I have a hard time imagining Jesus urging his followers to carry AK-47s or carry their Glocks onto the floor of the United States House of Representatives.