Tonight I discovered that Twitter is a powerful means to interact with people, whether far away geographically, or ideologically. I interacted with someone who "follows" me on Twitter about both politics and religion. It was fascinating. He's someone who is "conservative" politically, and who I thought was similarly conservative, i.e. orthodox, in his Christian convictions. Yet at the end, after finding out he believed in some pretty wild conspiracies regarding certain birth certificates, I also came to find that he questioned the basics of the reliability of the Christian text.
This exchange was enlightening to say the least.
It showed me that many among "Christian" conservatives are driven as much by a mindset that is governed by a conspiratorial way of seeing the world that not only questions our current President's origins, but also questions the foundational origins of the historic Christian faith. This, quite honestly, surprised me. It betrayed a radical skepticism that I hadn't assumed for the person I was interacting with about these issues. In my initial interactions, I saw the typical Christian conservative expressions. And in this I assumed that he had a basic trust in the reliability of the text governing Christian life. It was only as we engaged, back and forth, about political issues, that he mentioned the "birther" issue. That was my first clue. Then, within minutes, he asked about 'sources' and 'codices' regarding the basis of scripture. My first inclination is to think that he's been overly influenced by Dan Brown nonsense. But I don't want to prejudge. He may simply be examining the textual variants that do actually exist. But the fact that he brought it up so quickly after offering up the 'birther' argument does make me wonder if he's operating from a framework that is inherently conspiratorial and unrealistically dualistic. Other topics came up that, I think, point also to an either/or mindset, such as a strong focus on illegal immigration issues. In any case, it's been a good conversation so far. He's been receptive to what I've had to say so far. I hope it can be fruitful and help us both come to a better sense of what is true. In any case, it's been really interesting.