Mr. Enigma, C Street Defender

Last week, the Wall Street Journal’s online edition asked me to write a short commentary on C Street, one of the subjects of my new book, C Street, and the 2010 midterm elections. A supporter of the organization behind C Street, the Family, posted a response, not so much to the commentary but to the two books I’ve written on the subject, in which I argue that the Family is a secretive, fundamentalist organization that promotes a theology of “Jesus plus nothing” as the solution to the problems of politics. I describe their theology as a narcissistic one, since they reject the label “Christian” and claim not to convert anyone even as they recruit adherents of other traditions as “followers of Jesus,” whom, they say, so completely transcends all other traditions that nobody should even be offended by that assertion. That was my view. But it’s important to get the “other side,” as hack journalists say, so here we have the perspective of a Family supporter posting under the name “Timothy Engima.” Mr. Enigma really sets me straight!

Jeff’s two books are such works of fiction, tweaking and twisting several pieces of the puzzle on his radar screen, to fit this sinister agenda he is following. Doug Coe is a shrewd leader with only one agenda and that is to introduce people (both the powerful and the poor) to Jesus of Nazareth. He is driven to do this because he believes Jesus to be the best example of humanity ever, Jesus’ principles to be the most practical and power lifestyle principles ever and the most unifying person who has ever lived. It is not Jesus who has driven wars and conflicts, but people who have tied Jesus to their causes…especially is this true to Christianity. This is why Doug is careful to articulate Jesus plus nothing. There is no other agenda and he has proven that over and over again. In fact, Doug is the last one on the earth who could possibly be associated with Christianity or a secret arm of the right-wing Christian agenda. Doug doesn’t see himself as a Christian. In fact, the largest movement in the world today is a movement where people from all cultures are becoming followers of Jesus.

Jeff Sharlet is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004) and co-editor of Believer, Beware (2009). Sharlet is also the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die, (2011), C Street, (2010), and the New York Times bestseller The Family (2008).