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Ahab—a claim and a disavowal


Our friend Jonathan Rutter is in town for the holidays and, not incidentally, a hugely successful opening at the Rourke Art Gallery. His work will be up through January, so I hope you might find time to visit and bask.


We had wondered if his orthodox icon of Saint Ahab would materiallize—it didn’t—among the products of three semesters at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. Ah, so. Jonathan stopped by today for a cup of holiday cheer (coffee, actually) and talk of painting Ahab for the exhibition next September. Huzzah! For no other good reason than curiosity, I googled “Saint Ahab” again and found something troubling.

When the time came to designate Agincourt’s Roman Catholic parish, I struggled to avoid saints names traditionally associated with ethnic  groups. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, is often chosen for RC parishes that serve the African American community. David was from Wales; Patrick from Ireland; and George hailed from England. Then there are the connections between saints and parts of the anatomy. My grandmother’s parish in suburban Chicago was named for Blaise, parton saint of those suffering from diseases of the throat. So, blame the stray cosmic particle that shot me through at the moment Ahab came to mind. A hasty google search suggested he was unclaimed by the catholic (i.e., universal) church as someone worthy of veneration. So Ahab it would be. I crafted Ahab’s hagiography with that in mind.

Recently, however, I happened upon a nasty link between Saint Ahab and the Christian Reconstructionist movement—those who wish not only to transform the United States into a Christian nation (a proposition I will resoundingly resist), but to impose its own brand of Sharia Law. Homosexuals, for example, will be executed in a Reconstructionist America.

R. J. Rushdoony, an Armenian immigrant to the U.S., was the founder of the CR movement, now carried on by his son Mark and son-in-law Gary North (a former House staff member for Rep Ron Paul, no less). “Calchedon”, the official website for Christian Reconstructionism, offers, among other publications, a polemic by RJ Rushdoony titled “The Gospel According to Saint Ahab”, available as an MP3 for $1.99 (which I am unlikely to invest in such a loony tunes organization, no matter how much I might want to read it). Happily, my invocation of Ahab as saint predates the Rushdoony use by three years.

For the record, then, Ahab was imagined in 2006 on his own merits and has nothing to do with Christian Reconstructionism. Really.


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