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National’s fundamentals

Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, November 6th, 2019 - 87 comments
Categories: Christopher Luxon, election 2020, national - Tags: ,

I’m trying to avoid thinking about National as much as possible at the moment, but this grabbed my attention on twitter last night from the discussion about National parachuting in their FJK replacement Christopher Luxon joining the National Party and becoming the candidate for Botany.

Luxon is the former CEO of Air New Zealand, and he’s also an evangelical Christian. Background in Micky’s posts here (June) and here (October).

Russell Brown’s twitter thread,

I had a look at The Upper Room, the Newmarket evangelical church that Christopher Luxon attends. I like the church’s focus on community and much of its mission work is creditable. But this recent sermon by founder Craig Heilman is … a bit weird.

The Upper Room https://upperroom.org.nz/sermons/from-darkness-to-light/

It tries (I think) to make a case that it is our experience of “the darkness” that ultimately brings us close to God, referencing Psalm 88 and Greta Thunberg. But it’s studded with tropes from far-right conspiracies: Soros, Saul Alinsky, et al.

Heilmann tells his congregation that Thunberg has an “eco-coach” funded by Soros. This is a straight-up conspiracy theory originally aired on the website Europe Reloaded, which rails against “globalists” and the climate change “hoax”. Fact-checkers have found this theory wanting.

Heilmann tries to be even-handed (there’s nothing wrong with protest, etc), but the fact he’s quoting this kind of thing seems notable. It’s an interesting environment for a prospective Prime Minister to emerge from.

Update: just browsed Heilmann’s twitter. He thinks Brexit and MAGA are “really good”, that Trump is the victim of a conspiracy by “the administrative state” and climate change isn’t real. Frets about “globalist” Clinton-Soros plans for a “one world order”. Etc, etc. Crikey.

He also retweets some pretty scary accounts, including True Pundit, source of some really ghastly fabricated news stories, including the claim that NYPD seized Hilary’s emails as part of child sex trafficking investigation. Loves Tulsi Gabbard.

Various people were also commenting on the removal of Heilmann’s twitter account, and pages from his church’s website, including the one Brown linked to.

There’s an issue here about whether a politician (or political party leader) can be closely tied to the beliefs of the pastor of the church they attend. Which is fair enough in a reasonable world and New Zealand is fortunate in being largely immune to the influence of churches in politics. We also tend to be live and let live when it comes to people’s religion. My problem here is twofold.

One is that if there are no direct political connections between Luxon and his church or pastor, what do we make of the removal of Pastor Heilmann’s twitter account and the Upper Room website content on the same day that Luxon’s candidacy for Botany is announced? We could get really speculative and wonder how close the timing of the removal was to say Brown’s tweets, or why the National Party’s office was so slack that they didn’t think to organise this months ago.

The other problem is that who the fuck trusts National to have any ethics here? It’s not like the party is full of fundamentalist Christians, but I have zero doubts that the power-holders in National will make use of Luxon as they need to. Whether this is just another smart parachuting move that includes enough vote catching nods to the religious conservatives, or whether National already intend to go the whole Trumpian, climate-denying, trash-the-country-for-power path, who knows. Given the last decade, the latter seems just as likely as the former, so best we are prepared.

Maybe Brown highlighting the community and ministry aspects of Luxon’s church and congregation is right, and the points about not holding this against him remain true. Or maybe this is how it happens in New Zealand, the tainting of NZ politics with fundamentalist religion for political gain is manufactured with a smile and a wave.

All of which is to say that I know bugger all about Luxon, and in a vacuum I won’t be the only one tempted to judge him by the company he keeps (maybe the Pastor, but definitely National). In which case,


In the interests of transparency, here are some of the archived pages from The Upper Room’s website. Grab them while you can.

https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://upperroom.org.nz/wp-content/uploads//*

The sermon that Russel Brown’s thread is about.

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:XSg1kTu2FpcJ:https://upperroom.org.nz/sermons/from-darkness-to-light/

 

87 comments on “National’s fundamentals ”

  1. Sabine 1

    why yes, it seems so.

    but then surely all those that said that the shit that went down in the US can't happen here, will reassure us that it won't happen here, right?

    And besides, its only women, children and all other non white non heterosexual men that will have their rights curtailed should this (or any other incarnation) come to pass. So why worry, Right?

  2. mauī 2

    " ….that Trump is the victim of a conspiracy by “the administrative state”"

    "Loves Tulsi Gabbard."

    With him there, so it's not all bad.

    • Alice Tectonite 2.1

      Not content with licking Putin's, Trump's & Assad's boots, mauī starts eyeing up Luxton's boots…

      • mauī 2.1.2

        It's good for a bit of thought diversity. We can't have everyone towing the msm or Russell Brown line…

        • Anne 2.1.2.1

          Only if the 'thought diversity' is based on sanity and lucidity. What we've seen thus far is anything but sane and lucid.

          • Paddington 2.1.2.1.1

            "based on sanity and lucidity"

            As defined by whom? It could be argued that much political discourse is neither sane nor lucid. In QT yesterday, Poto Williams was asked a series of questions to which her answers were most certainly not lucid (https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=209610). Yet Poto is no fool.

            Diversity isn't only a good thing when people agree with you.

            • McFlock 2.1.2.1.1.1

              Diversity of thought isn't always a good thing if the minority opinion is stark raving bonkers.

              • Andre

                Even worse when the stark raving bonkers minority manages to elect a president.

              • Paddington

                As defined by whom? The majority?

                • McFlock

                  What's more likely: that everyone around you is insane because they can't see the pink elephants, or that you're insane because you're seeing pink elephants?

                  • Paddington

                    When you find some one who believes in pink elephants, let me know. In the meantime, there are many issues that attract conflicting viewpoints, some of which you and I may both find neither sane nor lucid, yet those viewpoints are a legitimate part of public discourse. That is, after all, how humanity progresses.

                    • McFlock

                      Whether a viewpoint conflicts with one's own is irrelevant to whether it's stone cold bonkers.

                      And there's a continuum between "known fact" and "totally bonkers delusion", incorporating such levels as "a likely theory based on experience", "fair possibility, but let's wait and see", "long bow to draw", and "an extrapolated supposition based on a two hour youtube video from some guy who has a vibe I like".

                      A good indicator of nutbar syndrome is taking some of those other levels and regarding them as "known facts".

                      And I've encountered one or two people who look at the oompah-loompah and see a good POTUS. I've never yet seen them manage to strain the interpretation of presidential objectives into actually demonstrating that assessment, though. Seeing pink elephants and demonstrating sanity would be more likely.

                    • Paddington

                      "A good indicator of nutbar syndrome is taking some of those other levels and regarding them as "known facts". "

                      Not every conversation is based on "known facts".

                      "And there's a continuum between "known fact" and "totally bonkers delusion" "

                      Yes, true, however we may well disagree about where an issue fits on that continuum. We will, I'm confident, agree about pink elephants. We may well disagree about many other issues. Trying to shut down a point of view simply because we personally find it bonkers is not healthy.

                    • McFlock

                      Again, if yojimbo says something I think is bonkers (be it pink elephants or that Russia isn't murdering dissidents and defectors), I need to allow for the possibility that I am missing a fundamental piece of information or am indeed bonkers myself.

                      But if yojimbo says something I think is bonkers, specialists in the area think his proposition is bonkers, other apparently reasonable people think his idea is bonkers, the evidence yojimbo points to seems to fit a more simple explanation than the apparently bonkers theory, and the few people who support yojimbo also seem to be bonkers in other aspects, then I'm pretty cool with a general assessment that yojimbo’s theory is stark raving bonkers.

                  • Paddington

                    So that would qualify at the "totally bonkers delusion" end of the continuum. So we refute it, and maybe learn or educate as we go.

                    But many arguments are far more nuanced than the existence of pink elephants.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh, most definitely.

                      But there are more than a few stone cold bonkers theories on the internet, even on this website, being lobbied for attention and respect just because "diversity", and they tend to get in the way of discussions about the more nuanced and reasonable theories, "diverse" and "mainstream" alike.

                      Sometimes it's even intentional, like throwing a dead cat on the table.

                    • Paddington

                      On that, we can certainly agree. Thanks for the convo.

        • Sacha 2.1.2.2

          What 'line' would that be – something about transparency being a good thing? #gasp

          • mauī 2.1.2.2.1

            It isn't about transparency however, it's about smearing someone as a conspiracy theorist no matter what they believe.

            • Anne 2.1.2.2.1.1

              But if what they believe is known to be stark, raving bonkers then they deserve to be "smeared" as you call it. I call it being "called out" on their beliefs.

            • Sacha 2.1.2.2.1.2

              Please re-read Lew’s 5.43pm tweet from above – sums up what I've heard on this:

      • marty mars 2.1.3

        + 1 that guy's not a brainbox that's for sure lol

      • Andre 2.1.4

        It's not boots that maui's been licking and eyeing up.

        • weka 2.1.4.1

          [Ok, enough everyone. If you can't make a political point and just want to be shit to a fellow commenter, then consider this a warning I'm putting my mod hat on – weka]

  3. Dukeofurl 3

    South Auckland seats for National are becoming a hot bed of the fundamentalists, who target seats that are likely to have new MPs.

    Pakuranga changed from the liberal Williamson( who retired) to fundamentalist Simeon Brown and now Botany.

    • mac1 3.1

      There is a constituency that the 'no friends' party is targeting with the inclusion of candidates who reflect that constituency.

      With the continued failure of conservative, religiously-influenced parties of the Right to negotiate the MMP 5% barrier- parties which do themselves no benefit by putting up some seriously flawed individuals who end up in the courts- I believe National is now attempting to attract that conservative constituency vote.

      There is a problem for National in that opponents will be galvanised by the prospect of a National party in the hands of such fundamentalists.

      They may also be damned by liberal voters for that association along the lines of, "I won't go near National as they're a bunch of religious nutters." Just as the Greens suffered by having anti-science pro-homeopathy advocates aka nutters.

      Labour wore a long sense of grievance from lefties who could not tolerate the rise of neo-liberalsim in the 80s. That grievance is still voiced by some.

      This brings me to my final point. The pre-MMP Labour party was subjected to the rise into predomination of a right-wing neo-liberal faction. The post-MMP National party is still a coalition of urban liberal conservatives and more rural and less liberal groupings. The rise of Luxon and Simeon Brown with others of that ilk within National tells me that it has not undergone a post-MMP shedding of single-issue faddists and fringeists.

      Instead National seeks consciously or otherwise to keep its status as NZ's largest party by welcoming a diversity which includes the religiously conservative, the corporate, the minority-bashing intolerants, the haters and the bigots.

      it may see benefit in that, electorally.

      I hope that enough Kiwis will see the inherent danger in a National party that is in danger of losing the control of its policy and practice to such a take-over by ultimately dangerous factions just as Labour faced with its neo-liberals.

      If we are the fair-minded and decent people we believe ourselves to be……………

  4. Peter 4

    National’s fundamentals? Fundamentally they're a pack of fundamental orifices.

    The comment might upset the tender sensitivities of some and be condemned as destructive and negative and not adding to healthy, erudite debate but before you wander out into the world it is best to survey the landscape to get the lay of the land.

  5. ianmac 5

    We do know that Luxon is:

    Pro-life, anti abortion

    Anti legalising cannabis

    Against euthanasia

    Pro medicinal cannabis

    Entitled to his opinions but being more right than English or Bridges does not bode well for a Liberal Democratic NZ.
    PS I think he is denial over Climate Change.

    • Sabine 5.1

      does his pro-life stance allow for birth control? Does it allow for abortion in case of incest, rape, or when the life of the mother is at stake? if he does not, then he is not pro – life but pro forced birth.

      against euthanasia – well the aged care sector is the last profit centre that still exist, and that applies to anyone else who can pay for health care – all others can die in a ditch as slow as it will be just without the right to decide their own passing. Again – not pro-life.

      against canabis, but for medicinal cannabis, cause hey i would like to control how you treat yourself, and again if you can't afford a doctor etc etc etc then you get to suffer. Again, not really pro -life.

      denial of climate change – not pro – life.

      yeah, he sounds like a right far right christian nut case that will never ever suffer the consequences of his believes.

  6. As the world lurches (or moves even quicker) into climate crisis which threatens an end to human life, expect more of these fundamentalist views to become more mainstream.

    People will become bewildered and overcome by the sheer enormity of the catastrophe and many will turn to rapture-preaching fruitcakes.

    Luxon may well be just the advance guard of a legion of beyond the darkness apostles.

  7. UncookedSelachimorpha 7

    Rich Christians in an age of poverty and need.

    Wouldn't be surprised if there was an element of 'prosperity gospel' going on as well.

    Yuk.

    Wonder how old Luxon reckons the earth is?

  8. Anne 8

    Whether this is just another smart parachuting move that includes enough vote catching nods to the religious conservatives, or whether National already intend to go the whole Trumpian, climate-denying, trash-the-country-for-power path, who knows. Given the last decade, the latter seems just as likely as the former, so best we are prepared.

    When you look back on the so-called "pragmatic" decisions made by the Key government then it is clear the latter pathway is the one they have chosen to take. The National Party will change their core principles and policies in a flash if they see personal advantage in doing so.

    Once his court case is over and done with, I'm sure Winston Peters will be on to this one boots n'all. But he needs the back-up of Labour and the Greens. I hope he gets it.

  9. tc 9

    I'm not seeing any issue here. National is the party of priviledge white entitlement, climate denial, bene bashing, cronyism etc. Luxon's a perfect fit.

    Their pockets are deep enough to top CL up between his highly paid AirNZ gig and his next CEO gig, that of the national parliamentary party.

    I'm enjoying Soimon defending his replacement whilst foaming at the mouth dog whistling. If he wins Botany it will be CL's second gig in a row employed in an area he's got zero experience in, classic cronyism/national party.

  10. Macro 10

    Just as a precautionary aside I post this tweet which looks at Trump's "Spiritual Adviser" in the White House. We must never allow this sort of thing to happen here.

    • Anne 10.1

      Playing straight into Trump's malignant narcissism.

      • Sabine 10.1.1

        its good for the bank account.

        • Phil 10.1.1.1

          Only if Donny's not the one paying the bill.

          • Sabine 10.1.1.1.1

            churches are tax exempt and if you call yourself Donnie you want in on all of the tax exempt tithing of the faithful.

            As for the shitface not paying bills, his voters knew that and they are ok with it. Same as with the divorces., the 5 children to three mommas, the playboy bunny, the porn star, the oogling of under age girls in dressing rooms, the creepy photographs of him and his underage daughter, and so on and so forth.

            So yeah, the shitface loves himself some prosperty gospel and if his voters so far approve of his shitshow.

    • Dukeofurl 10.2

      I dont think from the Comments about Paula White you dont quite get what her job is , its what we would call a Comms Advisor

      as described by Washington Post

      "Florida televangelist Paula White, who has served as a spiritual adviser to President Trump, will join his administration in an official capacity, according to a senior administration official and another person familiar with the move.

      White, who already helps coordinate Trump’s evangelical outreach to key leaders, will be a religious adviser in the Office of Public Liaison, the part of the White House overseeing outreach to groups seen as part of Trump’s base."

      She was/still ? is a tele-evangalist so seems a good fit for spreading the message to Trump loving bible bashers

      • Macro 10.2.1

        Actually I'm well aware of what her job in the White House is – it is the way that she acts as a vehicle to unify the lunatic fundamental religious right that is the terrifying aspect I hoped to show.

    • Andre 10.3

      Can't stomach sitting through 4 1/2 minutes of that shite. Does it mention where she was going to set up a "prosperity gospel" megachurch with the stable genius grifter to fleece some more from the gullible?

      https://www.salon.com/2019/11/01/president-trump-wanted-to-build-a-megachurch-with-prosperity-gospel-preacher-paula-white_partner/

      • Macro 10.3.1

        No I could only stomach 2 minutes before I had to turn it off. Its about the way she performs – her "beliefs" heresies actually. eg Trump is appointed by god and to defy him is to defy god. etc etc. She is walking on hallowed ground – because for some apparent reason she is a vector for the holy spirit. And of course tRump loves it.

    • tc 10.4

      Spiritual adviser eh. No whiskey before 5, a vodka only zone up till then.

    • Lettuce 10.5

      She looks a bit like an older Stormy actually. How long till we find out Trump's been banging her too?

  11. Stuart Munro. 11

    What we're really seeing is the triumph of low-church mysticism, over the better informed scholarly churches, at least among the undeserving rich. Scholarship is often disquieting – if one asks real questions the answers are wont to be unflattering of human egos. So no informed understanding of what the books are all about, just another reiteration of the parochialism that had churchmen on both sides support most of the wars in history.

    Fiat Luxton is neither a new beginning nor an act of creation – they might as well stick with Bridges – except perhaps for the purpose of extracting funding from credulous conservatives.

    • weka 11.1

      thanks for that, I hadn't quite understood the low-church/scholarly church thing before. I'm sure there are issues the other way too (class, elitism), but it's a good one to think about.

      • Stuart Munro. 11.1.1

        I don't really do it justice, but it was a big deal to my father – a theologian.

        • weka 11.1.1.1

          I can imagine.

          • greywarshark 11.1.1.1.1

            Would Lloyd Geering have been scholarly? He fits into the disquieting group.

            • Ad 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Hell yes. One of our best and most challenging.

            • Stuart Munro. 11.1.1.1.1.2

              Yes – and not alone in growing beyond his original institution. If one isn't self-critical one can't be much of a scholar, and difficult though it may be with low-end reporters constantly cruising for clickbait, I think the same is true of politicians.

              The best lack all conviction, while the worst

              Are full of passionate intensity.

              "Get some guts!" Key shouted, like a contestant in a jingoism contest.

        • Ad 11.1.1.2

          Good to see that background.

          What were his theological fields?

    • Ad 11.2

      Pretty easy to think of this government as "low church".

      – No ideological framework

      – Substitutes lists for achievements

      – Faint but growing eschatological drive

      – Can memorise verses but not meanings

      – Great rhetorical flourishes, poor on-ground execution

      – Perpetually delayed gratification

      – Hundreds of Bible studies/working groups, with no result

      – Active Youth Group (Greens), but actually run by Elders (NZFirst).

      – Achieves power and survives on charisma alone

      – Holds good conversion rallies

      • greywarshark 11.2.1

        I hope Labour reads that Ad. There would be much to discuss in private, with no cellphones or sneaks around, while everyone examined the state of their beliefs and achievements.

      • Stuart Munro. 11.2.2

        To me, the low church problem is its susceptibility to certain predictable vices, especially egotistical or ill-informed leadership. Where they prosper is on the emphasis of an individual religiosity, the antidote to some institutional ills. So, while I agree with your list, I tend to critique in quality assurance terms.

        Is it reform, or satisficing?

        Are the benefits of funding reaching those they are designed to assist?

        Is the overall pattern of rapidly rising inequality and declining quality of life being meaningfully addressed?

        The answers are negative, but parts of the coalition will survive as being infinitely less awful than National – for a time.

  12. veutoviper 12

    I am not usually a fan of RNZ National's The Panel show but yesterday's show included an interesting 10 minute segment with Wallace Chapman and the two panelist of the day, Paula Penfold (Stuff Circuit investigative journalis) and Mike Rehu (sports and media commentator) discussing Christopher Luxon's selection as Nat candidate for Botany. They were also joined by Ben Thomas, former Nat Party staffer.

    Paula Penfold led off (after being called 'Paula Bennett' by Wallace!) with some good insightful points about Luxon's performance in his interview with Suzie Ferguson being less than spectacular. Mike Rehu then countered with a generous view that both Key and Luxon may have a "genuine sense of wanting to give back", but then Ben Thomas was a bit of a surprise as I fully expected him to come in as a cheerleader for Luxon. Instead he was much more along the lines of Paula's comments, and came across as a little bit embarassed to be doing so.

    Well worth a 10 minute listen IMHO.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/audio/2018720828/the-panel-with-paula-penfold-and-mike-rehu-part-1

    For the time being, I personally am sticking with the view that I expressed yesterday on OM that "IMHO Luxon stands out as Jamie Whyte 2.0 – not Key 2.0. In looks as well as in his views. My money (Nil) is on him not lasting long – and possibly not even until next year's election."

    • Anne 12.1

      My money (Nil) is on him not lasting long – and possibly not even until next year's election.

      If more weirdo stuff comes out about this non-mainstream church he belongs to, I think you could be right vv.

      • Sacha 12.1.1

        That will play well amongst some of the Nat base, especially in that electorate. Expect the PR buffing of Luxon to continue.

  13. Ken 13

    Even the Nats won't support a religious whackjob who takes his advice from a guy who's floating around in the sky…….will they?????

    Please tell me they won't.

    How happy must the poor long suffering Nat MPs be who started at the bottom and took years to rise up the ranks, only to have this guy come from nowhere and gazump them?

    • Sabine 13.1

      if they want the tax cut bad enough they will vote for them, and with them those that would like to ban abortion, those that would like to dismantle some rules and regulations they don't like, those that would just like to own the libs and so on and so on and so on.

      Don't ever think that the fundies of Gloriavale or the Brethren don't vote, they do and their wifes do to. See the US for inspiration if need be. 🙂

    • Herodotus 13.2

      I look forward to those on the left then taking over the many aspects that is happening under the name of this guy floating around, opps that will not happen as so much that the govt defaults to other is compensated by those who act under his name or what he represents.

      Those with no knowledge need to invest some time into the history or our Labour party.

  14. Ad 14

    Jacinda Ardern was brought up in a fundamentalist household.

    Then went on to be global president of International Socialist Youth.

    No shortage of low-church hysterics there.

    Turned out fine.

  15. Ad 15

    Quite apart from this obvious contribution to the common good, the NZ Labour Party was founded in large part by Christians. Evangelicals and non-conformists formed the backbone of the Party, alongside Anglicans and Catholics, as it came into being at the dawn of the 20th Century. The Women's Temperance Union was a fully Christian drive.

    The argument of which power is the Head of State's true allegiance has a good going-over during John F Kennedy's election.

    But even stronger than that, they can serve both, successfully:

    – John Bani. President and head of State of Vanuatu. Anglican Priest.

    – Walter Lini. Founding President of Vanuatu. Anglican Priest.

    – Scott Morrison. Prime Minister of Australia. Devout member of Horizon Pentecostal Church.

    – Kjell Bondevik. Prime Minister of Norway. Lutheran Minister.

    – Canaan Banana. First President of Zimbabwe. Priest and theologian.

    – Arnold Nordmyer. New Zealand Prime Minister. Presbyterian Minister

    – David Clark. Minister of Health. Presbyterian Minister.

    • Stuart Munro. 15.1

      Institutions being what they are, religion is unreliable as a prediction of good governance. But it generally possesses, though not necessarily uses, a body of traditional knowledge or insights into the human condition that are valuable. Ideally it includes prospering communities also.

      Savage called his version of socialism Applied Christianity, and Popper recognized it as being significantly better than the governing norms of Austria. But the churches in general are in decline. It is predominantly the ethnochurches and the gospel of Mammon that are keeping their heads above water. I venture we shall wait a long time for a church like Waddell's to shake up our slumbering national consciences again.

      https://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/waging-good-fight

  16. Graeme 16

    I'm intrigued by his departure from Air New Zealand. From what I hear from staff there it hasn't been a happy place under Luxon, compared to Fyfe's management, but that was a hard act to follow.

    Could his departure have been similar to Don Brash's departure form the Reserve Bank, "If you want to change the world, go into politics" evidently from Michael Cullen. Similar sentiment expressed by John Key?

    Saw a Luxon decision reversed this week, Air New Zealand has reinstated a Queenstown CBD travel office after pulling out of town in 2013. Expecting a lot of other 'cost cuttings' to be reversed in favour of customer service as our airline undoes the damage inflicted.

    • Anne 16.1

      From what I hear from staff there it hasn't been a happy place under Luxon,..

      I have a close relative married to an Air NZ pilot and he made similar noises. It definitely was not a happy place! Woe betide NZ if he ever becomes PM. He would make Rogernomics and Ruthanasia look like a Sunday School picnic.

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