|Is Pol Pot the figurehead for Marxism? Is Stalin the figurehead for Marxism?|
I'm glad you brought that up, JF, because I was thinking pretty much the same thing when I was writing the intro. My thoughts are, however, different from yours in that I don't think the answer is clear cut. I know plenty of people who are broadly sympathetic to Marx, yet who feel that certain terms are essentially beyond redemption. This is most apparent for "communist" and perhaps rather less so for "Marxist" and least of all for "socialist" (after all, even Blair has managed to support "Social"-ism).
There comes a point where one's broad sympathies with a body of thought are outweighed by the negative associations, even if one can argue that in some ideal sense the associations aren't true to the spirit. Of course, to ask if Bush is the figurehead for Christianity is a bit silly, if taken literally. But I think asking whether (I suppose largely due to the US), Christianity is often received as reactionary is valid.
Now, on one level, my old Jesuit teachers would have had no trouble dismissing such a challenge on the grounds that we are talking about a blip. Things change, after all, and they might argue that it is more important to keep the ideal alive. They might even have pointed to liberation theology - to pick up Haus point - as an excellent example of a Christianity, a Catholicism even, which is concerned with social justice. Having said that, on another level, the question I am asking was of great concern to the Jesuits I knew. In fact, the ones who were most sympathetic to liberation theology were also the most concerned that *despite* this rich theology, the Catholic church is seen as primarily and absurdly concerned with opposing the use of contraceptives.
One could say that the situation is a little different, given that the Pope actually *is* the head of the Catholic Church, but given that liberation theology is catholic I'm not sure its that easy.