Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Americanism as Religion, Plainly Stated

I really should stop reading the local newspaper as it is not good for my blood pressure. I live near the most right-wing city in the nation. (If you have other contenders, let me know and we will compare statistics.) Not surprisingly, we are also the tightest notch on the Bible Belt. This makes for some interesting submissions to the "Letters to the Editor" section on the opinion page. (When I can stand it no longer, I occasionally write to the paper myself. This amuses my friends and probably drives away potential clients.) Today's paper contains a gem of letter, where the writer addresses the apocalypse he believes would surely ensue were the health care plan to take effect. Along the way, he expounds upon compassion as he sees it, and in so doing, succinctly sums-up the Americanist religion. He writes:

Let's set the facts straight regarding Jesus' compassion while on this earth. I can't recall where Jesus said that feeding the 5,000 hungry followers was the responsibility of government, nor did He see the blind, deaf, dumb and lame as the responsibility of the taxpayers. He healed them so they could go to work and provide for themselves.

Wow. So Jesus Christ healed so that people could work hard and be self-sufficient? Wonder how the Apostles and the Church Fathers missed that insight. The sad thing is that this letter is typical of what one often hears and reads around here.


Reader John said...

Hmmm. "I can't recall where Jesus said that ... He healed them so they could go to work and provide for themselves." Stalemate.

Le Panda du Mal said...

He also rose from the grave to demonstrate how one pulls oneself up by his bootstraps. Didn't you hear?

discourse said...

Woohoo for interpretation that fits your personal party politic so sweetly.

Milton T. Burton said...

On the Lubbock political blog I recently commented concerning "I'll Take My Stand" and the Southern Agrarians. One response was to accuse me of trying to twist an eighty-year-old statement to "encompass" the conservatism of today. Of course, my intention was the exact opposite. Here is my response:

AF, you might actually read "I'll Take My Stand" before you call my analysis "asinine." It is opposed to everything the right stands for today, which is a combination of unrestricted, Darwinian capitalism mixed with the lowest common denominator of fundamentalism. It is a mixture of Ayn Rand (who you have probably never read) and Pat Robertson. The Agrarians, heirs to an Anglo-Celtic Southern tradition which had been formed by nineteen hundred years of Christianity, knew that there was more to religious life than "putting God back in the classroom."

Nor did I take the Agrarians to encompass the conservative movement of today. You misunderstood completely. I used them to contradict the conservative movement of today. I said that the Agrarians were true traditionalists while modern right wing conservatives are the exact opposite. They put the ideology of capitalism above the historical values of the West.

And by the way: I should hope that if the term "conservative" truly meant what you take it to mean, that it would see value in writings and schools of thought that go back far beyond 1930. After all, that's what conservatism is: the preservation of the best of the past. And by the way: true conservatism is the least ideological of all schools of thought.
If this is not the case, then please tell me precisely what it is that you modern "conservatives" are trying to conserve.

Becky said...

Unreal. I wonder how that person would interpret the passage in Acts that describes the early Christians having everything in common and feeding the poor and the widows, etc....probably that they were actually running businesses and sharing the profits. : P