[...] On “Capturing the God Vote” (11) [...]

[...] Log in ← On “Capturing the God Vote” [...]

[...] MacLeod has a thoughtful post that is, in part, a response to my earlier post on the “God vote” and what I called [...]

Yet for these believers the two ideas, American and Christian, if properly understood and realized, are mutually reinforcing, complementary, and bi-conditional. For them, and in their view for all of us, Americanism embodies the Christian mission as viewed from a world historical perspective, with an expanding democratic community of free, equally infinitely worthy individuals being the purest implication in social, economic, and political terms of Niebuhr’s radical monotheistic proposition.

This idea seems to have a lot in common with (what I understand is) Jeremy Waldron's thesis in God, Locke, and Equality. I've never read it, but you might find it a useful mine.

In the more specific context of presidential politics: I think it might be valuable to talk about how the ecumenicism of Mormonism relates to American ideals of religious liberty. Mormons view the precepts of their faith as constituting some natural order of the universe, and believe that even non-Mormons can access them. Modern Mormons distinguish between "The Holy Spirit," who can inspire anyone no matter their religion, and "the gift of the Holy Spirit," which is conferred upon Mormon baptism. There are even stories in the Book of Mormon about how the pre-Colombian Native American Mormons (Nephites) periodically had to called to repentance by righteous non-Mormons (Lamanites).

Scott Miller: the consistency tracks back without gaps from our time to Columbus.

Why not to the origins of civilization? Why not to the origins of life? Why exactly should we imagine that European Humanity, an "invasive species" in the vulnerable North American ecosystem, wouldn't overwhelm it like kudzu, or like the very microbes the immigrants carried and that are thought to have done the main "work" of genocide against natives who had never developed resistance? A civilization establishes itself and expands by a process of millions of fatal decisions, the vast majority of them, if not all, according to pre-adapted or -evolved stimulus-response reflexes, hardly decisions at all, much less the reasoned application of ideal moral constructs that typically are developed and refined when there's no other work to do - after the massacres are done. This goes to the frustrating argument we had a couple of weeks ago, and I'm hesitant to start it up again, since you don't like it when I seem to be making excuses on the basis of nihilistically low expectations. I'll just suggest when you take someone like Zinn one step too far, you're no longer deconstructing a false or gravely incomplete narrative, but constructing one of your own, a counter-idolatry always ready to become someone else's cover story for a set of counter-atrocities.

Tom Van Dyke: What is missing here is the “Wearing of God” Barack Obama has done with the “brother’s keeper” riff he’s used several times, and the “social Gospel” aspect of left-liberalism

Quinn refers to it. I expect that in a simply more vigorous performance, his version of "the God thing" would emerge spontaneously, along with the detail work that the wonkier left wants, and the energy that Tomasky or the panicky Andrew Sullivan are begging for... unless, of course, Heaven really is in the process of re-directing its light from Barack to Mitt. Works in mysterious ways, I've heard.

Tom Van Dyke: I love that Machiavelli quote

You're probably aware, then, that in the immediately following lines he strongly reminds the Prince that, however successful he is at fooling the people with his show of piety, he will have to proceed right to the evil work of actually governing.

Will check out the front porch. Always wanted to have a front porch, or a balcony. Have had to make do with patios mostly.

CK, I love that Machiavelli quote. But I think we forget that a nation is more than the sum of its laws and its people need to believe they're on the side of the angels. Well, at least the descendents of the Judeo-Christian heritage of his time, and whatever fumes what's left of Western Civilization is running on in our time.

What is missing here is the "Wearing of God" Barack Obama has done with the "brother's keeper" riff he's used several times, and the "social Gospel" aspect of left-liberalism that's at least a century old. [By 2012, "social gospel" seems to have lost its capital "G," just as what was known as Christian charity for millennia seems to have lost its metaphysical dimension shrunk to "social justice."]

I think you're doing a faithful job of arguing a certain Christian perspective of the sort you find at http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/ partigularly Daryl G. Hart, an eminent scholar and a disciple of J. Gresham Machen, a Calvinist so principled even HL Mencken spoke well of him. Hart and his crew think ill of the Religious Right in particular, so you might get a nice Mencken-Machen love affair going there.

I agree that there has been a creepy "self-consistency" to Americanism. I've been rereading a lot of what I still look at as facts in Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States," and it is remarkable how consistent the materialism has been and still is. There has always been this corporatist interest driving every supposedly political liberating or non-liberating American project. What I see as the facts are the letters. If the letters he posits in the text aren't fabricated, then the consistency tracks back without gaps from our time to Columbus. It's funny because I know you you know your communist perspective. Nothing I get into can be anywhere near as radical as the stuff you used to believe, right? Or maybe the fact that I wish I were strong enough to live in a cave with no nothing makes me more radical than them. Maybe that's true.

actually just changed it to "religion-infused," which I think is grammatically better. Of course, I go on to argue that the Americanist exception is, from the Americanist perspective, an especially exceptional exception. What gives it somewhat more weight than most other exceptionalisms, at least from the perspective of self-consistency, is that its materialism has received a materially favorable verdict - so far. Up until tomorrow's papers, Judeo-Christian-American Democratic-Capitalism has fared rather better, by its own standards than its main world historical competitors have, either by its standards or by their own.

I just posted a comment that seems to have disappeared. Weird. I'll try again...

In other words, religiously-infused hyperpatriotism constitutes the most fundamental violation of the First Commandment, making the “limited group” into a false God.

Great sentence. I think all hyperpatriotic behavior is religious in the worst sense of that classification. In Russia, for example, belief in Stalin replaced belief in Jesus. But then it's really cultism. Dictionary definition of religion: belief in a superhuman power. So when people go from belief in superhuman Jesus to giving over their power to a man, it's cultish rather than religious. Religion can work. We don't know what gravity is. It's a superhuman power. Belief in it is religious. No one goes to war because of ideological differences in their belief in gravity.

True, as much as it'd be preferred from some (including myself) that the nonsensical self-congratulatory mess of "Americanism" (nice term for it) & its ironic, rather transparent parallel of Islamist "Allah is on our side" talk were stricken from political necessity, it's easier to wish for a top-down repudiation of it (and assume that'd be the end of it) rather than go out and convince enough people to stop requesting it.

I just hope that convincing process succeeds before we end up destroying humanity itself with our inherently doomed efforts to save it.