Friday, February 24, 2012

Right-Wing Culture Warriors
It's Really About the Sex

I realized this pretty early in life. What folks like Santorum really hate is sexual freedom. As one of my undergrad profs pointed out to me, when you hear somebody like Pat Robertson on television talking about morality, you immediately know that they're not talking about e.g. the avaricious nature of contemporary American capitalism, nor of churches, nor about the scandal of gratuitous wars like Iraq, nor about the fact that a billion people are malnourished, nor about discrimination, nor about any such thing.

They're talking about sex.

It's the sex they're obsessed with. Although questions about sexual morality are relatively peripheral compared to the big moral questions, folks like Santorum seem to do the vast majority of their frettin' about them. They're pathologically obsessed with sex, and with other people's sex lives.

Oh and, you might note, according to Mr. Santorum, liberals can't be Christians--liberals, according to him, are trying to re-write the Bible.

Well, he actually might have a point there. In response to provocation by The Mystic, I picked me up one-a them "Bibles," and lemme tell ya, it's pretty interesting. Jesus seems to be way, way, way left of liberal to me. "Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek, turn to him the other also." That's pacifism, man, and there is really no denying it. Pacifism is not liberal...but it's farthest removed from the militarism and lust for violence on the right. Do we hear Santorum complaining about military action in Afghanistan and elsewhere? Do we hear him complaining about vast sums spent on the military? And "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon Earth"? Really? You can't really say it any clearer than that, and it is not consistent with the acquisitive consumerism so beloved by conservatives. "Take no thought for your life...Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns... Consider the lilies of the field" and so forth. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow..." Look, if Jesus were alive today, Santorum and the GOP would have nothing to do with him. He'd be a dirty hippie in their eyes. And "Judge not, that ye not be judged"? Such folk can't go two seconds without pulling a sour face at someone, somewhere, having fun. They're focused like a laser beam on imagined motes in the eyes of others while...well, you see where I'm going with this...

But they don't care about this stuff, nor about this Jesus fellow. They've got their obsessive, loony distaste for certain things and certain acts, and their festering resentment toward folks who are having fun, and they poke around trying to find some way to rationalize it in the Bible...while ignoring unignorable admonitions to not do some of the things they have built their entire worldview around.


Anonymous Jimmy Doyle said...

"Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek, turn to him the other also." That's pacifism, man, and there is really no denying it.

Well, not really. Pacifism would be "whosoever shall smite thy spouse, children, friends and fellow-citizens...etc".

Anscombe points out the relevance to this issue of Matthew 8:9-10. The centurion explains his faith that Christ will cure his servant, by saying 'For I am under authority myself and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man, "Go," and he goes; to another, "Come here," and he comes; to my servant, "Do this," and he does it.'

'When Jesus heard this,' Matthew writes, 'he was astonished and said to those following him, "In truth I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found faith as great as this."'

Anscombe's point is that it is impossible to imagine Christ replying like this to the madam of a brothel who said "I have girls under me, and I say to one girl...etc'. The idea that is Christ considers soldiering a legitimate rather than a sinful occupation.

What do you think?

7:43 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yo, Jimmy:

1. I don't see the pacifism point. There are, as you know, different varieties of pacifism...but "Resist not evil" is pretty clear, and categorical.

2. Man, that Anscombe line is the kind of thing that makes me crazy when it comes to Biblical interpretation. It seems like kind of a stretch, doesn't it? Reminds me rather of a Pat Robertson line, goes like this: when Pilate shows Jesus to the crowd, Jesus doesn't say that the death penalty illegitimate...ergo he thought there was nothing wrong with it. Too much conclusion from too little evidence, I'd say.

I really don't want to insist on any particular conclusion; I don't really know anything about the Bible at all. What I really want to say is something like: when Jesus comes right out and *says* *categorically* things like "resist not evil"...and *says* that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich man to go to heaven, and both of these things are spun away...but, on the other hand, the flimsiest evidence is accepted so long as it accords with a conservative world-view...well, something's wrong.

6:06 PM  

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