As We See Them
The Aftermath: Presidential Elections and other Stories in the Meat Market
Brief Observations At the Still Point
Only those with faith in the structure of governance can tolerate criticism toward power. The relation
to power in a putatively Christian-centered culture is one of the prime relations. The evangelicals carry with
them two extraordinary insights that appeal to personal faith but don't work in practical life. One is that we are near the end-time,
therefore, it doesn't matter what happens. Applied to an individual consciousness that may be a soothing way to view
things. "Our stay is brief so we should endure." However, if you apply that to the working of practical affairs
it is a great danger. At some point the rational has to kick in and say, "well, we don't know what happens
exactly and we must plan as though the Earth orbits the sun for many years to come."
The most apocalyptic moment in this
country came in the early-to-mid 70's when it appeared all tires had sheared off the vehicle and it was careering
to the cliffs below. It is very difficult to communicate to people how dark and "end-time" that period was.
Among the things we attribute that to was a combination of drug-taking and the collapse of authority that happened
after Vietnam and Watergate and with the uprushing popular movements in civil rights, environmentalism, etc.
There was a rise in cults and "new ageism," and of "dropping out," or "alienation." It will be an interesting time to
study for future historians.
Now there is another apocalyptic feeling initiated by two things: The rise of evangelicalism and the terrorist
attack. The other extraordinary insight of the evangelicals is that Christ asserted the primacy
of God over both the Church and State. This is a correct assumption and why the first Christians separated
themselves from the state as much as they could.
And there is nothing quite as powerful as good works done anonymously in the dark corners of the world.
The danger is the way in which this simple theocracy is applied by the evangelicals. They have
ancient order of King-rule and, in fact, the theocracies one see's in the Middle-East. "God rules all, my faith has put me
in direct contact with God, therefore I will rule."
The frightening thing is how the religious right have tried to wipe away the careful reasoning
of the framers of the Constitution. The separation of church and state required a new type of citizen who could
partition his faith from his responsibilities as a citizen. He would be fulfilled as a thinking person and as
a person of faith. The stark division between these things would end and the "house would no longer be divided against
But, by pitting one against the other the whole thing unravels. The sublime beauty of America is destroyed. And it
consigns itself to a historic role that is predictable. Power-mad believers against power-mad secularists or systems
thinkers or scientists.
If God is to rule, whose God? Why not have representatives of every God ruling things? And why
is your interpretation of God more real or substantial than mine? And are these beliefs unassailable?
Why should I permit you to tell me that your belief requires me to do things that I don't want to do?
The problem is the apparent collapse of modern philosophy but we will have to
sort that out for another time.
March 29, 2005
The attention should not be on journalists but, of late, they have been front and center.
For one thing the government is dissolving the shield law protection that allows journalists
access to sources without having to reveal who they are. Journalists are being shot at and killed in
combat. Journalists are being vilified by nuts from the right-wing. And make no mistake about it,
they are nuts in every sense of the word. Right-wing blogging nuts represent one of the most
anti-American strains imaginable. They are the proverbial ass-lickers and will try to kill anyone who
tries to dislodge their tongues.
The greater problem is the intense fear moving through the American public like a tsunami.
It has trapped the spirit of the American people and shut it down in ways I haven't seen in thirty
years of being aware of things. Certainly, in
the 80's there was a reaction to the earlier period of time, a period of turmoil. People turned against it
and headed in another direction under the wing of Ronald Reagan. But, this is different. This is something
that, in and of itself, is a crisis.
What one sees is a lack of confidence in freedom, a lack of confidence in a system of checks and
balances. What one sees is a lack of confidence in a society filled with sight and sound that may not be our
own. Fright. And so, from the American people comes nothing new or vital. No new ideas, no new creative effusion,
no new forms of freedom, no ideas, nothing, nada.
That is the sad condition of this time. An emptiness filled with fear will not succeed to the future.
And so we look for that ax that Kafka mentions to break open the frozen seas within us.
For that ax we would give something of value.
"Liberalism" is no longer the problem. The people have successfully buried the old liberalism
and any new idea will have to come from original thinking and imagination. The problem is the strength of
the right-wing and its willingness to hide behind "stability of society," or "patriotism"
or any number of abstract notions thrown up and out of their frightful emotions, on behalf of hatred. The problem is the
"congress" between government and religion. It will all play itself out to the bitter end I suppose and
end with horrific scandals and a decimated population of under-achieving, frightful people.
The fright of much of the American people is symbolized by the small but meaningful scandals in the Bush
Administration; foisting paid mouthpieces on the public as "journalists." They are saying in no uncertain terms,
"we fear the truth, we fear reality, we fear the people, we fear the implications of living in a free
They are frightened of a war that has not been defined yet for the American people. And there's no doubt
in my mind that the threat is real and must be dealt with.
March 9, 2005