Saturday, July 11, 2009

Musings on The Family's Values

That pillar of conservative Christianity, Sen. John Ensign, had an affair. With a staff member. The wife of another staff member. And then his mommy and daddy paid the staffer and her husband $96,000. Only out of concern for their wellbeing.

It happens every day. Is it not a fact that wealthy families hand over checks to suffering underlings so often that we tire of hearing about it? It's just not news. Not like Clinton's penis.

You know, I don't know what makes me sicker: the sleazy affair, the pay-off, the hypocrisy, the rank, sexist exploitation, or mommy and daddy bailing out their little Johnny. Or maybe Ensign's membership in The Family.

Moral rigor, ethical office practice, respect for the sanctity of marriage(s), reverence for family values, and the highest level of personal responsibility are embodied in Sen. John Ensign as in no other leader we know.

That must be why he was chosen by God, personally, to lead us wastrels into the paths of neo-fascist righteousness. EnterThe Family.

What is it about Christianity that first attracts authoritarians and fascists and militant capitalists, and then lends itself to their profoundest, most egregious, most antithetical distortions? Hitler cloaked himself in Christian rhetoric. The Klan perceives itself as an agent of the Lord. Sun Myung Moon is just another of the type. Men like Moon and the senators and Congressmen of the C Street house, aka The Family -- which includes disciple Mark Sanborn and residents John Ensign and Tom Coburn, among others -- not only support an almost certainly antisemitic, racist, and misogynistic authoritarianism, but also practice an unusually venal, rapacious form of capitalism, all as expressions of Christianity, no less, and see wealth as an index of God's favor: The wealthier the greater God's regard, ostensibly. And of course if that's accepted, it only follows that any social program that alleviates poverty is impertinent, sinful interference in God's predestined order. Calvin as pure GOP.

But if I remember aright, Jesus taught that it is more difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to gain God's favor, and taught us The Beatitudes from his own lips.

Which brings me to another question. How is it that these same types craft and implement decades-long wars on homosexuality, about which Jesus said Zip, Nada, Nuffink, but yet dedicate themselves to doing the very opposite of what he did say, and then call themselves "Christian"?

Why don't we rise as one and do as Bart Simpson does so well: Just point and laugh?

But of course we can't stop there. Time was when a version of Christianity much more in line with the teachings of Jesus held sway over a considerable segment of public policy. I'm talking about the 'seventies and Liberation Theology and its sibling progressive tenets. Way past time to head back in that direction. Militantly.

PS: Fascinating, isn't it, that Liberation Theology and similar anti-poverty/pro-justice iterations like Dorothy Day's Catholic worker movement emerge out of the Roman Catholic Christian tradition and not from Calvin-dominated Protestantism.

Life is full of ironies, n'est-ce pas?


Wordsmyth said...

Oh, yes, yes, YES! Pico, you've once again nailed it on the head!

The "family values" of which the Republicans have so long shouted and to which they have laid claim turns out NOT to be what we thought. It's not "family values" -- it's "THE FAMILY'S Values"!

Bravo for bringing up the images that so echo in my mind -- authoritarians, fascists, militant capitalists, etc. -- and for pointing out how far that is from the basic tenets of Christianity!