Tag Archive for ‘Christianity’
On September 30, at 3 P.M., our longtime colleague and friend Joe Sobran passed away. This is the last column he was able to write for us, published in the July 2010 issue.
The liberal conscience is tormented, the liberal mind undone, by two stark realities. The first is that the global village is really a vast global slum; the second is that the modern communications system that created the “village” informs us on a 24-hour basis of unpleasant situations and conditions in remote places that we are incapable of changing, and that we should be better off never having heard about in the first place.
Few things in life are as clear as the futility of a real debate on the clarity of America’s religious origins.
“Debate,” I said? Lay a finger, unsuspectingly, on The New York Times Magazine‘s inspection of the attempt by so-called Christian fundamentalists to overhaul history textbooks, and you require treatment for first-degree burns.
The title of James C. Russell’s The Germanization of Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation does not sound like the opening shot in a war against Christianity. However, ever since Sam Francis’ apparently glowing review, conservative neopagans, atheists, and Nordicists have trumpeted the book as proof that whatever virility existed in Medieval Christianity comes from the German element.
When are we finally going to catch on? No matter who wins today, someone else will win tomorrow. The question arises in terms of a pessimism deep and black that envelops conservatives: the opposite of that radiance in which liberals bathe as they await the advent of a hard-hitting liberal nominee to the Supreme Court and the enactment of health care, global warming-control, and heaven knows what other joys.
Condemnation, the wrath of God, patterns of personal holiness—for mainliners, meaning Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, and the like, such stuff has the penetrating odor of mothballs and cedar chests. Sweet tolerance and gentle affirmation are the hallmarks of today’s mainliners.
So what is the real significance of Barack Obama’s victory? Pundits’ fingers and tongues have been flying, of course, scoring the triumph in a variety of ways: the terrible legacy of slavery and racism has been dealt a conclusive blow; the Democratic Party has displaced the Republicans as the party of Middle America; the nation has rejected the pro-war policies of the last seven years; etc., each with its grain of truth. At the same time, shell-shocked Republican fingers are pointing: McCain was too old; it was the financial crisis; it was Bush; it was Iraq; it was Tina Fey. But the real reason that the near-nobody Barack Obama bested the war hero and veteran senator John McCain was that the latter’s campaign was insufficiently messianic. More important than the black or white or Jewish or Hispanic vote, Obama took the messiah vote, that burgeoning segment of the electorate consciously or unconsciously looking for a savior, an ersatz Christ figure, who will deliver them from the oppressive burden of post-Christian existence.