The Red Jesus Freaks are Green With Envy (updated)
In other words, I am just as lost as this commenter or anyone else, a hypocritical, deluded, rancorous, joyless, and ego-driven preacher with unfashionable homemade footwear. But I somehow manage to obscure this fact by basking in the reflected glow of my half dozen regular commenters who are as bent and twisted as I am.
Could be. Except I would definitely take issue with the “joyless” characterization. I really do enjoy doing this, even before my adoring bobbleheaded clones lavish me with praise and give a boost to my flagging self-esteem.
In all seriousness, as I have had occasion to mention a jumble of tomes, I am not so much concerned with left vs. right as I am with up vs. down, i.e., the vertical. Any secondary political principles I espouse or embrace follow from my first principles, which are timeless, metaphysical, and I believe objectively true. If you want to attack me--which, of course, you are free to do--you cannot begin with my “conservatism” but with the principles from which my conservatism flows, for example, my belief in the absolute spiritual value of liberty over equality.
To the extent that I am a “Republican,” it is only insofar as the Republican party is subject to some small influence from the conservative intellectual movement. To the extent that I am part of that latter movement, it is only because I believe it best embodies the ideals of classical liberalism espoused by the American founders. And to the extent that I regard the American founders as political avatars charged with a divine mission, it is only because I believe they designed a system that is most compatible with the spiritual evolution that is my true concern. Everything actually starts with that: my politics follows from my metaphysics.
Along these lines, there is an interesting piece on frontpage.com on the new phenomenon of “Red Letter Christians”:
“Frustrated by the conservative tendencies of most religiously active Americans, a group of liberal religious activists have started ‘Red Letter Christians’ to espouse political themes of the left.
“Referring, of course, to the fact that words of Jesus in Bibles are often printed in red letters, these new ‘red-letter’ communicators and activists want to steer Christians away from concerns about marriage and abortion and towards antiwar activism and environmental causes.”
One of their founders describes the movement as follows: "We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; who are dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; who are outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; who are upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and who are brokenhearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation."
These Red Letter Christians clearly work in the opposite direction I do. They begin with their first principles of boilerplate leftism, and then seek to find confirmation for them in the literal words of Jesus, stripped of tradition, orthodoxy, context, symbolism, and spiritual gnosis. In so doing, they reduce the Word of God to the word of Marx, and with that, the vertical to the horizontal, thus defeating the very purpose of religion.
These self-deluded souls insist that they are neither left nor right, but simply following from a literal reading of the words of Jesus (talk about fundamentalism!). For example--who would have guessed--they conclude that God is against tax cuts and against the liberation of Iraq, but in favor of expanding the food stamp program, increasing the minimum wage, keeping all murderers alive, and "loving our enemies," meaning that we must surrender the war on global jihad. Oh, and Jesus also supports renewable energy and the redefinition of marriage.
In short, Jesus was not the word made flesh or the third person of the trinity--show me the red letters where he said any such things--but a 21st century moonbat.
This little exercise proves once again the axiom that the left is animated by feelings, not by thought. Every decent person wishes to help the poor, but these boneheads do not understand that we disagree precisely on the means of accomplishing that. In their minds, they literally believe that a liberal simply wants to help the poor, whereas a conservative wants to harm them. It never occurs to them that a conservative wishes to help the poor every bit as much as they do, but believes that liberal programs, in most cases, demonstrably do more harm than good. I am convinced that nothing in history has helped more people rise above poverty than the discovery of the principles of how wealth is created. Detracting from these principles only ends with less for everyone, especially the poor, as socialism proves time and again.
For example, the billions of dollars that have been given to Africa have overwhelmingly served the purpose of funding corrupt regimes, which only further postpones the day that the nations of Africa will have to address the true source of their poverty, which is in the realm of bad values--i.e., weak property rights, corruption, magical, animistic spiritual beliefs, rampant sexism, and paranoia fueled by unregulated envy. The application of neo-Marxist ideas has only made all of these things worse, not better.
As Dennis Prager noted yesterday, the Biblical injunction to feed the hungry and clothe the poor did not in any way envision the people we now call “poor” in the United States. For one thing, most of these people would be called “middle class” by the standards of Europe, “wealthy” by the standards of Africa, and “royalty” by the standards of the authors of the Bible. I can assure you that they were not thinking of the average “poor” American, who has a house of his own, a car, a cell phone, cable TV, air conditioning, and many expensive tattoos. Nor does he have to cobble his own Nikes, as I do.
Amazingly, some 48% of Americans feel--and the operative word here is feel--that they are worse off than their parents were, which is demonstrably untrue. I mean, it’s just flat out wrong. But it does show you how liberals “think,” because, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, most of our problems are existential, not a result of this or that circumstance. But because circumstances on earth always more or less suck--to be perfectly accurate, the glass is, and always will be, exactly half full, and therefore half empty--the world becomes a convenient field into which we may project problems that are properly internal, spiritual, psychological, and existential. And this is the perennial appeal of the revolutionary left: your problems are magically shifted outside yourself, even though it necessarily means that their solution never comes.
This externalization is a spiritually disastrous act, for the moment you judge your fortunes by comparing yourself to others, you have opened the door to envy, which is infinite and insatiable. You will always be miserable, because you will always--always--find someone who is better off than you are.
Because we have it so good in this country, the new meme of the left is that the gap is too wide between the wealthy and the rest of us. Personally, I do not compare myself to CEOs, to actors or to rock stars. Rather, I compare myself to my needs, which are quite modest, and to my desires, which are quite limited. Measured in this way, I am aware of existential--not monetary--wealth on a moment by moment basis.
I look at things like my diabetes, which is so much easier to control today than it was for my mother just a generation ago. God bless the profit motive and the greedy pharamceutical companies for that. I look at mundanely miraculous things like a DVD player through which I have instant access to the greatest films of all time, in a way that only the wealthiest person could have dreamt of when I was in film school in the early 80s. I remember a girlfriend I had at the time--it must have been around 1978. Her family was rather well to do, and owned one of the first Betamax video recorders. It was a huge, bulky thing, incredibly expensive, certainly beyond my means. And although my parents could have “afforded” one, I cannot imagine them ever splurging on something so impractical.
But what poor person today--just a quarter century later--would ever settle for a bulky old video recorder? Blue state red letter Jesus would positively freak out at the unfairness of it.
Likewise, a cheap home computer gives one access to a world undreamt of a decade or two ago, at least by me. I am very slow to catch up with technology, so I am acutely aware of how the internet has utterly changed my life. Because of it, I am living a life I couldn’t have lived before; I am sitting here right now taking advantage of a technology that allows me to actualize a part of myself and to bask in the narcissistic glow of my fawning readers who gather at my feet with those ugly homemade shoes on them. The joy of creation and communication is so intense that I am astounded by it every day.
That is my idea of progress. The very idea of reverting to a time when one’s view of the world was limited by the horizons of the spiritual and intellectual pygmies of the New York Times or L.A. Times is absolutely appalling to me. To return to those days would literally feel like being imprisoned in a psycho-spiritual gulag without light or heat. It would be like being forced to read Pravda or watch CNN, with no alternatives and no way to locate, much less instantly connect with, Our Kind of bent and rancorous seekers.
Life is such an amazing gift when you have a little gratitude instead of a grrr attitude.
It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. --Matthew 13:11-13
One more thing. While reflecting back on those old film school days, I remember that at my lowdown-downdest (as Francis Albert would put it), I lived for awhile in a small, unfurnished single apartment near Cal State Northridge, which is the Harvard of the North San Fernando Valley. I had a bed, a good stereo, an outstanding record collection, an ice box full of beer (no refrigerator), and no TV. Plus I drove a 1973 Ford Pinto Wagon. I was happily toiling away as a retail clerk (never full time, mind you, which would have interfered with my sacred Slack), which I did from 1976-1988, the same year that I completed my Ph.D.
In any event, at no point did it ever cross my mind that I was "poor" or that Red Jesus would have taken pity on me for the rude circumstances of my otherwise happy and inebriated existence. Referring back to that girlfriend with the wealthy stepfather, it never occurred to me to envy him. For one thing, I knew that he might have all the money, but that I was having all the fun. Still am.