At the Boston Review, Richard White turns the light of history on the spurious claim that “America was founded as a Christian nation” in considering two recent books on the topic. He points out that those who make such a claim almost always do so in pursuit of a particular political and economic agenda, rather than in pursuit of salvation.
Here’s a bit of his discussion of Steven Green’s Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding:
Green dates the idea of a Christian nation to the Second Great Awakening, which occurred at a time—the antebellum era—when Americans were striving to create a cohesive national identity. Religious competition remained intense, but more and more of the competing denominations were evangelicals who conflated their nationalism and religion in ways that made divine intervention and providential thinking suitable for politics. It was this second American generation, rather than the Founders, who created the myth that has been with us in various forms ever since.
The various forms are important; the original myth is not the same as the one currently in fashion. Both see God’s guiding hand behind the nation’s history and regard Christianity as the basis of republican principles. The old myth, however, was optimistic and tried to be inclusive, which was possible in what was still an overwhelmingly Protestant country. It was oriented toward the future and intent on explaining a providential American destiny. The new myth, by contrast, is sectarian and divisive in a country full of Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc., not to mention agnostics, atheists, and the sometimes-inchoate mass who define themselves as spiritual. Rather than look to tomorrow, today’s myth appeals to those who think they have lost an ideal past.
Do read please read the rest. It will help you better understand our home-grown Pharisees.
I’ve wondered for a while whether Trump thought he was elected king, not president. Werner Herzog’s Bear seems to share that wonder. An excerpt from his post:
I think the Republicans have so far very deftly exploited this situation. Trump does not want to be a president, he wants to be king; he does not want to govern, he wants to rule. But like a king, he has no interest in the day to day grind of politics, that’s for mere commoners. He said whatever bullshit he needed to say to working and middle class whites to get elected, but now that he’s in office, he’s outsourced the health care issue to the congressional Republicans, who have taken the opportunity to try to get their radical agenda pushed through. As old man Trump lounges in his throne, holds court at his winter palace, and thunders down his pronouncements on Twitter, the Republican party controls the actual legislative agenda.
At Psychology Today Blogs, Stanton Peel posits the existence of “addictive experiences.” I personally have qualms about using the term “addiction” for anything other physical addiction, as to tobacco, narcotics, and the like–substances for which cessation of use produces physical withdrawal symptoms. Much of my skepticism is based on claims of “sexual addiction,” which too often seem to be rationalizations for bad behavior.
Without putting my skepticism aside, I offer here his list of criteria for “addictive experiences.”
1. The activity/experience alleviates negative emotions for the individual, particularly those supporting his identity and self-image.
2. The addictive activity operates in a rapid, predictable way so that the gratification is instant.
3. The consequences of the action are negative, thus exacerbating the person’s negative feelings.
4. The person responds again in the only “safe” (meaning reliable) way he knows how to perform.
5. The addicted individual thus fails to develop alternative, more effective coping mechanisms to produce the emotional reassurance he seeks and requires.
At this final point, when the individual is wholly dependent on a behavior or involvement for his emotional stability, he can be called addicted.
I’ll give you one guess as to whose what type of behavior inspired the post. Follow the link to see whether you got it right.
The Local delves into the history of the current strained relations between Germany and Turkey. It seems a bit superficial and anecdotal, but, if you you want to understand some of the headlines coming out of Europe these days, it may be a good place to start.
As the Booman said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”
At the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a veteran of the Nixon administration sees some similarities between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon; here’s a snippet:
As it was with Nixon, Trump’s narcissism seems to permeate everything. And, just as Nixon did, he has gone overboard to say that the press is not only his enemy, but also the enemy of the American people. This ultimately distracts us from the deeper problems we are facing today.
Remember that the Watergate scandal sprung from Nixon’s paranoia, his fear that he would lose an election that he already had in the bag. Were it not for that paranoia and the misdeeds it engendered, Richard Nixon would be remembered much more favorably than he is.
Pandora recognizes the formula:
Lying in a reality show leads to drama, and drama increases ratings. Real World, any of the Real Housewives series, The Apprentice, The Bachelor, etc. all have a standard formula. It goes like this:
- Put a group of people together
- Let the different personalities mingle
- Conflict will arise between two people
- The others will choose sides
- Lies will be spread – lies that benefit/hurt each side
- Drama = fights
- Two episodes later everyone is getting along
- Rinse and repeat
More reality at the link.
Pennsylvania legislators prepare to mint a new Get Out of Jail Free card for cops who kill.
TPM explores the propaganda Republicans are using to promote their “they laughingly call it health care” bill. Here’s one; follow the link for the rest (emphasis in the original).
Obamacare is “collapsing.” –House Speaker Paul Ryan This is the con of yesterday, the con of today, the con of tomorrow. It plays twin roles of justifying Republicans’ rush to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and giving them cover if and when there is dissatisfaction with what they replace it with: You think this is bad, but it would have been worse if we let Obamacare collapse.
However, the CBO last week made clear — backing up what multiple other analyses have said — that Obamacare is not in or heading towards a death spiral.
“In CBO and JCT’s assessment, however, the nongroup market would probably be stable in most areas under either current law or the legislation,” the CBO said.