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Andrew Gerns
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Kristin: When commentators tell congregants to run away from churches that promote social justice, or to report these clergy to their judicatories, they are not merely talking about the role of the government. They are going after the heart of the teachings of those traditions, which for Christians takes us to Jesus. Beyond manifestations such as the prosperity Gospel, American religious history is full of interpretations holding up personal applications of economic and social theories that discourages help for the poor. The commentators to whom I refer reflects that approach.
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Nick wrote: "I'm not sure that you can say that Judeo-Christian ethics are the only ethics that can create a lasting society - Confucianism, Buddhism and Hinduism seem to have done okay for themselves over a couple of millennia or more too." What makes a moral system "work?" What makes a moral system "fail?"
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Hi, Nick. I think you overstate Rand's influence in the Cold War era. She was dismissed as a crank by many conservatives of the her era. She was colorful and had her following but her strange personality and sexual adventures turned off many conservatives. In her day, when there was still a living memory of Fascism and while Marxism still seemed strong, the battle in the conservative movement was between the kind of responses like McCarthy, the Birchers and Rand on the one side conservatives like Buckley. the internationalists Marshall and Eisenhower (and Kennedy) that would eventually evolve in the 'realpolitick' of Nixon and Kissinger. It was the latter approach, which for all it's shortcomings, provided the real philosophical and political framework in response to Marxism. But it weren't Rand. The "purists" in what is now the "Conservative" movement mistrusted the realists. Neocons tried to bridge that, but their approach has led to disaster, and ironically they have taken the Realists (whom they despise) down with them, leaving a huge hole in conservative circles that the fringe groups and the reactionaries are filling in fast. Seems to me that is in this context that Rand has gained influence. She is much more importance to the right now that the Cold War is long over rather than in the era where the issues she was actually speaking to were alive. Ever since a GOP politician (whose name eludes me) declared when they were in the majority that bi-partisanship was equivalent to date-rape, it was downhill from there. The politics of Rove and his tutor Atwater is much more dependent on a cynical manipulations of the populism in much the way that Rand espoused. It appears to me that the conservative movement has suffered in becoming at once more libertarian and individualistic. Now that they vacuuming up remnants of the old white (racist) populisms it is becoming dangerous. God forbid that someone should organize this in a real anti-democratic (small d) and anti-republican (small r) popular movement. And yes, I agree with you, that this way of thinking and way of handling conflict has slopped over into the church and we progressives and moderates have to be careful to not act according to this warped rules. Andrew
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2010 on "The middle is always evil" at Entangled States
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"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life forever: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood..., unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
Toggle Commented Feb 23, 2010 on "The middle is always evil" at Entangled States
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It seems that many churches do in fact try to grow by "finding an enemy." It is a cheap and easy to gin up a substitute vision and a false sense of team. There are plenty of preachers and pastoral leaders who focus on what we are against, scare people with a cataclysmic tales of society going to hell on a rocket ship, and unite people against a common cause. And in this context, tending the garden means making sure people don't ask too many questions. To the extent that it "works" and "grows" congregations people don't question the trend. The problem is that the church that follows this route will eventually start feeding on itself.
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