Sunday, May 07, 2006

Spirit
Curtis White's invitation to resistance

Living the busy blogstress life, your cybertrix is prone to fall behind on her reading, as she did over the course of the last month -- which explains why, today, she offers her devotees a glimmer from a most fascinating essay that appeared in the April issue of Harper's magazine.

Curtis White, a professor at Illinois State University, uses the forum to call for, in exceptionally beautiful prose, a movement of civil disobedience that would manifest itself at the most personal and individual level. Yet, in order to make his case, White jumps off from a profound question and then exposes it as one that can only lead to untrue answers:

Are we fundamentally a Christian or an Enlightenment culture?
No one gets off easy in White's treatise (except, perhaps, Henry David Thoreau) as he asks the following:
Do Democrats really imagine that they can articulate a compelling moral vision for the United States or for the democratic West without a spiritual foundation? ...[D]o Democrats really imagine that they can compete with Republican evangelicals by becoming more like them? Shall we all talk about our born-again justification in the body of Christ? Shall we all head down to the river to collect our votes?

Or, ironies on the other side, do Christian Republicans truly not understand the fundamental ways in which an unfettered corporate capitalism betrays Christ's ethical vision and their own economic well-being? (It is an astonishing irony that many of these religious anti-Darwinians are in their politics and economics the most uncompromising Social Darwinians, with a naive and self-defeating assumption of the virtue of competition....Most fantastically, do Christian Republicans really not recognize their own perverse marriage with secular rationalism? Or that there is an unacknowledged alliance between the pragmatic, ultra-rational needs of corporate capitalism and the blarney of Christian cleansing through the "social values" movement?
Take your Webwench's word for it, mes amis -- this is a must-read for anyone earnestly looking to explore the nation's spiritual quagmire.

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