Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tipping Over into Something "So Dark, So Real, So Evil That There Was Really No Precedent for It in Terms of Its All-Encompassing Possibilities for Death"

From the news and news commentary in the past day or so: read these snippets as a unified narrative, and the question arises, If I had to write a plot description for this narrative, what would that plot description say? What might it say about the role religion is playing in tipping the United States over into unimagined possibilities of death, destruction, and violence at this point in history? How does a "pro-life" Christianity end up dealing death, and doing so proudly and defiantly? 

This is a story that needs to be told, discussed, analyzed. Because it's a story on which the fate of the world may well hang. And you will not find it being told, discussed, and analyzed in the leading journals in the U.S. featuring leading Catholic thinkers today, in journals like Commonweal and First Things. To find real, significant, and meaningful discussion of these issues — and of the complicity of white Christians including the intellectual leaders of American Catholicism — in the formation of an unprecedented culture of death and destruction under Donald Trump, you'll have to leave those stiflingly tribal (and eminently uncatholic) enclaves behind. The news:

John Pavlovitz, "Hateful People Are Exhausting": 

When hateful people have power (as they now do), they embolden other hateful people, giving them license to unleash the God-awful things that they’d otherwise keep concealed and subjecting the rest of us to a regular cavalcade of horrors. This is what our country is experiencing in these days: a Renaissance of open bigotry—and it will level you if you have a working heart.

Christopher Douglas, "Why Hulu's 'Handmaid's Tale' May Be the Wrong Adaptation for Trump Era":

The Handmaid's Tale was Atwood’s thought experiment about what it looked like for the state to take women’s fertility choices away from them. She listened to what the Christian Right was saying about sexuality, gender roles, patriarchy, homosexuality, and the God-given differences between men and women, and imagined an extreme version of a society built around those ideas. 
The Christian Right was always about a willingness to legislate for those outside its own group—that was its point. It legislated for creationism to be taught not just to children of conservative Christian households, but to everyone else's children too; it opposed the acceptance of homosexuality not just within its own congregations, but in the larger society; and its rejection of abortion took the form not just of Christian individuals deciding not to have abortions, but as the chief political goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, preventing access to all women. . . . 
But it wasn't only the gendered lines of combat that Atwood recognized in the nascent Christian Right—and this is where Hulu’s adaptation appears to take a self-conscious risk that may ultimately make it the wrong adaptation for the Age of Trump. Margaret Atwood's novel also carefully noted the racialized history of the Christian Right, which predated its opposition to abortion. In the novel, African Americans are called the "Children of Ham" and are being "resettled" out of Gilead into the less prosperous "National Homeland" formerly known as North Dakota.

Mark Berman, "Arkansas Carries Out Country's First Back-to-Back Executions in Almost Two Decades":

Williams is the ninth inmate executed in the United States so far this year. With three executions in four days, Arkansas has carried out a third of the lethal injections nationwide in 2017. 
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who scheduled the lethal injections and did not issue a statement following the execution last week, issued statements late Monday saying that "the rule of law was upheld" and "justice has prevailed."

NPR, "Harvard Project Outlines Pattern of Attorney Failures in Arkansas Death Row Cases": 

All eight death row cases in Arkansas had examples of attorney failures, including drunk lawyers, a conflict of interest affair involving a judge, lawyers missing deadlines, and failure to disclose mental disorders.

Tom McPartland, "For Some of Us, Rejecting Bigotry Is Natural and Moral": 

I gave up everything I held as spiritually/eternally vital putting distance between myself and the hate which was/is so tangible. My eyes witnessed the horror of my faith "writing people off" as if they were no more than sick stock on a church owned cattle ranch. How easy it was. How Easy! And how disingenuous to claim this as an act of "Love." To me this mass expulsion was not love, it looked more like pure revenge after having lost a very public war. 
The lies used to pass Prop 8; hearing mean, ignorant talks in General Conference; the immediate magnification of masked hate at the church house; watching my LGBT friend (best friend) remotely mocked by leaders "moved by the Spirit." This all became too much for me to rationalize away or to await for yet another future game changing revelation from God that would surely dissolve these leaders of any responsibility or historical accountability.

Chauncey DeVega, "Philosopher Henry Giroux on the Culture of Cruelty and Donald Trump: America Is "a Democracy on Life Support": Henry Giroux states,

I don't think we are tipping over into neofascism. I think we've [already] tipped over. I woke up the next day and I felt paralyzed. I felt that we had entered into something so dark, so real, so evil that there was really no precedent for it in terms of its all-encompassing possibilities for death, destruction and violence. I had a hard time functioning for about a week. I think in some ways there's a residue of that I can't shake, that now informs my work.

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