Republicans, how are you going to make Tennessee better? How do you intend to use these three planks to benefit the people of the state of Tennessee? How will your 3G platform provide economic development and jobs to the thousands of Tennesseans who are either out of work or underemployed? How will the platform you ran on ensure that Tennesseans are safe in their homes from the predatory lending practices that have contributed to these unstable economic times? What will your platform do to educate our children, not only for the jobs of the 21st Century, but a job market that is contracting? An increase in violent crime almost always follows uncertain economic times, what does your 3g platform do to keep our communities safe? Seriously, I want to know.
And, I, too, have been wondering about that. I keep having these half-formed thoughts, about the ways in which the Republicans seem to be behaving like it’s the middle ages and they are all knights of the round table. And then there’s all the “Judas” talk and the poignant, “But Mumpower brought his family Bible” stuff, and then the preaching in the Statehouse and the bizarre inability of the Republicans to anticipate what seem to be pretty par-for-the-course political shenanigans and the mourning for the Belmont kids who don’t have the cushy political jobs they thought they had and, suddenly, it’s like there’s enough dots to connect to make the outline of a picture.
And I think that the picture looks like this–1. The Republicans are on the side of God; 2. The Republicans are willing to advance what they believe is God’s agenda; and, therefore, 3. if they are able to advance God’s agenda far enough, God will take care of the rest. Jesus, my friend, will fix the state, if only we are willing to let the Republicans enact Jesus’ will.
I know it sounds ridiculous on the surface, but give it a moment to sink in. Once you’ve decided that God will take care of you, if only you really really committ to him, then proving your committment becomes tantimount. God doesn’t like gay marriage? Then it doesn’t matter if it’s already illegal in the state, you’re going to continue to make it illegal until it appeases God. Federal laws prevent you from outlawing abortion? It doesn’t matter. We want God to help us, so we’ve got to show Him we’re committed to his will. (I’m not sure how guns figure into it, so I won’t speculate.)
I think it doesn’t matter tha these things won’t do anything to help the State, because I think they believe that the State will get help from God when God has decided that we deserve it. And the fact that these things aren’t resolving themselves is only proof–not of failed tax policies, not of failed governmental policies, not of anything secular at all–that we have not yet pleased God enough to fix our problems.
God as the somewhat disinterested, negligent parent. Interesting.
I have this picture in my head of God sitting up in heaven saying, “you have not pleased me enough, SUFFER MORE AT THE HANDS OF MY MISGUIDED FOLLOWERS!” Then he takes a bite of a delicious Chicken Pot Pie.
I think I had too much coffee this morning…
What I’m about to say won’t be popular. So if any of you has tar-removal chemicals please stand by.
I’ve been thinking a lot since yesterday’s post about the fellow who gave a revival sermon at the statehouse.
I think the problem is a cultural one. A lot of folks around here have no clue nor have seen many examples of persuasive writing and oration. Outside of the Church, that is.
Politics thrives on persuasive writing and oration. That’s the stuff about it which everyone remembers. I still maintain if you want to go into politics you need to study the great speeches throughout history and you need to read the great political and philosophical writing from ancient history until about 20 years ago when all the great political writers retired.
Pardon me, but I don’t think these guys in the Tennessee Statehouse have that kind of background. Something tells me that they’re mostly small-town lawyers or the guy everyone likes who owns the tire store on Main St. or something like that.
The only time they’ve seen people moved to tears or action by words has been in church. So now that they want to move folks to tears and action–out comes the big guns church talk.
As a Christian this makes me angrier than anything. Because it seems to me like they’re using a sacred thing to motivate the profane. It’s that sort of “Christianity Is White Witchcraft” attitude that is so galling to me.
Coble, I believe that’s an excellent point. I do think that, when these folks think of stirring speeches and, frankly, even solutions to the enormous problems our State faces, they think of the place that has stirred them and helped them face their personal problems–the Church. I mean, if Jesus helped you kick your cocaine habit, why can’t Jesus help the state lower infant mortality rates?
And I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing to ask–if you see yourself, as a church member, as the body of Christ, as the most ordinary way God makes change in the world–I don’t even mind it.
But, yeah, there seems to be a line there and the “Christianity as White Witchcraft” attitude may be it. Couple that with the fact that these men are powerful and likely to go to churches where either the pastor is a little star-struck or as caught up in the power game as they are and I just don’t think they run into anybody that often who says, “Um, hold on here. Let’s look at what you’re doing in the name of Jesus and ask ourselves whether it really is.”
And I, as an outsider, am frankly kind of terrified to realize that there are folks who are running the State based on what they’ve decided God wants.
I have two observations, each connected to this post but not really connected to each other.
First, when I had just moved to Nashville, there was an article in the Tennessean explaining the appletini, the chocolatini, and other variations on the martini. I found this interesting, because, where I had moved from, the -tinis had been over for about 5 years. So I made a mental note that things here might well be about 6 or 7 years behind the rest of the country. And I think that what you are describing the Republicans as thinking and doing is what they have been thinking and doing nationally for a while now. Some people may have noticed that, so far as the rest of the country is concerned, that approach was decisively declared to be over as of early November, 2008. So, on the one hand, big duh. On the other hand, that means there’s only 6 or 7 years more for them here.
Second, you know that knights fo the Round Table thing? I will spare you the lecture on Arthuriana and medievalism. Something you may not know, though, is that, back in Europe in the middle ages, there were parliaments. Depending on where one lived, knights (as in, for example, England) or leading townspeople and merchants (as in, for example, Castile) were regular participants in law-making. And it was not uncommon for legislation to be repeated (sometimes even word for word) in successive parliaments; historians debate whether this was because no one paid any attention to the laws or whether (since many of the most-repeated laws had a religious component) the legislators were doing what you picture the TN Republicans as doing, reaffirming their allegiance to a spiritually correct ideal. But you know what? In times of national crisis (after wars or during famines, for example, or once the first occurrence of the plague had passed), they dropped all the repeats and got down to legislating responses to the current problems. Wage controls, price controls, laws against exporting horses (think large military systems), whatever — in those parliaments, necessary business got done and the froufrou stuff got ignored. So I’m going to suggest that, based on that model, it seems that the Republicans of TN haven’t realized yet that our current problems are real. Which is one of the current problems.
That often? In my experience, when I did that with friends in certain denominations, I was suddenly persona non grata.
This pretty much pinpoints my frustrations with some of the rhetoric coming out of the House this week. I am so sick of the “God is on my side” crap, and that’s what’s really happening when they reach for Biblical allusions and metaphor. It’s the State Legislature, be states(wo)men, look to the laws of the land to back up your arguments and leave God alone.
A-yep. I was just going to launch into my history of US legislatures historically twiddling around and legislating redundant bullshit when there was nothing pressing to do and legislating genius when they had to rise to the occasion, but sometimes they didn’t recognize when they had to act decisively and courageously until the crisis was already deep upon them and then bad stuff happened…
But nm beat me to the punch.
I think this does prove that most Tennesseans as well as the few other still “red” states actually did buy into the Bush administration’s definition of the world and the U.S., hook, line, and sinker. Thank you Phil Valentine, as the Nation moves forward, Tennessee holds fast to it’s ignorant, racist, bigoted past.
So I’m going to suggest that, based on that model, it seems that the Republicans of TN haven’t realized yet that our current problems are real.
If they are as steeped in a certain branch of the Church as I suspect–the problems AREN’T real to them. It’s one of the things that befuddles me about my own church.
The logic goes something like this.
1. God is in control of everything
2. We believe in submitting to God
3. Ergo, we believe that our submission to God means that we’ll let God sort it all out. And we’ll pray hard.
And this goes back to what we were talking about a few days ago (was it just yesterday) about the disparate views on how Christians should conduct themselves in their Christian lifestyle.
My logic goes something like this:
1. God is in control of everything but has given us free will.
2. I submit to God, and part of that submission includes following his command to do “unto the least of these”—as that falls under the whole “love thy neighbour” thing.
3. Ergo, if I’m loving people as God loves them–as if they were part of my family–it is my job to take care of them.
Now of course as a Libertarian I believe it’s MY job–not my job to be delegated to the State. Which is where I differ from all of you who are more liberal.
But it also appears increasingly to be where I differ from large segments of the church. Who believe that all “submission to God” means is that you say “Jesus is Lord” and that’s that.
[I hit send too early]
So what that means is that to these folks (a large majority of the TN Republicans) the problems aren’t “problems” because God’ll sort it out. And so they don’t have to address it AT ALL.
Or, to a smaller section of that majority, if there are problems they won’t matter soon because the end times are upon us, so there won’t be any repercussions for being lax.
I am reminded of the joke about the flood, the motorboats, and the helicopter.
I think Kat’s probably right, but that amounts to a vast misreading of the central sacred text of their tradition. God (even through multiple translations) spoke to humans using strong verbs that command action. Do justice (not just talk about justice, or blame others for not doing justice). Love mercy (not think about mercy and criticize others for insufficient merciful behavior). Walk humbly (not sit on your butt or stand in judgment, but actually move to do justice and love mercy in full recognition of your doubts and insufficiencies). “Go, thou, and do likewise,” is a far cry from “let God sort it out.”
Maybe some of the legislators crowing about God are just cynical Pied Pipers who aren’t really invested in what Jesus wants. But maybe they know that what they really want to do wouldn’t fly with their voters unless the voters turn their brains off and accept that the outcome– no matter how onerous or disastrous– must be God’s will. And hell, if you can mix in a little race-baiting, liberal-bashing, and promises of state womb control, then it goes down even easier for the faithful.