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  • The Longing for a Messiah

    Posted by Ginny on October 20th, 2008 (All posts by )

    Update:  If the links below the jump haven’t sufficiently creeped you out, here’s another example a friend sent:  the Obama Votive candle.

    Teaching  eighteenth and nineteenth century writers, I wonder about the “Awakenings” of  the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Looking back, we see the passion they generated. Edwards says in a letter that

    This town never was so full of love, nor so full of joy, nor so full of distress as it has lately been.  Some persons have had those longing desires after Jesus Christ, that have been to that degree as to take away their strength and very much to weaken them, and make them faint.  Many have been overcome with a sense of the dying love of Christ, so that the home of the body has been ready to fail under it. 

    But, before the letter is finished, he finds his uncle, despairing, has committed suicide.  The intensity of these passions are not easily restrained even by those who invoke them.  Edwards is brilliant, sometimes wise and sometimes powerful.  A century later, Emily Dickinson refuses, even as all her schoolmates and family “came forward”, to submit to her God; she constricted both her poetry and her allegiances within the narrowest of boundaries.  

    I seldom understand her, but do that uneasiness.  My daughters in turn became, to some degree, estranged from an enthusiast tradition not central to their father’s church, but which occasionally became a part of services.  As I’ve fallen in with friends much more religious than anyone I’d known before, I wondered if this difference came from time or geography.

    But lately I keep stumbling on religious fervor of a quite different kind, one that confuses man with God.  The right refers ironically to “the One” or “the Messiah.” Obama has a self-importance, we saw it as he patronized Joe the Plumber, we saw it standing with fingers interlaced before the flag; in his wife’s words, he will raise us up.  I was a bit reassured when Obama drew laughs at the Smith dinner – surely he doesn’t see himself that way.    

    But it’s not all ironic.  Remembering those children’s videos, here we see adults.

    Taking Sanctuary in Barak Obama      Farakhan   

    Is Obama the Messiah?  collects these on its “The Blog – Propaganda” and sells “sacred relics” in “The Store.”  But their examples aren’t ironic.  And they’ll take your money for Messiah 2008 t-shirts (which can be worn ironically – or not). 

    For those whose culture frowns upon expressions of conventional religion (or who sees religion defined by men like Rev. Wright or Father Pfleger), an Obama cult, complete with interesting signing, grandiose posters, and music, seems a logical consequence.  Of course, for those with memories of socialist realism and fascist architecture, these have resonance.

    They worry us.  Power given in a moment of passion is hard to take back as the fever abates. It’s unlikely McCain will win the election; if he does, what will happen to this confusion of mortal and transcendent?  But, then, another worry is what happens to skeptics in an Obama led government?  Well, the structure has lasted and we tend toward the pragmatic.  Still, this is a lot of ambition, a lot of ego to contain.  Eventually Edwards was exiled, preaching to the Indians he wrote of free will.  He was always a thinker and never a politician.  And he saw himself, his parishioners saw him, as a servant of his God.  How have we come to a place where someone who asks God to help him/her understand the Lord’s bidding is seen as a self-righteous “Christianist” by those who see in a fallible politician a Messiah. 

    Fervor doesn’t last and often leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  I hope at least can we stop complaints about “George Bush’s Theocracy.” 

    But the chill is our sense we may be the objects of that great old curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

     

    7 Responses to “The Longing for a Messiah”

    1. ElamBend Says:

      About 10 months ago, I met with an attorney friend of mine, someone my senior. I told her my problems with Obama, counter to her enthusiasm. I then said that I thought he may be a second Carter. This led to her making a comment about Carter (whom she voted for): “You don’t understand, after the sixties and Nixon, Carter seemed like such a nice guy, so fresh, so different.” I can’t help but keep thinking about what she said.

      I think that we will soon find out.

    2. Obloodyhell Says:

      > This led to her making a comment about Carter (whom she voted for): “You don’t understand, after the sixties and Nixon, Carter seemed like such a nice guy, so fresh, so different.” I can’t help but keep thinking about what she said. I think that we will soon find out.

      I sure hope not. Trust me.

      The seventies SUCKED.

      Big time.

    3. Helen Says:

      I suspect that Obama winning will be worse for the Enthusiasts. Once he is in the White House he will have to be a politician, which means acting rather than talking. His background indicates that he is not much good at that and his decisions are very odd. So, how will they cope with an object of worship that is just a bumbling-stumbling politician?

    4. Jay Manifold Says:

      If Obama is a second Carter, he will deregulate several major industries, sign a capital-gains tax cut into law, and appoint a Federal Reserve chairman who stops inflation. Something tells me that these are not what his supporters have in mind.

    5. Obloodyhell Says:

      > If Obama is a second Carter, he will deregulate several major industries, sign a capital-gains tax cut into law, and appoint a Federal Reserve chairman who stops inflation. Something tells me that these are not what his supporters have in mind.

      You forgot the Camp David Accords, while you were brown-nosing Carter.

      Carter’s deregulations were entirely in the transportation industries (rail, airline, and trucking), and were merely continuations of policies initiated under Nixon and Ford. To counterbalance that, he ADDED the Federal Department of Energy.

      The tax cuts were in one specific area, otherwise taxes were increased under him.

      And, as for his “appointing a Federal Reserve chairman who stops inflation”, Miller may have been appointed to do that, but he did a rather sucky job considering inflation peaked in 1979 at 13.3%. It would have been hard for his subsequent pick, Volcker, to have taken it in another direction.

      OTOH, excluding the Camp David Accords (which actually wound up doing very little good in the long run), Carter’s foreign policy was a complete shambles, leading to a pissant Iranian government thumbing their nose at one of the two greatest superpowers for well over a year.

      Military? Well, he screwed the pooch on that one with idiotic indecisiveness, demanding a multibranch hostage rescue operation which wound up being aborted halfway into it, and making, once more, America into a laughing stock. And all during this time, Russia is blustering its way to conquering the world despite having no hand at all to play the game with, and no money to put into the pot. But Carter and the left were certain that the USSR was going to win in the end.

      Sorry, Jay, *I* was around then.

      I *know* what a complete, utter, and absolute f***up Carter was.

      ============================================================================
      And we’ll be lucky if Obama is not substantially worse than Carter on EVERY front.
      ============================================================================

      .

    6. virgil xenophon Says:

      OBloodyhell,

      I was around during the Carter years also as I watched a $35,000 floating rate Bank note begin at 91/4% and drift up to 23%–practically killed me. BTW, the nature of your posts leads me to believe you are my long-lost blood brother; if not, can I at least be your drinkin’ buddy?

    7. Scotus Says:

      Ginny said:

      How have we come to a place where someone who asks God to help him/her understand the Lord’s bidding is seen as a self-righteous ”Christianist” by those who see in a fallible politician a Messiah?

      Ginny, one must remember all gods are jealous gods. Despite what they might say, the “Obamians” do not reject religion per se. They simply reject (and condemn) all religions but their own. Something David Berlinski said in his recent book, THE DEVIL’S DELUSION, about Richard Dawkins comes to mind: “The physical concept in which Dawkins has placed his confidence in is something that is either infinite or inscrutible, or otherwise unknown. Men have come to faith on the basis of far less . . . . His atheism not withstanding, Dawkins believes that he is a ‘deeply religious man.’ He simply prefers an alien cult.”