Saturday, June 20, 2009

To love the loveable

I spend a lot of time, on limited inc, showing the failure of the happiness culture – or at least its peculiarity. But I don’t spend a lot of time drawing in a positive program. If I did the latter, I guess my first principle, the first principle of cultural politics, would be: love the loveable. That means figuring out the proper objects for love – or hatred. One of those false objects of love, which seems so intensely to demand loving, is the state (and its multiple forms, the company, the left, the right, the free market, the party, etc.).

Today, I came across a beautiful instance of the perversion arising from loving the unlovable. In a review of books by Richard John Neuhaus, a rightwing phenomena who recently died, I came across a Neuhaus quote that is both outrageously funny and scarily monstrous: ‘When I meet God, I expect to meet him as an American.” My first thought was, well, honey, I wonder how that worked out for you. And my second thought was, my God. Here is a man, founder of First Things, whose career was spent advocating a dick Christianity, and he’d evidently forgotten to read the prophets and the gospel. If he had, he would have discovered that God dictates the terms of his meetings, even with world renowned rightwingers who have entrée into the White House!

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the comparison of Bushism and fascism. The evil was pressed in this country too well, two hundred years of slavery, a hundred of apartheid, for it to be some kind of import. But among the neo-cons, there is a more convincing case: these were Europe-facing men. And perhaps no phrase is so connotatively Nazi like. With a minor change, it could have been uttered by many a priest in the Nazified Lutheran church from 1933-1945.

Myself, I am a great believer in God’s infinite sense of the ludicrous, so I am sure he enjoyed meeting Richard John Neuhaus in all of his glory. And who knows – in a radiant moment, understanding what a creep’s life he lived, maybe Neuhaus achieved a certain redemption – the l’wa dropped from his back that he had carried all his life and beyond the grave.

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