Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ideas of God and America

Joshua Trevino, writing at The Brussels Journal, looking at the results of a demographic survey of the "netroots" from DailyKos, comes up with a great line:
Tellingly and predictably, many of these horrors have re-emerged in the post-Christian Europe of today, where we see all the casual murderousness of antiquity, without the good art.
The quip is prompted by what the survey reveals:
Have we mentioned that they are mostly enclaved, wealthy, angry and old? Add to that descriptor: "and probably not even monotheist". A more complete alienation from the average American could hardly be conceived.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, but as Trevino points out:
Is the “netroots” mostly Christian? Mostly left-wing Protestant? Mostly Jewish? No, no, and no. They cannot even muster a majority for simple monotheism. And the preponderance of them – roughly 40% - simply have no faith at all, identifying as either atheist or agnostic. How does this look like America? It doesn’t: this proportion in the nation at large is between 1% and 14%, depending on the survey. The “netroots” is barely one-quarter Christian; America is roughly three-quarters Christian. Within the “netroots,” the proportion of self-identified practitioners of “Wicca, Shinto,” “animist/shamanist” faiths, and adherents of “one of the ancient Greek, Nordic, Egyptian or Meso-American religions” outstrips that in America at large by nearly thirtyfold.
Not exactly typical. Whereas de Tocqueville saw religious belief as an imAmerica'sart of Ameroca's political institutions:
[T]he revolutionists of America are obliged to profess an ostensible respect for Christian morality and equity, which does not permit them to violate wantonly the laws that oppose their designs; nor would they find it easy to surmount the scruples of their partisans even if they were able to get over their own. Hitherto no one in the United States has dared to advance the maxim that everything is permissible for the interests of society, an impious adage which seems to have been invented in an age of freedom to shelter all future tyrants. Thus, while the law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust.

This post-Christian modernism seeks to do away with tradition and restraint:

Their abandonment of the permanent things must and will have its nevitable effect: in the absence of faith, the old horrors rush to fill the void. The glorification of the self and the fetishism of the will resurrect the things that died with the old paganism: the killing of the young, the useless, and the suffering.

Read the whole thing here: Ideas of God and America