News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: What Would Jesus Do? According to Gary...

Friday, December 16, 2005

What Would Jesus Do? According to Gary...

Gary Hart is a man on a mission. Forget the scandal of his womanizing. Forget the fact that he coulda been a contenda for President way back when. The man does have a degree in divinity from Yale so that must mean something. Besides, years of reflection in and out of politics and the searing light of public scandal-mongering have perhaps given him some perspective on the role that religion should play in politics.

He's served up a hot dish here, exploring with passion and resolve the questions that are most dear to our hearts: God and State...

In a little-noticed interview, Hart provides some well-earned observations on how religion should not be mixed up in politics at all:

I think the religious right is making Jesus into some kind of Old Testament wrathful prophet who is judgmental, divisive, and opposed to any notion of liberalism, whereas the teachings of Jesus tell quite a different story. He was tolerant. He was forgiving. He preached love, not hate. In many ways, the literal reading of the teachings of Jesus in the gospels, particularly not filtered through the later apostles in the New Testament, but the literal teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels, are almost totally at odds with the teachings of the present-day religious right.
What's that? Jesus loving? Old Testament God of wrath and vengeance? Religious Right as anti-prophetic yea-sayers for Mammon? Gary, these words go to the heart of the Gospel. But what liberal sweetness and light are you gonna spout on top of that pretty damning and correct indictment of the religious right:
I often refer to Jefferson’s great quote. He used to be questioned about all the things that could go wrong in this new experiment. He said, when the chips are down, the success of the republic depends on the common sense and good judgment of the American people. We all know that, throughout American history, common sense and good judgment often have been swept aside by demagogues and radical movements of one kind or another. But ultimately, always, the salvation of the republic is the returning of the common sense and good judgment of the American people. I think that’s what we’re witnessing now.
Okay it's always so nice to quote someone with authority, especially a founding father, when you take on hypocrisy. That is, let's go to the source, they're pure, they had the vision, they must've known what's right.

The problem is, Gary, that the founding fathers were just as fallible as anyone else. You can't equate someone like Jesus and Jefferson. As smart and brilliant as Jefferson was, he had his own failures, his own myopia, and he could've been just as wrong as anyone else--left or right.

What doesn't get said, and what should be said is that there's something wrong with the American way of life that simply rises way above what Jefferson could have known or maybe even would have disliked, what with with his veneration of Reason. The American way of life has become tainted at the source.

It's a way of life that thrives on illusion and deception. And all of Gary's talk about common-sense and the American public will never get to what's up with us: we have lost the ability to act in a moral way. We have lost--simply put--the ability to recognize a moral problem, no less than the ability to even seek a moral answer. The passion for morality simply is not there. It's all about being better than the next person, comparing ourselves with them and hating them for having something we don't. It's all about the fear of being different.

Don't get me wrong, Gary Hart asks questions and ruminates pretty well for a former divinity student. Take his observations to heart, but realize thet he is simply not going to give you the way out but merely turn on a very dim lightbulb in a profoundly dark dungeon.

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