Sorry to have left off with The Prophetic Imagination for so long. I'm tempted to go to the next chapter except this one in which the royal consciousness is what we are so steeped in with a few republican fig leaves to disguise what its real nature is. That is, you might think why this book is so important to a political blogger so eager to revive and extend the traditional American form of liberalism, informed by the past half century of its failed modernist distortion. That can be seen in the rest of this chapter.
This model of royal consciousness does not require too much interpretation to be seen as a characterization of our own cultural situation. I have no need to be too immediately "relevant" about these matters, for the careful discernment of these texts will in any case illuminate our own situation. So I offer this paradigm with the prospect that it may indeed help us understand our own situation more effectively. it takes little imagination to see ourselves in this same royal tradition ---
- Ourselves in an economics of affluence in which we are so well off that pain is not noticed and we can eat our way around it.
- Ourselves in a politics of oppression in which the cries of the marginal are not heard or are dismissed as the noises of kooks and traitors.
- Ourselves in a religion of immanence and accessibility, in which God is so present to us that his abrasiveness, his absence, his banishment are not noticed, and the problem is reduced to psychology.
Perhaps you are like me, so enmeshed in this reality that another way is nearly unthinkable. The dominant history of that period, like the dominant history of our own time, consists in briefcases and limousines and press conferences and quotas and new weaponry systems. And that is not a place where such dancing happens and no groaning is permitted.
That is, certainly, what you see in the "white evangelicals" the "traditionalist Catholics" - who yearn for every single thing which was bad in that long and varied and not infrequently compromised tradition. But it is no less true of secular liberals and even many religious liberals who are suckers for that secular distortion of liberalism.
That is much of what I can think of that makes that so called liberal secularism so counterproductive. The reduction of that into "lifestyle" choices and middle-brow culture and propriety and what boils down to club membership rights and privileges drowns out the real, effective address of "the cries of the marginal" - what Brueggemann called the instigating incident that set off the Mosaic epic, including God's part in it, and motivated the Mosaic prophetic tradition that all of this flows out of - including modern egalitarian democracy.* Without that, without the extra-human moral requirement to follow the great commandment of equality, the actual Golden Rule, no even well-meaning liberalism will stay on that road for long. And a lot of it isn't well-meaning, it's just club rules.
Over and over again, in the period since I first went online and read and interacted with the unfiltered thinking of what I used to believe were my fellow lefties, I've seen that their "liberalism" their "leftism" reeked of the upper-middle-class habits of those who learned the real-right way to dress and talk and eat and speak which would get them admittance into the club of college-credentialed professionals - and that even those who spouted Marxism and socialism and even anarchism were pretty well dedicated to that kind of climbing middle-brow, middle-class aspiration even as those they despise as "conservatives" are on a parallel track. Not even the matter of bigotry divided them except in who it was OK to disdain and despise.
And in that experience of seeing it on the screen in front of me, being forced to consider how much I had also adopted those postures and habits of thought and habits of feeling and just plain bad habits and to understand that that is a big part of where American liberalism went very wrong. And it was largely due to the unrealistic and overblown influence of Marxism and other forms of scientistic materialism, a form of gangsterism that in its history of grubbiness is not really different from Nazism or fascism or, as we find out in that enormous irony of American history, the Republican-fascism that is making common cause with the neo-Stalinism of Putin. And why so many voices that are mistaken for or overlap with the "left" Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Stephen F. Cohen, and those who support even those obviously under the control of Putin or run by him, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, make common cause with as he attacks our elections out of the lefty habits of Hollywood-scribbling-class- academia promoted "anti-anti-communism".
Brueggemann's confession in this passage, "Perhaps you are like me, so enmeshed in this reality that another way is nearly unthinkable," is an indication of how hard those habits of thought, with all of their attractions to our base, materialist, insecure self-centeredness to break and get out of. I don't think anyone ever even engages in the self-criticism necessary to do that unless they do so out of an extra-human moral commandment to urge them into it. I certainly find it hard and, believe me, in 1978 when he wrote that, I was totally and completely and lefty-magazine and book saturated unawareness of even the possibility that there was something more that would work when that so obviously wasn't working.
I'm still a beginner at this. I won't live long enough to ever fully get away with it, at least I can try with what time I have left. If we sucker future generations out of reading these texts, of seeing what this great scholar of that literature sees in it, the future is doomed.