Monday, May 10, 2010

Remember that Bit Where I Said Chris Hedges is Useless?

He's at it again.

In this case he's arguing that removing religion will inevitably lead to a dystopic Nietzschean hell world.[1]

But here's the rub:

A Gallup poll in 2006 found that “the more frequently an American attends church, the less likely he or she is to say the war was a mistake.” Given that Jesus was a pacifist, and given that all of us who graduated from seminary rigorously studied Just War doctrine, which was flagrantly violated by the invasion of Iraq, this is a rather startling statistic.

I mean, I'm assuming that not everyone who went to Seminary studied Just War doctrine.  He went to Harvard Divinity, which is more likely to be occupied by those pointy-head liberal elite types than, say Dallas Theological or Phoenix Seminary.[2]  The Evangelical Seminaries are far more interested in teaching apologetics and the practical issues of running churches than the philosophy of religion.  Which isn't to say that Just War doesn't come up in such places, but I strongly suspect it's easier to avoid.  Or they teach how to turn any war in to a Just War...

Either way, the very next paragraph is this one:

But I cannot rejoice in the collapse of these institutions. We are not going to be saved by faith in reason, science and technology, which the dead zone of oil forming in the Gulf of Mexico and our production of costly and redundant weapons systems illustrate. Frederick Nietzsche’s √úbermensch, or “Superman”—our secular religion—is as fantasy-driven as religious magical thinking.

What.  The.  Fuck?

Seriously, Nietzsche was a raving fucking lunatic.  We're not descending in to Nietzsche-world.  At least, we're not inevitably descending in that direction. It's entirely possible to not do so, especially since we don't have to take the rantings of a random German philosopher loved best by rebellious high schoolers and jackass religious apologists who need something to rail against as our sole marching orders.

Also, um, what the hell does the BP oil spill have to do with anything?  Does Chris Hedges realize he's putting himself on the same level as Pat Robertson claiming hurricanes as vengeance from god for homosexuality when he places the oil spill as punishment for our supposed sins of selfish self-determination?

The great religions set free the critical powers of humankind. They broke with the older Greek and Roman traditions that gods and Destiny ruled human fate—a belief that, when challenged by Socrates, saw him condemned to death. They challenged the power of the tribe, the closed society.

Um, no.  No they didn't.  The great religions added nothing to the critical thinking of humankind.  Medieval Europe was ruled by just as much fear and superstition as any society that came before.  The conflicts between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox or between Christian and Pagan or Christian and Muslim simply indicated that there were new tribes and new closed societies.  In reality, the Hellenistic world set up by the conquests of Alexander the Great was far more open to people of different societies and tribes than anything in Christianity.  That's the joy of polytheism: you can say, "This god in your pantheon looks a lot like this god in our pantheon, so let's just combine them."  Yahweh, the Christian God, and Allah are ostensibly the same exact god and yet we don't see too many Jews, Christians, or Muslims working to create a synthesis of the three.

The Renaissance, meanwhile, was kicked off by Petrarch, who made it a point to stop trying to harmonize the classical writers with Christian thought.  This lead to the humanists, who brought about a revival of science, philosophy, and critical thinking that specifically looked to the ancient Romans and Greeks who had apparently been superseded by Christianity, at least in the mind of Christopher Hedges.  If that's the case, why is it that Europe flourished over the two or so centuries of the Renaissance in ways it hadn't in the thousand years since the Italian peninsula was overrun by the barbarian tribes?[3]

I think that once I get done with my gushing over battleships I'll have to move to my other current historical obsession: the Byzantine Empire.  Specifically because one of the most fascinating aspects of the fall of Rome and the near-destruction of Constantinople on any number of occasions (and, for that matter, the fall of Constantinople in 1453) can be summed up in just a couple words: Christian infighting.  It's something that has to be acknowledged if you're going to claim religion in general and Christianity specifically holds societies together.

It doesn't.  Not by a long shot.

They do not want to look at the rows of flag-draped coffins or the horribly maimed bodies and faces of veterans or the human suffering in the blighted and deserted former manufacturing centers. It is too upsetting. Government and corporate censorship is welcomed and appreciated. It ensures that we remain Last Men. And the death of religious institutions will only cement into place the new secular religion of the Last Man, the one that worships military power, personal advancement, hedonism and greed, the one that justifies our callousness toward the weak and the poor. 

Yeah.  Because all those enlightened religious folk who worship godandcountry and talk about wiping Islam off the map and, oh by the way, "Drill, baby, drill!" are so goddamn much more moral than those non-believers who just don't want to see the world for what it is.

You know what?  I've decided that "useless" doesn't describe Chris Hedges enough.  How about, "Chris Hedges is a horrible, thoughtless jackass?"


[1]To be fair, the Nietzcheans in Andromeda were pretty bad ass...

[2]These were two of the Seminaries on my own short list.  Just this morning Ken Pulliam reminded me that Wayne Grudem moved from DTS to PS a few years ago.  I felt like I'd dodged a bullet...

[3]Who were, largely, Arian Christians.


PersonalFailure said...

I think Hedges has descended to writing entirely in dog whistle. Don't even try to understand it, just do what my dog does:


So, with Hedges, we have:


Rhino of Steel said...

Socrates was not killed for challenging the gods or destiny either. What he challenged was the power of men, specifically "might makes right" and the value of democracy. He really did more of the opposite of what is being claimed. Everyone knew the heresy charge was bullshit, but since it was practically a sham trial to get rid of a troublemaker, no one cared.

Geds said...


Wanna hear my Chris Hedges dogwhistle: "blahblahblahChrisHedgesSucksblah."


But mentioning reality means his entire thesis falls apart. You don't want to mention that, do you?

Hell, as I recall, Socrates was accused of atheism during his trial...