Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jesus--the perfect conservative?

With the surprise popularity of The Pizza Man Who Could Be President Who Isn't Mitt Romney, the media turns its big ol' fat ol' Sauron-like eye on Herman Cain's rhetorical archive, where recently this gem was exhumed from RedState by the folks at Religious News. Cain's Christmas message--that Christ is the world's "perfect conservative"--is another example of how historical figures are put to work for contemporary ideologies.

Here's the support Cain provides for considering Jesus a perfect conservative:
  • He never condemned what others believed – just sin, evil and corruption.
  • He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps.
  • For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check. Nevertheless, he completed all the work He needed to get done. He didn’t travel by private jet. 
  • The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12.
This is the first time I have seen Jesus's behavior and attitudes about the poor used by conservatives to promote politically-conservative values. It seems to be an attempt to challenge the other side's attempts to dress up Jesus as a liberal. (I'm thinking of Jim Wallis, these guys, and Stephen Colbert.)

These analogies--on both sides--end up sounding reductive, not because there is no relation between the teachings of the New Testament and contemporary political life but because they attempt to "own" God, exclusively, for a political ideology. Once God joins the ranks of your party, the other side ends up looking godless.

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