Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Faith as a Component of Political Views, or I am Not Montel

Here's why I often comment on the missteps of political machines and people when those missteps are within the field of the Christian faith: I am a Christian.

By this statement I mean more than I was born in a country that was predominantly Christian (though it was), to parents who were practicing Christians (though they were), or that I attend the church of my choice on a regular basis (though I do.)

What I mean is that I take my religion straight---no chaser. I have experienced things that do not make sense in a materialist worldview. (My atheist friends would say that that statement shows a lack of imagination.) I have examined both the materialist and supernaturalist worldviews and find myself on the supernaturalist side.

This is not to say that I have only supernaturalist friends. Many are far from my beliefs. Many friends are supernaturalists with views that I consider ill-formed to heretical.

The only thing I require is that if you are going to honk on about "faith issues," especially if you are trying to influence my political behavior, is that you have some idea of what you are talking about:

Continuing his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, John F. Kerry addressed (by telephone) a conference convened by that racist hustler and prevaricator Al Sharpton who won, if I'm not mistaken, exactly one delegate at the party convention in 2004. According to The New York Times yesterday, in what appeared to be rather inchoate remarks, Kerry used Iraq as a trope but offered a ten-point plan for the nation from soup to nuts ... well, from getting Osama bin Laden to legislating lobby reform. The Times alluded to Kerry's well-known verbosity. So it wasn't surprising that he also went off and said, "Not in one phrase uttered and reported by the Lord Jesus Christ, can you find anything that suggests that there is a virtue in cutting children from Medicare." I'd actually go Kerry one further: I doubt that Jesus ever mentioned Medicare at all. Still, it's probably significant that some presidential aspirants--Kerry, for one--want to demonstrate that there are among them some real live Democrats for God. Or, as the Times said about him, he is "A Roman Catholic, who has struggled at times to talk about his own faith ... Mr. Kerry also told the group that he believed 'deeply in my faith'." Now, there are many Catholics including high ecclesiastics who doubt this. But who am I to have a point of view on what is essentially an intramural fight? In any case, as it turns out, Kerry is not only a Roman Catholic but also an ecumenicist. Once again I rely on the Times: Kerry asserted that "the Koran, the Torah, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles had influenced a social conscience that he exercised in politics." My God, what bullshit politicians feel obliged to utter! Or maybe the bullshit is already second nature, or even first. But since Kerry raised it, let me ask: What hadith of the Prophet influenced him the most, and why? And here I have a personal interest: Which of the injunctions of Leviticus and who among the Prophets have the most meaning for him? Ordinarily, of course, I wouldn't ask such personal questions of a politician. In the spirit of Jesus, Kerry will certainly forgive me for doing so.

--Martin Peretz
I am reminded of Richard Belzer's character Detective John Munch in Homicide: Life on the Street:
You're saving your really good lies for some smarter cop, is that it? I'm just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait until the real guy gets here. Wait until that big guy comes back. I'm probably just his secretary. I'm just Montel Williams. You want to talk to Larry King.

...If you're going to lie to me, you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is it my shoes? Is it my haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don't you ever lie to me like I'm Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams.
That's the message, Democrats: I am not Montel Williams.

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