Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Just a further thought on the two Posts from yesterday dealing with the Neocons (“Chicken Hawks”) and with the Force Ministries (“Ministry of Force”).

There’s a common thread of adolescence (as in ‘not-yet-matured’) that runs throughout both of these phenomena.

It’s clearer in the story of the force-ministry to the troops. Fundamentalism (see other Posts on this site, e.g. “Crazy for God”) is a religious gambit that requires a functionally immature mindset.

Psychologically, one must function not out of one’s maturationally and humanly advanced thinking or deliberative capacities (focused largely in the prefrontal areas of the brain) but rather out of the far more primal emotional, non-thinking and non-deliberative areas of the brain (focused largely in the limbic areas).

Philosophically, one must commit to a very this-worldly field of operations in which little concern is given for understanding, but much is made of emotional reaction. And in which little attention is placed on substance, and everything is focused on appearances and effects.

Morally, one must ensure the presence of an ‘other’ and an ‘enemy’ in order to jumpstart one’s sense of identity through the far-too-easy and less-perfect modus of ‘hating’, while at the same time masking one’s primitiveness by claiming that it is not oneself but “God” who actually ‘hates’; the believer is simply ‘doing God’s (or Christ’s) will’.

Spiritually, one is committed to a God stitched together, in an almost Frankensteinian way, by selectively plucking those passages of Scripture that have to do with blood and war and vengeance, or the made-for-teens scenario of the Apocalypse, while selectively ignoring any passage that has to do with love, forgiveness, patience, humility, deliberation, or the long, staggery path to the Kingdom sustained over time and in the face of one’s own weaknesses.

And if one might look upon the matter from the point of view of the Grand Strategy of Humanity, the Fundamentalist approach requires its adherents to rely on a very poor ‘map’ of the human operating space: the Fundy conception of life is remarkably mono-dimensional, this-worldly, Horizontal and concerned only with surfaces and appearances. There is little Vertical and almost no Interior to the Fundy vision of world-and-self: one is what one is (‘saved’) and nothing more needs to be said or known about Past or Present or Future, and – being ‘saved’ – there is no need to develop a mastery of one’s own Interior, either to climb Up the ladder of one’s maturity or to keep careful watch on one’s lesser, baser, more primal tendencies. There is almost no Beyond; their vaunted, rackety and verbose religiosity is merely a this-worldly and primitive effort to force ‘God’ and ‘Christ’ into their own unripened and this-worldly preconceptions and outright wish-fantasies.

So this Force Ministry approach is an adolescent attempt to jump-start actual adolescents who are under staggeringly intense pressures of violence, boredom, disenchantment, and despair. Small wonder its primary pastoral modality is the Saturday-afternoon, halftime harangue delivered by a well-intentioned but gruff coach who seeks only to jumpstart enough raw energy to last for the next ‘x’ number of minutes until the game is over. (And thus, after all, the services of the coach can be engaged for any number of return-engagements; the hearers will neither be capable of, nor taught to develop, an Interior mastery nor achieve any consequent independence from the leash of the ‘coach’).

The thing becomes self-perpetuating, and on a very unripe level of being.

The Neocons present us with less obvious but even more unsettling examples of unripeness. It stands out not only in their comments – self-serving and in the context of the present almost delusional – but even more so in their photographs, when considered alongside their comments.

Here are a group of chronological adults who did espouse the most adolescent, macho, boyo, in-your-face, rock-on-and-damn-the-consequences military adventurism – its hard, sliced edges dulled only by the almost childishly phantasmagoric allusions to being greeted as liberators – who are now striking Karshian poses as somber, revered, ‘old school’, accomplished diplomatists like unto the statesmen of yore. It’s almost impossible to imagine one of these sober, pretentious personages – as they portray themselves in their photos – whacking each other with a hoot of ‘slam dunk!’, ‘cakewalk!’, ‘piece-of-cake!’, or any of the other macho juvenilia that – in the happy times – were vouchsafed to us slow-witted, unimaginative herbivores by preening commenters with serious access.

What’s also unsettling about these Neocons is that they are trying simultaneously to be macho, in-your-face boyos and yet also looking for acceptance and reverence as somber, sober, wise statesmen (-persons …?) They are boyos purposely dressing themselves in adult clothing. And that’s yet another level of duplicity to add to the list of their character deficiencies.

Not for them the long, hard, sober slog of diplomacy, the patience and incompletely satisfied objectives, the resolution in the face of apparent hopelessness, the quiet persistence, the ‘long twilight struggle’. Noooooo. These boyos were going to crash in and do it quick and easy, and be back in notime. (And how classic an adolescent and laddish a fantasy is that?)

Now suddenly, the ‘police’ of failure and of consequences having them surrounded, they strike poses of utmost sobriety and knowledge and wisdom and ‘connection’, while at the same time blaming their boss and then claiming that they had no access and cannot be held responsible. They’re sorry the bank was robbed, now that they’re caught. One is tempted to think that if they were now sitting fat and pretty on the luxury beach of Victory, they would be singing a very different tune. Whoo-hoo! We’re the greatest! In your face, world! … that sort of tune. Jimmy Durante’s advice here is the best: “Stop da music! Stop da music!”.

Maturity is in as short a supply as Character in Washington City. But it has to be considered: does that short supply in Washington City merely reflect a short supply of Maturity and Character more generally throughout the country?

If We The People don’t know where this awefull state of affairs comes from, how it has arisen, then how will We know how to fix it … as best it can be fixed, now, after all that’s been irretrievably done.

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