Wednesday, January 27, 2010

3rd Party Nonsense

From Bull Moose to Ross Perot to Teabaggers the allure of a third party in America is an easy sell to some. The idea goes that the two party system encourages government to bog down in partisan trenches and accomplish nothing but a third party would break the deadlock and force politicians to become more responsive to "the people"

Its bullshit.

From where does one get the idea that a politician elected with oh say... a 36% plurality will be able to govern effectively with an opposition of %64? Further balkanizing our political process will not interject more efficiency into the system. Things wont get better, they'll get substantially worse.

Its an idea whose main appeal frankly is to the yahoos who would get some charge out of seeing someone in office who thinks and talks exactly as they do. Only problem is that person would get absolutely nothing done.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Defending Pat Robertson

Why isn't he right? I've been having this conversation with several Christians this week and its been very interesting. The bible is full of examples of God using natural events to pass judgement on our earthly actions and of course as Christians believe God is the Ultimate Watchmaker He either causes or refuses to prevent catastrophes like the Haitian earthquake, so it is hardly insane to assume then that He would choose to cause or allow events that were in accordance with His plan. But where's the love for Grandpa Robertson?

Dispensationalist Christians will tell you that since the crucifixion we're in a separate state of grace and God does not express His will in the same way He did in the Old Testament so that's why we should not interpret these natural events as expressions of God's Will and I find it kind of surprising that this tends to be a fundamentalists' view. However they seem not to also consider that even if God has been toning down the thunderbolts of late He clearly used to smite folks left and right so this kind of thing is very much part of His nature and should sound more old fashioned than crazy.

Well okay...but if disasters are not expressions of God's judgement then neither can good fortune be a sign of His favor or blessing. Right? Well not exactly. Insofar as I can tell ALL Christians believe that God blesses us on earth even if He isn't passing out disfavor. In fact I'd go so far as to say that fundamentalist dispensationalists are especially inclined to see God's favor expressed explicitly. This is finally what American Exceptionalism is all about, but it really can't run both ways AND be serious.

But even non dispensationalists, like Catholics, do not see the hand of God at work here even though they tend to be more comfortable with the idea of God's judgement in our time. All of which brings us back to Robertson's bat shit crazy comments.

I find that believers in general struggle mightily with the notion that their active God might behave in a way that offends their sympathy. For instance I think most Christians are somewhat comfortable with the idea that AIDS is God's judgement on gays. Ostracizing gays is part of their socio-political agenda but watching children suffer the consequences of a natural disaster is not and I don't think it is an accident then that almost no Christians see the hand of God in Haitian suffering.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why Don't Conservatives Make Blockbuster Movies?

I think the conservative critics of Avatar are dead on correct. Even Jonah Golderberg, and while I don't anticipate his making another cogent point this decade he is spot on to observe that if the redemptive entity in the movie had been Jesus Christ rather than some pantheistic organic mainframe computer Avatar absolutely would not be raking in The Big Money. It is clearly an "apologia for pantheism" and a disappointingly simple minded one at that, and I say that as someone who generally agrees that corporations tend to fuck over the world and that our values are out of whack with our natural selves. Im just not entertained by watching severely dumbed down versions of ideas I agree with.

So score one for the other side in this culture war dust up.

But it has me thinking. Why aren't there more major blockbuster releases with conservative themes? Part of it is cultural sure, Hollywood is a liberal bastion populated with fewer conservatives, but why should that be so? On some level big business is big business so why wouldn't Big Hollywood attract conservatives in the same way Big Oil does? And why is it then that with all the complaining conservatives do ( often correctly) that our pop culture is deeply skewed with a liberal bias that conservatives are not able to offer popular alternatives that advance their biases? I mean if conservatives believe markets in all things, then its fair to ask why aren't people buying their product in the cultural marketplace.

Im thinking that perhaps it has to do with something intrinsic in the creative impulse.

Liberalism as a world view lends itself to spectacle and fantasy and I think packs a bigger creative punch than conservatism and is just more likely to produce a big fat popcorn movie hit. Furthermore I think almost any sort of creative endeavor that calls people to entertain the possibility of uplifting change on a grand scale is more likely to organize itself along liberal principles as change on a grand scale isn't generally a conservative theme except when associated with religious constrictions.

None of which is to say conservatives can't create very good movies. Say what you will but in my opinion The Passion Of The Christ is a masterpiece but having seen it once I can't imagine feeling the need to see it again. But I think there is something to the suggestion that the range of stories that are both conservative and likely to connect with a wide audience is severely limited.