According to Ernest Hemingway, he and fellow writer F. Scott Fitzgerald were jointly responsible for the following quaint quip:
Fitzgerald: "The rich are different than you and me."
Hemingway: "Yes, they have more money."
Truth to tell, it probably never occurred. To give Hemingway his due without having to call him an out-and-out liar, he likely conflated a quote from Fitzgerald's short story The Rich Boy (1926) and then ascribed it to the two of them. (The original quote began: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them . . .") Well, regardless of the accuracy -- or lack thereof -- of Hemingway's recollection, Fitzgerald's quip is even truer today than it was 85 years ago: the very rich are decidedly different from you and me. As much as we may follow -- or know about -- the lifestyles of the rich and famous, how many of us can truly say we "hang" with billionaires? How many of us include in our circle people who own 6, 7 or 8 homes, a fleet of personal jets and have annual incomes reaching nine figures? Not too many, would be my guess. Heck, how many billionaires can we even identify? For every well-known billionaire Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or Donald Trump, there are a hundred Christopher Flowers, Leslie Alexanders, Tamir Sapirs and Stewart Rahrs -- folks who keep their Dassault Falcon 7X (price-tag: $41 million) or Gulfstream G550 ($59.9 million) flying beneath -- or above -- the radar.
Yes indeed, the truly outrageously wealthy are different from you and me.
The same can be said for political Luddites and Dominionists: people like Governors Rick Perry, Rick Scott and Sarah Palin, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and just about every Republican currently running for president . . . they are very different from you and me.
Well, how many of you, my dear readers, include among your friends, families and acquaintances, people who believe that Darwin and Spencer were fabulists at best -- tools of Beelzebub at worst -- and that the universe is no more than 6,000 years old? How many of us know folks who contends that Global Warming, far from being the result of humankind's disastrous carbon footprint, is, in "reality" the "Will of God?" Then too, by a show of hands, how many have shared a meal with someone who ascribes to the theory that the Civil War was a God-ordained conflict between the army of Christ (i.e. the slave-holding South) and the Godless North? Or that that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are resolutely unconstitutional? (It is interesting to note, by the way, that alone among the GOP presidential nominees former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has no problem with science. He recently stated for the record that he has no problem with the theory of Evolution, and agrees with scientific findings that global warming is manmade. He is currently being raked over the coals for his "double heresy.")
The people who hold these positions are the ones being referred to as "Luddites" and "Dominionists" -- people who are as different from you and me as are the mega-rich.
First, let us define terms:
Luddites: The Luddites were an early 19th century British movement that expressed their total disdain for -- and fear of -- all things modern by going about destroying textile machines. They saw these machines as the work of the Devil. After a two-year reign of terror and destruction (1811-1813), the British government held mass trials resulting in numerous death sentences and scores of "transportations" to penal colonies. Every since, the term luddite has been used to describe those opposed to the forces modernity and change. . .
. . . Like Perry, Scott, Bachmann, Palin, et al, who deny and deride the findings of science, preferring instead to take cues from the Bible. (n.b.: Despite being one of the most vehement anti-science Luddites when it comes to Evolution and Global Warming, it is fascinating to note that when Texas Governor Rick Perry underwent back surgery last month -- a spinal fusion and nerve decompression -- his doctors employed an experimental injection of his own stem cells -- a therapy that is not FDA-approved. Seems like shades of "Get the government out of my life . . . but keep your hands off my Social Security!")
We're going to be hearing/reading/seeing a lot of Governor Perry in the days and weeks ahead -- or until his "flavor-of-the-week" status takes a nosedive.
As head-scratching and disconcerting as all this neo-luddism may be, it takes a back seat to the far, far more dangerous political theology known as "Dominionism."
Dominionism: This refers to a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalist theology which holds that certain Christians -- like Perry or Bachmann -- have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions until the Second Coming of Jesus. Transmuted from pulpit to political platform, Dominionism is, in the words of writer Michelle Goldberg, ". . . more of a political phenomenon than a theological one." According to George Grant, an evangelical educator who used to an assistant to the late D. James Kennedy at Ft. Lauderdale's mammoth Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church ("Truth in Action Ministries"),"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil stru ctures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice . . . it is dominion we are after. Not just equal time . . . World Conquest."
Dominionism derives from a small fringe sect called Christian Reconstructionism, founded in the 1960s by a Calvinist theologian named R.J. Rushdoony. Christian Reconstruction, according to journalist Goldberg, ". . . openly advocates replacing American law with the strictures of the Old Testament, replete with the death penalty for homosexuality, abortion, and even apostasy." Dominionism takes its name from the Biblical Book of Genesis (1:26-27) where God tells Adam to assume "dominion" over the animate and inanimate world. (Commenting on the key word v'yirdu -- either "exercise dominion" or "dominate"-- the great medievalist Rashi writes, "[If he is] meritorious, he has dominion over the beasts and cattle. [If he is] not meritorious [then] he becomes subjugated to them and the beast has dominion over him." According to Rushdoony, Francis Schaeffer (one of Rushdoony's chief disciples, and the godfather of the anti-abortion movement) and the Rev. Pat Robertson, "only those who are saved via baptism can claim again the rights given to Adam." And not just any Christian who might be baptized mind you, but only those who are baptized by the right sort of Christians . . . whoever they may be.
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|Kurt Stone is a rabbi, writer, lecturer, political activist, professor, actor, and medical ethicist. A true "Hollywood brat" (born and raised in the film industry), Kurt was educated at the University of California, the Eagleton Institute of (more...)
|The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.|
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