None of the Founding Fathers were actually Christians in the tradition of the American Great Awakening with its roots in Calvin, Edwards, and Wesley. They were instead rooted in the so-called Enlightenment, the Christian version of which is rooted in Locke. Jefferson's 'Christianity' had no real connection with the ancient pre-Protestant Christianity or with the early Protestant revolution. Jefferson's religion was born from the influence of Locke, Paine, Priestly, and Bolingbroke, all rationalist 'naturalistic' theologians. They were Deists who made use of Christian trappings. But there was a strain of American White Protestant Christianity that never left the original Great Awakening spirit and it became more and more narrowly conservative in its politics and persisted prodigiously right up into my own lifetime. It is a very patriotic and America Above All religion, but it doesn't support Trump. It supports Ted Cruz who has eyes like a shark. I have known those eyes since I was a dreaming boy threatened with the pathological wrath of the American God (who wore a flat-top haircut). Those eyes are the consequence of countless choices made in the history of our nation. Those eyes of Cruz are a long time coming. They are America Now.
I like Bernie Sanders. Or rather I like part of him. The other part of him (foreign policy) makes me really nervous. I remember the first time, as a boy, I saw The Wolf Man (1941). The seemingly unjust fate of poor Talbot really disturbed my little mind and heart. All the villagers in the movie know this couplet:
Even a man who is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night;
May become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.
And the gypsy woman (Ouspenskaya) explains to Talbot (Chaney Jr.) that he, an 'innocent' man, will become a werewolf because he has been bit by a werewolf and didn't die. The movie stayed with me for years and when I was older I saw that to be bit by the werewolf means that one's consciousness has been confused, infected and poisoned by the primal animal fears and violence that lie at the base of a human being. The animal doesn't discriminate or reflect or sympathize, it strikes at anything that might be a threat or a source of food.
Why does Sanders feel such sympathy with abused American citizens, but not with such citizens of other nations? Why does he divide the human family into the sympathetic and the alien? There doesn't seem to be a rational explanation outside of the momentum of the more and more polluted river of American history. It is something that reaches down into primal unconscious human reality. But part of taking responsibility for your choices is having the courage to look into your own darkness. I see Bernie's light, but that light strikes him and casts a very dark shadow as well.
Many people don't realize that Robert Kennedy was originally a fierce foreign policy hawk, even more so than his brother, John. They both apparently began to change. John decided that the war in Viet Nam was wrong and he decided to end American involvement and take a more open-ended attitude toward the Communists after some private correspondence with Khrushchev and he paid for this decision with his life (thanks to the CIA). In his later life, Robert Kennedy was asked by a journalist why he who had once been such a hawk and so socially conservative was changing his views on foreign policy and so openly reaching out to African Americans and other minorities and he said something about his murdered brother and then he said that when he was younger he was ignorant and had not yet read Albert Camus! (an Anarchist). Something happened on a deep level. He opened himself to it and it cost him his life. What would it take to change Sanders' view of 'foreign' humanity? And what would it cost him? What price is he willing to pay? What price are we willing to pay to break free from our darkness and take responsibility for our choices?
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