Make America Repentant Again

I would love to see the people of the United States work together to “make America great again.”

But in order to do that, we would need to agree on what constitutes “greatness.” And we would also need to have the humility to recognize that we have fallen short of that standard, through no one’s fault but our own.

For Christians, Jesus’ teaching about greatness is the standard: “whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” The Gospel of Mark emphasizes this saying by including it twice, in Mark 9:35 and 10:43.

That is not the outlook I detect in the new Christian worship song “Make America Great Again,” which I believe had its debut at a rally honoring President Donald Trump.

The song is now available in the CCLI database that is used by Christian churches to license songs for use in services. Here are the lyrics:

Make America Great Again

Chorus

Make America great again
Make America great again
Lift the torch of freedom all across the land
Step into the future joining hand in hand
And make America great again
Yes make America great (again)

Verse 1

Americans from ev’ry corner of this blessed land
Come together with one voice
Help us take a stand
Following the vision to make her proud and grand
And make America great again
Make America great again

Verse 2

Like the mighty eagle that is rising on the wind
Soaring t’ward our destiny
Hearts and voices blend
With a mighty melody oh let the song begin
And make America great again
Make America great again

Ending

Each and every state
Make America great again
Make America great again

You may notice the things that are missing, as well as what is there. Jesus and God are missing. Humility is missing. Repentance is missing. Service is missing. In short, anything and everything that characterizes the teaching of Jesus is absent. And in their place are pride and patriotism, and an otherwise empty slogan.

By way of contrast, Chalice Press shared this prayer by Sandhya Jha for Independence Day:

God of all nations and ours,
As we ask the long-posed question, “does that star spangled banner yet wave/
o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”,  help us make this land free
  • free from hatred of religious minorities
  • free from exploitation of laborers
  • free from damage to the land and water so long cared for by our indigenous brothers and sisters
  • free from contempt for immigrants who invest in this nation’s thriving
  • free from the new slavery of the prison system that tears apart so many Black and Brown families.
And help us be brave
  • brave in the face of religious and racial violence;
  • brave in contrast to the cowardice that would pit us against each other based on race or class;
  • brave in order to care for refugees of all sorts as our scripture calls us to
  • brave in order to do your will even when doing so is unpopular.
After all, our founding fathers were not very popular with the British.
God, even as we celebrate the blessings of this nation, help us be humble enough to know that you really are the God of all nations, and that you do not honor human-made boundaries but honor the divinity and dignity of each person whom you made in your own image. May we remember that as we live as Americans in this complex global landscape.
And in so doing, may we truly do you honor as we seek truly and earnestly to be the land where all are free and the home where your followers are brave in good doing.

Amen.

One can debate whether any sort of patriotism or nationalism is compatible with being a Christian. But if there is such a thing, it is surely closer to the prayer above than to the song.

I’m not inherently opposed to the idea of making America great again, provided that greatness is understood to involve maximizing liberty and justice for all, welcome for all, and (to the extent possible) even prosperity for all (rather than for a privileged few). To achieve that, we need to start with humble recognition of where we’ve fallen short of that greatness, and don’t seek to scapegoat others instead of accepting the blame ourselves.

 

 

 

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    In that poster for the song – is that Donald Trump fighting Alexander the Great?

    • Laurie Ann Giampietro

      I think it’s the four horsemen.

  • John MacDonald

    Verse 2 says: “Soaring t’ward our destiny.”

    I get more than a little nervous when people start talking of the “Destiny” of a nation, as though God has set America aside to be exceptional among the nations of the world, and America’s “way” supposedly being exemplary and worthy of export to other Nations.

    • Gary

      I am not a fan of the song.

      It’s the old “Manifest Destiny” theme, adopted by some Christian Fundamentalists. Although I think you could extend it to other religion’s Fundamentalists. The principle could be applied to Muslim Fundamentalist like ISIS too. Expansion of their “goodness/greatness” to the entire world, because of their inherent “Godliness”. I suppose Palestinians could write a similar song to protest their situation, such as this one countering America’s “Manifest Destiny”. (One of my favorites, which I have noted before on blogs). And their plight is real.

      https://youtu.be/bTqV1pnQoos

      And then Palestinians could write a song about “Making Islam Great Again”. And join the ISIS bandwagon for world domination.

      Extremists on both sides!

      However, that is not a reason for liberals to pretend they can establish a utopian world where there are no borders, no armed security at anyone’s borders, no military, and we follow Jesus by giving ALL our possessions to the poor, and eliminate all weapons. That is a clear recipe for getting yourself killed.

      However, my position is still isolationist. Disengage from all wars. The sooner we get out of the Middle East, the sooner we will see less refugees. And why, exactly, do we still have American troops in just about everyplace we had them in WW2 and Korea? For the last 60 years? Germany, Japan, South Korea, are all big boys. They can defend themselves.

      • John MacDonald

        A few years ago here in Canada there was a movement to change the National Anthem because the presence of the word “God” in the line “God keep our land glorious and free” marginalizes secular people (especially secular children, who have to listen to it in school). Nothing ever came of the movement, but it may be re-visited in the future. There is also the line from the Anthem “True patriot love in all thy sons command,” which omits women.
        ***Just a couple of updates that need to be made for a more enlightened age.

        • Guthrum

          No. I don’t think the mere mention of God one time in a nation’s anthem, pledge, currency, or government building is going to marginalize someone or hurt someone’s feelings. People see and hear the word God in many places and used for different feelings. One mention in a song should not hurt anyone; many probably don’t even notice.
          As far as the term “sons”: there again there should be no offense taken. Perhaps it could be changed to “in all people command” . But I think some misguided organizations and people have gone overboard and out to seed trying these vain, spurious attempts to gender cleanse and neuter the English language in order to avoid offending some one. Next it will be some group trying to end references to make – female on birth certificates and drivers licenses. Some people are trying to end the practice of naming sports teams after animals. Where is all of this going to end ?

          • John MacDonald

            Guthrum said: “No. I don’t think the mere mention of God one time in a nation’s anthem, pledge, currency, or government building is going to marginalize someone or hurt someone’s feelings.”

            – Would you be saying the same bigoted remark if it was a minority other than secular humanists who was being disrespected?

            Guthrum said: “But I think some misguided organizations and people have gone overboard and out to seed trying these vain, spurious attempts to gender cleanse and neuter the English language in order to avoid offending some one.”

            – So in other words, who cares who we offend?

            Guthrum said: “Where is all of this going to end ?”

            -With inclusivism, as it should. Either religious representation will be erased from the political/public sphere, or the secular humanist perspective will be represented along side of it: “God Bless America, although he might not be able to bless America if he doesn’t exist!”

            ******* “The first thing our artist must do,’ I replied, ‘ – and it’s not easy – is to take human society and human habits and wipe them clean out, to give himself a clean canvas. For our philosophic artist differs from all others in being unwilling to start work on an individual or a city, or draw out laws, until he is given, or has made himself, a clean canvas.’ (Plato).”

          • jekylldoc

            Would you feel marginalized if the song said “Krishna keep our land glorious and free”?

          • John MacDonald

            Utilizing “Krishna” doesn’t convey the sense of a majority marginalizing a minority in the same way “God” in general conveys the idea that “theists” are the norm and “secular people” don’t have a voice.

          • jekylldoc

            If I lived in India it would be a clear case of majority marginalizing a minority. I am essentially agreeing with your point – and making an effort (maybe a clumsy one) to help Guthrum hear the way it sounds to those who see the universe differently.

            Personally I think “God bless America” is essentially the same as “Yahweh bless America” but I am not especially interested in dicing that onion.

          • John MacDonald

            I think if there was a vote, Jesus would vote to remove “IN GOD WE TRUST” from American currency because it marginalizes secular people. After all, Jesus said “The King will answer, ‘Truly I say to you, as you have done it for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you have done it for Me.’ (Matthew 25:40).”

          • John MacDonald

            And using the form of your attempted counter-analogy (invoking a particular religious entity like Krishna), imagine the kind of resistance you would get from other religious minorities like Hindu-Americans if you wanted to replace “God Bless America” with “Yahweh Bless America.” This is also how secular people are marginalized by the word “God” in “God Bless America.”

      • jh

        We don’t do it because we want world peace or being any form of humanitarian. It is to advance our business interests and our political agenda. That’s it.

        however, I’m not a fan of total disengagement. We have made a mess of many nations around he world. Until we start fixing and cleaning up, we need to stay engaged. Otherwise, it’s just spoiled brat behavior. Not only that – we are a part of this world. Our lack of intervention is as much an action as our intervention. To put it into historical terms – We enjoyed our lack of intervention during WWII until Pearl Harbor while we sold weapons and profited off the chaos. And now, we have WWII movies about how brave American soldiers fought for freedom and justice and saving the Jewish people. We never mention that it was our isolationism that aided in the genocide of the Jewish people.

        I would like to lower the proportion of government spending on the military and re-allocate it to science, tech, and in-country issues. But I’m not an advocate of such a drastic position as the isolationist position.

        • Gary

          “we need to stay engaged…”
          “To put it into historical terms…”

          You do know how long we have been in Afghanistan, I assume?
          Being there a looong time, doesn’t seem to solve the problem.
          How long does it take?
          In historical terms, Vietnam seemed to do OK by us realizing it was time to get out. Now they are our good trade buddies. And we still have our Navy ships sailing by contested Islands in the Sea of Japan, trying to protect Japan and Vietnam interests, against China. At some point, time to butt-out.

          I agree with the economic interests. The only reason why we’re in Germany is because they want U.S.service personnel buying sausage and beer in Heidelberg. Not because the Russians are planning an attack on Bavaria. The Warsaw Pact is dead.

          “I would like to lower the proportion of government spending on the military…”

          Best way, pull troops back to the U.S.. We still need defense spending on weapons and personnel, but a large part of that is to defend everyone else in the world. Selling other nations weapons to defend themselves is better than our troops living in foreign nations to defend them.

          Btw, I think the rationale of still being in Afghanistan is to train their troops. We’ve been doing that for 20 years. They are either untrainable (green on blue killings), or are just stockpiling U.S. Money into Switzerland for when the Afghan politicians decide to live the good life in Bern.

          • Guthrum

            I think most people have forgotten why we are even in Afghanistan.
            “Win it, and get out”

          • Nick G

            The only reason why we’re in Germany is because they want U.S.service personnel buying sausage and beer in Heidelberg.

            Srsly? Germany pays over $900 million a year to offset some of the costs of keeping American troops in Germany. I doubt whether the troops are spending that amount on beer and sausages.

            I completely agree, BTW, that American troops and bases should be withdrawn from Europe, including the UK, where I live. But they are not there because it’s financially advantageous to the host countries.

          • Gary

            You really believe Germany is “paying” $900M to the U.S. for “protection” from the Non-existing Warsaw Pact, or Russia? Good joke. Your reference says:
            “The American Action Forum, a Washington think tank, said in a November report that Germany’s payments to U.S. military facilities are almost entirely in kind — the provision of services or facilities.”

            Services and facilities, “in kind”. This is an accounting slight-of-hand, to indicate no money exchanged hands. Like “free rent”, for the land Germany provides the U.S. for the bases. Services, like trash collection from the bases. The accountants assign huge numbers for these services that Germany provides to service the bases, and counts that as “paying” for the bases. Meanwhile, in addition to the sausages, military families (most) live off base, contributing to the economy in Germn towns through rent, food, etc.. I’m sure water, gas, electricity, native Germans working on the bases as janitors, cooks, etc, contribute so much cash to the German economy, that far outweighs the phantom money Germany provides to the U.S., “in kind”. You need to research the term “in kind”.

          • Nick G

            You really believe Germany is “paying” $900M to the U.S. for “protection” from the Non-existing Warsaw Pact, or Russia?

            No, nor did I say so. From both sides, the reasons for American troops remaining in Germany are political: they epitomise and reinforce the ties between the elites in the two countries. Not military. Not financial. And as I have already made clear, I agree with you that those troops should be withdrawn.

            Like “free rent”, for the land Germany provides the U.S. for the bases.

            That land could be used for something productive if it wasn’t an American military base. Are you familiar with the term “opportunity cost”?

            I’m sure water, gas, electricity, native Germans working on the bases as janitors, cooks, etc, contribute so much cash to the German economy, that far outweighs the phantom money Germany provides to the U.S., “in kind”.

            Oh, I see, you’re “sure”. Well that settles it, then, no need for any actual calculation of figures!

          • Gary

            In kind payments are ripe for abuse. Germany, Japan, and South Korea know how to play the game, to maximize their benefits, while supposedly paying to the U.S. “in kind”, which amounts to absolutely nothing. More examples of the U.S negotiating deals that screw us, and ending up the U.S. paying for it. Time to let these countries take care of themselves.

            https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/REPORT-FOR-POSTING-4-16-2013-WITH-5-14-2013-CORRECTION.pdf

            In Germany, force reductions will result in the return of a large number of U.S. facilities to the German government. These returns will likely generate significant payments from Germany for the “residual value” of U.S. investments in those facilities. The Committee’s review of how the Department of Defense (DOD) has spent residual value payments from previous facility returns raises concerns about the use and oversight of such payments going forward. Those concerns are particularly strong with respect to in-kind payments. In-kind refers
            to non-cash payments, such as the provision of services or facilities that have cash value.

          • Gary

            Who negotiated these deals?

            Starting on page 3, the deal is, the U.S. closes and returns facilities to Germany. The facilities are “bought” by the Germans for 10% of their true value. Remember that the original facilities were mostly built by German contractors, who the U.S. paid hard U.S. Currency. The 10% paid by the Germans, who get the closed facilities, can only be used for local in-country construction of new facilities, which is really re-paid to German contractors again. So, the money that Germany “pays” in-kind for U.S. military facilities, amounts to only 10% of what we paid for the old facility, and then goes directly to German contractors to build new facilities. No actual money comes to the U.S.. What a fantastic deal.

            “Those force reductions will result in a significant number of excess military facilities which will be returned to the German government. The United States does not own the land on which those facilities are located and cannot seek compensation for returning that land. Congress has said, however, that when facilities are returned to a host country, the Secretary of Defense “should take steps to ensure that the United States receives, through direct payment or otherwise, consideration equal to the fair market value of the improvements made by the United States” to those facilities. Existing law authorizes negotiations with host countries to determine the value of returned facilities. The compensation that DOD receives from host nations as a result of those negotiations is called “residual value.”

            The historical average residual value return on U.S. investments is approximately 10 percent, though the Army’s Installation Management Command – Europe (IMCOM-E) has said that the amount that the U.S. will receive in exchange for future returns is hard to predict and may be lower.”

          • Nick G

            You haven’t shown (and nor does the report you link to claim) that there are actual economic benefits to any of the three countries in having American troops and bases there.

          • Gary

            You apparently don’t read very carefully. Many examples. I’ll give just one. But put it in perspective – we are suppose to be providing protection to the host country. The host countries have been screwing us every chance they get.

            I find this example funny. Page 47.

            “In 2006, GOJ initiated a Seaweed Bed and Tidal Flat restoration project which is estimated to cost $57.7 million. The project is a result of a previously funded GOJ-initiated FIP project, the Iwakuni Runway Relocation Project (IRRP). The latter project, which began in 1997 and cost $2.4 billion, was requested by the City of Iwakuni to relocate a runway that was causing noise and safety concerns for the local Japanese community. The local governor approved the landfill permit for the runway project “with the condition that ‘GOJ makes every effort to develop new seaweed beds and tidal flats at the sea area around this reclamation area by getting instruction and advice from specialists.’” The runway was completed in 2010. Now FIP funds are being used for the seaweed project which will not be completed until 2024.”

            “In addition to lacking control over how FIP funds are spent, the U.S. also suffers from FIP’s lack of transparency. For example, USFJ is not able to review construction contracts between GOJ and the contractors that perform the work on U.S. installations. According to USFJ, GOJ has consistently refused to provide copies of the bid documents or construction contracts that reflect the cost of the projects, as a result, the U.S. is unable to verify amounts actually spent on FIP projects.”

            Let me repeat – the contractors are Japanese companies, hired by the Japanese government, who have vast amounts of work and $ coming to them, that they would not otherwise receive, if our troops weren’t there. Including their seaweed bed.

            At least I have respect for the French. They kicked us out of their country a long time ago. And we are not paying them money for troop assignments, building leases, etc, there. Thank goodness.

            And might I add – we ought to pull out of England too. Nothing would make me happier. If you want defense of your British shores, provide it yourself.

          • Gary

            Since we BOTH want U.S. Troops and bases out of countries in NATO, Japan, and S. Korea, (last time I checked, no German or British bases in the U.S.), we are arguing past ourselves. You think no host country benefits. I think many host country economic benefits – really, why else would host countries want the U.S. in their countries? Because they like us so much? Because U.S. presence deters invasion? About the only country that really has a true threat is S. Korea. And our troops are there only to be a sacrificial goat, to be killed in an invasion. Which in turn guarantees ultimate nuclear response. So 20k American lives are the dead pawn in a sacrifice to protect S. Korea electronics, TV, and car protection. Totally stupid. The domino theory went out after Vietnam back in the 70’s. Time to use some brain power to trash old theories of world domination.

    • jh

      I’m betting a bunch of Native Americans were thinking “Been there done that and don’t want that happening again”. Meanwhile, the white audience that is targeted by this christofacism lack the capability to recognize how harmful their toxic ideas of manifest destiny are. All they see are too many uppity blacks and others.

  • Carol Grady

    “I’m not inherently opposed to the idea of making America great again, provided that greatness is understood to involve maximizing liberty and justice for all, welcome for all, and (to the extent possible) even prosperity for all (rather than for a privileged few).” So when was this period of greatness to which America is to return? At what point has America ever truly been the land of the free unless one was a white male, preferably middle to upper class? As a woman of color, I find the whole notion of “again” problematic. In the words of the spiritual, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.”

    • jh

      You weren’t the intended target of that ad. This “Make America Great Again” was targeted to white men. To a lesser extent it was targeted to white women who enjoy white privilege but don’t seem to recognize that they are not men.

      They aren’t interested in your voice, your thoughts, your opinions. Unless you play the loyal servant and cater to their whiny privilege, you are nothing but a troublemaker to them.

      • Carol Grady

        I wasn’t responding to the ad, but to James McGrath’s words at the beginning of the final paragraph. McGrath’s criteria for making America great “again” misses my point that the “greatness” never included all of us.

        • jh

          I stand corrected. Yep – I agree. We’re still a long ways off from even a “C” grade in the US when it comes to how we treat non-white males of a certain wealth and background and gender/sexual orientation.

        • John MacDonald

          I wonder if Trump’s “Make America Great Again” resembles the religious notion of “Revival,” which some religious people romanticize?

          • Guthrum

            Romanticize: many a time there have been religious revivals in this country; and will again. Nothing wrong with that. There have also been patriotic revivals where this country unites in a common purpose for the betterment and security of the US: “God Bless the USA”

          • John MacDonald

            So you’re agreeing with my analogy between “Make America Great Again” and religious “Revival?” It would certainly explain why Trump’s slogan was so successful.

          • Guthrum

            There is some overlap in that now, but years ago not so.

      • Guthrum

        “targeted to white men”: no. That is going off the deep end. People of all color and backgrounds have made this country great and will continue to work together to keep it great. So let’s not pull a race thing on us here

        • John MacDonald

          You seem to have very little sympathy for the feelings and sufferings of marginalized minorities.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      You are absolutely right – the ‘again’ is problematic no matter what.

      • summers-lad

        Maybe before the Europeans arrived? (Although there wasn’t an entity called “America” then.)

    • Guthrum

      Again, this whole thing always ends up in some sort of dialogue about racism and calling the white men as bad.
      I am a white man. I am not a racist and have never participated in racist activities or jokes. I have supported integration.
      In the days of the early 1800’s this country was still very vulnerable. England had invaded and almost won. France, Spain, and Mexico were also threats.The country’s leaders felt that there was no choice but westward expansion. Certainly this could have been handled better concerning the native Americans and that was a terrible thing. Without the westward movement the “US” may have wound up as just a few Atlantic seaboard states. And how many people here now could honestly say that they would have opposed the westward expansion ?
      “Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny”

      • John MacDonald

        If we want to be morally consistent, we should all lobby to return all the stolen land to the natives.

        • Guthrum

          I have believed for some time that a sort of province should have been created a while back. It would be under the US government but have more self government than a state.

      • Nick G

        I am not a racist

        Actually, you don’t get to determine that.

        • Nixon is Lord

          And you do?
          So you want a sort of “Progressive” priesthood?

      • Carol Grady

        “Again, this whole thing always ends up in some sort of dialogue about racism and calling the white men as bad.” How can racism not be included in the discussion any time you want to talk about turning back the clock? And did I call white men bad? You are extrapolating from my comments. Until we correct “this whole thing” and as a society stop treating people of color as pariahs, then yeah, racism will always crop up in the discourse. We’ve tried ignoring it and that hasn’t helped. Trust me, you’re not nearly as tired of talking about race as black people are, since you’re free to ignore the lack of progress once the talk is finished, and we’re not. You might want to take a look at this: https://www.thsppl.com/thsppl-articles/2017/4/20/its-not-about-race-1#.WWjKU1FF4WY.facebook=

  • Juan Lopez

    Well hey, you know…if Jesus is gonna be missing from the walk, he might as well be missing from the talk as well.

  • Guthrum

    God has indeed blessed this nation in so many ways. I wonder how many people pause to think and give thanks. And it is fine if some are not religious; they can still be thankful to the police, military people, teachers, doctors, and others who help this country.
    Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 – a call for national repentance.

    • John MacDonald

      Why not reverse it and replace “God Bless America” with “Thanks to those who help this country,” and religious people can thank God on their own time?

  • jekylldoc

    I consider myself a progressive, and I prefer the second song to the first. But before anyone gets too sanctimonious about red state outlook and values, it would be good to read David Brooks’ column in the New York Times for the Fourth.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/04/opinion/republicans-government-programs.html
    You probably disagree with them, but it is worth recognizing the integrity of a viewpoint that rejects government money out of principle.
    On the left we tend to take the cynical view that Republicanism is all about marginalizing someone and scapegoating someone and constricting someone’s lifestyle. And God knows there is quite a bit of that in the conservative outlook. But that isn’t what it is all about, and if we have integrity we will engage with the actual values, not the extreme and desperate cases.

    • Nick G

      The actual values were shown in the party’s support for Trump: bigotry, greed and lies.

      • jekylldoc

        Well, as far as the party “leadership” I would agree with you. As far as the rank and file Republicans, I think that is a very loose characterization at best.

        Bigotry? In the sense that they think their schools are better and their housing has better value if people of color are kept out. But as New York City has learned recently, Democrats tend to think the same – even Democrats of color. There is also the Islamophobia, but I would argue that is not so different from my Putinophobia – wanting to keep distance between pathological people and themselves.

        Greed? No, not really, although wanting to keep out immigrants and imports can be characterized that way, those are essentially motivated by the same desire for a better lifestyle which motivates many urban Democrats to support free trade, and many white Democrats to support immigration. Remember the original observation was that they (oddly) believe in rejecting money out of principle. I know bunches of them, and it is true.

        Lies? Well, we are all in favor of the truth, and all in favor of beliefs that are convenient even if they are not true. I don’t think that one is a very good discriminator between Republican voters and Democratic voters either.

        • Nick G

          As far as the rank and file Republicans, I think that is a very loose characterization at best.

          They voted for Trump. And what relevance do the views of Democrats have? Your claim was about Republicans, and that was the claim I answered. However, if you insist on a comparison, racial resentment was the most important factor in predicting whether someone would vote for Trump.

          Well, we are all in favor of the truth

          Rubbish. There has been and is a deliberate, conscious and sustained effort to convince the American people of various lies (trickle-down economics, climate change denialism, the association of crime with immigration, the motivation and justification for the invasion of Iraq…) over the past few decades (see for example Fox News), in the interests of a very rich and supremely selfish minority. More recently, that has extended to an assault on the very idea that there is a difference between truth and falsehood. Trump lied during the campaign so consistently and so obviously (and continues to do so) that unless his supporters are actually decorticate, it’s impossible to believe they do not know it.

          • jekylldoc

            My contention is that Republican values, for most of their rank and file, are not about bigotry, greed or lies. It’s certainly true that many white Americans, prominently including a lot of Tea Party Republicans, interpret racial matters in a conveniently self-serving way, as the poll showed in the link you provided. In some cases that is **because** they are bigoted and wish to keep minorities from success and power. So, for example, a fair amount of the opposition to Obamacare (and the refusal to accept Medicaid money to help people get insurance) has been about wanting to keep white people’s tax money from subsidizing the medical care of people of color. Interpreting unemployment as “laziness” fits into this ideology and feeds it.

            But even among the Tea Party types, I maintain that an individualistic ethic plays a much larger role. With all due respect to the Nation, the analysis they presented did not even try to assess that, or to compare its “importance” (never defined, as between, say, explanatory power and discriminatory power) to bigotry. Many people whose world is limited to their immediate area tend to assume that people who have trouble holding jobs, have kids supported by the state rather than by marriage, or fall into drug dependency are just weak of character. Sure, they could go to the trouble to compare that to academic research, but they know their lives and it is reasonable to them that academic claims to the contrary are just spin. In fact, if I was not trained in assessing situations with multiple sources of causation, I would find it rather reasonable as well. I know a number of white people who live lives of dependency, and it is clear that weakness of character plays a major role.

            As for greed, I hope it’s obvious that we are now talking about rank and file Republicans from the corporate classes in the suburbs. I know some of them, too, and it’s certainly true that they are more interested in hanging on to their money than most of my Democrat friends. But that is not the same as saying they are motivated by greed. To say that someone is not really interested in paying for the health care of many other people is not the same as to say they are greedy. In fact, I doubt if you could find 5 percent of Americans who believe that we ought to be providing a First World standard of health care to everyone in the Third World. Is that a sign of greed, or of a certain interpretation of what amounts to our proper responsibility?

            As for lies, it does give me pause to think how many Americans are willing to deny that humanity is wrecking the climate. But it seems obvious to me that this denialism is part of a broad pattern of seeing efforts to get government to act for the environment (or much of anything else) as a kind of selective overreaction out of ideological self-interest. That the Koch Brothers are pursuing the institutionalization of untruth is obvious. But the average rank-and-file Republican is not mainly about knowingly denying truth out of self-interest so much as knowingly buying into ideological narratives to “prove” to themselves that Chicken Little scare-mongering is the heart of the scientific purpose in the matter.

            It’s a subtle difference, and maybe not one worth making, except that all the demonization by sources like The Nation leads mainly to more of the same, rather than to more honest evaluation of the evidence. So yeah, I am for giving the “average voter” on the Right the benefit of the doubt, even though there is no doubt in my mind to give benefit of about their leadership.

            As for the pathological lying of Donald Trump, I am often in the position of chuckling softly to myself at the efforts on the right to deny that he is “really” lying. Some of those suburban types I was talking about have tied themselves into complete knots in the effort. But I think their mindset is not so much one of denying reality as of cynicism, much like Larry King asking over and over, about Bill Clinton when he was under impeachment for lying about Lewinsky, “he was lying about sex, right?”

            So it’s like truthfulness is not something we should hold leaders accountable for, we should just (in King’s case) assess whether their lies are about private matters or about matters of serious policy. Obviously there is some sense to that, but cynical tolerance of lies in not the same as being motivated by them.

          • Ben Murray

            Arlie Hochshild’s book, Strangers in their Own Land, supports this view of Tea Party folks, I think.

            https://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Their-Own-Land-Mourning/dp/1620972255/

          • jekylldoc

            I could only dream of being as well-informed and insightful as Arlie Hochschild, but her views have informed mine as much as my own experience has. She gets cited often by luminaries trying to understand, especially since the election.

  • Andy Doerksen

    Agree with the overarching theme (repentance), but Sandhya Jha’s prayer is just as erroneous on the other side of the ideology aisle.

  • Timothy Weston

    I know I am a bit late to the party, yet I wonder why any Christian organization want to sing “Make America Great Again” especially that it is about worship of the nation. The main thing I notice about the prayer from Chalice Press is that it puts responsibility on the supplicants to be the answer.

    • Nixon is Lord

      Religion is boring.

  • Nixon is Lord

    There is no god.