10 years ago: I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

September 25, 2003, here on slacktivist: I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

Bush declares himself a champion of unquestioned and unquestionable goodness, battling the evildoers. Cash declares himself an evil man, battling to be good. … Suzanne Fields wants us to think that George W. Bush is just like Johnny Cash, but the difference between the two is as great as the difference between pride and humility, between white and black.

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  • Abby Normal

    This is an interesting read for me since this past week I’ve been trying to give a more (conservative? Evangelical? Not even sure what to label stuff anymore) website a chance, and I’ve been trying to pinpoint exactly what was rubbing me the wrong with the stuff I was reading there.

    I don’t want to over-generalize, but it seems like an awful lot of these folks, while paying lip service to their own sins, don’t display much sympathy for other sinners.

    Now, of course there was a lot of talk about how “deeply broken” and in need of grace we all are, there was so much smug superiority mixed in with it.

    You would think that acknowledging their own sin would make a person realize that they are actually NOT spiritually superior to atheists or gays or (gasp!) Democrats, but apparently it doesn’t always.

  • Abby Normal

    And I posted this from my phone, so please forgive me all the errors.

  • Carstonio

    Isn’t there some middle ground? “Evil” implies that the person is a inhuman monster who doesn’t deserve to exist. That’s exactly how self-proclaimed “champions of unquestioned and unquestionable goodness” like Bush perceive their opponents. I picture the middle ground as people acknowledging their individual flaws but still striving to do the right and just thing by others as they understand it. That comes somewhat closer to Fred’s suggestion that Cash “viewed his own heart with a wary suspicion” and saw himself as a sinner crying out for grace. I might describe Cash as seeing himself as an evil man if he felt he were irredeemable and celebrated his sinfulness.

  • Carstonio

    Lip service is exactly right. I doubt that these folks even see themselves as sinners. Very likely they define “sinners” as people not like themselves.

  • The_L1985

    True, but at the same time, you can believe yourself to be evil without actually being or doing evil so much.

    Just ask teenage me. As far as I was concerned, I was hellbound and nobody deserved to have to be around me. But I really wasn’t a bad sort.

  • Carstonio

    While I agree, I don’t remember Cash ever explicitly labeling himself as evil in his lyrics. Fred seems to be suggesting that being a “sinner crying out for grace” is the same as being evil, at least in how individuals perceive themselves.

  • Baby_Raptor

    “We *all* need grace” tends to be a cover statement for a lot of it’s users. It’s like “I have black/gay/other minority” friends” is for racists/bigots.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Would “neutral” not be the middleground?

    Though I don’t know how well “neutral” would apply to people.

  • The_L1985

    Most tabletop RPGs manage to make it work. :P

  • smrnda

    There’s also a tendency to take an explicit focus on certain, specific sins while leaving the type of sins that say, privileged heterosexual white guys might tend to commit vague – it’s how ‘greed’ and ‘materialism’ are sins, but the same word is used for the ‘greed’ of someone wanting a new washing machine and the ‘greed’ of someone wanting a new yacht.

    The other thing is sin is often conceived as an individual impurity to be purged by engaging in some ritual of self-loathing before a god and the congregation. The idea that morality involves power, privilege and such is just thrown out the door, which ends up making sins that can be though of as a violation of the purity code the ones that count at the expense of any concept of justice.

  • Jamoche

    On the subject of Johnny Cash: http://www.johnnycashhasbeeneverywhere.com
    is a pretty cool map “hack” that shows all the places Johnny goes in “I’ve Been Everywhere”