Wondering about Ameridolotry, Krugman, Absorption…

My plan to work, work, work, today is being interrupted by a family situation that needs attending-to (nothing awful, but important, nonetheless) so here’s some interesting stuff I meant to respond to or comment on. Now, you’ll have to do it! :-)

I’ve wondered several times over the past five years whether some Americans are allowing their ideologies to become their idols. I’ve never quite had the answer, but thought it was an important question, nonetheless. Today Mr. Dalrymple asks the question, too, but perhaps more skeptically than I have, and looking for evidence of same. He uses “Americolatry;” I like Ameridolatry a little better:

1. When does patriotism pass over into idolatry? How are you defining these terms: Americolatry, Christianism, civil religion or America-worship? What is the difference between loving, honoring, venerating, and worshiping America? We need more finely drawn categories before we can measure whether these claims are true.
2. What are the healthy (if there are any) and unhealthy ways of mixing politics and religion?
3. Finally, what is your evidence that conservative evangelicals have fallen into any of these things? Sessions, for one, accuses Beck of dealing in hysteria, caricature and shadowy innuendo. Perhaps he is right about Beck; I have not watched him enough to know. Lest these writers engage in the same thing, however, they need to be very clear about their accusations and they need to produce the evidence. They owe it to the accused, and they owe it to their readers.

Joe Carter, writing at First Things, looks at the beliefs of the founders:

The leaders during the revolutionary era may have subscribed to a Judeo-Christian view of morality, but few of them were orthodox believers. The majority subscribed to a religious view that we would nowadays classify as Unitarianism. A rejection of Trinitarianism clearly puts one outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity. We should not claim that a historical figure is a Christian when he held heretical views of the central Christian dogma .

However, while we Christians can claim few founding fathers as fellow believers, the atheists and secularists can claim none. Not one of the significant leaders was an atheist, much less subscribed to the modern idea of secularism.

Glad to see others realizing that Environmentalism has become a religion, and we’re being over-proselytized. And as we all know, that’s bad.

Is the American Dream Dead?: Not dead, sirrah, but wounded, and clearly in need of redefining. Our fixation on the material may be better off for the current shaking-up we’re experiencing, but liberty is not a material item, and Paul Krugman’s idiotic assertions don’t seem to take that into account. I wonder how he’d feel if his enjoyment of (and claims upon) his cozy Caribbean beach getaway were considered as engendering within him “a belligerent sense of entitlement.”

The Rich who want to rule our lives. Yes, they seemed to have lost the distinction between leading and ruling.

“We Can Absorb Another Terror Attack”. It will be spun and spun, but I largely agree with Ace that this is just a rehash of John Kerry’s 2004 campaign notion that terror attacks should be something we look at as “nuisances” rather than acts of war, or something. Me, I’ll never forget watching the loop of the planes hitting the WTC and Tom Brokaw’s voice solemnly declaring “This. Is. War.” I wonder if he got called on the carpet for that. And I wonder how long it will be before Al Quada tries to test our absorption rate.

I find it refreshing, actually, that the hate is not in hiding. When it is able to hide, it has the upper hand. But in the meantime, they do give a measure of succor and protection to the president. Funny, that. When the president had an R after his name, they were all about “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted”.

Andrew Cuomo: same as he ever was, a guy I can never vote for.

Did Katie Couric and the rest feel a little stupid when Castro was more objective about Cuba’s failings than they were?. We’ll never know.

Jimmy Carter: This is what happens to your brain when you believe the hype during your tenure as a politically expedient media darling, and then the cameras go away.

Ruminating on what will be this year’s October Surprise.

Will voters not rid us of this vapid senator and her sisters Dianne and Patty?

Probing Christine O’ Donnell’s spending. Appropriate questions should be answered, as per vapid senator, above. We do not need more mediocrity or questionable expenditures, that’s for sure.

What Do You Really Believe? Patheos wants to know what you really believe happens when we die. This is the opening question of a continuing series asking ordinary people from all faiths what they “really” believe. The Catholic side is a little slow to respond, as I am still a little backlogged, but this introductory question is for the first two weeks, so hopefully I’ll have something up soon!

Also, check out the new Bookclub Section. I am very interested in this book on Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas.

Metaxas, btw, is one of the contributors to Disorientations; How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind; his essay is on Relativism. You can read one of the essays-in-ful, Peter Kreeft’s thoughts on Progressivism, here.

I just got my Amazon copy of Disorientation in the mail, btw, so those of you who ordered it, it should be hitting your mailboxes, soon!

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Don’t Care…but What is Bill Clinton running for? He is everywhere. Perhaps the question is, what is he preparing to help Hillary run for?

Guilting people into Accepting Obamacare?

I never did understand this constituency

Richard John Neuhaus’s remarks on the 20th anniversary of his reception into the church. This is a must-read.

Lorie Byrd: On why conservative women might save the country.

The Biblical Theology of Benedict XVI
in ten easy steps

Sigh: I do sometimes think that Benedict XVI is the unluckiest pope, ever

Speaking of the Bible: Jimmie Bise wishes the NY Times wouldn’t, without reading it, first.

Is the New American Bible problematic for Purgatory?

NunNews: Our Passionist friends latest newsletter is really excellent, and so is the one just released by our Summit Dominicans (who just elected a new prioress) and I really, really like this blog post, by a Carmelite Sister from Los Angeles, about a recent communion breakfast her community sang for:

8:30 a.m. Cardinal Mahoney stands to introduce the guest speaker, Archbishop Timothy Dolan. I have heard many beautiful things about him, and I was expecting a powerful presentation, but I was not prepared for what I am now hearing. Strong, humorous, logical, authoritative, humble, in short, truly virtuous. What are his three points? First, we should view the Church as our supernatural family. Catholicism is in our very DNA. Second, there is a need to revive authentic apologetics. This does not mean brutal argumentation, but rather the art of defending the faith with steady, humble, cheerful confidence. And lastly, there is the essential need to admit the sinful side of the Church. There is a definite connection between the wounded side of Christ and the Church which was drawn there from. It is not by accident that the first thing Christ did after His resurrection was show His wounds to His followers. The Body of Christ will always have wounds. As Archbishop Dolan speaks I am captured by the truth of his words and deeply moved, strengthened in my love for the Church which is weak and broken like me, but outside of which I would be completely lost.

Great stuff, all around!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • F

    I like Ameridolatry better. His title sounds like something you get when you don’t eat enough fiber.

    The greenies are religionists. A friend working in new fuels said he had better luck with the Feds than working with any greenie-acs. He, a secularist, said they were way too religious and he could not even reason with them. Wow. I didn’t have to say anything. Folks will find out the hard way about the greenies. My dad warned us about them in the 80s; said they were socialists and it was spreading to the USA from Europe. Guess dad was right, rest his soul.

    Hope your family thing works out alright, Anchoress.

  • Mutnodjmet

    I know you often like to look at things using a historical approach. Here is a piece, the core of which was written by a well-respected financial adviser, on the current conditions as compared to the PANIC OF 1873.

    Is it a RECESSION End? Or, a DEPRESSION following PANIC?

    Prayers to you, for success in dealing with the matter distracting you from full opinion mode. :)

  • Bill

    “Environmentalism has become a religion”

    I am sticking with the Pope. He is not carried away with the environment but has expressed many environmental concerns.

  • dry valleys

    There’s actually a fully-fledged heresy called Americanism, which strikes me as quite an appropriate way of putting things. I have often wondered, also, about how social conservatism is meant to fit with neoliberalism… although admittedly this is not the time as I am a bit tired etc. In the end it is something for people to ask themselves.

    As for environmentalism it depends what you mean by environmentalim. One of my favourite authors is someone called Graham Harvey, & a main theme of his is his opposition to farm subsidies.

    He condemns industrial “farming ” & lays bare the fact that it is utterly sustained by taxpayers’ money & we are funding the fertiliser industry (not generally viewed as a worthy cause for public support!), the causes of our own ill health, pollution, etc. My favourite of his works is “The Carbon Fields”, for some reason I can’t find any comprehensive reviews online that boil down what he thinks (perhaps because he isn’t well-known) or else I would post them.

    I was intrigued by this about Monbiot changing his mind about veganism.

    I’m not familiar with this Simon Fairlie but by the sounds of him he covers similar ground to Harvey, under whose influence I stopped being a vegetarian having been one for 2 years (I still eat mainly vegetarian meals though, after a bit you stop wanting to eat lumps of meat every day). I remember an angry retort from an animal rights vegetarian but there are relatively few of those. I appreciate what they are trying to say, but when they move beyond rightly condemning industrial “farming” to blanket opposition to all use of animals for food then I part company from them.

    It depends on how the meat is produced & whether you really think it’s clever to feed cows, for example, on grain & soya which has been farmed at public expense in environmentally dodgy ways, when by nature they are eaters of grass, which also makes them taste much better. If you think it’s more expensive, what about the subsidies & the costs of pollution (nitrate runoff etc too)?

    There are all sorts of people calling themselves green. I’ve never been tempted to vote for the Green Party as I don’t think a great deal of their policies. But if you say “environmentalist” then really you may or may not be talking about me. We have a lot of these discussions & disagreements of views amongst vaguely concerned circles.

  • dry valleys

    Ended up being massively long. But it is a subject that is so complex & so easy to get totally wrong, which if you ask me some greens do, focusing obsessively on things that don’t end up benefiting the planet. That’s why I think it is important to get hardcore informed on the subject.

  • dry valleys

    In New Zealand they simply decided farm subsidies weren’t helping so they stopped having them. It must have been a really brave decision at the time but it has been justified.

    The only concern I would have about such a thing is that it is a kind of unilateral disarmament if they are going to carry on subsidising agriculture in other countries.

  • http://www.goldfishandclowns.com/ Jerry Wilson of Goldfish and Clowns

    I so wish I would have come up with that Lucy van Pelt graphic first. Ah well.

  • Mark Rondeau

    One of the greatest idolatries today is what I call “Republo-Catholicism.” Ie. Catholics who put Republican ideology on par or above Church doctrine. Like Neuhaus pimping the phrase “culture of life” to George W. Bush to be used as a campaign prop. Or Weigel dismissing parts of Benedict’s social encyclical that didn’t agree with Republican ideology.

  • Dad of Six

    Some people are more firmly wedded to their ideas than they are to their spouses.

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  • Jeffrey Quick

    Ameridolatry is when they sing “America the Beautiful ” (No, not “Oh mother, dear Jerusalem”) as part of the Four-hymn Sammich at Mass on Labor Day (which, last I looked, isn’t even a patriotic holiday…nor is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time).

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    “Republicans” do not have a monopoly on political Catholicism (and Fr. Neuhaus and George Weigel are hardly examples of it). There are more than a few political Catholics on the left, and those who would point the finger in only one direction might have a touch of that themselves.

  • expat

    Please, Anchoress, there is nothing remotely “unlucky” about the Pope and the Vatican Bank scandal.

    This has been around for a very long time (since the 1970′s).

    The names Roberto Calvi and Cardinal Marcinkus ring a bell?

    It’s a scandal that it has not be dealt with long before this.

  • http://post-crash.com Shalom Patrick Hamou


    Our economy is slowly dying, it is kept alive artificially. No one is proposing a solution because no one has the slightest idea of why it is happening and many have vested interest in the present system. However an objective observation of the phenomenon can help us understand it and provide us with an innovative solution. Of course we can’t solve the problem with the tools that brought us there in the first place and we need a new ideology.


    - Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?

    - Well, remember that what an ideology is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to — to exist, you need an ideology. The question is whether it is accurate or not. And what I’m saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is, but I’ve been very distressed by that fact.

    - You found a flaw in the reality…(!!!???)

    - Flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

    - In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working?

    - That is — precisely. No, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.


    In order to alleviate those economic woes wee need to create, as fast as possible, a new credit free currency that will solve the credit crunch and bring incremental jobs, consumption and investments to the present system.

    An Innovative Credit Free, Free Market, Post Crash Economy

    A Tract on Monetary Reform

    It is urgent if we want to limit social, political and military chaos.


    Is the fulfilment of these ideas a visionary hope? Have they insufficient roots in the motives which govern the evolution of political society? Are the interests which they will thwart stronger and more obvious than those which they will serve?

    I do not attempt an answer in this place. It would need a volume of a different character from this one to indicate even in outline the practical measures in which they might be gradually clothed. But if the ideas are correct — an hypothesis on which the author himself must necessarily base what he writes — it would be a mistake, I predict, to dispute their potency over a period of time. At the present moment people are unusually expectant of a more fundamental diagnosis; more particularly ready to receive it; eager to try it out, if it should be even plausible.

    But apart from this contemporary mood, the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

    Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.

    Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.

  • Jeff

    Mark Levin had some excellent commentary last night on Barry’s “absorption” comment, i.e., “what kind of man is this??” “Is this some kind of game or joke for him?” He said he appears to have ice in his veins.

    None of us should be surprised. All you needed to know about this unqualified, inexperienced freak show of a president is that he voted in favor of infanticide. If you can cross that threshold, it’s little matter to accept thousands of americans perhaps dying again in another terrorist attack.

  • kt

    Neuhaus “pimping” the phrase culture of life? Yeah, he should have kept toxic stuff like that to himself. God forbid tenets of catholicism should make it into the public sphere.

    and such respectful argumentation, Mark Rondeau. “pimping”. yeah.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    No, it is not a matter of being unlucky. It is a matter of people wanting to “go after” the Vatican on any flimsy pretext.

    The institution at issue is not under the jurisdiction of Roman or Italian authorities and, hence, the investigation and the freeze of assets is an abuse of authority. Rather, the institution is and has been under the continued oversight of Vatican officials, who have already explained the transactions at issue.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Mark Levin had some excellent commentary last night on Barry’s “absorption” comment

    Obama was not in DC or NYC on 9/11. He was busy voting “present” in the Illinois legislature at the time. Thus, it would appear that he has no personal involvement in it. It is just some abstract idea to him, much like most of his worldview in fantasy land.

  • Maureen

    Sigh. “America the Beautiful” is a perfectly good hymn, and it’s not as though people are actually singing the propers or propers-related hymns (which is what it’s about — those are the readings that hymns are supposed to be concerned with). So at that point, singing a patriotic hymn in order to make the point that “we celebrate Labor Day, but we’re not Communists” is okay. Communism is a heresy and an enemy of Catholicism, after all.

    But as it happens, the gradual (the propers psalm, which is the option preferred to the responsorial psalm or any of the seasonal psalms, in the rubrics) for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the Ordinary Form, is “Beatus gens”, the part of Psalm 33 which begins, “Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.”

    “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” could both be interpreted as interpretative versions of this gradual. Heck, you might even slide in certain verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. (With more reason than a lot of the strained interpretations of “this hymn goes with the readings” than I’ve seen occur.) So, in the words of Han Solo, “Don’t get cocky.”

    But people will probably get mad in other years, if you get too literal in your interpretation of “Timebunt gentes”, one of the propers for both the 22nd and 24th Sundays in Ordinary Time. (“The nations will fear the Name of the Lord, and all kings of the lands Your glory.”)

  • Lisa

    It is easy to mistake patriotism for idolatry when compared to the nihilism of the Left.

  • c matt

    Sure, because there is no such thing as “Democra-Catholicism.” It’s not like certain Catholic Democrats ignore Church teaching on important issues that go against the Democrat Party platform.

  • charles

    Did I miss something here about Loretta Sanchez?

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  • Fr. Bill

    I don’t think any of the Founding Fathers were what we would “now” call Unitarian; not a Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, Atheist among them. UCC or Episcopalian, maybe.

  • charles

    Who, pray tell is “Cardinal Mahoney”?