Distinguishing today’s populations on the basis of their religion is a fool’s errand. Let me start with a little story.
The Unitarian-Universalist denomination traces roots back through humanist strains for several millennia and today includes atheists, Buddhists, and various kinds of Christian, Jew and Islamist — though most members might be said to come from “Christian culture” with a New England inflection. From 1982 to 1985 I was a circuit-riding minister for the denomination. I got the monthly newsletter printed in a little shop around the corner from my studio apartment in Helena. At the end of the three year project, I told the printer that I would be leaving.
“Why can’t you just get a job with another church here?” he asked. He liked me — also the income. He thought a church was like a business.
“Because I’m not a Christian,” I explained.
He was shocked! “Of course, you are!” he exclaimed. “You’re a perfectly nice Christian lady!” He meant I fit the culture norm that was labeled Christian. Theological terms didn’t come into it. When I tried to explain “post-Christian,” his head wouldn’t go around it.
Some years later, I decided I was post-Unitarian and stepped out of the ministry to return to the Blackfeet rez. The minister for the Browning Methodist Church had bolted and no new prospects were available. I stepped into the breach for a year, didn’t preach theology but rather the pastoral and small town world-view of the New Testament, plus a few prairie tribal ideas. We had a good year. No one fussed.
America is not a Christian nation. Our constitution deliberately and specifically prevents it, but during WWII everyone got used to talking about God. (Jesus, not so much.) The concept snuck into our pledge of allegiance and onto our money. Patriotism and profit. it worked so well that now we’re a nation of scribes and pharisees. But the post-money, post-nation, possibly post-human corporations (a term that pretends that financial arrangements can be accrued to bureaucracies as though they were people) have gripped us all. Believe me, Trump is owned by them. He’s just the yellow calf pretending to be gold. We are all owned by the algorithm equivalent of spreadsheets managed by machines: computer systems. Real crops reduced to gambling on the stock market.
Monotheism in the strictest sense is the belief that there is only one god. No need to worship it or pray to it or gather in groups to celebrate it — he's usually depicted as male, not necessarily white. There are three versions, entwined, which are each descendants (male) of Abraham. For millennia they have quarrelled, allied, and claimed the same territories that we are fighting about today. They used to be called “the Big Three,” Judaism, Christianity and Islam— which we used to call “Mohammedanism” after their founding prophet but that’s too long a word. Inside each of these three there are factions at war. Abraham evidently passed on what pop geneticists called “the warrior gene.”
“The so-called warrior gene comprises particular variations in the X chromosome gene that produces monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), an enzyme that affects the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The variants, known collectively as MAOA-L, produce human MAOA “knockouts” with a low level of the enzyme. MAOA was the first candidate gene to be linked to antisocial behavior, identified in 1993 in a large Dutch family that was notorious for violence.”
American frontier Dutch, American frontier British borderlands and Irish, and the already-in-residence indigenous warriors, presented opportunities to exercise their genetic bellicosity and possibly crowded out the peaceful. Or maybe they got killed in order to protect the peaceful. But they share their resentment of any human who tries to dominate them and all claim the Big Man who is God as their backup. Nowadays we try to limit military war inside the nation — I mean, no predator drones or rocket strikes in the US — so far -- but we are happy to impose them on our traditional enemies in the Middle East.
Jesus wouldn’t approve, but some people think He was covertly Buddhist anyway.
I’ve been following an interesting line of thought that conflates religion with non-military power, calling the 1% elite “The Cathedral.” This is Bannon’s hangout, or so he fancies. I’m not sure they grant him inclusion and that’s probably what makes him so bitter. Trump is completely blind to this force.
This is from a blog called “Vox:” “Neoreactionaries are obsessed with taking down what Moldbug refers to as “the Cathedral”: a complex of Ivy League universities, the New York Times and other elite media institutions, Hollywood, and more that function to craft and mold public opinion so as to silence opposing viewpoints.
“Park MacDougald, in an excellent piece on Nick Land’s brand of neoreaction, describes the Cathedral as a “media-academic mind-control apparatus.” I actually think the best analogy is to the role the patriarchy plays in radical feminist epistemology, or the role of “ideology” in Marxism. Neo-reaction demands a total rethinking of the way the world works, and such attempts generally only succeed if they can attack the sources of knowledge in society and offer a theory for why they’re systematically fallible.”
This article captures the Trump types: share-croppers who want to own the plantation. It’s just that when they get to the Big House, they put their thumbs in the mint juleps. The kind called Cathedral Neoreactionaries have got to include a lot of Jewish people who came as refugees. The Alabamans described below include few, if any, Jews, and actively exclude blacks.
I’m always aware that there are more ways of looking at all this — more ways of being monotheistic (how did they manage to sneak that Son Jesus in there?), more economic systems, more ways to organize territory than by nations, and so on. There are two covert cultures I’ve been following for decades. One has “covert” thrust upon them — I’m talking about Native Americans, particularly on reservations. They are always excluded from the news, except for those who come in from the South. I suppose you didn’t realize that Mexicans et al are Indios?
The other is the criminalized layer of the nation, which is often international. They respond well to the Alabama world-view, but also pull in African concepts — not so much the dictator worldview as the resist-dictators trope. And sometimes ideas from the next layer down, even below criminal, the psychotic insanity of a whole population gripped by MAOA and rioting. Even officially in the Philippines they cleared more than a thousand drug dealers by simply shooting them on the spot. I suppose that’s what Trump meant when he said that if the Mexican law enforcement people couldn’t control their drug problem, he would send the US Army. Something approaches this in the city ghettoes.
These are wild ideas, but I’m not the only one roaming through them, trying to find some key to the future. I’m not against destruction if it’s the only way to get change, but I would miss the cathedrals and libraries. They don’t have to be Christian or even national.