Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

2/27/2004

Malleus Hereticorum

What I think the religious right has been trying to do this last week, consciously or sub-, is to "shock and awe" those who disagree with them. To almost try to create both a numbness and an inevitability in the minds of its opponents; to soak the mass culture with blood cults and crusades.

Leon Wieseltier's review of The Passion illuminates (I haven't seen the movie itself, so I can only really comment on the meta-movie of the Passion that all of the citizens of this country seem to be extras in):

"Critics who have a problem with me don't really have a problem with me and this film," [Gibson] told Diane Sawyer, "they have a problem with the four Gospels."
***
Belief, a theory of meaning, a philosophical convenience, is rarely far away from cruelty. Torture has always been attended by explanations that vindicate it, and justify it, and even hallow it. These explanations, which are really extenuations, have been articulated in religious and in secular terms. Their purpose is to redescribe an act of inhumanity so that it no longer offends, so that it comes to seem necessary, so that it edifies. My victim of torture is your martyr.


They're setting the table, looking for knife-edge angles to eviscerate secularism. If you live in, say, a gated community in a Houston suburb, these fundamentalisms of both religion and capital (and the intersection between the two) are no doubt welcome. And, really, what do they (and their superchurch proxies) care if the emphemera of "rights" are trampled on? The hereafter awaits. The phrase "Kill them all, let God sort them out" wasn't engendered in the cauldron of Vietnam, or by the current governor of California, but in the Cathar crusades. Its Mel Gibson-like pithiness is, no doubt, purely accidental.

"a dissidence unprepared for the vigor of its opponents"

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