Tea Party

Tea and Commentary

In "The Gospel According to the Tea Party" (November 2010), Jim Wallis overlooked points. The tea party would exist if the winning Democratic Party candidate were white; these people think a Democratic president saying "hello" to China is traitorous. However, they would approve a Republican sale of ICBMs to China.

Unfortunately, probably the only way the tea partiers would change their opinion of "love thy neighbor" is if they experienced a major calamity (loss of a job or a major medical expense their insurance company refuses to pay). Then their view of social programs would change. It would make Saul's "road to Damascus" experience look like a shirt change.                        

David Ish
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Solomon's Wisdom and the Debt Ceiling

As the time shortens for Congress and President Obama to agree to the contours of legislation to raise the nation's debt ceiling, I am reminded of the story of King Solomon and his judgment regarding two women who both claimed to be the mother of a child (I Kings 3: 16-28). Solomon ordered that the living child be cut in two and half a dead child be given to both women. The woman who was the true mother insisted that the living child be given to the false mother. She was willing to give up her righteous claim to save the child's life.

What's in a Name?

Our current practice in the U.S. actually reflects the earlier legal reality of coverture: In the process of the "two becoming one flesh," the wife lost her rights to property, legal representation in court, and even her public identity as her husband became the sole representative for the family. This combination of identities (or, rather, the wife becoming lost in her husband's identity) led to wives taking their husbands' last names. For me, losing my surname would have represented silent assent to this oppressive practice.

Just Jesus and an Unjust July 4: Why I Don't Celebrate Independence Day

My friends and I can be stupid. Add explosives to the equation and the idiocy quotient increases exponentially. Such was the case every 4th of July during high school. A group of about 20 of my friends and I would get together to barbecue and play with illegal fireworks. At any unsuspected moment while taking a bite out of a burger, an M-80 could be lit under your seat, a sparkler thrown at your chest like a dart, or a mortar could be shot like a bazooka, catching bushes on fire. These chaotically stupid memories simultaneously serve as some of the most fun I can recall experiencing. So for me, Independence Day equals fun.

However, there's a deeper reality to this holiday. Only about three years ago did I realize that in celebrating Independence Day, I'm also glorifying the roots on which this nation was founded: an unjust war. The "rockets red glare" and "the bombs bursting in air" remind us not of the day God liberated the colonies, but of the moment in history when our forefathers stole the rhetoric of God from authentic Christianity to justify killing fellow Christians. There's two reasons I'm convinced that celebrating Independence Day celebrates an unjust war.

The Ayn Rand Makeover

I have an old friend who identifies his political orientation as "rational conservative." I can see why he insists on the modifier. These days being a hardcore, unmodified conservative keeps getting more difficult.

It's no longer enough simply to believe that private initiatives are better than government ones or that traditional cultural practices are usually better than their modern challengers. For the past decade, the true conservative has also been required to believe that the melting of polar ice is a benign natural phenomenon and that the notion that the Earth is only 6,000 years old deserves to be called science. In the last two years, the credulity bar got higher and aspiring conservatives had to believe it was at least possible that the election of President Obama was the result of a conspiracy, hatched 50 years ago, to place a Kenyan-born African socialist in America’s White House.

But life just got even harder for our friends on the Right. Now, apparently, a true conservative must also believe that the late Ayn Rand was a great philosopher.

Anyone who has so far managed to avoid Rand's work or her disciples should know that in her novels and essays Rand expounded a worldview, dubbed "Objectivism," that can be summed up as a pastiche of free-market libertarianism and cartoon Nietzscheanism. To the Randian, there is no God but self, and self-will and pursuit of self-interest is the only virtue.

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July 2011 Sojourners
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