Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What I'm Reading



I tend to read fiction more often than nonfiction, but lately that trend has been reversed. I picked up “The Family” by Jeff Sharlet as part of the research I’m doing for a story idea. The book’s subtitle, “the secret fundamentalism at the heart of American power,” gives the best description of what the book is about.

“The Family” is a dense read, but worthwhile, perhaps even essential reading. I’m only half way through and so far I am frightened and enraged in equal measure. Thanks to Sharlet, most everyone now knows about the “C-Street” influence in American politics and the Family’s perverse concept of “trickle down Christianity.” We see plenty of examples of religious groups controlling the wealth and power of nations, but this sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen in the United States of America. The Family hasn’t completely taken over and to some degree, doesn’t seem to want to. They prefer to be the invisible hand that influences policy. In many ways this makes them even more frightening. We never know just who they are or how much power they actually have.

Since I’ve started reading Sharlet’s book, I’ve begun to suspect the Family’s hand in many of the debates raging in the country today. The Tea Party Republican’s plan to solve the financial crisis by giving huge tax breaks to Wall Street (the same guys who got us into the present recession) and vilifying public school teachers fits the Family’s agenda perfectly.

I guess the one thing I just can’t wrap my head around when it comes to this type of Christian fundamentalism is how in the hell did they take the nice love thy neighbor, help the poor Jesus of the New Testament and manage (in their heads) to turn him into a rich white fascist asshole? I can only hope that God is building up a mountain of hubris to drop on their heads.

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