Lecturing at Wake Forest University. [Hi Lisa!]
....There are no victimless crimes in politics. The cost of corruption is passed on to the people. When the government of the United States falls under the thumb of the powerful and privileged, regular folks get squashed. We are dealing here with a vision sharply at odds with the majority of Americans. These are people who want to arrange the world for the convenience of themselves and the multinational corporations that pay for their elections.
With their fundamentalist medicine men twirling the bullroarers in the woods, they would turn America into their petri dish -- a replica of the Marianas, many times magnified: A society "run by the powerful, oblivious to the weak, free of accountability, enjoying a cozy relationship with government, thriving on crony capitalism," in the words of Al Meyeroff, who led a class-action suit in behalf of the worker on the Marianas and learned what they were up against.
Let this, too, sink in: If the corporate, political, and religious right have their way, we will go back to the first Gilded Age, when privilege controlled politics, votes were purchased, legislatures were bribed, bills were bought, and laws flagrantly disregarded -- all as God's will.
So, my friends at Wake Forest, there is work to do. These charlatans and demagogues know that by controlling a society's most emotionally laden symbols, they can control America, too. They must be challenged.
Davidson Loehr reminds us that holding preachers and politicians to a higher standard than they want to serve has marked the entire history of both religion and politics. It is the conflict between the religion of the priests -- ancient and modern -- and the religion of the prophets. It is the vast difference between the religion about Jesus and the religion of Jesus.
Yes, the religion of Jesus. It was in the name of Jesus that a Methodist ship caulker named Edward Rogers crusaded across New England for an eight-hour work day. It was in the name of Jesus that Francis William rose up against the sweatshop. It was in the name of Jesus that Dorothy Day marched alongside auto workers in Michigan, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont. It was in the name of Jesus that E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield stood against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude. It was in the name of Jesus that the young priest John Ryan -- ten years before the New Deal -- crusaded for child labor laws, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and decent housing for the poor. And it was in the name of Jesus that Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to march with sanitation workers who were asking only for a living wage.
This is the heresy of our time -- to wrestle with the gods who guard the boundaries of this great nation's promise, and to confront the medicine men in the woods, twirling their bullroarers to keep us in fear and trembling. For the greatest heretic of all is Jesus of Nazareth, who drove the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem as we must now drive the money changers from the temples of democracy.