Monday, 18 July 2005

After the Future

"They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn."

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

The proximity of hope to despair is exactly what should propel us to action. When I prognosticate about the future, I must admit that I fluctuate wildly between seeing a stark descent into hell and a transformative renaissance toward opportunities beyond imagination. It often feels that we live on the knife edge, though in my calmer moments I know that glory and tragedy will continue to coexist as they have throughout human history. But history has included some very dramatic fluctuations, and I'm not alone in sensing the volatility of the current age.

Many thanks to Micah Newman for pointing me recently to the writing of Jack Whelan, whose clarity in his analysis of America's current culture and politics is almost stunning. In reading his essay Philosophers, Artists, Saints, I was fascinated by his use of the Prodigal Son parable to critique what he refers to as the Phariseeism of today's rightwing Christianity. The gist of the article though seemed overly bleak to me, as I believe remnants of the transcendent reside in our very genes, and hence in all of us, despite the cultural emphasis on materialism or legalism. But elsewhere in his writing there remains great hope, not the least of which is in his statement of purpose, Toward a Progressive Future.

And his recent political analysis on the blog portion of his site, offers as incisive an indictment of the Bush administration as I've seen anywhere, with such morsels as:
the main problem that confronts us now with this particular administration is its dishonest use of the GOP framing narrative. It uses it as a sheep's disguise to hide its wolfish agenda. Compassionate Conservatism? Oh, come on. That's what makes this particular group so odious. What we see is not what we're getting. Sure the Dems do it too, but this group has taken this kind of mendacity to a new level. This administration presents itself as the proponent of small government, but it's about the promotion of centralism and greater police power. It presents itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, and it is about as irresponsible as a rich party animal college kid living off a family trust fund. It presents itself as the party of strong defense, but it is not defending us against the real threat posed by international terror. It is, instead, the party of strong offense with its doctrine of unilateral preemptive war. It presents itself as the party of family values, but it is the party of corporate, free-market capitalism, which more than any social force active in the world today is the destroyer of family and traditional values.
Check out any of the essays in his sidebar. I have not yet been disappointed.

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