Herman Cain wrote his treatise late last year. It's just beginning to get some play now. His central theme is that Jesus, the Perfect Conservative, was killed by a liberal court. His reasoning is this:
Jesus did not use government in his efforts to heal the sick, or to help the poor and the needy. Therefore he was a conservative.
Since he was a conservative, those who opposed him must be liberals. The Jewish Sanhedrin which condemned him certainly opposed him. Therefore they were liberals.
- Hence, Jesus was ordered executed by a liberal court.
He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps. And everywhere He went, it turned into a rally, attracting large crowds, and giving them hope, encouragement and inspiration.
For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check. Nevertheless, he completed all the work He needed to get done. He didn’t travel by private jet. He walked and sailed, and sometimes traveled on a donkey.
That transitive reasoning, one questionable step after another, reminded me of Muhammad Ali in his separatist days. He was invited on a talk show, and that is where he revealed why white people were the natural enemies of black people.
He didn't mention slavery. Jim Crow was under attack in those days, having been outlawed. It still existed informally but in full lethal force. He didn't talk about that. He was in and out of court over his refusal to join the armed services and go to Vietnam, Vietnam claiming a disproportionate number of young black men. Nope. It wasn't that, or the lack of black people in high places, or the brutality of municipal authorities or widespread poverty or employment or housing or much of anything you might expect.
It was more simple.
Black and white are opposites.
Opposites are opposing.
Those opposing are in opposition.
Those in opposition are adversaries.
Adversaries are enemies.
White people are the enemies of black people.
Cain type logic was passed over like Israelis in Pharaoh's Egypt before he got into major league politics. Back in Godfather days, it would have been kind of cute.
Nothing is better than eternal salvation.
Godfather's Pizza is better than nothing.
So Godfather's Pizza is better than eternal salvation.
See how it works?
It's a kind of easy staging a Cain mutiny these days. He is a pro-life pro-choice advocate who firmly believes that government should outlaw abortion, defining life as beginning at conception, and should not interfere with a woman's right to choose whether to abort a pregnancy. Abortion, and contraception, should always, always, always, be against the law but women should break the law without government telling them not to.
So pushing back against Herman Cain is not an exercise requiring great agility. In this case it only requires just a little time dwelling in scripture.
The Sanhedrin had no authority to order an execution and they did not, although they did go through a well choreographed dance of begging Roman authorities to kill the upstart. Liberal and conservative considerations in the modern sense did not exist in those days, although Jesus had one or two harsh things to say about wealthy people. There was a conflict about literalism, and Jesus was no literalist concerning scriptural law. Jewish leaders were understandably motivated by issues of personal and national survival. It is expedient "that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."
When it comes to clear thinking, Cain is not able.
See what I did there?
But Cain's reasoning does provide a useful example of a few conservative preconceptions (so to speak).
One is that liberals are pro-big-government. Liberals are, for the most part, indifferent to government. They - we - simply want to see certain urgent issues of suffering and pain alleviated. Those who are down on their luck should have minimal needs met, and sometimes helped to their feet. If that takes government, we are all for it. If it can be better done privately, we're for that.
The fact that the Bill Clinton Foundation provides a helping hand to many people, providing a chance to advance themselves in economic life, and does it outside of government, does not make Bill Clinton a conservative.
However, there is a sort of natural sympathy that many of us believe God places on our hearts, and that Jesus carries in his message to us. The Book of Isaiah seems like a sort of blurred dividing place in Biblical law. Not a point, exactly, not a clear and bold line. But a transition of sorts. Our perception of God becomes less like a master issuing death penalty enforced orders, and more as a guiding spirit in our hearts.
Some call it the Holy Spirit. I kind of like that.
It is what keeps us from cheering at the thought of a sick man dying for lack of medical care. It keeps us from booing a defender in the armed forces, one putting his life on the line for us, jeering at him because of his sexual orientation. It even sickens us at the thought of possibly executing innocent people.
It makes us hesitate about proclaiming to others, or even telling ourselves, how God will vote in the next election.
Or that Jesus is a conservative, perfect though he would have to be.
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