Sometime random elements come together to illuminate a thought you've had for months, years, in a way which makes loosely formed observations into tight conviction. Yesterday I had one of those moments and it left me with a clear view of why the evangelical movement is a natural success in 21st century America..
If you're looking for something original here, you may not find it. I'm surely not the first person who is convinced that modern evangelism is nothing more nor less than another self-help fashion for the self-absorbed. Self-absorption is the key to much of what has been happening in America for the past several decades.
If you analyze the waves of liberal despair about right wing aggression and domination and then, if you wonder why, lately, it hasn't grown into effective action, you have to at least consider this: Inaction, along with reiteration of our strong resentment of the other group, allow our egos the latitude without any threat of real challenge. Community action demands goals and accomodation.
There's nothing like a trendy movement to draw the greedy ego. From pot to goddess worship to EST to cocaine to Atkins and (let me whisper in your ear) blogging!, the ego is placed at the very center of all consideration. But those movements have largely belonged to the despised left. What was needed was a movement for the right, for the establishment, a movement which would make big bucks for those leading it and which would coalesce a large and diverse group into a politically and socially useful tool. How about, let's see...
How about a personal relationship with God? Born again -- the spiritual equivalent of declaring bankruptcy and no longer being responsible for your past actions. Me and Jesus. Me and my salvation. Me feeling good again about Me!
Me in the political majority. Me in a position to take out my aggressions on others without being punished for it. Me and the CEO, the top guy and endlessly forgiving to boot: me and Jesus, pals forever!
Yes! Me in a situation which is superior to yours and which you can't possibly understand unless you join my group.
What could be more American! The huge social and political profits from ego massage! Think about how whole institutions and geographical areas on this vast and unruly continent can be brought under control! Think about the political advantage of leadership springing from this movement!
More on this later...