New Faith in Faith-based Reality (8 Ways to Heaven)

by Robert Anbian on December 16, 2004

In re-electing President Bush, American society has moved decisively from fact-based to faith-based reality. No longer will we look upon the world and wonder how to lead it. Rather, we will look and wonder why in the hell all these foreigners keep getting in our way. A new generation of Hummers, please.

Oh sure, Americans have always shown a special knack for the fantasy life. Imagine proclaiming yourself a democratic republic while holding slaves! That’s a bit of practical jokery that long has been, let’s face it, a rich source of material for the best stand-up comedy in the land. Jefferson, really, is the godfather of American comedy. And that despite zero sense of humor and less of irony. How ironic is that? “All men”! A triple-edged zinger! That’s one reason why we needed black people so badly we had to steal them over and over again. Lincoln, as a result, knew how to wring a laugh from a war that cost a half a million lives. Lincoln was the first showbiz President.

But don’t get me started about Hollywood, Disneyland and Ronald Reagan, all of which and whom grew up in California. Which is to say they came from elsewhere and reinvented themselves in a place that prides itself inter alia on self-esteem, fusion food, and collective mind alterations.

So, Reagan, naturally, was as much escapism as delusion. Reagan believed what he was reading, however implausible the plot, and the audience forgave him for acting well. (He was losing his mind, total “method.”) They extended the increasingly befuddled icon the audience’s iconic “willing suspension of disbelief” – after all, the audience wanted to leave the show feeling good. Reagan, in the end, understood that. The more he forgot life, the more he remembered movies, and being an old script dog, proved himself surprisingly flexible about plot points and the show going on. He sensed that it was a movie. That was a mercy on the world.

Contrast that to the sober self-importance and smirking bibliomancy of Bush, Cheney, et al. They trash-talk between gritted teeth like sinister Peter Lorries in a Bogie movie – or like Bogie in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre — then act like bikers on crank who just beat up the writer. They, of course, give all props to Jesus – and to Satan, without whose axes they would be at a loss. Thus, death and destruction are evidence in their favor. The end of the world would only prove their point. They don’t know “being on a mission from God” is a semi-funny line from the first Blues Brothers movie. “Suspension of disbelief” becomes enforced policy, like patriotism, piety, and unaffordable health care. Bush’s Texas-style Republicanism, in other words, is Southern California on steroids.

President Bush, in fact, doesn’t seem Presidential at all. Rather, he’s a super-Crusader and the anointed defender – in the view of his genuflecting supporters — of God’s writ if not wit. He guards, for one thing, the “sanctity” of marriage. Oh yeah, and of the flag, athletic competition, unearned income, the Pledge of Allegiance, and cells in Petri dishes.

Once, the bible taught us that God sent His messengers bearing miracles and wondrous signs to show that they spoke for Him. Even Jesus stooped to some memorable parlor tricks to establish his bona fides. That, of course, was before His Father got around to inventing television and Republican ad men. Now, we may be assured, the one who speaks most boldly and shamelessly of his faith is the one who most assuredly fronts for the Deity. In truth, the Bush regime believes in killing people as a moral way of solving any number of problems and only God can grant license to do that.

So they must be right. Right? Because mere mortal men and women would not have the sheer temerity and disdain for human life as to condemn tens of thousands of their fellow humans to awful deaths on the basis of their ideas and self-gratifying wish lists, right? I mean, unless they were crazed, paranoid tyrants, or fanatics, or terrorists, or something like that, right?

Anyway, because all good journalism must today contain numbered lists, here are eight ways you can know if you have succeeded in entering the age of faith-based reality:

1. You think shortages of basic commodities and rising profits are forces of nature;

2. You hate immigrants while eating your very delicious and stunningly cheap salad;

3. You like watching pornography but can’t bear the sight of men kissing;

4. You tend to think the problem is not the people with power but the people without power;

5. An American military missile slamming into an urban neighborhood doesn’t impress you, but a suicide bomber (see previous point) sends you into a paroxysm of rage and incomprehension;

6. You can’t help yourself – you really believe we value life more than “they” do;

7. You’re of military service age and voted for Bush but failed to sign up for the war (ditto for Bush-voting parents who did not immediately urge their kids to sign up);

8. Finally, you feel okay – and even tingly inside and goose-bumped on the outside — about young Americans dying in faraway lands and flag-draped coffins coming home silently in the night.

Ah well, faith-based reality is turning out to be more tragedy than comedy. But it promises to keep the audience riveted. Or, as we used to say back in the day, the rope trick always ends by hanging the spectator.

Poet and journalist Robert Anbian recently contributed to THE BUSH SURVIVAL BIBLE (Villard) and published his fourth poetry collection, BLAME THE POWERFUL (War&Peace Press). He is the founder of

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