Saturday, December 3, 2016

Thoughts on Jack the Conservative Ranter

There is a type of conservative out there who is always angry. He's angry at the government (and yes, it's always a guy, in my experience), angry at elites, angry at the education system, kids these days, fluoride in the water, "the blacks" (though he's learned to be careful on this one), the gays, the Dems, the MSM, all those flag-burners out there, and on and on.

This guy (we'll just call him Jack) is often a nominal Christian. You might just meet him at church. A lot of his talk is heavy on the punitive. He would fix our criminal justice system, apparently, by putting a lot more people in jail for much longer periods of time. He's always talking about how if he were in charge people wouldn't get away with this or that, and he still resents how "gay" doesn't mean what it used to. He's always talking about what "real men" do. He thinks the NFL is sissifying the game of football. And, of course, he absolutely despises soccer.

Things he loves: cars (though of course they don't make them like they used to), movies with lots of explosions and gunplay (usually about a versatile loner by the name of Jack who's incredibly handy at driving fast cars and shooting things), football, steak, Fox News, and Donald Trump. Oh yes, the election of Donald Trump should give him hope, but I don't expect it to allay much of his general rantiness.

The dude is somewhere in his 40s or 50s. That's apparently the phase of life when this air of dissatisfaction and disappointment settles on men, Most of what he says is something he's said many times before. He just runs the tape. He repeats the same few jokes again and again, and frequently recounts his proud gotcha moments when he said something to a liberal that just shut him right up. I've always suspected, by the way, that these conversations only ever happened in his head.

Do you know Jack? I think I was that guy myself for a good while, but I think I'm recovering  (it helps that I've never watched Fox News). It helps also to keep an eye on Jesus. He doesn't strike you as that Jack-type at all. He was an original thinker, an eloquent storyteller, and a man who leaned hard in the direction of mercy. I can picture him eating vegetables, enjoying a little soccer with friends, and not liking football at all. I can't picture him sitting at the diner counter and complaining about stuff. He'd hate those Jack-movies and probably see them as a symptom of a rottenness in the soul. Because he famously came to proclaim release of the captives, the whole thing about throwing people in jail for flag burning would seem bizarre to him.

Mostly, though, he was about joy (joy is seldom mentioned among the "manly" traits). Jesus definitely didn't think that human flourishing followed from having the right party in power. That's because government was not a "first thing" (a thing from which all else follows) to him. We Americans put a very high priority on government, hanging our hopes and fears on who is sauntering around in the halls of power. Then again some of us might turn to religion for dealing with afterlife issues, but that concern is saved for Sunday, while the rest of the week belongs to Caesar. This is a grim distortion of Jesus' "give unto Caesar" teaching.

I suspect that the default worldview of most Americans, even the Christian ones, is materialistic and utilitarian. This is why so many are inveterately unhappy. That conservative ranter dude, Jack, disturbing the after-service coffee-clatch in the church basement by once again ranting about somebody somewhere breaking some unwritten rule, thinks he could put things right in this world if only he was in charge for a day or two. He might accept philosophically the idea that we live in a fallen world, but he still thinks the Dems are more fallen than the Repubs, the gays more fallen than straights, and Mexico, say, more fallen than the US. He's on a grim mission to correct everyone and everything.

As I've said. I know this guy. I know many of them. I'm kind of tired of them, and kind of embarrassed that I might ever have been one of them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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