Monday, June 26, 2006

Mary Gordon's sick sympathy

Edward Rothstein of the New York Times critiques PBS’s new weekly series "Bill Moyer’s on Faith and Reason." His depiction of author Mary Gordon (whom he reports placed thorns in her shoes as a child in order to school herself in Christian martyrdom) sent shivers up my spine.

Ms. Gordon suggests that "there are two major narratives in the world, the narrative of fundamentalism and the narrative of consumerism." Given her own religious faith, she explains, she is much more comfortable imagining the inner life of a suicide bomber "than I am of Donald Trump"; she finds the terrorist mind, with its belief in eternal truth, "much more comprehensible."

Ms. Gordon says that whenever she sees people driving Hummers, "I want to just drive them off the road" — or worse. She could "go out on quite a spree," she says. What stops her from becoming a roadside bomber fighting for eternal truth, she explains, is her Christian belief that these "greedy" materialists "are sacred and valuable in the eyes of God."
Notice the smear that Gordon makes in labeling the "narrative" of the West as "consumerism." A consumer qua consumer produces nothing; he is a parasite, and while inconsistent, the West that Gordon finds herself uncomfortable imagining thrives upon production. After all, in order to have your Hummer (and keep it), you must to produce something of value and trade it with others—you cannot have a Hummer in a vacuum.

In contrast, the suicide bomber sacrifices his life and the lives of others in the name of the afterlife, and it's this mentality that Gordon says she understands and has sympathy for, only choosing not to actually commit murder and self-immolation in its name. And note that it's not because Gordon wants to keep her life or that she believes others have a right to theirs, it's the thin rationalization that even SUV drivers "are sacred and valuable in the eyes of God." Lucky for them, because if Gordon had her way, they would be food for worms.

In little more than two paragraphs, Mary Gordon reveals the cancer growing upon the soul of the West. $100 bucks says she gave her interview (to be bounced of satellites and broadcast all over the world) in a climate controlled room and after eating a square, well-balanced meal, yet this vermin has the audacity to decry "consumerism." She prospers in the land of plenty—yet it's the murders and their witch-doctor leaders with whom she feels a spiritually kinship. Count me as sick to my stomach with disgust.

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