A Reason to Believe
A few weeks ago, before the term became common coin, I was running around, thinking that this Obama thing was like the "cult of personality." To my chagrin, the idea struck a number of people. Oh well, pride goeth before the fall. I hadn’t posted right away, because I had the germ of an idea brewing, namely that the Obama mania is just one more indicator of a larger phenomenon.Despite our diverse ethnic and racial makeup, the character of our Puritan forbears has formed a current running through American society for centuries. The advent of the boomer generation brought under attack those institutions which channeled these inclinations. It made of morality and its attendant religious practices an irrelevancy and of governmental authority a subject fit for cynicism and mockery. Deprived of its natural venues in civics and religion, this puritan zeal has manifested in a number of intriguing ways.
We now have civic “sins” like smoking and transfats, the denunciation of which at times rivals the oratory of Jonathan Edwards. The topic of global warming, for instance, has taken on quasi religious overtones with all of the characteristic sanctimoniousness on the part of believers. And then there is Obama. For all I know, he may be a marvelous person and might make a decent president. I don’t think so, but it’s within the realm of possibility. What I fail to see and hear is the cause for all of this devotion.
I must be immune or something. As I see it, all he’s proposed so far involves the disbursements of huge amounts of money, money which has to come from somewhere. And read his counter to McCain’s criticism of his approach to Cuba. I’m starting to form the impression that he’s going to feed us lip service all the way to Havana as he prepares to sit down with the Dons.
So as I watch these mass rallies that have taken on the aura of revival meetings, the messianic overtones with which he is imbued by his followers and see nothing to merit it, I have to find some way to make sense of it all. I’ve come to the conclusion that the faith, its natural course denied, has deviated course into other outlets, because as human beings we need to believe in something greater than ourselves. Therein lies the great mistake of the boomers, and I count myself as one: hubris.