I am not a Catholic, except in the lower-case “c” sense of “all encompassing,” but I was moved by the homily delivered by Pope Francis on Christmas Eve about the “the food of life” that mankind is offered by the Nativity, the purpose of life, as it were, being “not material riches, not gluttony but charity, not ostentation but simplicity.”
“The tiny body of the Child of Bethlehem speaks to us of a new way to live our lives not by devouring and hoarding, but by sharing and giving…so that we can be reborn in love and break the spiral of grasping and greed,” he said.
Now, contrast this to the interview in the Jan. 1 Washington Post by Joe Heim of Jerry Falwell, son of the late co-founder of the Moral Majority Jerry Falwell, now president of the Liberty University his father founded. In that interview, Falwell the son is adamant in his ongoing support for Donald Trump as president of the U.S., even to the point that he calls “evangelicals” who do not support Trump, with all his moral shortcomings included, “immoral for not supporting him.”
The contrast could not be more pronounced, and I would point out that the epistemology underlying the psychological warfare methods of the Russians who continue to work so hard to undermine American democracy is governed by exactly the point of view that Falwell reflects.
This is critical for Americans to grasp the effectiveness of the Russians’ intervention into the 2016 presidential election and their ongoing psy-ops efforts to mess with the minds of the American people. This is a 100 percent`match between what the Russians seek to engender with their propaganda (it’s more than propaganda, actually, it’s scheming and sophisticated mind-f*cking) with Falwell’s faith-crushing pragmatism.
In all the ways they flood the Internet every single day targeting American audiences with their mind-bending efforts, the Russian intelligence forces are turning the American people into animals, into enraged, bleating pigs (with apologies to Internet sensation Esther, for those of you who know who she is).
It is far more than what Madison Avenue, if you will, tries to do to engender consumerism and even greed among the public by trying to get it to buy, buy, buy. Someone who is a consumerism whore can still, on the side, on Sundays, say, be a kind and gentle person who shares wealth with loved ones and even those he or she may not know.
No, the Russian goal is to strip away the superficial concerns of ordinary people and bare in the process as close to a pure, raging id as possible. A person governed by that level of inner rage, rage over anything that even pretends to be “different” or a threat, can perform acts of irrational hate that go far deeper than just being greedy or self-serving. It is hard for normal people to grasp this.
Donald Trump has come a long way down the path of Russian-style brainwashing, to the point of becoming not a victim, but a practitioner. Everything that he perceives as a potential threat to him becomes the victim of his wrath. He is a walking, raw id.
Falwell’s defense of Trump, which is shrouded in attacks on the poor and those who disagree with him, drips of the same contamination of the human soul.
The teachings of Jesus do not matter, he says, astonishingly, on any matter dealing with Trump, concerning whom, he says, “I can’t imagine him doing anything that’s not good for the country.”
But what is the “country” about which he is speaking? What about its purpose except to aggrandize the wealthy and powerful? The country and the accumulation of wealth are the same for Falwell, and he is a despicable distortionist for that reason.
As a lower-case “c” catholic, “all encompassing,” I earned a master of divinity degree with honors from a graduate theological seminary and have almost always held the value of religious institutions with great veneration and in the highest of regard.
But Falwell seeks to contaminate and destroy faith, and as such he is as close to pure contemptible evil as they come.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.