After reading numerous Christopher Hitchens books, delving in various online resources featuring his firebrand contrarian POV, I realized something profound when he died. 1) The man scared the beejeezus out of me. 2) Not only is he the smartest and most well-read person I’ve ever experienced, but I quickly realized that there’ll be no one to replace him anytime soon. So unique is The Hitch. How sad, eh? Still. Look for someone to replace him I did. Sofar Chris Hedges is the only one I’ve found. But don’t get me wrong. These two authors are not comparable nor are they compatible. Chris Hedges isn’t even a contrarian. They are also not polar opposites. That said, I don’t want to get into Hitchens. More on him here and here. This post is about The Hedge.
Just finished American Fascist. Long time on my reading list; short effort to get through it. Hedges brilliantly chronicles the rise of what can only be considered uniquely American: Religious fanaticism in the name of a branded deity has reached preposterous proportions. As usual it all begins with two things mating to be one–and ever since I was a kid life was all about these two things. The first, of course, is money. Money is everything in America. There really is nothing else. There is no patriotism, there is no pride, there is no god, there is only your ability to earn and your ability to spend. Every aspect of American human-ness, if you will, is based on money. All American interaction with other humans evolves around money. And the list could go on. I hope that part of the worst-message is clear. So let’s move on.
The other thing that permeates the American experience is religion. In fact, you can practically exchange money for religion and vice versa. Hence the two are the same. Which means that when Americans prey, they don’t really prey to a god but instead to money. Without money religion would be nothing–without both America would probably be a utopia. (Big probably, eh.) In fact, if one of the two were absent, it would almost be a utopia. But here we are. We are stuck with both and that seems to be great. Reason? Money and religion result in a death society where you are either in or you are simply NOT. This is the culmination of the great American experiment. The irony of it all is that because of what religion has done to America, its demise and downfall is welcomed. Arms are open at this moment to the so-called god-fearing who pay all the respect they can muster along with paying all the money they can conjure to a lie and they love the death and destruction that go along with it. Indeed. America is pretty much nothing more today than a death cult with open biblical arms of promised and purchased redemption. From the religious fanaticism that gives us “christian” TV networks and talk radio and mega-churches to the political arena that is now nothing but a freak-show that thrives on human apathy which seems to be a fuel to its fire. But I’m getting way off-base here.
American Fascist is a pretty good read. At the least it motivates one to think–if one is so inclined–about the ills of fanatical religion. Even though I found myself skipping over all the parts that detailed Hedges experiences in whatever church or sermon, the parts where he writes his thoughts about it all are quite compelling. His voice is staunch and steadfast. He makes you believe that he knows what he’s talking about even though he is obviously a believer–and not only in god but in the US. Alone his life experience as a journalist but schooled in religion give him a unique armament to pose logical arguments to help one battle the demon that is American’t religious fervor. Hence, for my taste–bent from reading so much Hitchens–he could be a bit more contrarian. But read him more I will. And with that I digress.