Aaron Rodgers has provided a powerful reminder that religious problems like clericalism and gnosticism are not confined to the religious world.
By Zac Davis
“Gnosticism reduced to bare narcissism,” the theologian David Bentley Hart says, “might be an apt definition of late modernity as a whole.” It certainly explains the case of Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers and the reigning MVP of the National Football League, tested positive for Covid-19 and will not be allowed to play in a highly anticipated game this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Athletes getting placed on the Covid list is sadly a new pandemic reality, and this would only be a story for the sports pages were it not for one glaring wrinkle: Aaron Rodgers lied about his vaccination status and then ignored Covid safety protocols for unvaccinated players.
As the United States prepares for the end of a nightmarish one-term presidency that seemed to drag on forever, Americans continue to unpack the January 6 insurrection that now even soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell admits was “provoked” by President Donald Trump. On January 16, NBC political analyst Mehdi Hasan tweeted, “#whereweretheyradicalized is a question we’re going to be asking of GOP lawmakers at federal and state/local levels for many, many years to come, sadly,” adding that the answer would lie primarily in “a combo of Fox/OANN/Newsmax and Facebook.”
As I like to say, however, the Christian Right has been doing “alternative facts” since before it was cool. It would be remiss of us to approach the “where were they radicalized” question without addressing how the Christian schooling and homeschooling movement, along with many white churches and other evangelical, LDS, and ‘trad’ Catholic institutions, fostered the subcultures that created the demand for hyper-partisan “news” outlets like Fox News.
This morning began with House Democrats filing one article of impeachment against Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection.” It makes its case by noting that Trump’s months of lies about the election and his inflammatory speech to the rally on January 6– including lines like “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore”—led directly to “violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts.”
The article also noted Trump’s attempt to subvert the election through his phone call on January 2, 2021, to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, demanding he “find” enough votes to overturn the results of the presidential election in the state. Including this in the impeachment article will prevent Georgia Governor Brian Kemp from pardoning Trump for it.
The article says that Trump is, and will remain, “a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.” He must be removed from office and disqualified from any future positions in the U.S. government.
This document and the procedures around it tell us far more than their simplicity suggests.
A political fond farewell from British-Indian novelist Hari Kunzru
“Mike Pence, you repressed joyless would-be witchfinder, every time you spoke you always looked like you were straining to expel an enormous bolus of your own hypocrisy from your clenched sphincter.
“Betsy DeVos, you blandly foolish soulless entitled child-stealing witch, rotting like a corpse inside your Chanel suit.
“Kayleigh McEnenay, you evacuated husk of a mean-girl cheerleader, the cavity where your heart once was pumped full of spite and moronic lies.
“Bill Barr, you vast pompous pus-filled bladder of casuistry, you are an enemy of justice, bloated with resentment and cruelty, wobbling like a jelly at the feet of the oligarchs.
“Jared Kushner, you vacuous dainty preening overpromoted nub of mediocrity, squeezed like an entitled smear of toothpaste into a silk suit bought with tear-stained dollars wrung out of the suffering tenants of your slum apartments.
“Ivanka Trump, you monstrous slug of vanity, you infantile ninny so marinaded in self-regard that in your pea brain you believe we ought to love you for your crimes.
“Mike Pompeo, you bubble, you booby, you flatulent zero, that roiling in your ample guts that you mistake for world shaking significance is just the acid reflux of irrelevancy.
“Don Junior, you scabrous single-nostriled unloved elephant-murdering human wreckage, vibrating with bitterness and impotent rage at all the opportunities you’ve squandered.
“Interlude: all you staffers and interns, so eager to crunch your way in your shiny new work shoes over the bodies of the poor and powerless, I smite you and cast you out one by one.
“Eric Trump, you pallid clammy suppurating nocturnal semi-human grub, your absence of charisma is your only notable trait and the act of flushing you from memory will so be smooth and painless that in a month people will find it hard to picture your moon face.
“Rudy Giuliani, you capering cartoonish skull-faced bag of graft and corruption, too stupid even to ask who’s pulling your strings just so long as you can cake your crusty face in tv make-up and clack your jaw at a camera.
“And of course Stephen Miller, you weeping pustule upon the social body, you dreg, you homunculus, you noxious slime felched from the gaping cavity of Jim Crow, one day may you find yourself walking barefoot across hot sand, desperate for water, crying for your missing child.
“With that I’ll rest a while, and go to find a street corner to dance on.”