[extropy-chat] The Bible Belt Paradox

pjmanney pj at pj-manney.com
Tue Jan 16 21:15:58 UTC 2007

>Damien Broderick wrote:
>> On the other hand, this is perhaps an absurdly
>> reductive and partial account.


Anders wrote:
>I think we have a feedback effect here. Duller and impulse impaired people
>have a hard time doing well in society, so they congregate where living is
>cheap enough. Such places are often cheap because of lack of productivity,
>and having 'bad' people around retains their bad reputation, prevents
>development and keeps them cheap. Living in this environment (even if you
>are not dull) might predispose you towards religion as a coping mechanism.
>Maybe there are pro-religion genes that correlate with antisocial traits
>or traits that also makes you worse off, but even without them I think one
>can get fundamentalism as a result of the bad encironment. Now, there is
>probably a bit of feedback from fundamentalism in the form of
>authoritarian upbringings, which might be harming particularly vulnerable
>people and make them less able to do well, closing the cycle. As I argued
>in my blog the fundamentalism/conservatism might also reduce outside
>investments in the area. Add to this the formation and maintenance of
>culture, where people often construct self-serving or maladaptive
>explanations of why things are as they are and why they should remain so,
>and you get a whole tangle of vicious cycles.

Usually when Anders weighs in, I feel like I don't have to comment anymore, because someone more astute than I is at the helm.  But you're all missing a fundamental point.

First of all, in my original post, some of the problems were not good/evil innocent/criminal issues.  Divorce becomes an issue in the debate because the Bible Belt claims to promote 'family values' while having the largest percentage of unwed mothers, single parents, etc., etc., etc.  Poverty is definitely involved in this, but the breakdown in values is not confined to the poor or endangered.

The proles (using Spike's word) are not the only ones to blame.  It's the capitalists, too.  In fact, it's everybody.  Evil and unhappiness and self-delusion are equal opportunity predilictions.  Otherwise, according to this line of thinking, the wealthy fundamentalists would have sterling morals and to a man, lead the way to making the world a better place.  I ask you: do you know any who do?  Buffet, Soros and the Gateses, with all their warts, are not fundamentalists.

"Now I don't want to get off on a rant here..." [thank you Dennis Miller] but at least one of those biblical homilies is more accurate than the others.  You remember the one about the rich man and the eye of the needle?

Let me tell you a true story: I worked with a Born Again CEO for a few months on a project.  This man was worth many hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars.  He was as holy-roller and self-righteous as they come.  When he wasn't running his companies, he was a minister in his own church.  But his corporate morals were horrendous and had been for years.  (And no, it wasn't Enron... but they must have gone to different schools together.  ;-)  )

What I learned about Born Agains working with him was this -- the very act of declaring oneself born again was the ultimate 'get out of jail free' card.  It allowed you to be a miserable, greedy, bigoted, immoral wretch of a human being and still think that come the Rapture, you get a one-way ticket to the Almighty's side.  Just by declaring Jesus as your personal savior.  (I didn't take too kindly to his statement that me being a Jew meant I must be good with money, either.)

Sound like any administration we know?

It's my problem with Catholic confession -- A last confession before the last breath and it's alrighty with the Almighty.  And I'm not so big on Yom Kippur, either.  [You should see Hollywood on Yom Kippur.  It's like a scene from 28 Days Later.  Empty.  They're all in temple, praying like mad for their sins.  And there's a lot to pray about.]

Never has a greater line of self-serving BS been foisted on humanity: believe in God and ask forgiveness and all is forgiven.  Because the ability of humans to rationalize and justify their miserable behavior is endless.  As history has proven.

And that's also how these devout, yet scurrilous businesspeople (Enron, Wal-Mart, Exxon and the rest of the oil companies, Big Tobacco, I can keep going as long as you want me to...) (BTW, did you notice that all the notorious companies were based in the South?) can get up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror.  They're just collecting as many toys as possible until the Rapture.  Because they can and their newfangled Christianity says 'Amen'.

>From Time Magazine's cover story - Does God Want You To Be Rich?


Disclaimer:  I am not one of those 'jealous, resentful liberals' who are accused of wanting to tear down those they really wish they were like, in some Marxian-Pirahna feeding frenzy.  (Nor am I anti-business.  I just want business to be done with as few people hurt in the process as possible.  Maybe I'm just afflicted with empathy.  Or a fool.)  I was raised in and amongst the Power Elite and continue to suck on the teat of the New Establishment.  I know this world and its people from the inside.  And it ain't pretty.  No matter how devout they are.

"Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong." [Thanks again, Dennis.]


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