This is the new blog...CONFESSION ZERO

Wednesday

"Doing God's Work"

I was struck the other day by how Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein describes himself (h/t): "(...) He is, he says, just a banker "doing God’s work"".

Incidentally, this was in justification for the following position of his (emphasis added):
(...) For Blankfein, in the end, it all comes down to one thing: finding the best, fastest, and safest way to make money with money, then make some more money, with money on top. He’s not interested in a reality check, just a bumper pay cheque for his clients, for his firm, for his staff, for his shareholders and, eventually, he believes, for us (...) Is it possible to make too much money?

"Is it possible to have too much ambition? Is it possible to be too successful?" Blankfein shoots back. "I don’t want people in this firm to think that they have accomplished as much for themselves as they can and go on vacation. As the guardian of the interests of the shareholders and, by the way, for the purposes of society, I’d like them to continue to do what they are doing. I don’t want to put a cap on their ambition. It’s hard for me to argue for a cap on their compensation."
Ergo: unchecked, out-of-control greed - the very cause of the last financial collapse from which we are still trying to recover - constitutes "God's work".

After all - didn't you know that Jesus actually embraced greed and self-interest?

Indeed. Here are other recent shiny examples of what constitutes "doing God's work":
Demonize other religions (especially Muslims): (see also here) This past weekend, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned against allowing “anti-Muslim sentiment” to emanate from the shooting at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Malik Hasan. But that is exactly what some conservatives are doing. Dave Gaubatz, the controversial author of the controversial Muslim Mafia, called yesterday for “a professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders.” On his 700 Club TV show yesterday, Pat Robertson claimed that Islam is “not a religion,” but “a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination”:

ROBERTSON: That is the ultimate aim. And they talk about infidels and all this, but the truth is that’s what the game is. So you are dealing with not a religion. You’re dealing with a political system. And I think we should treat it as such and treat its adherences as such as we would members of the Communist Party or members of some fascist group. Well, it’s a tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families who suffered. But those in the Army should be held on account for the fact they let this man loose.

Of course, Christianism is such a sparkling paragon of peace, tolerance and love for others ... and therefore definitely not politically-oriented, right? [EXPAND FULL POST +/-]

Right. Got it good. Nothing to do with religious terrorism. At all. Which leads me to this:
Christian radicalization of the military: (emphasis added; h/t) When Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office in January, he inherited a military not just drained by a two-front war overseas but fighting a third battle on the home front, a subtle civil war over its own soul. On one side are the majority of military personnel, professionals who regardless of their faith or lack thereof simply want to get their jobs done; on the other is a small but powerful movement of Christian soldiers concentrated in the officer corps. There’s Major General Johnny A. Weida, who as commandant at the Air Force Academy made its National Day of Prayer services exclusively Christian, and also created a code for evangelical cadets: whenever Weida said, “Airpower,” they were to respond “Rock Sir!”—a reference to Matthew 7:25. (The general told them that when non-evangelical cadets asked about the mysterious call-and-response, they should share the gospel.) There’s Major General Robert Caslen—commander of the 25th Infantry Division, a.k.a. “Tropic Lightning”—who in 2007 was found by a Pentagon inspector general’s report to have violated military ethics by appearing in uniform, along with six other senior Pentagon officers, in a video for the Christian Embassy, a fundamentalist ministry to Washington elites. There’s Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp, the Army chief of engineers, who has also lent his uniform to the Christian cause, both in a Trinity Broadcasting Network tribute to Christian soldiers called Red, White, and Blue Spectacular and at a 2003 Billy Graham rally—televised around the world on the Armed Forces Network—at which he declared the baptisms of 700 soldiers under his command evidence of the Lord’s plan to “raise up a godly army.”

What men such as these have fomented is a quiet coup within the armed forces: not of generals encroaching on civilian rule but of religious authority displacing the military’s once staunchly secular code. Not a conspiracy but a cultural transformation, achieved gradually through promotions and prayer meetings, with personal faith replacing protocol according to the best intentions of commanders who conflate God with country. They see themselves not as subversives but as spiritual warriors—“ambassadors for Christ in uniform,” according to Officers’ Christian Fellowship; “government paid missionaries,” according to Campus Crusade’s Military Ministry.
Furthermore, there is also this, and that, and this, and that - as well as so many other examples of such radicalization that I could easily write a whole book just by enumerating them.

So, who ever dared claim that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are crusades against muslims?

(What? It definitely looks like this is actually the case? Really? Oops - I stand corrected then)

Hence, the following should not be a surprise to anyone:
Beat an orthodox greek priest: (emphasis added; h/t) Marine reservist Jasen Bruce was getting clothes out of the trunk of his car Monday evening when a bearded man in a robe approached him. That man, a Greek Orthodox priest named Father Alexios Marakis, speaks little English and was lost, police said. He wanted directions.

What the priest got instead, police say, was a tire iron to the head. Then he was chased for three blocks and pinned to the ground — as the Marine kept a 911 operator on the phone, saying he had captured a terrorist. Police say Bruce offered several reasons to explain his actions:

The man tried to rob him.

The man grabbed Bruce's crotch and made an overt sexual advance in perfect English.

The man yelled "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," the same words some witnesses said the Fort Hood shooting suspect uttered last week.

"That's what they tell you right before they blow you up," police say Bruce told them.

(...) The incident took place around 6:35 p.m. Monday, police said. The priest, Alexios Marakis, 29, is from Crete, Greece. He is visiting St. Nicholas Greek Cathedral at 17 E Tarpon Ave. but police said he was in the Westshore area to bless another retired Greek priest.

But Marakis apparently got lost and exited northbound Interstate 275 into downtown Tampa, police said. The priest followed several cars into the Seaport Channelside Apartments on Twiggs Street. He got out of his car and asked Bruce for help.

Instead of offering help, Bruce struck the priest on the head with a tire iron, police said. He then chased the priest for three blocks to the Madison Avenue and Meridian Avenue, police said, and even called 911 to say that an Arabic man tried to rob him.

Bruce said he was going to take the Arab into custody. When police arrived, Bruce told them the victim was a terrorist.
Oh yes - doing God's work indeed ... and then some. Got that too.

Here's a quicker run-down of further recent, shiny examples of doing God's work:
Vote to kill a proposal that would have ensured that insurance companies cannot use domestic violence as a pretext for denying coverage to women;

Shout down members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus on the House floor when they attempt to give a brief statement about how the House health care legislation would benefit women;

Keep on introducing bills and amendments to limit or stifle women’s reproductive rights;

Deny the reality of global warming;

Reject the fact of evolution;

Reject sex education and promotion of contraceptive usage for teenagers;

Promote abstinence as Teh Solution to AIDS, STDs and unwanted pregnancies;

Force people to pray;

Delay/derail/stop health care reform - but not faith healing;

Kill physicians and bomb abortion clinics.
It goes without saying that the preceding constitutes but a small sampling.

So, what is the point I am seeking to drive here?

Throughout recorded hsitory, and going back as far as into Antiquity, proclamations of "doing the will of the Gods" (or God - regardless of which one exactly), of "doing God's work", have ever been used to justify - and gain support for - just about anything and everything.

From despotism, monarchy, empire-building and theocracy, to war, persecution, genocide, mass murder (one obvious example here), torture, violence and even destruction of knowledge.

Plus ├ža change, plus c'est pareil.

Hence, doing God's work is nothing more than hypocritical, self-serving justification which not only serves to legitimize base, egotistical, greed- and power hunger-driven self-interest, but furthermore to dodge any responsibility - let alone accountability - for one's actions.

The problem here is that instead of a majority of us calling out such rank hypocrisy, we meekly allow - if not actually fervently embrace - this time-honored justification for doing anything and everything.

Being an atheist, I am by no means an expert on theology. However, were I happen to actually adhere to the catholic faith which keeps on prevailing where I've been living all my life, then I would be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that causing such overwhelming evil while "doing God's work" simply means that, in truth, one is instead doing the Devil's work.

Too bad all those fundie Christians, Muslims and others have their primitive minds blinded to any and all reason to realize such an obvious, simple truism.

Too bad as well for the majority of the rest of us whom are equally guilty of such blatant hypocrisy, such repugnant self-delusion about our grandeur, of our goodness, of our so-called moral high ground.

I say here that any claim of doing God's work constitutes not only a confession, but an legal admission of guilt - of whatever criminal, illegal and/or amoral activity justified by such a claim.

Having stated this, I have little hope that we'll change for the better in this respect any time soon.

Sadly enough.


(Cross-posted from APOV)





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