The canonization of Ken Lay

Sullivan's article on the funeral eulogy of Ken Lay (of Enron infamy)paints a very disturbing picture:

And then the coup de grace: the white-collar convicted criminal was compared to an innocent black man, James Byrd, brutally lynched in Texas not so long ago, tied to the back of a truck and dragged through dirt roads until his body split in two.

“Ken Lay was neither black nor poor, as James Byrd was, but I’m angry because Ken was the victim of a lynching,” the minister said to huge and hearty applause.

Welcome to the strange new world of conservative evangelical Christianity, where government torture is no big deal, Lay is a martyr, and the death penalty is God’s will. In this version of Christianity what matters is not so much what you do — but what’s in your heart. And if you have committed to Jesus Christ and attend the right church, a little corporate larceny is no big whoop.

First of all, this wasn't "a little corporate larceny". This was one of the biggest and most devastating series of corporate crimes ever committed, in terms of dollars bilked, pensions destroyed, jobs lost, etc. I'm assuming Sullivan knows this and was being ironic.

I think this canonization of Lay is similar to the Christianists easy forgiveness of Bush for his past use of alcohol: everything is OK if you're one of us. This kind of thinking, that someone can be "intrinsicly good", regardless of their actual behavior, drives me nuts. It's like there's a single bit in each soul, that's set to 1 if you're saved, 0 if you're damned. And no other information (like, oh say, what they've done) is necessary to determine if someone should be supported or attacked. And of course, Christianists can read the "salvation bit" unfailingly, just like Bush can look into Putin's eyes and see his soul. This kind of thinking is juvenile and ignores the enormous complexity of actual human beings. But ignoring complexities is something that these folks are well trained to do. The rest of us just need to learn not to respect this way of thinking. We must spit on it and hurl derision on it. We must do this not despite the fact that it comes as part of a religious belief, but especially because it is part of a religious belief. Idoicy with a crucifix is no different than garden-variety "secular" idiocy, but because it cloaks itself in the pretiege of religious tradition, it deserves to have even more rotten vegetables thrown at it. And I'm more than happy to oblige.

"By their works ye shall know them." How about that as a standard by which to judge Bush and Lay? There's actual wisdom in the Christian religious tradition. Repent, Christianists!


Anthony said…
Just to let you know - I'm fairly sure this is WRONG christian teaching. A person's life is judged both by his forgiveness from God as well as his acts on Earth.

Especially if you consider acceptance of Christ into your life as being influencing on your actions.

I'm quite happy if the eulogy said that "For all of Ken's sins, we pray that God forgives you." That would be proper I think.
Anonymous said…
Well, what's particularly annoying is that some sins are forgivable if you profess Christianity, but other sins are so bad that you can't even claim to be Christian. Guess which ones?

Also, you have no idea how much B.S. I hear about Jews being vengeful and unforgiving, but Christians being gentle and accepting because Jesus taught them better. Also Jews are tribal, whereas Christians love all mankind. Need I respond to this?
Anthony said…
No, Justin you don't. I'm also sure that's wrong Christian teaching.
Zachary Drake said…
Yes, I think this kind of thinking isn't "proper christian teaching", but remember that with protestants there's no central authority on what constitutes proper doctrine. Each denominataion can have different teachings, and for some denominations each church, sometimes each minister, and sometimes each individual church member can have different views on these matters. My own Unitarian Universalsim (which comes from Protestant traditions) is notorious for the broad spectrum of theological views it is willing to embrace. However, I doubt most UUs would be receptive to characterizations of Jews as "vengeful" or depictions of Ken Lay as a victim of lynching.

There are so many things Christianists do (and have done throughout history) that aren't "really Christian" that I've almost given up quoting scripture and Christian theology back at the Christianist right.

Also, you have no idea how much B.S. I hear about Jews being vengeful and unforgiving, but Christians being gentle and accepting because Jesus taught them better. Also Jews are tribal, whereas Christians love all mankind.

That's sad. Maybe you could mention the saying about not pointing out a mote in your friend's eye when there's a log in your own. One thing I've always liked about Judaism is that it is a religion that sees itself existing in a context of other religions.

Many Christians in this country seem to be only dimly aware that other religions are practiced by actual human beings. Maybe this insularity happens because there are many places in this country where other faiths (and non-faiths) are not very visible. (Maybe this happens with Jews who don't spend much time around anyone but other Jews, but I'm not in touch with such communities.)

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