Barack Obama rocks (XI): Why submergent types love him...

(Tim) Since the decline of his health about a year ago, requiring him to move in with his daughter, leaving Washington D.C. behind, my favorite columnist on American culture and politics, Joe Sobran, has been on hiatus. His articles are few and far between, about every three months, now, and I've missed him quite a bit. So it was a happy day, today, when a new column arrived--this one on our recurrent theme of why Senator Obama rocks, as hip, chic, submergent types see it.

For my money, the keys needed to unlock the submergent church scene are chronological snobbery--after all, they are chrysalises emerging from the slime of our patriarchal, authoritarian, institutional roots--and they hate authority. Thus their support for Senator Obama. He's new, he's about change; what's not to like?

But of course, neither Arcbishop McLaren nor Cardinal Obama are about change, not to even the slightest degree. They're carbon copies of one another. They're both relentlessly superficial, adroit, and non-Christian, in lockstep with our superficial, adroit, and non-Christian information class. Why bother faulting them with wanting to be on the winning side? It's positively democratic, isn't it?

But I do fault them with claiming originality in their consummately predictable, boring opinions. Sobran says it so much better...

The Reactionary Utopian
July 3, 2008

Obama and Abortion

by Joe Sobran

What is he really saying?

Barack Obama, that gourmet among dung beetles, appeals strongly to the sort of smug people I used to find mildly irritating when I was in college -- the sort who wore lapel buttons bearing such bold messages as "Question authority" or "I read banned books." In America, everything is mass-produced, including non-conformity, and these buttons were a standard part of every young non-conformist's uniform. The most comically egregious of these "non-conformists" were the hippies of the late Sixties.

You know the type: I think it was the art critic Harold Rosenberg, who memorably dubbed them "the herd of independent minds." They confirm Samuel Johnson's witty remark that most people's opinions are "not propagated by reason, but caught by contagion." One of the marks of this breed is an unconscious predictability, a certainty that one has achieved one's own views, however trite they may be, without the assistance of any Authority.

...They are passive yet passionate agents of fashion. As G.K. Chesterton puts it: "There is everywhere the habit of assuming certain things, in the sense of not even imagining the opposite things." He explains: "The thing I mean is a man's inability to state his opponent's view, and often his inability even to state his own."

Small children often have highly original thoughts, and one of the purposes of education is to correct them early, before originality reaches the point of heresy or psychosis. A wise Christian, George MacDonald, notes: "Our Lord never thought of being original." Amen. Jesus said the truth will make us free. He said nothing about being "original," or clever, or eloquent...

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Sad to say, this column isn't yet available, publicly. Only subscribers to Sobran's "Reactionary Utopian" e-subscription service may read it in its entirety. Still, I hope these few paragraphs demonstrated what you're missing...


This is great stuff. I totally agree. At seminary, I often confront other students about the issue of the unborn and the response is typically something along the lines of 'oh that is so 1990s'. Since when is standing up for the weak a temporal fashion?

This describes - almost perfectly - most of the graduate students I know:

> "Small children often have highly original thoughts, and one of the purposes of education is to correct them early, before originality reaches the point of heresy or psychosis."

Most graduate students have been encouraged (since birth) by their parents and by the public education system to follow any novel tendency as if it was creative. Very few have much ability to think critically or to allow their correct ideas to lead them to a consistent and integrated life. They do, however, defer to authority, but only to the authority of their professors and advisors, whose ideas they regurgitate as if they were their own. I find it all so depressing.

Also, much like Sobran, waves of satisfaction roll over me whenever I see a capitalistically-produced "Che Guevara" t-shirt. Such self-defeating irony; I only wish I would have thought of it.

“Universities are the most overrated institutions of our age. Of all the calamities which have befallen the 20th century, apart from the two world wars, the expansion of higher education, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, was the most enduring. It is a myth that universities are nurseries of reason. They are hothouses for every kind of extremism, irrationality, intolerance and prejudice, where intellectual and social snobbery is almost purposefully instilled and where dons attempt to pass on to their students their own sins of pride" (Oxford historian Paul Johnson).

"that gourmet among dung beetles"

I LOVE it!!!


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