Christianity and Middle-Earth

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Shadow on the Pelennor

The recent episode in Florida in which a woman was put to death by having her food and water taken away—a condition we call starvation when applied to sub-Saharan drought refugees—is in my opinion the point at which America’s cultural collision reached critical mass.

The sides were pretty clearly drawn, the worldviews apparent—despite the efforts of the death-supporters to smudge their talking points with expert-speak obfuscations. (I get very tired of ‘experts.’)

At one pole was a moral tradition based in old-fashioned Judeo-Christian chivalry, a view that regards each human being as an individual of intrinsic worth and made in the image of God himself; at the other pole was the bastard offspring of a mating of the Efficiency-mongers JRR Tolkien so despised with a sort of Paganism Redux.

The enfant terrible born of this unlikely consummation apportions worth not to persons, but to the collective, leaving the individual subject to the demands of the socio-political market, valuable only so far as his or her existence pays a dividend at the ballot box (a perspective which reminds me strongly of Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery).

The conflict between these worldviews is the great battle of our time.


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