Thursday, June 29, 2017

Facing the Prosperity Gospel Head On

My wife just introduced me to Patricia Roberts Miller today, whose blog on the prosperity gospel and just world hypothesis is well worth reading, as we all try to figure out how to respond to the deeper cultural & reactionary forces driving Trumpism.

Here is a link to her blog.

The premise for the prosperity gospel is that the existing hierarchy is intended and defended by god; it is just; it is easy to understand; there are only makers and takers and it is a violation of god's plan, therefore, to upset the current distribution to allow bad people to get good things (particularly for free).

Miller's central point is that calling those on the religious right hypocrites because they support eliminating health care for the poor misses the point. They are not hypocrites because they have constructed a belief system where that cold-heartedness is, in their eyes, what god intends.

So, we need to come up with a more effective response. Calling them hypocrites must be displaced by more effective ways of framing a response. Miller suggests we begin that work by first taking the time to understand the scriptural arguments behind the prosperity gospel, today and in the recent past.

Then the challenge is to find ways to think & talk about this that do not play into our opponents' hands (like framing this as 'you are a hypocrite').

For me, this pushes me to return to George Lakoff 's distinction between the strict fathers frame preferred by conservatives and the nurturing parent frame preferred by least as one starting point for strategizing.

Miller also highlights the importance of seeing the weakness of their method, a deeper layer for this conflict.

If the method once produced a creed that supported slavery, even though they now denounce slavery but still use the same method, we need to see the deeper flaw in a method that starts from the premise that the existing power structure is what god intended and then searches the bible for language to support this at any point in time (language to support slavery in the past and language to support denying the poor health care today).

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