Apr 13, 2023·edited Apr 13, 2023

An excellent episode. I remember the original from last year.

The last time I remember a clear allusion to the Hebrew Bible in American political culture was Reagan's speech about "tear down this wall" ("let my people go," in other words) at the Berlin Wall in 1987, thirty-one years after The Ten Commandments movie. Clinton made reference to a "new convenant" with the American people -- an allusion to both the Bible and the New Deal -- but many ministers objected to it.

The 1990s saw the rise of belief in technocracy, neoliberalism, and money-making among America's elite, which is still with us. They've tried to fill the void with fake substitutes, like environmentalism and "woke," moving us at the same time from science to pseudo-science to anti-science. These developments have stripped Americans of the ability to talk about politics in terms of moral agency and self-government. AI and video games may do the rest and kill off democratic self-government completely.

Antisemitism certainly draws from the notion of active divine involvement in history and the specialness of Israel ("am segulah" -- "a treasured people," roughly). There's more to it, though. About hidden, occult forces in nefarious control, there's a conspiratorial paranoia as well (whose distant ancestry can be found among the ancient gnostics of Alexandria, who also resented the Jews and their god -- they believed a lower god and its minions, the astrological bodies and other lower elements, enslaved the body and entombed the soul there -- "soma sema" -- it's a pun in Greek).

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Bari, absolutely loved this episode. I'm Latter-day Saint and Brigham young is constantly referred to as the American Moses among our people and our crossing the plains to escape religious persecution as our Exodus. And, related but different, in June 1979, National Geographic wrote an article about the similarities between the holy land and Salt Lake City. All this to say, the imagery of the Exodus is constantly referred to our church, in more than just our study of the Old Testament.

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Have to say if I did listen to this before, I must have forgotten a lot of it because the underlying narrative still sounds like gobbledygook to me and doesn't really mean anything. Nonetheless, I do find it interesting.

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