Teaching is just going great -- a treat. Studying American lit is also a salve for my liberal soul: while previously I thought in apocalyptic terms -- George W.'s stripping of civil rights will imperil American liberal society itself -- now I realize that these apocalyptic terms are the very same as George W.'s (from his State of the Union last night):
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos...In fact, George W.'s rhetoric is much like Jonathan Edwards' in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." We stand on the edge of apocalypse! One misstep and it's hell for sure! Fear! Fear! Fear!
Of course, these are all tropes. There's no "thing in itself" -- there's only the interpretation and the terminology we use to describe it. There's a real terrorist threat, but the rhetoric that's been used has the purpose of persuading people to a policy, not describing a problem accurately.
My students pointed that out. As one student said of George W.'s efforts to convince Americans to support his "new" Iraq policy, "it's his job."
You use the terms people understand. It may be hard reading "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," but it's got sweet implications and reverberations today.
J. Edwards, Norton page 209:Indeed, as Americans, we are perpetually under attack on all sides. American fear, baby.
“God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation.”