God’s own exceptionalism

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I’m basically down with Dan Schultz’s suggestion that God takes sides, and that the side God takes is the side of the poor. Of course, being me, I’d probably get all professorial and say that the Judeo-Christian tradition, or maybe the Abrahamic one, suggests a preferential option for the poor (as the Catholics say) on the Deity’s part. To make the case, I’d point to certain, ah, normative pronouncements in Scripture, whether by Isaiah or Jesus or as related to Moses from on high.

Of course, if this is true, one is entitled to wonder whether God takes sides at the level of the nation. The old Judeo-answer was yes, if you happened to be Israel. The latter-day answer, around since Christianity reared its head, has been yes, since we’re now Israel. Currently, in these parts, that concept is embraced most fervently in Republican circles, in the form of the Doctrine of American Exceptionalism.

Woe to him who departeth from this doctrine. Him would be President Obama, who last year got all Lincoln Second Inauguralish when he claimed both to believe in American Exceptionalism and to suggest that in doing so he was being more or less like the Brits who believe in British Exceptionalism and the Greeks who believe in Greek Exceptionism. Sheesh, you’d almost think that the Almighty had His own purposes.

Of course, the normal question to ask about a religious belief is on what basis it is held. So far as I know, the only American religious tradition that has scriptural warrant for American Exceptionalism is the LDS Church, whose Book of Mormon describes a visit by Jesus to these shores and whose Doctrine and Covenants proclaims the Constitution to be divinely inspired. The closest the rest of us can come these days is the Gospel According to Sarah.