Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rednecks redacted

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant

I found this book completely by accident. I was looking for Paul Fussell's Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, which had been discussed on the Basement Tape on "class". Fussell wasn't there, but this book was, and it looked interesting. It's a review of right-wing working-class white American (i.e. redneck) culture, written by a liberal for liberals, presumably so they can better understand their fellow countrymen. An excellent summary of the ideas in the book is in Bageant's article, "Why rednecks may rule the world."

Most of the book is about redneck poverty: many have unrealistic mortgages weighing them down, and many have to contend with enormous medical bills. But the most interesting chapters are the ones about guns and religion - which form, of course, the inspiration for the book's title. Unfortunately, Bageant lumps together premillennialists and reconstructionists, dismissing the differences with an airy "I will spare you the agony of fundamentalist taxonomy." But he makes an amazing claim about R. J. Rushdoony: if the United States experiences a fourth "Great Awakening", historians may one day document it as beginning in 1973 with the publication of The Institutes of Biblical Law.

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