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01/11/2010 / Lynn Rabbitts

Chapter 5: Jesus, Christmas, Depression in Hegemony

“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.” –Bob Dylan

I consider this to be the most important tenant of my life. Not in a crude statement of faith, or a FOX pundit “bravely” going on television and espousing their beliefs. The same conviction I’ve held that statement to now comes under fire when put under the context of  Chapter 5 of Communication and Culture, where it states “the repetition of ideology across the culture, as Bourdieu suggests, helps to ensure that we forget that ideology… is ideology.” (CC pg 75)

In attempt to illustrate ideology let us look at the  documentary, Jesus Camp. I set out to watch it with the same,  stupid human ideology as the commentators below the movie: wanting to watch something to first become angry, then reach a resolve that you’re better than them and finally resolve to do something to make their lives miserable.

But I didn’t get that out of the documentary at all. Yes, it is scary watching somebody believe so fervently in something, see how easy it is to be swayed to the point of hate, and, as Marx said “create a ‘reality’ so as to provide a false meaning of life” (CC pg 77). The documentary, however,  doesn’t attempt to portray them in a foul light, nor is it sensational enough to make those depicted “hang themselves”. Instead these are people who find beauty through this, and while if they may meat me I would still be considered a heathen, I at least understand, now, where they’re coming from.

World War I, The Great War, was a war of ideology and hegemony. The ideology brought on when leaders decided to play war and the hegemony of their citizens “gloriously” signing-up to participate in the great adventure. It hadn’t been going on for long when The Christmas Truce happened (as described in the article by Simon Rees). Service men, on both sides, bucked hegemony to “see the enemy up close–was he really as bad as the politicians, papers and priests were saying?”

The English and the Germans began to fraternize, to which “Stern orders were issued by the commander against such behavior.”

On some parts of the front this was ignored. Some used it as a somber time to bury the dead left, in other areas Germans and English troops exchanged cigarettes, in one place a soccer game happened–Germany won 3-2.

Hegemony, ideology, war took over after Christmas. Put best by Captain J C Dunn, the Medical Officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers:

“At 8.30 I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it, and I climbed on the parapet.  [The Germans] put up a sheet with “Thank you” on it, and the German Captain appeared on the parapet.  We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.”

It’s difficult to respect ideology and next to impossible to love hegemony. It does provide a lingua franca for communication to occur, but throws a monkey wrench into the tenant of my life in that beliefs–conviction  isn’t necessarily a good thing.  It makes  me sad for the world, one that seems too weary to continue on a truce or accept people different from themselves.

Wow, who needs a happy hour?

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