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中国日报网 2020-11-20 10:55

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Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: This is against what we learned in Sunday school.


My comments:

This is not right, in short.

If something is against what’s taught in Sunday school, it is probably not right. It’s probably immoral, impure or blasphemous.

Something like that.

Sunday school, you see, is a school for religious people. It’s held on Sunday for religious education. In Sunday school, they teach or preach about religion, about morality, about purity of the spirit, about loyalty and obedience to the Christian God.

Things like that.

Sunday school is so-called because it’s held on Sunday, an off day, and so you probably need to talk about these loftier things, loftier than math, e.g. to keep people interested, especially kids.

I’m joking.

Joking is probably also against what’s taught in Sunday school. So I’ll stop right here.

Thankfully, it’s enough for us and for now to understand that what’s taught in Sunday school is orthodox and right, moral and proper.

What’s against what’s taught in Sunday school is, hence, anything but. In other words, probably wrong, immoral or at any rate improper.

Okay, here are media examples of situations where “Sunday school” is evoked to make a point, a moral point:


1. Dear Bob,

I start each day thinking about the terrible burden you bear. I don't know what I would actually do, if in your position, but I do know what I wish I would do. The first thing would be to face the truth. You and I both know that:

1) Despite the White House spin attempts, this will go down as a colossal failure of the public health system of this country. The biggest challenge in a century and we let the country down. The public health texts of the future will use this as a lesson on how not to handle an infectious disease pandemic.

2) The cause will be the incompetence and illogic of the White House program.

3) The White House has had no hesitation to blame and disgrace CDC, you and the State Governors. They will blame you for the disaster. In six months, they have caused CDC to go from gold to tarnished brass.

Why and how has that happened? The failure of the White House to put CDC in charge, has resulted in the violation of every lesson learned in the last 75 years that made CDC the gold standard for public health in the world.

For example, the prime lesson of “Know the Truth,” has been so obscured by the White House that people and the media go to the academic community for truth, rather than to CDC.

Second the need for a coherent federal plan, the backbone of every former response, has been ignored, resulting in 50 states developing their own plans, often in competition.

Third, the absolute need to form and guide coalitions has been ignored as the president thrives instead on causing divisions.

Fourth, the need for global cooperation, which you clearly understand from your work in Africa, has been squander[ed] by an “America First” policy that mocks what we learned in Sunday School, and leaves us on the outside of the global public health community.

- Letter from Bill Foege, Past CDC Director, to Robert Redfield, Current CDC Director, USAToday.com, September 23, 2020.


2. So far, the 21st century has been a century of menace and insecurity. The threats have come in rapid succession: terrorism, financial collapse, plague, climate change, the quaking of our democracy. For good reasons, a tone of heightened alarm has become the default setting across the media.

People on the right and the left see threats coming from different places. In his new book, “The Securitarian Personality,” political scientist John R. Hibbing argues that people on the right tend to react to threats coming from outside America, while people on the left see threats coming from the powerful financial and political spheres inside America.

Hibbing’s book, based on reporting, focus groups and surveys, is an attempt to understand what motivates the most enthusiastic Trump supporters. The most ardent ones, he notes, are not economically marginalized, not submissive, not authoritarian, not religious or conventionally conservative. They have a strong concept that there is a core America, a concept which I suppose you could summarize as white, rural, John Wayne, football and hunting.

They feel that core America is under existential threat from people they view as outsiders: immigrants, Chinese communists, cosmopolitan urbanites and people of color. They see themselves as strong and vigilant protectors, defending the sacred homeland from alien menace.

People who feel themselves under threat have a high tolerance for cruelty in their leaders: A little savagery to defend the homeland might be a good thing.

But the crucial thing about Donald Trump is that he is not a nationalist who uses immoral means. He is first and foremost an immoralist, whose very being was defined by dishonesty, cruelty, betrayal and cheating long before he put on political garb.

In this campaign, Trump’s nationalist platform — trade, immigration — has faded into the background while his immoral nature has taken center stage. Compared with 2016, it’s more pure Trump and less Pat Buchanan.

The key events of the campaign have been moral events: Trump reportedly calling military veterans and the war dead suckers and losers; Trump downplaying a deadly pandemic to the American people; Trump failing to pay fair taxes; Trump sidling up to white supremacists, resorting to racist and QAnon dog whistles.

The debate was an important moment. You and I can give sermons about how cruel, dishonest behavior shreds the norms of a decent society. But moral degradation is an invisible process. It happens subtly over time.

During Tuesday night’s debate, by contrast, people got to see, in real time, how Trump’s vicious behavior destroyed an American institution, the presidential debate. They got to see how his savagery made ordinary human conversation impossible. Debate-watchers were confronted with a core truth: What Trump did to that debate Tuesday night is what he’ll do to America in a second term.

On Tuesday we got see that immorality isn’t just a vague thing people talk about in Sunday school. It is a Howitzer that blows through walls and leaves rubble. It is an attempt to serve yourself by breaking things and making other people suffer.

- At his core, Trump is an immoralist, by David Brooks, PalmBeachPost.com, October 3, 2020.


3. I was young — perhaps only 3 or 4 — when I learned in Sunday school that “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

I saw artists’ renditions of those children — little Black faces, brown faces, red faces, and yellow faces — peering out from Sunday school workbooks, but to me, those children were theoretical. I had never met anyone who was not white.

And I knew from the pictures in our Sunday school books that Jesus was white as well.

Then, in second or third grade, I learned to recite the American Creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident — that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

To my young mind, the American Creed was but an extension of the Christian affirmation that “Jesus loves all the children of the world,” and I knew from an early age that a white Jesus had validated the goals of my nation, the meaning of my world.

In this way I learned the first of the six Great American Myths: that America is a Christian Nation.

A “myth” is a story, whether true or false, that gives our lives meaning, and I found great meaning and comfort in the notion that the American nation was built on the solid rock of Jesus himself.

During my teenage years, I encountered more of the Great American Myths. No one taught me those myths. Rather, they belonged to the culture in which I matured, and I absorbed them by osmosis.

I learned that the United States is a Chosen Nation, singled out by God for a special mission in the world.

I learned that the United States is Nature’s Nation, rooted in the natural order of things. While other nations conformed to human wit and contrivance, my nation conformed to God’s own design.

I learned that the United States is a Millennial Nation, destined to bless the earth with democracy and freedom and finally to create — with the help of God Almighty — a golden age for all humankind.

And I learned that the nobility of our cause — to extend freedom around the globe — rendered the United States a perpetually Innocent Nation.

But the tumult of the 1960s began to burst my mythic bubble. I listened closely as a loud chorus of voices — perhaps half the nation or more — clung to the Great American Myths even as they besmirched the name of Martin Luther King Jr., castigated the Freedom Movement as Communist-inspired and anti-Christian, and defended a war that King claimed in 1967 had “killed a million (Vietnamese) — mostly children.”

Was this what it meant to be a Christian nation? To be a nation chosen by God to bring freedom and democracy to all humankind? To be a nation built on nature’s own design?

- A white Jesus, the American Creed, and a nation badly divided, by Richard T. Hughes, Baptist News Global, October 29, 2020.

本文仅代表作者本人观点,与本网立场无关。欢迎大家讨论学术问题,尊重他人,禁止人身攻击和发布一切违反国家现行法律法规的内容。

About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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