Go West

On Facebook, I posted that I wanted to be in NYC last week having previously appealed to my thousands of Friends (all BFF natch)  to send me to that city to attend Rethinking Secularism. Not one of them did – the fiends – and I instantly culled my 7,856 “friends”  down to the 15 who said that they would “see what they could do”. You know who you are! It didn’t just advertise like a vital discussion, it seems like the session last Thursday night in NYU became something of a ‘happening’. The Immanent Frame of course was all over it which made me even more jealous of the availability of such intellectual stimulation of an October evening when I am sure I sat down to watch reruns of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares USA on EvenMore4.

What's the point of Facebook friends when they won't indulge me?

There’s also a really handy part of the Google Empire called Alerts (yea, OK, I know) which sends a weekly digest of key phrases appearing online me-wards. This week’s digest brought me here and then I put 1 and 1 together and it clicked. That’s Cornel West. Now perhaps this profile of West appearing in Inside Jersey in the same week as he contributed to Rethinking Secularism is a coincidence but hey, this is the internet and it’s all about links, or so my flunkies tell me.

According to Ruth and colleagues over on the Immanent Frame, (who made it sound like a 15 rounder title-fight) West “gave a rousing talk imploring those gathered to recognize suffering in the world and to muster the courage to bear witness to the catastrophic”

and asked the audience to imagine a public discourse that spurs “righteous indignation against injustice, not just anger at persons.”  His call to engage in prophetic citizenship directed hearts and minds to the conflict in the Middle East, the financial scandals of Wall Street and the unfulfilled promise of the Obama administration.

Despite the obvious resonances this may have had for the mostly US audience, it would appear as if anger has its place in West’s worldview. The kind of anger that is righteous and not just directed at persons. Reading it again now it has clear resoances for people in Ireland too. “It’s the lazy public servant that has us broke”, “it’s the backward unions that are preventing progress” is now more a more common refrain here thanks to a government that believes it is still not responsible for the management of the public finances.

West calls himself a “gut bucket blues-inflected Christian,” reflecting a preacher side that is an important aspect of his identity.

We get the Amazing Travelling McWilliams and the hand-wringing of a bunch of economists who just discovered the internet. They’ve got a prophetic, post-’68er who still really believes that he is the change he wants to see in the world. However, judging by the quality of the comments at the end of the newspaper article, he has still got some work to do.