Deer Hunting with Jesus
Posted: 01 December 2007 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I wonder if anyone’s read Joe Bageant’s book Deer Hunting With Jesus, particularly the chapter called “The Covert Kingdom”?

Living in the south, I found it to reflect quite accurately the inner workings of the mind of the believer, particularly those of the “working class” who live paycheck to paycheck and seem to vote in ways that are so counter to their benefit.

Reviews at Amazon are divided into those who think it’s a diatribe against the “liberal elite,” or a criticism of “dumb rednecks” and those who simply feel it’s an honest attempt at trying to understand a group of people who look at the world from their windows and see a world “going to hell” and naturally welcome the end-times apocalypse.

Mr. Bageant compliments Sam Harris’ writings in a way that gives another dimension of understanding some of the workings of the bible-belt mind, and a window into what makes it tick. 

I found it to be a profoundly enjoyable read, although be ready to change your mind regarding some things “redneck,” and I hope you’d enjoy him as a loving, caring person with concern for “his people” and family that I see in so many of the posts here on this site.

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Posted: 03 December 2007 01:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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JeffP - 01 December 2007 12:56 PM

I wonder if anyone’s read Joe Bageant’s book Deer Hunting With Jesus, particularly the chapter called “The Covert Kingdom”?

Living in the south, I found it to reflect quite accurately the inner workings of the mind of the believer, particularly those of the “working class” who live paycheck to paycheck and seem to vote in ways that are so counter to their benefit.

Reviews at Amazon are divided into those who think it’s a diatribe against the “liberal elite,” or a criticism of “dumb rednecks” and those who simply feel it’s an honest attempt at trying to understand a group of people who look at the world from their windows and see a world “going to hell” and naturally welcome the end-times apocalypse.

Mr. Bageant compliments Sam Harris’ writings in a way that gives another dimension of understanding some of the workings of the bible-belt mind, and a window into what makes it tick. 

I found it to be a profoundly enjoyable read, although be ready to change your mind regarding some things “redneck,” and I hope you’d enjoy him as a loving, caring person with concern for “his people” and family that I see in so many of the posts here on this site.

Why did Mr. Bageant decide to call his book “Deer Hunting With Jesus ” ?

BTW : For what it’s worth- the December 3-07 NEWSWEEK has an article called “Bankrolling Ali’s Asylum ” . It’s about Ayaan Hirsi Ali ( Infidel ” ) and her ordeal as a fugitve running to and then from the Netherlands to the USA etc. Sam Harris is mentioned in the article also as the person who instigated help for her by “raising money ( to put it bluntly ) “to keep Ali alive “. It also says that in Harris’s article in the Los Angeles Times he calls her “The first political Refugee from Western Europe since the Holocaust ” Come to think of it—he’s right, isn’t he ? The article makes Sam sound like a hero , which makes sense too.  (“keep Ali alive etc.”) Newsweek is probably the most popular magazine in the world , so a lot of people will read it, which is good. The more publicity it gets the better .Nice picture of her too.

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Posted: 03 December 2007 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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JeffP - 01 December 2007 12:56 PM

Reviews at Amazon are divided into those who think it’s a diatribe against the “liberal elite,” or a criticism of “dumb rednecks” and those who simply feel it’s an honest attempt at trying to understand a group of people who look at the world from their windows and see a world “going to hell” and naturally welcome the end-times apocalypse.

The real problem is that many white males feel adrift by social change and economic dislocation who focus their resentment on the wrong targets. They don’t usually focus on the forces with real power to affect their lives, such as corporations or health insurance companies. (I’m not saying that either are inherently evil.) Instead, they find scapegoats such as intellectuals or liberal entertainers or self-serving activists. In fact, when these men think of rich elites, they tend think of Hollywood liberals instead of Fortune 500 conservatives. Limbaugh has made a career out of manipulating such resentment.

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Posted: 03 December 2007 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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“The real problem is that many white males feel adrift by social change and economic dislocation who focus their resentment on the wrong targets.”

Who are the right targets?

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Posted: 03 December 2007 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Carstonio, you nailed it exactly flat on the head.  His book is a expose on just those very things. 

He takes the most genuine method I’ve ever seen on addressing these truths—he lives with them, his boyhood hometown; and his critics who claim he has no love or respect for the people he writes about are unfounded. 

Dee, you’d have to live in the south, the bible-belt perhaps, to really appreciate why he chose the title of his book to be Deer Hunting with Jesus.  I hope you read it to see how it’s named!

Enjoy!

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Posted: 15 December 2007 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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JeffP - 01 December 2007 12:56 PM

I wonder if anyone’s read Joe Bageant’s book Deer Hunting With Jesus?

Well, I just finished reading “Deer Hunting With Jesus.” I hadn’t heard of Joe Bageant or his book until I saw this thread. 

The book opens with the oft-asked question:  why do the people of “The Heartland” consistently vote Republican seemingly against their own best interest?  Bageant is at his best when he provides entertaining anecdotes to illustrate why this is so.  But it seemed like most of the book was just a long rant against all the usual suspects:  corporate America, the media, the military and the Republicans.  Not that I disagree with what he’s saying necessarily, but it’s already been said and said and said.  To be fair, he’s also critical of the liberal elite for being unable or unwilling to relate to redneck culture.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter on redneck gun culture, and why the liberals are so out of touch with reality when it comes to the second amendment.  I’ve often wondered why the Democrats are so stupidly stubborn—to their own detriment—on this issue.

The book’s jacket describes Bageant as a “hero among gonzo-journalism junkies.”  He seems to be trying to emulate the likes of Hunter Thompson through embellishment and exaggeration.  But where Thompson was funny with his over-the-top descriptions of fast cars, drugs and nearly everything else, Bageant comes across as merely shrill, especially by the end of the book.

All told, Bageant points to plenty of problems but doesn’t really suggest any answers beyond a vague exhortation for liberals to climb down out of their ivory towers and rub shoulders with the unwashed masses.  He tries to make a case that it’s not the rednecks’ fault that they’re fat and stupid and exploited, but by the end of the book I found myself thinking exactly the opposite.  One line in particular, near the end, caught my attention:  “The problem is, they [Bageant’s beloved rednecks] are pretty happy the way they are.”  Who exactly is that a problem for?

My recommendation:  save yourself a few bucks and wait for the paperback edition.

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Posted: 16 December 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist:
Thanks for a cool review.  I agree on many of the points you make.  The chapter on gun control was a real eye-opener for me, especially regarding the statistics on the number of crimes prevented by handgun owners.  I had always (in the back of my mind) wondered:  ...where are the gun owners when some mass-murdered shows up at a mall with a automatic weapon?...

However I do also recognize the bonding that occurs with the hunting ritual—I grew up within a “hunting” family, although I never acquired a real taste for it.  Some of those hunting trips in my early years stand out as very good memories and times.  We followed the rules. I can appreciate that deer hunting is a way of life for many folks.

However I took another point from his writing, that education is key for people of all stripes to be pulled from the depths of ignorance—in his view, the same ignorance (not necessarily unintelligence) that keeps the “happy” masses voting in ways that ultimately keep them and all of us in economic and political quagmires.  Al Gore makes the same arguments in The Assault on Reason to a degree—especially his perception that many of us are (as a general public) willing to understanding an issue to the definition of a 30 second political commercial, during breaks within the football game.  It’s scary to think that a large percentage of college educated folks read less than one book a year after graduation.

And I would hope that our degree of being “pretty happy the way [we] are” is fine to the extent that it doesn’t affect others in ways that are hurtful for them or for all of us collectively—a collective drop in IQ can be the end of our society.

I’ll read Hunter Thompson on your recommendation.  Thanks—Jeff P

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Posted: 16 December 2007 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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JeffP - 16 December 2007 12:10 PM

The chapter on gun control was a real eye-opener for me, especially regarding the statistics on the number of crimes prevented by handgun owners.  I had always (in the back of my mind) wondered:  ...where are the gun owners when some mass-murdered shows up at a mall with a automatic weapon?...

From what I have read, a huge percentage of the handgun deaths have nothing to do with crime, but instead result from fights between spouses, friends, family members, and even strangers. Is this accurate? Would it be accurate to say that cases of handguns used in self-defense against crime make up a small percentage of handgun uses or deaths?

JeffP - 16 December 2007 12:10 PM

I can appreciate that deer hunting is a way of life for many folks.

That is true for some folks. For others it’s mostly a display of ugly machismo, a contest to see who can bag the biggest buck. The latter group might include trophy hunters.

JeffP - 16 December 2007 12:10 PM

However I took another point from his writing, that education is key for people of all stripes to be pulled from the depths of ignorance—in his view, the same ignorance (not necessarily unintelligence) that keeps the “happy” masses voting in ways that ultimately keep them and all of us in economic and political quagmires.  Al Gore makes the same arguments in The Assault on Reason to a degree—especially his perception that many of us are (as a general public) willing to understanding an issue to the definition of a 30 second political commercial, during breaks within the football game.  It’s scary to think that a large percentage of college educated folks read less than one book a year after graduation.

Well said.

[ Edited: 16 December 2007 10:28 AM by Carstonio]
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Posted: 28 December 2008 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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mcalpine - 03 December 2007 03:09 PM

“The real problem is that many white males feel adrift by social change and economic dislocation who focus their resentment on the wrong targets.”

Who are the right targets?

Themselves?  Maybe they should look at the choices they made that got them into the situations that they are angry and disillusioned about?  Just a thought.

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