Saint Ronald Reagan.
The news today reminds me how intertwined religiosity is with the political consciousness of our times. If you had not heard, and even if you had heard, there is an auction at www.pfcauctions.com that claims to be selling a vial of the blood of Reagan. This is scintillating.
On the one hand, the sale is the literal commodification of a part of Ronald Reagan’s body: his blood, the very pulsing life from his veins from the day he was nearly martyred. And such a move to commodification should be no surprise to those who have idolized the former President. The Imperial Ruler-God, Money, must smile to hear the seller say, “President Reagan himself would rather see me sell it rather than donating it.” Indeed, what other true value does anything have apart from its weight in mammon?
On the other hand, this selling of the blood of a dead hero bears fascinating likeness to the Roman Catholic Christian practice of the veneration of the relics of Saints. Relics are bodies, or tiny fragments of the bodies (bones, teeth, hair, etc.) of the Saints. There is not a Catholic Church on the planet that does not have a relic of a saint within it. And this selling of the blood of the Reagan is nothing but the highest imaginable (at least highest to those who venerate him) veneration of his relic.
Do you have another hand handy? I seem to have run out. Maybe a relic will do: perhaps the mummified hand of St. James the Great? On this third hand, Reagan is also the subject of a vast cultural retelling, recasting of the story of his life and legacy. The lives of the saints are told in a form of literature called hagiography (literally, holy writing), wherein the deeds of the saints are recast and amplified, holiness is asserted, and ambiguities and wrinkles are steamed out. A kernel of truth serves as the genesis point for the hagiographer’s tale.
In much the same fashion, the legendary, mythological Reagan has replaced the man who was President for eight years. Gone is the guy who exploded our national debt and ignited the debt spiral we are now in. Gone is the guy who granted amnesty to illegal immigrants (Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986). Gone is the guy who consented to raise taxes 11 times—e-lev-en times in those 8 years. He has been replaced by an image, an idol.
Don’t get me wrong: Reagan was no saint. But, the hagiographers who re-make Ronald Reagan into the Saint of the Tea Party, should be proud of the seller of the Blood of the Reagan. He stands to profit handsomely. And surely God wouldn’t dare be against profit. ‘Cause that would be the real blasphemy.
Saint of Tax-Cut, Debt-Busting, and Illegal-Immigrant-Hating, Ronald Reagan, p[r]ay for us. Amen.