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David Brooks gets religion...

...The one true American faith, that is: Free-market capitalism. Praise be its name forever! And don't any of you go backsliding during what Rev. Brooks rather euphemistically calls this momentary "pause" in our economy:

But if there is one thing we can be sure of, this pause will not last. The cultural DNA of the past 400 years will not be erased. The pendulum will swing hard. The gospel of success will recapture the imagination.Somewhere right now theres probably a smart publisher searching for the most unabashed, ambitious, pro-wealth, pro-success manuscript she can find, and in about three months shell pile it up in the nations bookstores. Somewhere theres probably a TV producer thinking of hiring Jim Cramer to do a show to tell story after story of unapologetic business success. Somewhere theres a politician finding a way to ride the commercial renaissance that is bound to come, ready to explain how government can sometimes nurture entrepreneurial greatness and sometimes should get out of the way.

Testify, Brother Brooks! Read it all in his column today.

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Brooksian "centrism" consists of tedious iterations of the following formula: "Sometimes x is bad, but sometimes x is good. Now that everyone's saying x is bad, let's not forget that x is sometimes good." That formula ("Let's Not Get Carried Away!") is then dressed up in lots of pop-sociological observation to make it look like an empirical fact rather than the reflex of a man who gets dizzy every time he steps more than a foot away from the status quo.

Yes,, the greed creed gospel.. he even mentions Cramer who bungled his apologetic responses so badly last week! Which college will invite him to give the commencement speech and inspire the young with this message? His piece even failed to hide it's base uglyness. He will end up another Cramer on the podium with this greed creed..expect boos and no caps in the air.

Somewhere theres probably a TV producer thinking of hiring Jim Cramer to do a show to tell story after story of unapologetic business success....As an antidote to all those stories we're currently hearing about unapologetic business failures? I can't tell whether this is meant to be a joke or not. It's making me dizzy. (Matt, bravo - even George Packer couldn't describe Brooks that well!)

Thomas Friedman writes that same column at least once a month.

Of course the Rt. Rev. Brooks will preach it real good. That's how HE gets buried in gelt.

If I may be allowed to quote a little more Brooks:

We are now in an astonishingly noncommercial moment. Risk is out of favor. The financial world is abashed. Enterprise is suspended. The public culture is dominated by one downbeat story after another as members of the educated class explore and enjoy the humiliation of the capitalist vulgarians.

So that's what's getting people down -- the way the "educated class" is dominating "public culture" and turning people's hearts against "risk." Here I was thinking it had something to do with lost jobs and savings, foreclosed homes and sick people who can't afford care. This column is beyond parody -- does Brooks even know that the "economic crisis" is more than a conceptual reality?

"So thats whats getting people down the way the educated class is dominating public culture and turning peoples hearts against risk. Here I was thinking it had something to do with lost jobs and savings, foreclosed homes and sick people who cant afford care. "Mollie, I think Brooks sees that the entrepreneurial risk-takers and the unemployed workers are connected. The activities of the former create the jobs for the latter. If/when the recovery begins, it will be because employers are creating jobs again rather than shedding them.

True enough, Jim, but Brooks didn't even gesture toward nitty-gritty details like job creation. He focused on things like magazine covers and popular songs -- as though all the nation really needs is a 21st century Horatio Alger to get us dreaming again, or some neo-Tin Pan Alley encouragement to Look for the Silver Lining. I've always been fascinated by how popular art responded to, and was shaped by, the Depression and World War II, and I expect it will be interesting, 60 or 70 years from now, to look back at our own era's cultural response. But in the moment, I think bromides about "encouraging middle-class people to...make money" are mainly just out of touch. Speaking of which, this part of Brooks's lament struck me as flat-out wrong:

There are few magazine covers breathlessly telling readers that some new possibility biotechnology, nanotechnology is about to change everything.

If that doesn't describe the ESCR hype, what does? Maybe the breathless overselling was happening in venues other than magazine covers (like "Larry King Live," or the White House press office), but if so, that's a small victory for magazines, not a defeat for American can-do-ism.

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About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.