12.11.2007

Hmmm...

Shayna posted an article by Ben Stein. Normally I plead out of the War on Christmas as an atheist who celebrates it but isn't a fan of the commmerce. But this piece speaks to something different. If I didn't have enormous respect for Shayna, and, you know, a bit of respect for Stein (Shayna doles out the awesome in a far less assuming way and never asked for her own TV show), I might not say anything. Some people hold their tongue out of respect. I challenge that notion entirely. If I hold my tongue it either means, (a) you don't matter, or (b) it's not worth the trouble to say anything.

I'm a delight at parties, I'll tell you.

I guess the central assumption of Ben Stein's piece is that there's some overarching persecution of people of faith in this country, where people of faith are in fact the majority, and people with no faith are one of the most universally distrusted minorities. A country that had a state funeral for Jerry Falwell. In my lifetime, the elected leader of the free world said that he didn't believe it was possible for someone without faith to be a true American, and Ben Stein is saying that the secular are the persecutors? He's smarter than that.

Katrina as the withdrawal of divine protection as punishment for separation of church and state? "Insight" is the last word I'd use to describe that. It's less offensive than "gays, feminists, secular Jews and the ACLU are responsible for 9/11," but it's in the general rhyming vicinity.

The majority of people who lament the departure of God from our culture are the same ones who themselves are guilty of glossing over the teachings of the man they call their Saviour and greatest prophet. A man who got nailed to a tree for saying that it would be great if we could be compassionate and non-judgemental. Who, depending on one's interpretations of "Render unto Caesar what is due Caesar, and unto God what is due God" was in favor of separation of church and state, and certainly wouldn't have been nailed to anything if there was any such concept in his day and age.

I say Merry Christmas, and scoff at those who adorn the sentiment in PC sobriquets because the idea that the birth of a man who died for expressing those ideas isn't worth celebrating whether or not you believe he was the son of God is absurd.

The world is going to hell in large part, though not entirety, because of the twisted fanaticism of people who believe that they are doing God's work. This is, I suspect, the real intent behind the words of the God-bashers he refers to. They're lambasting the hypothetical character who allows his own words to be twisted when he used to shout them aloud from burning bushes. A character who says that if two guys kiss it's totally gross. I say this because I myself have gone on the record that if this God person does exist, he's got some fucking explaining to do

I don't ask people to change what they believe, only not to use it as an excuse. Citing a belief doesn't magically erase the label of bigotry from the persecution of Jews, gays, witches, and non-beleivers, nor does it erase the ignorance of rejecting scientific evidence. Surely when Stein scorned the ban of Bible study in public schools he wasn't saying Intelligent Design was the way to go, was he?

And if one was truly bothered by the backlash that does exist against organized religion, the constructive thing to do as a person of faith is to loudly and notoriously disown and disavow the apish purveyors of faith-based hatred and ignorance; to burn the pedestal out from beneath their feet. Not blame society's ills on the people who are sick to fucking death of those swine and sometimes make the mistake of painting with too broad a brush.

9 comments:

  1. Shayna8:43 AM

    I think I didn't read as much into his post as everyone else. I just took his point as “can’t throw away the cake and eat it too.”

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  2. There was something off in his logic. He went from "Christmas wars" which no sane person cares about to how not believing in god is responsible for everything that's wrong

    I believe that more people in this country are agnostic than is thought. And that being agnostic or athesist doesn't mean a person is lacking in ethics

    Had he said that ID was the way to go he would have made more sense--but I'm pretty sure he believes in evolution

    His article bothered me because I hardly ever agree with him--though do find myself thinking about his positions, and his logic was so off

    I'm probably not making sense as this renovation has me exhausted

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  3. Forgot to say how much I loved your last paragraph

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  4. I think I posted a long blah blah at Pia's the other day so I won't repeat it. I do think that taking things out of context, just the sound bites is something a lot of people do, so one can't blame Shaynam as busy as she si with children and work and all, for doing so.
    I do think the sound bites are not so compelling though if one reads the context in which they are placed. We just happen to be people who read the whole story and not just the one or two sound bites we like.

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  5. Without a doubt. One of your best posts. Well said.

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  6. Shayna: I'm a bit relentless in that department, I'm afraid. I couldn't not respond.

    Pia: actually, he's an outspoken advocate for the Creationist/ID movement. He blames Darwinism for the Holocaust (presumably his basis is that the idea of genetic purification came as a result of Darwin. Odd that he doesn't also blame Christianity for it)

    Cooper: True. We do live in a culture dominated by soundbytes.

    Steph: Thanks

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  7. Ow-way. Where to begin?

    Perhaps with the idea that the Bible is an extraordinarily difficult book to read. Impossible, if one doesn't read Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek :). However, even if one does have access to the original Elizabethan English ;), it's still a pain. And that's not taking into account the recent report by the National Endowment for the Arts that the average American's ability to read is currently hovering somewhere between "orangutan" and "chimpanzee". Which means, a lot of important points get missed.

    For instance. Anyone who thinks that Katrina was "divine retribution" needs to give Jeremiah and Revelations a rest, and spend some time with Job.

    Jesus of Nazareth would have had no concept of a separation of church and state. Not least because the word "church" (ekklesias) was still a century away from being invented. To both Rome and Judea, as well as any other ancient society, the religion was the state - and to the extent that the historical Jeshua bin Joseph claimed messianic status (this is by no means certain, the Gospels were written by Salesmen of The Way), he would have claimed temporal as well as spiritual authority over Jerusalem. There are scholars who believe that the entire crucifixion narrative was invented by the Salesmen to explain how someone could possibly claim the title of Messiah when he and his movement patently did not overthrow the Romans - and didn't even come to the notice of any Roman jurists or historians (apart from a comment or two in Josephus's History of the Jews which were probably added by pious, and unscrupulous, scribes).

    The Puritans of Boston and Plymouth banned the celebration of Christmas, as the holiday has no biblical authority, and deplored the crass commercialism of the secular holiday. Some prejudices are indeed venerable. Though I have some sympathy with this one.

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  8. To be fair, I was referring more to the character Jesus as handed down by the Christian texts moreso than the historical Jesus. I mean, he's quoted to say the word "church" in the gospels, but the only word that anyone with legit historical cred has confirmed that he ever actually said was "abba"

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  9. Dios mio it seems I have missed a lot and am too outta the loop, as well as loopy, to try to make it into this one!

    :-)

    I am trying to make my way back, am hoping to drop by more often, I miss you and had to stop in to say Merry Christmas my dearest Patrick!

    MWAH!

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