Thursday, August 17

For the record...

Lots of great comments here and on Kos about the previous post. Thanks, folks.

One fellow blogger wrote me to say they thought I was good at attacking what right-wing Christians do rather than what they believe or what their religion is. Well, that is key.

Part of my approach is based on the fact that unlike a lot of bloggers, I'm a church going Christian meself. But I also believe, as one friend put it, in common sense for the common good. Like stem cell research. And evolution. And understanding that even the most virulent Baptist will sneak off in tears to an abortion clinic when it's HIS fifteen-year-old daughter who's pregnant. And that marriage, regardless of the gender of the two consenting adults involved, is a blessing and a lesson that should never be denied to any of God's creation.

I wish more in the blogosphere would lighten the fuck up about Christianity. My emailer is absolutely right: attacking what the Christian Taliban does, insisting on separation of Church and State, etc. is some of the most important work we can do. Keep it up, folks. We need to keep the feet to the fire on those who would make this a "Christian" nation. It isn't, it never will be, and to attempt to make it so is contrary to the teachings of one Mister "render unto Caesar" Jesus H. Christ.

That said, listen up, blogosphere: attacking Christianity, or any other religion held by an individual, is interferring with that person's liberty. Being forcefully "anti-Christian" or "anti-God" also becomes its own form of fundamentalism faster than you can say Jerry Falwell. You have seen the enemy, and it is you.

If my spouse gets cancer, or I lose a child in a car accident, or any other of the host of evils in this wicked world befall me, I may decide to pray to God for comfort. If I do that, it is none of your fucking business. Even if I'm being self-deluded or a hypocrite. Tough shit. Tend to your own brain and set of moral values, and I'll do the same with mine. Thanks.

That said, I wish more Christians would keep it simple. Jesus did. There isn't a liberal blogger out there who could argue with the Sermon on the Mount: be meek, be a peacemaker, if you have to pray, do it in private. If you believe in God enough to pray, than why not bet yer ass that God will hear you without a loudspeaker?

We don't really need more than that to carry us through our day. Well, this momma needs one more little thing:



  1. i used to have a book that had passages or sayings from many different faiths. they had them side by side and it was clear that most religions have the same basic pricipals. the really important things were the same in all of them
    christians would be so much better off, in my eyes, to concintrate on Jesus's words and dees than on anyone elses interpretations of then, be they from saints or others.
    i defend anyone's chosen path as long as they do no harm(or, as little as possible)
    i feel that if we treat others as we would be treated it pretty much covers any faith's commandments or principals.
    that's harder to do than it seems, but requires much less church building/fund raising or converting
    and certainly less warfare.

  2. forgive my typos please, got frustated, blogger kept eating my reply and i'm a typo queen anyway! ; )

  3. Thank you, Blue Gal, for saying this.

  4. Separating the Pharisees from the honest Christians is difficult. And this goes for more than just religion, per se.

    As H.L. Mencken said, "The problem with Christianity is the Christians, just like the problem with Communism is the Communists."

    Many of us out here in the liberal blogosphere have been victimized by Pharisees and rogues, so the idea of Christianity has left a collective bad taste in our mouths.

    The problem in living in a democracy is that the opinions of the rabble, no matter how stupid, reactionary, or ill-thought-out they may be are a surefire way to maintain a person's power base.

    This shouldn't be news to anyone with a greater than third grade education.

    Most people are followers and few people are leaders. I wish I could impress to people that they are in control of their own destiny, and furthermore instead of feeling a compulsion to live vicariously through their stars, they should create their own sense of satisfaction and accomplishment and in the process rise to their own highest level of competence.

    I wish I could believe in the inherent wisdom of the common folk, as did Thomas Jefferson, but I do not. And being that the human condition is what it is, I believe seriously that the liberal ideal that provided enough education, people can rise above their station and see things as they really are is little more than an exploded myth.

    Still, Democracy as it currently exists: imperfect, flawed, and messy--is a sight better than any sort of totalitarianism.

    And what is this Utopian ideal we seek? That humans will not fall prey to smoke and mirrors and deceivers? Or rather is it that humans will be governed by some elite class of their social betters?

    Do you favor Jefferson or Hamilton?

  5. And as I mentioned to you in private correspondence, Blue Gal, reading Mencken shows me how little things have changed since the early part of the last century.

    I think perhaps we want a sense of literate, enlightened culture that rises above the excesses and the petty superstitions of the masses. But that seems to work at cross purposes to the very idea of America.

    What is America, first of all? We are little more than Transients in Arcadia, constantly redefining ourselves, and always in a constant state of flux.

    I think for culture to take root, there must be some sort of homogeny amongst a people. And America is the antithesis of homogeny. Even now, the dynamics of this country are shifting dramatically.

    America in 2006 will likely look nothing like America in say 2046.

    But I daresay that we'll still be having some variation of this same argument.

  6. Faiths are not the problem. Behaviors can be.

    To pull an example off the top of my head, the ritual genital mutilation of infants required by Judaism leaps to mind; no anesthetic, but the dude who does the deed gets to suck lots and lots of little penises. Disgusting? yeah. But true. Of equal horribility, the "spare the rod" sects of the lunatic fringes (the ones who believe that children must be beaten with rods or the bible would be flouted. I'm not kidding about that one, either). That's child abuse and should be stopped, unless we decide AS A COMMUNITY that it is ok.

    "As long as they harm no-one" is not practicable because of the difficulty in defining who is someone (raising issues of kosher and halal slaughter, as well as the practice of abortion or interference with abortion).

    Yeah, religious beliefs should be private. Behaviors should generally be a matter of private discretion, as well. However, once it gets into practical behavior that affects the community at large, it is and should be governed by community standards.

  7. thanks... reading your post, it's clear that your light shines true... it's funny, when something is grounded in truth and reality, it reads as self-evident, no rhetorical flourishes or labyrinthine academic rationale required...uitzbhrv

  8. I found your blog at quakerdave's, and you're going on my blogroll. All I can say to your post, is Amen, sister!

  9. It's nice to know that the self-described Left is so open-minded and tolerant. Good to know that fellow Progressives who say we are people of faith have the support of folks who think we are petty, superstitious, stupid, reactionary, or who believed we have abused our sons because we chose to have them circumsized.

    If I have misread what was said here, feel free to correct me and I'll apologize. I get the feeling I might be right, however.

    So much for tolerance. It's no wonder we can't get together on the really important stuff.

  10. Apparently, Cynthia's think alike. My comment: Amen, sister!

    Oh, and why is this such a hard concept for some folks to grasp?

  11. QuakerDave, you misunderstood in a big-big way.

    I was most definitely NOT arguing that circumcision in any way constitutes child abuse.

    My objection - as stated! - is to the practice of Jewish circumscision as carried out by Jewish Orthodx "mohels", unanesthetized and accompanied by practices which are unhygienic (and to me, at least, disturbing in the extreme: the practice of the mohel sucking the infant's penis after chopping off the foreskin). Medical, anesthetized, and sanitary - without exposing an open wound to body fluids - is not what I was objecting to, there.

    I hope that clarifies my objection and allows you to step back, take a deep breath and perhaps even show me where you think you saw me saying that people of faith (myself included) are "petty, superstitious, stupid" or "reactionary".

    My problem is not with faith, it is with actions, and the effects such actions have.

  12. Dave, I do think you misunderstood Shunra. I have no idea why I had my son circumsized, except for the locker room argument from his dad.

    That said, religious practice is a tricky sticky wicket in a pluralist society. One that we'll always struggle with, which may be a good thing. Case by case, and with an eye to broadest possible freedom with smallest possible harm to all. Easy to say, tough to implement.

    Thanks for sending readers my way, Dave!

  13. Thanks, BG!

    I in no way wanted to start discussion about the relative merits of circumcision versus non-circumcision. Nor any other issue. It is all a question of how one does it...

  14. (deep breath taken) I apologize to Shunra, on a humbly-bended knee. But we don't approve of corporal punishment (THAT part I got), so please don't beat me. I have seen similar arguments regarding circumcision elsewhere, so I jumped to unfortunate conclusions.

    The rest of my rant was directed at Kevin. Maybe he can set me straight, too. I hope so. I hope so, because I spoke out of the same kind of frustration that may have contributed to Blue Gal's original post. We're all supposed to be on the same side. How we got there - what path led us there, and what prinicples keep us there - really shouldn't matter.

  15. Here's a great big Port Townsend smooch for you, Dave. Thanks for reading, understanding, and saying that. No harm done, clarification clarified, and all is well.

    I am sorry about the frustration, though. I get those funny looks when I talk about my own faith. People give me the oddest looks (perhaps like the looks people give my brother, when he walks into the grocery market with his cat riding his shoulder). Karen Arsmtrong has given some of the best explanation of the why and wherefor of it all, in her books about religion and fundamentalism.

  16. Karen Armstrong is amazing reading.

    Smooch gratefully accepted.

  17. Bluegal- you hit the nail on the head. Alot of people do seem to have problems separating religion from politics and other things, just look at what happens if you start criticising the actions of Israel. Apparently anyone who does that and is non jewish is anti semetic...what the ? Like you said, if you state the fact that you are a christian, as I am as well ( although non practicing in my case) then you seem to be automatically aligned with extreme versions of christianity. I think the people who do this need to get better informed.

  18. QuakerDave, you are not who I'm talking about at all.

    You are hardly a follower. And you are not prone towards knee-jerk reactions prompted by scarecrows and fear-mongerers.

    You are religious, but you are capable of thinking for yourself.

    My intent was to point out the reason why anything that smacks of overt Christianity is easily discounted by the left.

    Being that the Evangelicals paint an extremely narrow-minded, monochrome picture of reality it is quite easy to confuse their propaganda with the genuine article of Jesus.

    I encourage people to think for themselves. I encourage people to formulate their own opinions.

    And quite frankly, I'd be surprised that anyone in Blue Gal's general readership would be offended by THAT, save the occasional wingnut.

    In conclusion, do you believe that the common person is capable of seeing past this one-sided, skewed version of what passes for Christianity or do you believe that they, in their ignorance, will ascribe to a perversion of religion that, as Kipling pointed out, has been "twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools"?

  19. Well, that's a mouthful, and I suppose I owe someone else another apology. So here's mine.


    Maybe you needed to say that the first time. And my problem is (still) that too many people on the Left are NOT "capable of seeing past this one-sided, skewed version of what passes for Christianity" and they DO believe that anyone who says they are religious is of the ilk subscribes "to a perversion of religion." I grow ever more weary of being written off as dereanged by my fellow Progressives, as soon as I say that my politics are informed by my faith, and that my faith is informed by my politics.

    So maybe we agree. I think. Namaste.

  20. i have a feeling that i am one of those folks who lean left who think that religion of any kind is a bunch of hooey. no- i know i am. having said that-it's only fair as christian folks have identified themselves- my thought is as long as you keep your beliefs personal and don't involve me- we are all good. my problem with christians in america at this time is that many of them in my area anyway want to force their beliefs on everyone. politically and by travelling in packs to knock on doors to distribute leaflets and the 'good news.' this country has religious freedom and if the hardline christian folks weren't the constant squeaky wheel- they wouldn't get so much attention. people in this country are calling for moderate muslims to take back their religion from the extremists. perhaps that should be a focus of the moderate christian folks too? dave- i think we have sparred and agreed to disagree on this one. again, i am going on record as saying i will defend to my death the right of you to have freedom of religion. i ask the same in return for my freedom from religion.

  21. betmo: No problem. You know we are still comrades in spirit.

    So just ignore all those Quaker pamphlets I emailed you today. It'll only take ten minutes to delete them all...

  22. I don’t come here often, but I did make the click from QuakerDave’s site.
    I believe there can be a lot of hypocrisy by “true believers.” I consider myself a Catholic and in being such I follow the teachings as best I can, and try to live as good a life as I can. But, like everyone else, I am not perfect. I am not the best Catholic or the best Christian, and far from it, but I also don’t claim to be. I do not push my beliefs on others, but I will tell people my beliefs if they ask and I will try to explain them as best I can.
    I think maybe like you, I am a religious moderate, but the difference being that whereas you see some as a Christian Taliban, I see those who try to teach others and impress upon others how to live their lives with more morality. Do they practice what they preach? Well, as I said, no one is perfect, even those who obtain high positions of authority within a denomination. But, I still think they do good work.
    Just my opinion.

  23. Personally, I think Christianity (as in, following the teachings of Christ) would be a good idea. Sort of like Western civilization.



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