Sunday, September 30, 2007

A bad day for the faith

What can I say? I had no gospel tracks prepared for today. And, why not? Because I've been busy getting stuff ready for Halloween.

God hates me.

Yes, a bad day for the faith. And I say "the faith" in a tongue in cheek way, since there is no single faith. I'm one of those liberal believers, remember. It just sounds good as an expression.

Anyway, no gospel tracks--Halloween posts start tomorrow. God help my soul.

AND we have yet another religious bash-athon in progress at Stuffington Post, thanks to Arianna herself, who not too long ago told Keith Olbermann (or maybe it was Joe Scarborough) that she doesn't think religion-bashing happens at her blog. She said it with that "Who, me?" expression that she wears whenever she isn't grimacing.

And she's right. Unless we define religion-bashing to mean taking a candidate's words out of context and setting the progressive dogs on him for uttering the dreaded C word. (Arf! Arf!) John McCain stated that he preferred a Christian president, which--and this is a major news flash to Arianna and half of her blog staff--is what we're going to get. On my side, it's going to come down to Obama or Hillary (both terrific candidates, in my liberal opinion). And they're both (gasp!) of that C word persuasion. (Insert cliches about the end of church/state separation.)

Never mind that McCain qualified his statement (which happened to be a statement of OPINION, which apparently isn't allowed in a free society) by saying he'd vote for the best-qualified person, regardless of his or her faith. Arianna had no use for that part. She's got her Bill O'Reilly act down perfectly.

I posted three comments, two of which were censored. Meanwhile, of course, the same old bigoted anti-C-word drivel has gotten through with no problem.

As fun as my adventures in Huff-Po censorship have been, I'm hardly in need of further evidence that Huff-Po is the left's copy of the worst rightward blogs. We lefties have our versions of Rush and Bill, and Arianna is one of them. I especially love the way she chose Sunday to throw this sound byte to the progressive dogs. Classy.

Bev and I both wonder about progressives. As in, what are they? They don't seem to be very liberal. Here we have a great chance at getting a Democrat into the White House, and progressives are busy labeling Hillary a traitor, a clone of McCain, etc., etc. And they're not sure about Obama on account of he goes to church. In general, they refuse to root for anyone who has a chance of winning. That's progressive? I call that stupid.

But, back to topic, let me share a few quotes from the comment section. These are unusually mild, I should note. Normally, there'd be twenty really rabid statements begging to be cited. But it's Sunday:

"I agree MCain should quickly apologize But these religious (mind poison) tapes are laid down before the age of 5."

"I'm sick of being buried in christian dogma 24-hours a day."

"McPain is no 'Christian.' Like most of the 'Christian' world he happily resorts to violent means to accomplish what he has determined to be 'good.'"

I wish I could be that open-minded. Maybe I should embrace logic and reason. Yeah, that'll do it.

Anyway, this hasn't been a good day for the faith. Maybe next week.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Join the cool crowd--bash religion!

Off the top of my (bald) head, I can think of two groups which might be astounded by the latest "controversy" over faith. First, the great liberal theologians of the 19th century, who probably wouldn't know what to make of the early-21st-century atheists who think they're shocking someone by pointing out that A) God probably doesn't literally exist in the Big Bearded Guy Overlooking Everything sense, and B) the Bible is filled with contradictions. Their response would probably be 19th-century German for "Duh."

When atheists try to shock me with such information, I congratulate them for catching up, as a group, to the last 150 to 200 years of Protestant Bible scholarship. Not the answer they want to hear, but life can be like that sometimes.

And I think our Founding Fathers would lose faith in the future of our nation if they got a whiff of what certain fanatics make (or don't make) of the separation of church and state. The Founding Fathers, of course, were all for religious freedom--that's why they forbade the formation of a state church. This way, people are free to believe (or not to believe) as they choose. Great concept, and it's worked remarkably well.

In spite of this, certain idiots on the far right and the far left can't wait to toss out this idea. Oh, the guilty far-lefters pretend they're all for church/state separation, but only because they misperceive it as a tool for outlawing all expressions of faith. If they had their way, believers would be required by law to sign a statement prior to voting in any election--a promise that their faith has not, never has, and never will inform any of their voting decisions. All public mention of sacred texts or sacred texts--or the word "sacred" itself--would be outlawed. No problem with believing, so long as you don't do it outside of your cage.

Not the religious freedom the Founding Fathers had in mind, but why get technical?

Similarly, the far-righters want to force their views down everyone's throat. Except their views happen to be (more or less) religious. Leethinks that our brilliant Founding Fathers had both batches of cretins in mind way back when--such control freaks not being an invention of our time but a perennial bane of humanity.

At any rate, we're in the middle of a big "debate" about religion--a debate in which certain angry atheists, tired of having to be reminded that religion exists (oh, the pain!), toss out crude and ridiculous stereotypes about believers and then break out in sunspots the moment a believer dares to say, "Wait--we're not like that." At least, that's how it works at Huffington Post and at's review comment sections.

All Christians are the same, you understand--hyper-conservative, hyper-intolerant, and in love with Bush. We all voted for him, you know. Even liberal Christians voted for Bush. We had no choice--our ministers ordered us to. And God knows we can't think for ourselves. We dare not, because Hell's a-waitin' for us if we get to thinkin' our own thoughts.

This is the bizarre view of faith we find everywhere today, and I've come to a number of sometimes surprising conclusions regarding the whole sorry situation.

1) Obviously, conventional church services (with hymns, a sermon, Bible readings, etc.) are unknown to the majority of Americans. All they know is what they see on TV. They watch some lunatic screaming about damnation and those dang liberals, and they think that's what they'd encounter at the Methodist or Presbyterian church down the block. As some rocket scientist explained at Huff-Po, moderate believers rave on just like fundies--only at a lower volume. I suggested he was flat-out wrong, and he did what such geniuses always do--he ignored my input.

2) Similarly, moderate/mainline Christianity is unknown to most folks. Granted, TV ignores the Christian middle ground entirely--in spite of the fact that, at present, a number of moderate Christians are all over TV! You may have heard of some of them--Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards. And the dawkins-ites are foaming at the mouth over any and every mention of faith by these very folks, because they don't understand that religion isn't illegal in the United States.

If it ain't on TV, it don't exist.

3) Logical thinking is dead, at least on a popular level. How many times have I been informed that the majority of Christians voted for Bush in both elections? Tons of times. This, from the same folks who insist that unthinking, robotic, Bush-style believers are in the majority in the U.S.

Okay. So, by the most basic logic, Bush should have won by wide margins both times, assuming that all Christians voted for him, and that we make up a majority of the population. Right? So, how do they explain the fact that Bush got barely half the popular vote both times? Simple--they don't. Such people ignore anything they don't want to believe. While, of course, bashing believers endlessly for allegedly doing... just that. Yeah.

In the latest issue of The Christian Century, moderate and liberal Christians are urged to make our existence known--we have a duty to do so, the article says. Yes, well, I've been trying to do just that for the past year or two. And, frankly, I think I'd achieve better results for the Christian cause by sticking my head in the commode and gargling Mary Had a Little Lamb until I pass out. Not that I plan to. For one thing, our cats like to sample the water from that location, and I wouldn't want to get in their way.

If I had to choose the more clueless bunch, I'd go for the Huff-Po anti-believers (the bloggers and comment-leavers, both), if only because of their genteel conceit. Whereas the Amazon Bible-bashers are out to draw blood and don't intend to apologize for it, the HP'ers get genuinely offended whenever they receive unfavorable feedback for portraying believers as idiots, liars, and Nazis. Why, whatever did they say or do that might have rubbed us the wrong way? Like, what would the average believer find wrong with the use of "religion" as a metaphor for conformity, war-mongering, hostility toward women, hatred of liberals, and so on?

It's one thing to slander those who don't agree with you. It's another to act surprised when they turn out not to like it.

At any rate, after a year or two of debating such folks, I reckon I would believe anything regarding the public's sheer ignorance about religion. I speak as one who, according to a couple of quizzes I've taken (one in the pages of Christian Century), apparently knows more about the Bible than most evangelicals. And any acquaintance I've had with that document started after I'd left home and joined the Navy. By all logic, I should score low in terms of Bible literacy, but it seems I'm ahead of the pack. No wonder most bashers of faith have no idea what they're bashing. But watch that not slow them down at all.

(Note to Ulo--I almost deleted your first comment--sorry! I was attempting to delete my own but got the wrong one. But I was able to save your comments by paging back and copying them--they're there, out of order, below. My sincere apologies!)