Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Do You Know, We've Still Got Power

You still get a controversial idea, well, a borrowed one.  

One of one of my brothers' favorite form of humor is reading the wacky stuff on right-wing websites, especially from the paranoid-wack-job kind of right wing sites.  It's not to my taste but he gets a real kick out of seeing how totally nuts they are.   My closest thing to that is looking at pseudo-skeptics and the such and finding how totally uninterested in reality they are.   The other day I saw one where they claimed Molly Ivins for the atheists, which I suspect might have been a surprise to her.  I used to read Molly Ivins every chance I could get and I remembered this column which ends 

I sometimes think we've gotten ourselves into a pointless argument in this country, as we rather often do, by exaggerating the extremes.

We are not faced with a choice between imposing some Christian version of Sharia law on the one hand, or "driving religion out of the public square" altogether on the other.
Two hundred years of not terribly rigid separation of church and state has given us one precious gift. As a quote attributed to James Madison (never been able to find the correct citation on it) put it, "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries." Religious strife is still soaking the soil with blood, isn't it, in Kosovo and elsewhere.

To the extent that politics should be based on moral and ethical considerations, of course it has religious foundations. But dragging God into partisan politics is, in my view, a sin.

Is it Christian to cut money for Head Start? Is it Christian to cut poor children off health care? Is it Christian to cut old people off Medicare? Is it Christian to write memos justifying torture? Is it Christian to cut after-school, nutrition and AIDS programs so multimillionaires can have bigger tax cuts?

Historically, the Bible has been used to justify some stupefying crimes, including slavery and genocide. I see no indication we are any better at divining the Lord's intent now than we ever were.

As regular readers know, I call upon the Lord rather frequently myself, often for patience in dealing with those who presume to speak in His name. To whatever extent each of us is affected by religion, I suppose we inevitably bring that into the public sphere. But I seriously question the wisdom of doing so in any organized or deliberate fashion. Drag God into politics, and you'll ruin His reputation in no time.

I won't compete with Molly Ivins as a writer, not on my best day, not with the best luck, so you might want to read her column.  

I do wish she'd given us her fully informed thoughts on the new atheists, the flip side of the coin she was talking about in that column.  I think she might have found quite a bit of material in them if she'd had the time or inclination to look at them and their aspirations.  I'm sure she would have been able to discern the difference between the right to run for an office and the right to the votes of people you look down on and insult.   Not to mention the sheer idiocy of thinking you could get the votes or had a right to the votes of the very people her populism championed as you held yourself up as smarter and better than them and insulted everything about them.    Such genius level thinking is as endemic in the new atheism as any of the nuttery and hypocrisy of the guys she did get around to addressing.

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking about it last night: what is the obsession atheists have with recruiting members and declaring their numbers are growing?

    They're anti-evangelists (in the sense they don't preach "good news." Otherwise, they are as eager to make converts as any Christian evangelical). They speak the language of fundamentalists and arch-conservative churches. They even berate "liberal" Christianity in the same terms as fundies and evangelicals. The more I think about it, the more I can't slip a piece of paper between them and the Christians they most despise (all the while insisting those Christians are the only "true" Christians).

    Atheism is a religion for them; there's no other way to describe it. "Religion," of course, is a term being used very loosely here, but no more loosely than they use the term. Indeed, there isn't one argument they make that can't be used against them, that can't be directed toward their reasoning and actions.

    Why do they hate fundamentalists and evangelicals so much? Let them look in the mirror. They're fighting with their own reflection and anxious to remake everyone into their image. They want, in short, to smash the mirror.

    But without the mirror, who are they?