Saturday, February 4, 2017

Did Someone Really Say That? Atrios?

They Don't Care?

Not in the mood to pick personal fights but I saw one of my old sparring partners of the "all Dems need to do is pretend to love Jesus more" variety appeal to conservative Christians about potential food stamp cuts.

They don't care? I mean, of course plenty of self-identified Christians care and some self-identified conservative Christians care, but appealing to the consciences of "conservative Christians" will get you no further than appealing to the consciences of "conservatives," which is to say maybe somewhere but not very far. Conservative Christianity as a political movement (again not all conservative Christians or all pastors who identify as Christian conservatives) is opposed to the welfare state as it competes with private, and more importantly, good Christian charity. There's nothing magical about being a "Christian" that isn't completely modified by that modifier "conservative." I'm not interested in one true Christian arguments about what Jesus does and does not want as it's not my business. This is not a theological argument. Christian conservatives are part of the conservative movement, and while one can perhaps tease out some differences in emphasis between the subset and the whole, caring about food stamps isn't really one of them. They (notallthey). Don't. Care. Frankly, I find liberal Christians suggesting that "good" Christians should care about X because of their religion to be kind of offensive. Their deeply held religious beliefs are what they are. The point is to stop pretending that religion (and in the US we mean good Christian religion) necessarily steers people away from horrible moral and political beliefs, because all that does it give people a magical cloak to hide how horrible they are. Religion might be wonderful for individuals but it doesn't elevate the morals of one group over another. I think this should be somewhat obvious by now.

First, no, he wasn't talking about me because a. I doubt he reads me, b. I've never made that argument or any of those claims, c. I've never said anything remotely like the few alleged statements buried in that mass of qualifications contradicted immediately by their refutation and then qualified again.  I don't know who he's referring to in the first sentence but the rest of it is a straw man, one he doesn't seem to be able to push over after he sets it up.   If he is referring to something someone published, he should have provided a link, at least, if it's something that isn't published, well, so what?

I will go to what Duncan said his point was, first, though it's about the last thing he said.

The point is to stop pretending that religion (and in the US we mean good Christian religion) necessarily steers people away from horrible moral and political beliefs, because all that does it give people a magical cloak to hide how horrible they are. Religion might be wonderful for individuals but it doesn't elevate the morals of one group over another. I think this should be somewhat obvious by now.

Well, yeah, but what entity in human culture does all those things.  Ideology?  Political identity, orientation, party?  The Humanities, the so-called-social-sciences?   Science proper?  Drinking Liberally?  Which of those "NECESSARILY steers people away from horrible moral and political beliefs".   I will point out that a number of them have had the straw man status that Duncan assigns to religion, that, science, for example, that ideologies, for other examples "give people a magical cloak to hide how horrible they are".   I would suggest he look at that photo of Sartre and de Beauvoir stylishly pushing Maoism in the name of free speech* posted below, for example.  Does his blog community not have that pretension, at times if not most of the time?   I don't look at it much these days but I doubt it's changed for the better in the past five years.

While, yes, there are religious hucksters and others who pretend the same thing about their religious identity, who claim that all they have to do is declare themselves, like Trump to be a Christian or to be "born again" and like the extinct Muggletonians that everything, therefore, goes.   But that is hardly Christianity that is based very firmly on the Bible in which just about every text advocates continual self-reflection and consideration of how well someones' actions stack up against the Law and, the Prophets and the Gospel of Jesus.  I would like him to point to me where in the Bible that kind of hypocritical finality is advocated or endorsed.   Years ago a woman I heard put it extremely well, "It's so much easier to praise the Lord than to follow him".

But I've got to repeat my amazement that someone with Duncan Black's academic qualifications as a Brown University PhD in economics who has been associated with such places as the London School of Economics and the University of California system could be so entirely clueless about how politics works.   You win in politics by putting together more votes.  That's how you win elections and, within a legislative body, that's how you either prevent a law from passing or how you pass one.  And when it's at that stage, you need to get constituent to pressure their members of the House and the Senate and state legislatures and even within the executive.   CONSIDERING THE HUGE MAJORITY OF VOTERS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE CHRISTIANS MOST OF THAT PRESSURE MUST COME FROM CHRISTIANS.   Is there some math-free option for getting that degree?

That the Gospel of Jesus, the Law of Moses, the Prophets all say it is a religious duty to feed the poor, to actually feed them, not to go through the motions, to refuse to use that fact to pressure people who claim to follow those to put their politics where their professions are is something that MIGHT BE EFFECTIVE WHERE OTHER PRESSURE WILL NOT.

I would love to ask those in danger of losing their food stamps if they agree that because someone like Duncan finds Christianity icky that Democrats shouldn't request Christians to pressure their legislators and members of Congress to do what Jesus said they should do.   I have a feeling that most people who are in danger of going hungry would think what Duncan Black insists on is just plain stupid. Not even most of those who hadn't finished sixth grade could fail to see that.

*  I'd love to know what would have happened to them if, that year, they'd gone to a street in Beijing and distributed The Declaration of Human Rights or whatever document asserting a right of free speech.  Especially in defiance of the law in Mao's China.  Or, rather, if a Chinese intellectual had done so - without backing from a stylish vedette intellectual milieu such as the one those two phonies operated in.

Update:   What JR and Simps know about music is the equivalent of patty-cake.  That Brit might be even stupider than Tlaz, and if she's actually achieved that it's the only thing she's ever done that's hard to do.   Hoodwinking the Eschatots into believing that she's smart isn't that hard and not all of them have bought it.

1 comment:

  1. The most interesting thing about Trump is that he proves the danger of extremism to extremists who won't take the lesson. Nothing Trump insists on isn't insisted on, if only in opposition, by "progressives" on the internet who insist, a la Trump, that is must be their way or the highway, and that only grand conspiracies (the DNC! Clinton! Wall Street!) stand in the way of their complete success and transformation of the country into at least a demi-paradise.

    Precisely, IOW, what Trump think he was elected to do, and is doing, if not for those meddling "so-called" judges!

    So, as you say, what ideology does deliver the perfection that religion fails to deliver? Of course, the first tenet of Xianity (at least) is humility; not superiority. You cannot claim your ideas are superior without making yourself superior (Xians have been trying to square that circle for millennia, and those who insist it can be done are wrong). Xianity is not about power, and the first mistake is to think it is, or it can be.

    Xianity is not meant to be a moral doctrine used as a club against others. But to use it in a democracy to insist that your representatives represent your interests: well, what's the harm in that? True, Xians like Mike Pence think their interests are practically antithetical to what I think mine are, but that makes neither of us less Christian.

    And as for forcing "conservatives" out of the political dialogue because you don't agree with them and don't want them having any power, well, as I say....sounds like Trump to me.

    "You win in politics by putting together more votes." And that means you appeal to as many people as you reasonably can. The idea that Xianity keeps people from having terrible thoughts, though: well, that's not even Xian. Hell, Xians sometimes think they invented terrible thoughts. Ask Luther: it's what drove him to his doctrine of justification by faith.

    OTOH, I don't want Democrats to "pretend to love Jesus more." I don't want them to care about Xianity at all. I prefer they call it common decency, common humanity, common interests. That's as a party.

    Individually, Democrats are welcome to pester their Senators and Representatives and Governors on any basis whatsoever. But nothing elevates the morals of one group above another. That's, in fact, a thought basic to Christianity. The moment you think you are first, you are last.

    I should have thought that was obvious by now.