Christ in America


God rewarded this servant with multiple mansions
This post is about the problems caused by American evangelicals, fundamentalists, and conservative Catholics. My knowledge is based upon my childhood in the fundamentalist Church of Christ; my education at an Independent Methodist college and a Southern Baptist college; listening to National Public Radio for hours everyday; reading the monthly newspaper, Freethought Today, cover to cover; paying close attention to the issues that Christian voters care about, and watching the national and local news regularly. Based upon these sources, it seems to me that a large majority of evangelicals, fundamentalists, and conservative Catholics: 

1) Oppose gun control, abortion rights, social welfare programs,  environmentalism, homosexual rights, and Palestinian autonomy

2) Regard science as the gateway to atheism; deny evolution, global warming, the "Big Bang," and the antiquity of the universe; believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted; think that Biblical "science" should either replace or supplement evidence-based science in public school curricula.

3) Favor harsh prison sentences and capital punishment.

4) Are quick to support military intervention, imprisoning suspected terrorists indefinitely without a trial, and inflicting torture to gain information. Believe that America should stay out of other nation's affairs, thereby giving tacit support to human rights abuses and predatory dictators.

5) Believe that religious employers should have the legal right to deny contraceptive benefits through their insurance plans; that religious pharmacists should have the legal right to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their personal beliefs; and that religious pastry chefs, florists, and others should have the legal right to refuse orders from atheists, Muslims, homosexuals, and anyone else of whom they disapprove.

6) Believe that America is a Christian nation founded on Christian values; that its prosperity is proof of God's preference; that Christian specific prayers should be a part of government meetings and school functions; that Christian symbols and monuments should be allowed in public parks, public schools, and in and around courthouses, post offices, city halls, and police stations; and that anyone who opposes any of these things is guilty of persecuting Christians.

7) Believe that foreigners who are here illegally should be expelled even if they were brought here as infants, have no ties to the country of their birth, and would be in danger if returned to the country of their birth.

During my coming of age years in the 1950s and '60s, most of America's churches held that attempts to mix religion with politics were unworthy of a people whose kingdom "is not of this world." They subsequently turned their attention to "preaching the gospel" and upholding morality. Now that religion has no part in the lives of a fourth of Americans, and non-Christian religions are on the increase, America's churches are desperate to regain a control that was formerly theirs simply by virtue of the fact that their values mirrored the values of the general public. 

This means that the church's newly found emphasis on transforming America into a conservative Christian theocracy doesn't come from a position of strength but from a desperation to return the nation to an era when white Christian conservatives ruled the nation and, legally or illegally, suppressed all challengers, a time that was like the materialistic 1950s when "In God We Trust" was put on the nation's currency; "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance; and tax breaks were given to "ministers of the gospel." As such, it is doomed to failure, a failure that is being accelerated by the church's willingness to abandon its own ethical teachings in the pursuit of power and wealth. I hold that the dominant face of modern American Christianity is morally, intellectually, and spiritually bankrupt; a purveyor of lies; a perpetrator of war; and an enemy of the poor. 

Despite all this, America's Christians believe that they are unique among all the peoples of the earth in their faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus Christ, no matter that their smugness, materialism, unprincipled pursuit of earthly dominance, and loathing of such "not nice" people as gays, atheists, and Muslims, are in contradiction to Jesus' message of love, humility, simplicity, peacefulness, and the renunciation of worldly power. I offer the following to support my contention:

1) While the public in general, and younger Americans in particular, are moving ever more in the direction of tolerance and inclusion, the church is openly embracing bigotry. For example, the Christians of the state of Alabama were so outraged a federal requirement that sexual orientation not be taken into account when issuing marriage licenses, that their lawmakers are working to end the issuance of marriage licenses altogether. Because Alabamians commonly hold that the Bible is a static record "of God's unchanging word," they can cite chapter and verse to prove that God wants them to go much further than putting an end to gay marriage; he wants them to criminalize homosexual relationships if not to actually execute homosexuals. Unfortunately for them, federal law makes these things impossible.

2) "...by their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7:20

America's evangelicals, fundamentalists, and conservative Catholics, have traded their belief that, if you do good and trust in God, God will make things right, for a world view that they formerly condemned as the hallmark of "Godless Communism." I refer Machiavelli's statement that, "The end justifies the means." The resultant pragmatism is what made it possible for Christians to support one politician who boasted of sexually assaulting women and another who raped children, and it is what is still inspiring America's Christians to protect clergymen who are accused of molestation. I could cite almost endless other instances of the church: violating the law to proselytize inside public schools; diverting public monies for its private use; petitioning for the installation or retention of religious monuments in publicly owned parks and buildings by claiming that such monuments have no religious significance; and supporting notoriously corrupt and otherwise unqualified politicians as long as those politicians favor right-wing religion.

(3) "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27

In what part of the New Testament did Jesus embrace politics, and where did he encourage patriotism? Why, then, is the rallying cry of millions of Christians "America First," and why did the church go from visiting widows and orphans to deporting them; from respecting peacemakers to extolling violence; from helping drug addicts to imprisoning them? Liberals are made to feel unwelcome in most of America's churches because if there is one thing of which America's Christians are certain, one thing that their preachers tell them from the pulpit (in violation of a federal law that prohibits them from endorsing candidates), it is that God wants his people to vote Republican, and if Jesus prefers Republicans, then liberalism is clearly a sin. 

(4) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25

The heroes of the church are no longer the Kings, Bonhoeffers, and Schweitzers, with their emphasis on courage and sacrifice; nor is it the humble pastor of my childhood who turned down a raise so the money could be spent on what he regarded as higher things. The heroes of the modern church are rich politicians like Donald Trump, and rich preachers like Joel Osteen who lives in a tax exempt 17,000 square-foot mansion, and earns $55-million a year telling his16,800 person audience that they can be rich like him if they please God by giving generously to the church. So far as I'm aware, our modern era marks the first time that amassing wealth was officially endorsed by the church itself as proof of God's favor, the implication being that the poor have only themselves to blame and therefore don't deserve help.

(5) "Jesus answered, 'My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom.'" John 18:36

While American religion tries to hide its unbridled lust for power beneath a veneer of piety, the effect is like that of a cat who hides beneath a chair with his tail sticking out. When religion wants to effect political change, it goes all out to pass discriminatory laws, but when it wants things to stay as they are, it offers prayers. Consider some typical responses from Christian politicians following the Parkland, Florida, school shooting:

"When we say 'thoughts and prayers,' it's frowned upon. And I take real offense at that because thoughts and prayers are the only thing that's gonna stop the evil." Florida state senator Kelli Stargel

"I think of those kids who went back to school today after than horrific shooting, and they need something more. They need a belief in God and Jesus Christ."
Former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz 

"And if there's ever a time to return prayer to the classroom, now's the time." U.S. Congressional candidate Steve Lonegan

American Christianity is a world turned on its head, but at least in the case of praying for an end to mass murder, it can't be positively proven that prayer is the complete failure that it appears to be. Potholes are another matter, but this didn't stop Jackson, Mississippi, mayor, Tony Yarber from tweeting: "Yes....I believe we can pray potholes away. Moses prayed and a sea opened up."

Is it not disingenuous to claim that banning guns won't save lives, but that banning abortion will; that social programs for the poor won't assuage poverty, but tax breaks for the wealthy will; that a commitment to helping disadvantaged youth won't prevent crime, but a commitment to building more and bigger prisons will; that any number of prayers by any number of people for any number of years can repair a single pothole or accomplish anything else of value, anything at all?
 
A people can be forgiven for having tried but failed, but how is one to forgive a people who pretend that good is evil and that evil is good? I know I cannot. 

"For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." 
Matthew 23: 27-28

38 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

The same is true in our largely secular nation. And some of our more religious politicians (Christian of course) are doing their very best to push/drag us down similar paths.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

This post makes me so sad: not because it isn't well-written but because all of it is so true.

These health and wealth 'church' leaders make me ill cajoling those who can leas afford it to contribute to them, all indirectly at our expense (tax deductions). John Oliver recently set up his own church to see how easy it was to convince people to send money. Not hard. He donated the money to charity though still his contributors could ill afford it.

Marion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

Extremists will be extremists, but not all Christians believe what you say they believe, not by any means. What bothers me about your post is the undercurrent of hate. But hate not not belong here.

kylie said...

You paint a damning scene and it is so true!
For the most part, Christians have lost the plot

Snowbrush said...

"some of our more religious politicians (Christian of course) are doing their very best to push/drag us down similar paths."

I was looking forward to seeing what my Australian readers had to say because I didn't know how different things are down there in terms of what Christians actually believe. I do know that European evangelicals aren't so dismissive of science as are America's evangelicals, so I take this to mean that they're probably a bit more liberal overall. Might the same be true in Australia?

"all indirectly at our expense (tax deductions)"

Or even tax exemptions. Not only is Osteen's $10.5-million dollar mansion tax exempt, his cable television cost is tax exempt. We have the Republican Congressmen from the Eisenhower administration to thank for this.

"John Oliver recently set up his own church to see how easy it was to convince people to send money. Not hard."

Charismatic psychopaths find it easy to get rich. I heard about what you're referring to, and I just wondered if there was no way to return the money to the people who donated it. When I think of the people who are barely getting by but who nonetheless tithe to people like Osteen who make many millions of dollars every month, I figure that, well, that's religious faith in action. If someone like Osteen can convince people that he speaks for God, and God that wants them to give him money, then they'll deprive their children to give him money because, after all, a ticket to heaven is cheap at any cost.

Snowbrush said...



"atheists can't make me not love God."

Marion, I was wondering how you would comment. You said once before that I can't make you not believe, so I hope you will take me at my word when I say that I have no desire to make you, or anyone else, not believe in God or not love God. Destructive ideologies are usually only harmful when the masses believe them (I say "usually" because individuals sometimes do horrible things, but I know that you're not one of those individuals), which means that I'm not in the least invested in steering a given individual to believe as I believe. I also don't know what is right for you or any other given individual, while I do know that religion can be a great comfort to believers.

"my brother, Kanye West"

He has a book out, you know, containing his very own nuggets of wisdom, or at least what he regards as his very own nuggets of wisdom. I heard him share a couple of them, and I wasn't impressed, but then I'm just an embittered old atheist, so it's very hard to impress me.

"We are both spiritual energy."

I have a vague idea of what energy is, but what does spiritual mean? To me, when I hear terms like "spiritual energy," I take them to be expressions of feeling rather than statements of identifiable fact. I say this because I think it is impossible to define such words without using other words that are equally undefinable.

"You are my brother. I love everyone."

Is it appropriate to love everyone no matter what they've done, and what do you even mean when you say that you love everyone? Surely you don't love us all equally, so would it be fair to say that while you love some people a great deal, you love other people very little? Could it be that to say that you "love everyone" is like saying that "we're both spiritual energy" in that it is more akin to a warm and happy feeling than a hard-edged fact? If that is the case, then I love you too, which is to say that I love certain things about you, which is bit different from saying that I love you without restraint. To whit, I love you for your love of poetry; I love you for how bravely you bear up to a hard life, and I love you because you keep coming here despite our very great value differences. Christians tend to go through my blog like water through a sieve, so I become very attached to the ones who remain, knowing as I do that I sometimes express myself more bluntly and severely than most people are willing to tolerate, but, then again, I very much doubt that there is ANY way I could criticize most people's religion that would keep them here.

Snowbrush said...

"not all Christians believe what you say they believe, not by a long shot."

Tom, maybe you were confused by the title of the post (a title that was meant to refer to the most dominant face of American religion), so I would refer you to the first sentence of the first paragraph: "This post is about the problems caused by American evangelicals, fundamentalists, and conservative Catholics." While it is very, very true that 100% of America's liberal Christians are surely as horrified as myself (if not moreso) by what has become America's mainstream Christianity, those Christians are numerically insignificant when it comes to wielding political power. Even here in liberal Eugene, Oregon, I think it likely that you could fit all of the area's Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Quakers, Unitarians, and liberal Lutherans within the walls of two or three of its biggest evangelical churches.

"What bothers me about your post is the undercurrent of hate. But hate not not belong here."

If you meant to say that hatred does not belong on my blog, I think you're overstepping a bit, which means that you were probably referring to the world at large, although in that larger picture, I think that hatred is entirely appropriate when it comes to one's attitude destructive ideologies, the only problem being that if, I say, for example that I hate the Southern Baptist denomination (which I very much do), what is it exactly that I'm referring to--the people? No, I don't hate the people; I hate the things that the people believe, but that kind of hatred is unsatisfyingly amorphous. Is there nothing that you hate, Tom? Not Islamic terrorists; not school shooters; not the Putins of the world; not the incels who regard men who murder women as heroes; not Bill Cosby who, for years, went about lecturing large audiences on morality, while, during those same years, he was drugging and raping women? If you don't hate them, what do you feel for them--can you say, as does Marion, that you love them, and if you can, how does your love express itself? Surely, if love is to mean anything, it must include a willingness to give of oneself, but what is it that you would like to give to white nationalists or to the recently captured "Golden State Killer, and why aren't you already giving it?

Elephant's Child said...

Our politicians (those who are out) are largely conservative Catholics. Climate change they view with disdain/disbelief/disgust. They are perfectly comfortable with attempting to instil their ideas of morality on everyone (even when they fail to meet their own ideals). Poverty is brought about either by opposing political parties or by the poor individuals shiftlessness and failure to make an effort. Evangelicals are much less visible.

Snowbrush said...

"You paint a damning scene and it is so true! For the most part, Christians have lost the plot."

I like your "lost the plot" expression because it is such a succinct expression for something which I would regard as screamingly obvious, although it did cause me to wonder just what you regard "the plot" as being. I asked Child this, but I'll ask you too because, being a Christian, maybe you will know more of the details (Child is a lowlife atheist). In Australia, are the beliefs of conservative Christians pretty much the same as those of America's conservative Christians? I'm especially interested in their attitudes toward science, something that has made America's textbook selection committees and science classes into a battleground.

Something else that puzzles me no end about religion (and is also high on the list of the major ten or so reasons for my non-belief), is this: assuming that there is a God and that "he" wants us to know him, why did he express his will in ancient and often confusing manuscripts that, in the case of Christianity, are primarily a statement of the beliefs of the Catholic Church's hierarchy at the Council of Nicaea, which occurred in the year 325, nearly 300 years after Jesus died? No matter how much one loves who Jesus was or what he or she imagines to be the message of Jesus, why isn't this ignorance of what Jesus actually said and did a complete deal killer, it being the case that one must not only have faith in the message of Jesus, one must also have faith in what the church's powerful SAID was the message of Jesus way back there in 325. Even my boyhood Church of Christ that hated the Catholic Church even more than it hated Communism, had to trust the Catholic Church got it right on that occasion at least.

You know of the work of the Jesus Seminar, perhaps, which over a period of years met to determine what parts of the New Testament were likely to be true to Jesus' message. What the Seminar had left after deleting all of the passages that they thought were inauthentic was very little. One of America's first presidents, literally cut up a Bible (probably more than one since the text would be on both sides of every page), because he wanted to discard every passage that wasn't a direct quotation of Jesus. This was in the late 1700s, which was before it was known how doubtful even some of those direct quotations were. Loosely continuing along the same theme, it seems to me that Jesus either changed his mind from time to time, or he was misquoted on some very important points. One such passage is the one about selling your coat in order to buy a sword. How on earth is it possible to reconcile THAT passage with the ones about turning the other cheek, doing good to those who hate you, walking two miles with anyone who compels you to walk one mile, etc? While I'm on the subject, have you read many of the works (among which are the so called gnostic gospels) that the Catholic Church DIDN'T include in the New Testament? I have, or at least tried to, years ago. Come to think of it, I really don't know what you DO read regarding religion. I don't even know if you have a favorite translation of the Bible--is there an official Salvation Army translation? I used to really like the New English Bible, and then there's a paraphrase version that I enjoyed because it clarified a lot of things that none of the literal translations made sense of. Now, when I want to look up a Bible verse, I tend to go to http://biblehub.com/, which I like a lot because it gives every verse across numerous translations.

G.B. Miller said...

To clarify a point, most young people are becoming just as increasingly intolerant and bigoted as you claim the churches are.

Only young people, with their enablers, have forced colleges to create "safe spaces" for speech, have caused most conservative speakers to post ridiculously high amounts of bonds for security and go medieval on anyone who has the audacity to question the dogma of the left.

All Consuming said...

Interesting, both the post and the replies.

I agree with you. Sadly those who are not bursting with bigotry who believe in God are not the majority, if they were then this post would not need be written.

Kanye is a truly unbridled idiot from every single angle.

I will say that the whole through the eye of a needle business has been ignored for centuries though. Popes, Lords, Bishops, all in their gold and jewelled finery, I mean hey, look at the Vatican City? Money is always a big player when people have power, and such people in religion have vast power in some sectors. It's disturbing that this power has been moving into politics so strongly because yes, the ones who are getting a say do appear to all be right-wing extremists who are unable to see anything remotely connected to kindness, empathy or sympathy. You are either with them or against them and therefore sod you and your kin. Once again I emphasize that I am referring to the believers who have the power, rather than the nice folks like Rhymes, who is one of the loveliest men I have virtually met, and I respect his beliefs and he does my choices and that's a fine thing. Those running the show are not such people, so they get upset that they're being served in the same pot. I think it impossible for said believers to agree with what you've written because that would ultimately mean they support the leaders in their cruel, vile behaviour.

Over here religion has very, very little power at all, though Ireland is a different kettle of fish entirely; their bloody battles have been fought for years, many, many people killed, and not because the Religious folks are fighting the atheists. No, the religious folks are fighting each other! In that one small land, the Catholics and Protestants hate each other (once again I know many normal people who say this isn't true because they don't have anyone, and once again it is not the nice lady down the road who is shooting people, it is the leaders she supports without truly realising it. Because no one wants to realise it).

I absolutely agree younger people are more tolerant and caring and I have proof; The abuse of animals is something that bothers them, it bothers them that male chicks are chucked into grinders alive so that females can be used for meat, breeding and dairy, it bothers them that factory farming results in practices that are foul and horrendous, and so much so that many older people won't even watch the documentaries showing what's happening; the drugs, all of it. And the test of one's humanity is how they treat their animals. Those who kick their dogs to death have been proven to be vastly more likely to move on to beating a child to death next. Compassion and a willingness to explore the facts out there is occurring, and I'm amazed at the swiftness I'm seeing it happen. The younger folks are less dominated these days by their parent's views perhaps? I don't know, but I do know the homeless shelters are usually run by younger folks, as are the asylum hostel helpers and onwards. The marches against Trump and his appalling circus are stuffed with the youngsters, I've seen them. I'll be there myself if he ever gets the courage to face the crowds here, because it's always important to stand up and show you don't agree. Being passive or turning a blind eye to such things is something I believe 100% something Jesus wouldn't do. He'd be marching, opening his eyes, and weeping in despair at all that has been done in his name.

Incredibly well written Snow. And somewhat brave too, not knowing how some of those you care for who read this will react. x

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kj said...

snow, I agree with every word you've written. every single damn word. it is nearly impossible to tolerate the beliefs of these folks, trump supporters, who want a white paternalistic nation and vow to protect unborn children but only until they're born. my patience expired a few months ago.

love
kj

Snowbrush said...

"Our politicians (those who are out) are largely conservative Catholics. Climate change they view with disdain/disbelief/disgust."

This despite the fact that John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis all accepted the reality of human-caused climate change and recognized it AS A MORAL ISSUE. There is no smugness like the smugness of ignorant people (people like Donald Trump who boasts of never reading anything that he doesn't have to read and not much of that), yet who proclaim that they "have a right" to their opinion that is equal to the right of scientists from around the world who have spent decades studying a problem and came to a clear consensus. While it is true that people like Trump have every legal right to say any foolish thing that pops into their arrogant heads, a legal right is not the same as an ethical right, a factual right, or an intelligent right, nor does it suggest that anyone should give credence to what they have to say.

"To clarify a point, most young people are becoming just as increasingly intolerant and bigoted as you claim the churches are."

The totalitarianism of political correctness with its pursuit of implicit bias offends me too, and I hate it no less than I hate conservative religion. I'm not just down on right-wing religion, I'm down on most of what happens in the culture within which I live.

"Only young people, with their enablers, have forced colleges to create "safe spaces" for speech"

The world must make way for them because they have no interest in making way for the world. I don't argue with you about these things, but my point was that younger people are more accepting of women's equality, racial differences, and LGBT issues. I've no doubt but what, if the religious right could have their way, LGBT rights would not only disappear, such people would be subject to criminalization based upon the Bible, yet I don't think that the religious right realizes how much their values have changed despite what's in the Bible. Take divorce and gluttony for instance. Fifty years ago, my church frowned upon divorced people taking communion if they remarried because they were seen as living in adultery, and I remember very well hearing sermons against gluttony. Now that most people in the Bible Belt are obese, I suspect that such sermons have gone by the wayside, it being obvious to me as a child that preachers rarely condemned sins that a large part of their flocks committed regularly and without remorse.

"Kanye is a truly unbridled idiot from every single angle."

I'm barely aware of his existence, my main knowledge of him being when he made the news for interrupting an award ceremony to say that his girlfriend should have gotten the award. I wondered if anyone that silly was capable of redemption, so his recent book struck me as funny on the face of it. Then when I heard some of its gems, I felt confirmed in my pessimism.

"I will say that the whole through the eye of a needle business has been ignored for centuries though. Popes, Lords, Bishops, all in their gold and jewelled finery, I mean hey, look at the Vatican City?"

I remember a scene from Religulous in which Bill Mahr is standing in front of the Vatican saying something akin to, "What has any of this got to do with Jesus Christ?" It hasn't been long ago in this country that city churches, at least, sold pew space. In "God and My Father," the author told of his father buying a prominent pew as an investment, and being dismayed when the price of pews plummeted.

Snowbrush said...

"the ones who are getting a say do appear to all be right-wing extremists who are unable to see anything remotely connected to kindness, empathy or sympathy."

Jesus and the prophets raged against the status quo while today's Christian right seeks to return the status quo to a time that I lived through actually when more people had fewer rights. Their religion is heavily influenced by "American exceptionalism" and "American individualism." They are as sure as the church of my childhood was sure that they alone are God's elect, and as such are true to New Testament Christianity, yet the church of my childhood would see them as bound for hell for ignoring the "clear and simple message of the gospel."

"I am referring to the believers who have the power, rather than the nice folks like Rhymes, who is one of the loveliest men I have virtually met...."

Your relationship with Rhymes sounds so dirty when you put it this way. Then again, I'm probably off one of my twice-a-minute flights of fantasy. I often wonder what it is that Rhymes actually believes. I know, of think I know, that he didn't vote for Trump, yet it seems that he's a creationist, and I figure that if someone denies science in that way, he's likely to run the full religious field in denying science.

"I think it impossible for said believers to agree with what you've written because that would ultimately mean they support the leaders in their cruel, vile behaviour."

When I was in my upper teens, I decided that it was time to reform my church, but it's hard to reform people who have shunned you. I no longer have any optimism that anything I can say on any subject will have the least impact on the beliefs of anyone about anything. Don't ask me to list them, but there are supposed to be 16,000 different comparisons of climate which indicate that global warming is real and that we're causing it, but none of this makes the least difference to the religious right (who don't even want to hear the science), so how arrogant would I have to be to think that I can reach people. Do you know that there is research to show that when you present people with a religious mentality with evidence in opposition to their views, that it makes their views stronger. A phrase comes to mind that is often applied to Trump; it is "double down." Show him he's wrong, or prove that he's lying, and he'll "double down" every time, and his "base" will double down with him. I heard a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Hamn over evolution during which Nye asked Hamn what it would take to change his mind, and Hamn said that nothing could change his mind. That's the religious right mentality in a nutshell, and is a previous commenter would probably agree, it's the far left mentality in a nutshell too. I might be a hater as the commenter suggested, but by god, at least I'm an equal opportunity hater.

Snowbrush said...

"once again it is not the nice lady down the road who is shooting people, it is the leaders she supports without truly realising it."

There being few innocent bystanders, a thought which takes me back to Christians who present themselves as loving, yet who proudly vote for hateful politicians and oppressive laws. I think of it this way; Christ didn't preach pragmatism but idealism (doing right and trusting God to see that things would turn out for the best, if not on earth, then at least in heaven), so when Christians elect a politician who admitted to groping women and then said he didn't really mean it (I'm thinking of Trump, of course), why not be honest enough to say, "No, I don't REALLY trust God to make things turn out right, so I'm going to vote for an unethical candidate on the basis of pragmatism."

"I absolutely agree younger people are more tolerant and caring and I have proof; The abuse of animals is something that bothers them"

I hope you can give data because I question that this is true, although I would very much like to believe it. I've said this before; I was the first vegetarian I had ever known. When I moved from Mississippi to Oregon, I met many vegetarians and a number of vegans, and I made the mistake of thinking that the nation was moving in the direction of vegetarianism. While I no longer get out much, Peggy does, and I don't think she knows a single vegetarian much less a vegan, although she is friends with at least two former vegetarians. I think of that kind of thing a lot when I hear people complain about being oppressed because I know damn well that they don't hesitate to oppress and kill creatures that they conveniently refer to as inferior species.

"The younger folks are less dominated these days by their parent's views perhaps?"

I was a 21 years old in 1970 when Jack Nicholson answered the following question in "Five Easy Pieces." Waitress: "What are you rebelling against?" Nicholson: "What have you got?" It was a sentiment that went well in an era when large demonstrations occurred frequently, and when the Age of Aquarius belief that the old ways were being permanently overthrown in favor of kindness, respect, equality, and environmental responsibility actually seemed possible, that is to the young and idealistic. It's very rare anymore for young Americans to take to the streets, yet I doubt that change, positive or otherwise, ever comes about except when initiated by the young largely through taking to the streets. That said, I have been encouraged of late by demonstrations in favor of gun control.

"Being passive or turning a blind eye to such things is something I believe 100% something Jesus wouldn't do."

MLK and Nelson Mandela thought so too, but I really don't know because when you read what Jesus had to say about government, it wasn't critical, although he lived under a brutally oppressive regime. When asked if one should pay taxes to their Roman occupiers, Jesus pointed to the emperor's image on a coin, and said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars and unto God that which is God's." In another passage, he said that if the Roman army compelled one of his followers to carry their equipment one mile, that his follower should carry it an extra mile. He refused to align himself with the Zealots who were planning to rebel against the Roman occupation (and whose rebellion quickly got the temple burned and Jews ejected from Jerusalem, that is the Jews who were still alive to be rejected). It seems to me that while personal ethics and piety mattered a lot to Jesus, he took no interest in supporting mass movements that were aimed at societal change, probably because he saw this life as having no value beyond building the kind of relationship with God that would get one into heaven someday.

kylie said...

Snow,
You asked how Australian Christians think about science. I think in general they don't pay as much attention to science as American Christians. The impression I have is that they are sceptical but can't be much bothered to think about it. I have "discussed" evolution with some and there is huge reluctance to accept the science on sexual orientation (all variations)

There is no battle over text books or science classrooms. I don't know why, maybe there is more separation between policy makers and Christian lobby groups or maybe the lobby groups focus on other things.

What do I regard to be "the plot"?
I regard the most fundamental aspect of Christian teaching to be loving all, in every circumstance, suspending judgement. This idea might be applied directly to the people we come in personal contact with but it also should be applied to the way we choose our shopping or our politicians or our holidays etc. I feel it is very very difficult to live an ethical life, there is a continual juggle to balance the various evils we might contribute to, but a Christian should be trying as hard or harder than anyone else.

Your next point is about the inaccessible nature of God's word. I am aware that the passages to be included in the bible were chosen over a period of time and we really can't be sure how it was done.
I recently read a book which talked about the bible as an historical document. It explained that major parts of the gospels are regarded as reliable sources because numerous individuals who could not have colluded have told the same stories and the stories match well. There was more evidence offered but I don't remember it and loaned the book!

Of course, just because parts of the gospels are credible doesn't mean we have everything that might have been important and it doesn't mean that everything we have is correct. My consistent answer to the problems of the bible is that it is intended to be interpreted through the efforts of the Holy Spirit. Over and over again people have had the bible speak to them in different ways at different times, as though the actual words were changing. If I read the bible with a genuine wish for enlightenment, I think there will be things revealed to me.

There is not a Salvation Army version of the bible. The New International Version seems to be in favour for general reading. The Message version is used at times but seems to me to be wordy and sloppy in some ways.
I personally use the Good News Version because I know my way around it but there are times when I will read every version/ translation I can. Just a change in a word or two can be fodder for thought.

I have not read the gnostic gospels. I have learned bits and pieces in church, I read religious type blogs and websites and I read books when they fall into my hands. When I was younger I had no time or particular interest in pursuing a theological education and now I am hamstrung by budget as well as the fact that I have barely an idea where to begin. I have at times been able to attend bible studies lead by some very scholarly people but I would like to do a lot more of that.

kylie said...

I just re-read your comment to me. I also use Bible hub. It's great

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

After rereading your post and comments I decided my words just were not fitting to your work. You went great lengths to be specific and I just popped a general comment about human corruption. I feel it was lame considering what you were setting forth. I am not very much of. Bible person now. I did study various religious studies years ago at college . I even tried to work at learning and participating in other non Christian ones. I ended up with my own version and decided that people created the religions. God is a power that is not human but humans try to explain it. Sorry for my typos on comments but these days eyes struggle to get it right.
I do like your point of view and admire your presentation.

Snowbrush said...

"That religion is abused is not new."

You imply that religion is good but that it can become bad. Would it not be at least as likely to say that religion is bad, but that it can become good? I say this because it seems to me that instances in which religion is used for bad ends are more common than instances in which it is used for good ends.

"it is nearly impossible to tolerate the beliefs of these folks"

I have been largely hostile to religion for years, but the ascendancy of Trump because of Christian voters, and their resultant feeling of safety in expressing their beliefs in all their previously veiled malignancy have led me to despise religion to a degree that I had never imagined I would experience. Then came that boastful lawbreaker, gun waver, and child molester Roy Moore, who won the white Christian vote in Alabama but whose racism lost him the black vote. I heard Christian after Christian say that they would vote for the worst Republican on the planet (which would mean someone like Hitler) rather than for the best Democrat (Martin Luther King, Jr. is out), and, oh by the way, even if Roy Moore did molest all those children, he's a "good Christian man" and God has forgiven him. That's right, forgiven him despite his ongoing denials and his absence of any recompense to the victims; God's forgiveness meaning never having to take responsibility for the evil you do. Even the Christian support of Trump didn't appall me as badly as their support of Roy Moore because their support of Moore showed their blatant hypocrisy like nothing else I could have imagined. It demonstrated that their religion is nothing more than tribalism at its worst; their claim of being the only moral people on earth (because only they have the Holy Spirit to guide them) as a facade over filth and degeneracy. If Christians would vote for Roy Moore, what evil would they not do if they thought it would serve their ends? I no longer imagine that the Christina right would stop at anything. All that they speak of as good, I regard as evil, and all that I think of as evil, they regard as good. Their vision of what America should be looks to me like what Nazi Germany was, and it's not lost on me that most of Germany's Christians regarded Hitler as a great man, at least until he lost them the war and they saw their country reduced to ruins.

All Consuming said...

Proof is it? You non-believer! I jest of course.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/apr/01/vegans-are-coming-millennials-health-climate-change-animal-welfare

I'm not basing my thoughts on wishes, if anything I assumed the blinkered selfishness would continue just as it has for years and years, but we can't move for vegan places to eat, the main supermarkets sell lots of cruelty free food, people I know who couldn't care less about horses and dogs racing and dying and the injuries caused because they had a brilliant time betting and drinking, no have daughters and sons who give a crap and are interested in reading about it. Dog/cat breeding versus going to rescue homes, the list goes on and I'm going off the words I read every day on social media, the questions I get asked and the genuine interest people have versus open hostility at my exhistence.

It's making money, farms are swapping to half animal produce half vegan to supply the demand, hence the supermarkets having so much now. I think we see it here happening faster because we are a small country. I honestly didn't expect it to boom so much until I was in my seventies at least, and so far as America goes I may still be right. But that's just me, my reckonings. I might be wrong. I hope not.

All Consuming said...

Good news!

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/veganism-skyrockets-by-600-in-america-over-3-years-to-6-of-population

Strayer said...

This is a well written post and should give any Christian pause, thought and if honest, turn his or her head another direction. I've encountered some crazy Christians here where I live, who believe they need to kill liberals, that they are a scourge. They don't see the irony. They may have just invited to me to their church before mentioning the lust to murder.

Snowbrush said...

"There is no battle over text books or science classrooms. I don't know why, maybe there is more separation between policy makers and Christian lobby groups or maybe the lobby groups focus on other things."

They used to focus on other things here too, and what is going on now is the result of battles that have been building for years and even decades. The fact is that the more secular America becomes, the more desperate the Christian community becomes to regain a control that it used to have without having to try hard. Since desperation does not inspire people to behave well, and so a lot of ugly things are being done, such as supporting Trump. It was bad enough that they elected him, but what's far worse in my mind is that they've had a year and a half now to see what a disaster he is, yet they STILL support him. Right now, they are calling for him to win the Nobel Peace Prize for "bringing peace to the Korean peninsula. I see only mean-spiritless and hypocrisy in these people, so I am no less hardened against them than they are against me. The most Christian part of this country is where I am from--the Deep South, aka the Bible Belt. It was the part that seceded prior to the Civil War, the part that fought so hard against integration, the part that is the most hostile to the federal government, and the part that is the most hard-nosed and reactionary. It attitude is "nobody is going to tell us what to do," and its people are often in defiance of federal law, ignoring the part of the Bible that says, "Obey your rulers and super rulers." Largely as a result of its recalcitrance, it is the poorest part of the country because businesses don't want to locate there, and the ones that are willing to locate there are only do so because they are attracted by the promise of cheap labor due to the South's hostility to unions.

"It explained that major parts of the gospels are regarded as reliable sources because numerous individuals who could not have colluded have told the same stories and the stories match well."

I doubt that anyone thinks they "colluded," but this doesn't mean that the later writers wouldn't have had the benefit of the writings of the earlier writers. I would hold that there are numerous contradictions in the gospels (here's just one site that gets into that: https://infidels.org/library/modern/paul_carlson/nt_contradictions.html). As I remember it (my exposure to such studies being from years ago), the Gospel of Mark is assuredly the oldest, and the one upon which the others relied, it and a "missing gospel" called Q. None of the gospels were written by the apostles, and if I remember correctly, the writings of Paul either preceded all of them, or at least all of them but Mark. The church of my childhood held that the gospels were written by whom they were said to be written by, that their every word was inspired by God, and that they were therefore free from contradictions. This is not consistent with the historical record, and it has not been accepted by secular or liberal Bible scholars and archaeologists since at least the 1800s. The more liberal churches accept that the Bible contains many errors, but claim that while it wasn't inspired by God as a whole, it contains nuggets of divine inspiration. The problem is determining what parts were inspired and what weren't. Of course, the literalistic churches also pick and choose what parts they believe, but they don't own up to it, and are probably not even aware of it.

Snowbrush said...

"My consistent answer to the problems of the bible is that it is intended to be interpreted through the efforts of the Holy Spirit."

The problem that I see with this is the diversity of interpretations even about important points. Given the commonality of disagreement, how would you ever know if your interpretation was spirit-guided, or was instead the result of your preexisting image of what God is like and what he expects of you? The Quaker Church is interesting in that it (at least the local one) relies much more heavily upon the guidance of the Spirit than upon the text of the Bible, yet if one person comes out with something that the rest of the group considers unlikely to have been Spirit directed, they go through a long period of reflection by the group as a whole, during which the person with the questionable guidance will have to determine, with the help of the group, whether he or she is or isn't really and truly being guided by the Spirit. I have great respect for the Quakers. The local group will even accept atheists in acknowledgement of the fact that people shouldn't be rejected because they are unable to profess a belief in words and groups of words that no one can define. In other words, their goal is to accept or reject an applicant based upon what is in his or her heart rather than based upon that person's "profession of faith" in the words in a creed. I can but wish that I didn't feel bored to tears by the Quaker meetings, plainness, and decision making process. They never vote on anything, but instead strive for consensus no matter how long it takes or how tedious it is to get there. Hardly a week goes by but what I don't think vaguely about attending an Episcopal service (aka Anglican), but I know that my welcome would be partly dependent upon my willingness to keep my mouth shut about a lot of things. For my part, my attendance would be precipitated upon my belief that pretty much everything that is said, sung, or chanted, is but a metaphor for a truth that eludes us all, and while many Episcopalians would be fine with that, many more would not.

"I personally use the Good News Version"

I enjoy The Living Bible, a paraphrased version. I used to take it to Bible studies, knowing that it lacked scholarly respectability in the minds of many, but also knowing that it made passages clear that other people in the group were confused about.

Snowbrush said...

"After rereading your post and comments I decided my words just were not fitting to your work."

I am extremely touched. I work awfully hard on my posts, and it is rewarding when someone acknowledges the hours and days (if not the clarity, thoroughness, and intelligence) that I put into nearly every one of them. I made a significant change to this post yesterday. It follows the last semicolon in the following: " 6) Believe that America is a Christian nation founded on Christian values; that its prosperity is proof of God's preference; that Christian specific prayers should be a part of government meetings and school functions; that Christian symbols and monuments should be allowed in public parks, public schools, and in and around courthouses, post offices, city halls, and police stations; and that anyone who opposes any of these things is guilty of persecuting Christians."

I made this addition because, according to polls, the majority of the right-wing Christians of whom I wrote claim that they are the most persecuted people in America, yet no conservative politician (and probably not a liberal one) can be elected to a national office without vowing to cater to them. It wounds me to think that these people have no clue what it's like to live under their control--and the country is largely under their control--and this puts them in the position of someone who has an estate of a hundred million dollars who is forever whining about how poor he is.

"I ended up with my own version and decided that people created the religions"

Just last night, I learned from a PBS program about the makings of civilization that while humans were animists for 99% of our existence, we started creating organized religions when we went from being hunting and gathering to herding and farming, which enabled us to live in large and densely packed groups. Right from the outset of religion's organization, it was used by the powerful to prove that God gave them their status, wanted them to rule, and that they were therefore entitled to collect taxes, demand obedience, and punish anyone who opposed them. Upon hearing this, I recalled that, in the Old Testament, God would be on the side of one king or another, but when that king proved untrue to God's commandments (often by turning to other gods), God would send a prophet to put him in his place. Today, we have no strong challengers who are able to go up against corrupt leadership, but if God exists, why don't we, especially given that the stakes are far, far higher in modern America than they were in ancient Israel with its comparatively minuscule population and its lack of weapons of mass destruction? After all, it would be so easy for God to validate that such a person was speaking for him, and he wouldn't even have to resort to crass miracles; he could simply meet with every last one of us in the depths of our hearts, and say, "I sent this person, and I want you to pay heed to what he [or she] says until I tell you differently." As for creating your own religion, does this mean that you have no community of people to be there for you? This is a problem for me in that I would dearly love to have ritual, liturgy, incense, music, and so forth in my life, and I grieve intensely for their absence, yet where could I go to find such things without being made to feel that I didn't belong? People who go to church can't understand what it is like for those of us who would like to have that which is good about church but are unable to pass a test of acceptance that serves to divide people more than to unite them.

Snowbrush said...

"I've encountered some crazy Christians here where I live, who believe they need to kill liberals, that they are a scourge. They don't see the irony. They may have just invited to me to their church before mentioning the lust to murder."

Sounds like they gave you an offer that you couldn't refuse! All of those people who Christians killed in the Dark Ages, I've wondered if they said they loved them before ripping their joints apart, boiling them, or burning them at the stake. I doubt it because their religion wasn't about love, it was about creeds, and legalistic perfectionism.

Proof is it? You non-believer!"

In disagreeing with me, you ARE aware that I'm a man, and I was born in the first half of the 20th century, aren't you? When you put these two things together, it's exceedingly unlikely that I'm wrong about much of anything when I'm disagreeing with a younger person and a woman at that...um, come to think of it, Donald Trump is also a man, and he too was born in the first half of the 20th century. Damn! Just when I thought I had you. Seriously, I hope I am wrong. I did find the article encouraging, but I simply don't trust trends until they're really well established because it seems to me that society is forever flip-flopping all over the place. I did a web search of vegan restaurants in Eugene, and to my surprise, I found quite a few that are either vegan or vegetarian (there was only one vegan restaurant and one vegetarian restaurant--at least that I remember--when I moved here in 1986. Eugene, is called "The Berkeley of the North" because of its (now aging) hippy culture and its general liberalism, but it is less that way now than it was when I came here because the population has about doubled, and a lot of the newcomers represent mainstream America. It was largely because of this downward local trend that I expressed doubt about your statement. cont.

Snowbrush said...

A thought came up related to all this. You said at one point that you are sometimes accused of standing in judgment over non-vegans, and that you, if I recall correctly (this having been a couple of years back), always deny that this was the case. If my memory is right about what I just said, I don't understand how you can NOT feel that non vegans are making an immoral choice in so enjoying the taste of eggs, milk, hamburgers, etc. that they would choose that enjoyment at the expense of bringing unnecessary misery and death to other species. I'll give a parallel example. I'm pro-choice, and I accept the fact that those who regard abortion as murder will think of me as a supporter of murder because what else can they do? They might concede that I don't see myself as a murderer, but they will nonetheless think that my position comes from callousness and/or willful ignorance, which is how I regard meat eaters and even vegetarians such as myself (except that I do eat fish). I don't go as far as you do in being a vegan, but I'm well aware that I'm bringing misery and death into the world by being anything less than a vegan, and I have no excuse. When I hear people say that we all do the best we can in life, I think they're spouting bullshit, because I know I don't always do the best I can, and I don't think I'm unusual in this way. Although it might be possible that, in some ways, I am more just and kindly than you are, this doesn't excuse me in eating foods that come at such a horrendous cost. Thoreau wrote that our entire lives are startlingly moral. We never turn the key in a car ignition without making a moral choice. Our choice of dwellings, of clothes, of furniture, of the way we interact with every other creature we encounter (human or nonhuman), all involve moral choices. I don't think that any of us can boast of our goodness, yet this doesn't mean that we should go around being non-judgmental of others not matter what they do or say. Pedophilia is WRONG; eating meat is WRONG; and so forth, so what is the problem in saying that it's wrong, of saying to someone who accuses you of judging them, "Yes, I think you err in that you value having a certain taste in your mouth more than you value being kind to what you conveniently dismiss as inferior species?"

All Consuming said...

It doesn't help the cause to be judgemental, Educational, yes, helpful, yes, all manner of ways yes, but the other point you're missing is that they are hostile and TELL me I am actively being judgemental. I am not actively doing that at all, I am living and I am trying to do the very best I can, and I think improvement can always occur. I encourage, not damn people, not make them feel bad because they eat meat etc, I encourage them through so many kindly ways, as long as they are open to this happening. If you tell a smoker to stop because they're killing themselves and others around them they smoke more. People don't want to be lectured, so you have to tactfully get them into a discussion that isn't an angry one where they are defending themselves. When a friend of mine, Charlie told me that he's decided to go meat free for one day a week, I didn't reply in any way that referred to all the meat he was still eating, I did not openly judge him, and I see no point in dwelling on judging people either. I gave him a hug and said it was brilliant and talked about some recipes and food outlets he might fancy going to on that one day.

If I lived on a high and might cloud, looking down with distaste upon those who didn't agree with my passions I'd be alone up there forever, it's self-defeating. I had a couple of good friends buy a puppy recently, this saddened a great deal, it made me very angry too. I talked it through with her and she couldn't be moved because she wanted a particular breed, so sod the rescue homes, and she said: "If that's being selfish, then I am selfish in this matter". We agreed to disagree on the subject, yet agreed ultimately on what was going on and I admired her for her honesty and willingness to talk about it. I admire meat eaters who are open-minded and willing to read articles and watch videos explaining what happens out there, how unnecessary meat and dairy is. Because we all have free will, and must always have it. But the only way to get people to change is through kindness, often laughter helps too. Nothing in this is black and white. Nothing anywhere is.

Marion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snowbrush said...

"It doesn't help the cause to be judgemental, Educational, yes, helpful, yes, all manner of ways yes, but the other point you're missing is that they are hostile and TELL me I am actively being judgemental."

I have been ridiculed just for being a pescetarian, so I can imagine what you hear, and I appreciate the irony of some of the charges made against you. I have no idea what you mean by being actively judgmental, but just by supporting the right of all creatures to enjoy health and happiness, you're implying that killing and eating those creatures is morally wrong. As for people who rail against you for being a vegan, I wonder to what extent they're suffering from a guilty conscience.

"People don't want to be lectured, so you have to tactfully get them into a discussion that isn't an angry one where they are defending themselves."

I agree completely that you are far more likely to win people over by not appearing judgmental. I couldn't pull it off, and I have too many inconsistencies to even try. I'll give an example. Peggy went out to eat with a friend who ordered "spring lamb," which, I assumed to be a lamb that was born only to be killed so that people can enjoy a certain taste in their mouths. How cruel! How depraved! decadent! This friend no doubt thinks of herself as moral, well-meaning, and kindly, but I cannot. I envision her snarling with fur and blood on her lips as if she were a cat that's ripping a mouse to shreds, only a cat is born to be an amoral (I assume that cats are amoral, although I'm well aware that they are also capable of kindness and self-sacrifice) predator and a carnivore, and a person is not. Nothing except having that taste in her mouth would be lost to this woman if she had chosen to eat something else. We are truly a depraved species, and it would be very, very hard for anyone to live a thoroughly moral existence. Perhaps Gandhi did, but I really don't know. Supposedly he beat his wife at some point, but maybe he later thought better of it. Then there's Schweitzer, him being another person by whom I'm greatly impressed.

cont.

Snowbrush said...

"If I lived on a high and might cloud, looking down with distaste upon those who didn't agree with my passions I'd be alone up there forever, it's self-defeating."

I agree, but you're talking about what works best, and I'm talking about the principal behind your position. It could be that you have a bigger heart than I, or it could be that you're just better at diplomacy. For example, if I had hugged a meat eating friend who was giving up meat for one day a week, told him that he was "brilliant," and gave him some recipes, I would have appeared condescending because I would have felt condescending. Your friend reminds me of the camp commandant in the movie Schlinder's List who, at Schlinder's gentle urging, decided he really needed to cut down on committing wanton murder. It didn't last beyond his first temptation to shoot a little boy who had unwittingly frustrated him because it was a concession to a morality that he, psychopath that he was, was incapable of experiencing. I think that nearly all of us are variations of that commandant. You think that what's needed is kindness and education, and while I agree that these things are preferable to a haughty moral superiority, I don't think that people who are mature, empathetic, and have an IQ above 115 can eat meat without a twinge of conscience, which means that the problem is weakness and callousness rather than ignorance. I even suspect that if you could gently lead the entire planet into veganism that the imagining superiority of a meat-based diet would rise up yet again, and the planet would swing back in that direction. We are simply not the highly evolved species that we like to pretend we are. If you had had children, who knows but what they would be eating a Big Mac right now (I say this based upon how often I've seen children go in the opposite direction of their parents' values). It's just how people are, but if you can maintain affection and optimism, more power to you because such things can't hurt, and they might even help.

"I had a couple of good friends buy a puppy recently, this saddened a great deal, it made me very angry too."

I've bought a total of three dogs in my life only to look back in wonder at my callousness. I ran into a woman with her new pedigreed dog and, knowing that she is a very charitable person when it comes to helping people, I expressed surprise that she didn't get a rescue dog. She said, in effect, that she does enough good in life, and that this was one time when she just wanted to do what she wanted to do. Her underlying point, as I took it, was that doing good for people is, for her, an essential value while doing good to other species is more on the order of an accessory. It was not a view that I respected, and I'm sure my feelings showed. In regard to dogs, I have wondered how you square being a vegan with buying meat for a carnivore (my assumption being that you bow to your dog's biological need for a meat-based diet). It bothers me in regard to my cats, but then I'm a lot like that woman in that I simply want to do what I want to do.

"I talked it through with her and she couldn't be moved"

Given that she already had the dog, what was it that you wanted her to do? I will mention that there are rescue groups that are breed specific, so it's even possible that she could have gotten a dog from one of those.

"Because we all have free will, and must always have it."

I will grant that we have the appearance of free will, it not being obvious to me that appearance equals reality. Maybe you know of MRI experiments in which researchers could tell from the imaging what decision a person was going to make prior to the time that the person came to a conscious decision.

Snowbrush said...

"dont' take this the wrong way, but you seriously need to get laid, as do I."

Staying on topic is NOT one of the things that you do best! I suppose you heard of Kanye's remark about slavery in American being voluntary, and that anyone who can't see this simply isn't open to new ideas. This got me to wondering what virtue you see in him, and I could but assume that you like his music. After his latest remark, I saw him described on more than one site as a "musical genius," but since I, without having even listened to it, have no interest in his music, I wouldn't know. Right now, I'm listening to Baroque, which is 99.99% of what I listen to when alone. When with Peggy, it's another story, although she almost never listens to anything new either. She's highly eclectic, but she never listens to pop unless it's oldies pop.

All Consuming said...

'Given that she already had the dog, what was it that you wanted her to do?' - She was going to buy a puppy when I was discussing it with her, she hadn't actually bought one yet.

Snowbrush said...

"She was going to buy a puppy when I was discussing it with her, she hadn't actually bought one yet."

That certainly makes sense! My error came from thinking that the order in which you reported the two events was the order in which the two events happened: "I had a couple of good friends buy a puppy recently...I talked it through with her and she couldn't be moved" Thank you for clarifying. Certainly, a major difference between us is that you seem to have a greater faith in people's ability to change and in your ability to facilitate that change. I've given a lot of thought to your words about being non-judgmental, and I can see that I have changed a great deal in that regard. When I was young and even when I was middle aged, I think it fair to say that although I was judgmental against rednecks (having been surrounded by them and hated by them by virtue of not being like them--I had long hair when only hippies had long hair, plus I didn't eat meat, plus I was an atheist, etc.), I was unusually open toward people in general. People would often cite this openness as the reason they were willing to share deep things about themselves with me.

Looking back, I actually don't respect how non-judgmental I was on, my current view being that it was partly due to my lack of a strong moral compass. Instead of seeing the world in terms of right and wrong, I saw it almost entirely in terms of similarities and differences, and it mattered little to me what those differences were. Perhaps you think I have gone too far in the other direction, and I can't say but what you are right. I can say that it's not only a change that has become more pronounced in me, but in society as a whole. I think it likely that America has changed more since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president than it had in the preceding 20 or 30 years. This is a nation in which people are a lot more willing to draw hard lines between themselves and others, a nation in which people are convinced that their worst fears about those who differ from them have been realized. Aside for some horrendous war that would take our outrage toward one another and focus it on someone else, I can't imagine how the gulf between Americans can be bridged.

Yet it was so recently that a black man named Obama won the presidency, and, for a short time anyway, it seemed as if America had entered a new era of acceptance and openness. Soon afterward the hatred surfaced; it has done nothing but grow; and it finally culminated in the election of Donald Trump. It was as if millions upon millions of Americans, most of them Christians, cast their votes for hatred, and millions more, myself among them, concluded that, this being the case, there is no hope of us all working together because we no longer have anything that remotely resembles a shared vision.

In Marion's state of Louisiana, tens of thousands of old and/or disabled people in nursing homes will soon be put out on the street because the state is no longer interested in providing money for the care of people whom Trump's Christian supporters regard as expendable deadbeats and moochers. Like all Trump states, Louisiana is a world turned on its head. Not be judgmental? Not be angry and condemning? No. Every day I become even more angry and condemning. This isn't a game. This is about the people who are supposed to solve problems being the cause, and nothing but the cause, of endless problems, and most of them are not just trifling sideshow problems like Trump's relationship with a whore named Stormy Daniels. Every day brings numerous new outrages; I lay them all at the feet of Christianity and the Republican Party; and I see very little difference between the two.

Snowbrush said...

I meant to give a link about the Louisiana Medicaid cuts: https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/09/us/louisiana-medicaid-cuts-nursing-homes-evictions/index.html. Of course, the healthcare of the people who are responsible for these cuts will in no way be affected. They never are.

Practical Parsimony said...

Snowbrush, I never disagree with a word you write. Hence, little response from me. Plus, I have had a two-year battle with glasses and other issues with eyes. Now, I can read and actually am reading a book...lol. I live in AL and have lived in MS, so all you say, I am living in. There are not many who agree with me in the Red State, so your blog is an oasis.