Saturday, December 22, 2007

Faith of our (Founding) Fathers

This country is ripe for a good old fashioned religious war, and thanks to the GOP, which has spent the last few years demanding that political candidates wear their religious beliefs on their sleeve, we may yet get it. What a wonderful Christmas present.

"Live by Anne Coulter, die by Anne Coulter," that's what I say.

The first volley might have been fired on the New York subway the other day when a man was physically attacked for replying "Happy Hanukkah" when someone else wished him "Merry Christmas."

Happy Hanukkah?

Those are fighting words!

Or at least they are if you are an idiot, and get all your news from Bill O'Reilly.

And so the nice Christian Boys threw down and started beating up the Jew until a Muslim fellow from Bangladesh stepped in to come to the Jewish fellow's rescue!

A Muslim guy stepped in to end the fight? Unbelievable sounding, but true.

In this twisted world, the ultimate irony is that the only "good Christian" left on a New York City train was a Muslim.

Go figure.

Meanwhile Mike Huckabee is standing firm in his disbelief in evolution.

Science? Science is for the Godless heathens -- you know, those damn foreigners who make all that stuff we like to buy at WalMart.

And never forget, says Huckabee, that life starts at conception.

Does that mean he's opposed to birth control? That's the rumor. But who knows?

Just imagine a tidal wave of Jamie Lynn Spears' trying to home-school their kids based on a fundamentalist educational doctrine that says evolution does not occur. Woooeee. I see no problems for the nation there!

And maybe that will not happen under Huckabee. He seems more rational than that. More to be revealed, no doubt.

Not crazy to be concerned, though, is it?

And then you have Mitt Romney, who took to the airwaves to pay homage to the "faith of his father," which resulted in the over-caffeinated and under-medicated Lawrence O'Donnell (one of the star's of HBO's TV series Big Love) ripping a hole in the studied civility (cough, cough) of The McLaughlin Group.

My favorite part is when the slightly-dim Eleanor Clift tries to smooth things over by noting that the long history of Mormon biggotry is no big deal.

Never mind, suggests Eleanor through omission, that we would never even consider a candidate that was a member of a country club that excluded blacks and women. A church is (somehow) different.

So what if Romney is a card-carrying member of a religion that kept out blacks until Romney himself was well past the age of 30?

The always-liberal Eleanor Clift is so terrified of calling a spade a spade that she tries to rationalize away true racism in the Mormon church for fear of offending anyone, noting that "every religion has had its scandals."

To which the former Catholic priest John McLaughlin asks "is that a crack about the Inquisition?" To which Eleanor Clift notes that the Catholic Church has had more recent scandals than that (i.e. a reference to pedophile priests).

Whoooeee. You cannot make this kind of stuff up.

Fight, fight, fight!

Of course, no one is even mentioning the abortion-defending, wife-cheating philanderer Rudy Giuiliani.

There's no question he's Godless enough for the most die-hard lefty Granola-eating-pagan-dope-smoker. And he's a gun-grabber too, God bless him. Perfect!

Then to take it across the aisle, you have Hillary Clinton, a Methodist who seems to carry a pair of heavy hands with her in the political ring, and who is only too happy to have surrogates (including husband Bill) run down the opposition, especially Barrack Obama.

And don't think folks haven't noticed.

Yesterday, nationally acclaimed documentary film maker Ken Burns (of The Civil War fame) endorsed Barack Obama for President after watching Hillary in action.

Ken, who had planned to stay neutral in the race, said that the Clinton campaign's attacks on Barack Obama prompted him to declare his support for Obama.

Ken says he thinks Barack is the only candidate in the race who can put an end to the "slash-and-burn character attacks" that have prevented progress on the challenges we face as a nation.

Noting Obama's judgment and courage, Burns said we need "a leader who calls upon each and every one of us to heed the 'better angels of our nature' and not our basest fears. Barack Obama will be that kind of president. It is time for a real change."

So there it is. Ken Burns thinks Obama is the only real Christian running. And I'm not saying he's wrong, either.

Ken may very well be right.

After all, Obama is not just a regular church-goer, he's also living the word. As the conservative blogger Mark Finkelstein notes:

"When David Gregory grilled Hillary Clinton on Today on December 17th, the challenges to her came from his own mouth. Not once was a statement by Barack Obama used to confront Clinton.

But when Barack Obama made back-to-back appearances this morning on Today and Morning Joe, again and again tough questions were posed not in the first person but as coming from Hillary Clinton or her surrogates."

In short, there is little or no video of Obama talking evil about others, and no shortage of those clips coming from Hillary.

Bottom line: Pay attention, and people will tell you who they are.

Pay attention to what people do, and you will know a great deal about them.

By watching, you can sometimes learn more than by listening.

Or, as Thomas Jefferson of Virginia so eloquently put it:

“Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.”


Let us put our faith in that.

Let us watch how people have acted in their life.

Let us judge their faith on action, because faith without action is no faith at all. It is merely rhetoric.

And God knows, we have had our fill of that!.



Dan & Margaret said...

Better to have their religion on their sleeve than up it!

Christopher said...

What does Bill O'Reilly have to do with wack-job Christians roughing up a Jew and a Muslim on a subway? Fox News ran that story the morning it happened (AP broke the story), about 7 hours before CNN did (on their website).

The only link I can see is that BO rants on and on about "secular progressives" and the "war on Christmas," (and his fellow FNC anchor has even published a book on that topic) but this attack has nothing to do with the SP anti-Christmas movement, and little to do with the backlash against it.

Those hooligans didn't attack creche protesters or school administrators who have banned "Merry Christmas" from their campuses and written the holiday off of their calendars. They went looking for a fight, and they most likely found a taker. Who is to say that the Happy Channukah wasn't just as sarcastic as the Merry Christmas most certainly was? From the victim's interview (gosh, on Fox) it sounded like he chose the wrong time to be a smart ass. Criminal, no, I'm not blaming the victim, but stupid, yes.

The attack certainly wasn't the first volley in any religious war. That would be ignoring all of the efforts to remove the religious celebration of Christmas from the public sphere, and the examples are numerous and convincing. That BO points such things out isn't the creation of a war, but rather documenting a truth. The volleys have been firing for years, this is perhaps only the most recent disgusting display of criminal mugging based upon the ill feelings generated by the PC B.S.

If the looking-for-a-fight Christians were pissed off, it's much more likely that they were pissed off by the PC movement that is consistently trying to marginalize a religious Christmas than what I assume is your position that O'Reilly is an Orson Wells type speaking about an invasion of Martians that isn't really happening yet the ignorant masses are being pushed into frenzied action because of what he is saying.

Fundamentally you have to ask if O'Reilly and others are creating a problem where none exists or are they giving attention to an issue that is real and growing in pervasiveness.

Again, I believe in no God and laugh at people who think Christmas has BECOME commercial when it has always been commercial (it was one big commercial for people--especially pagans--to convert to Christianity). For that matter, Channukah and Kwanza are just as contrived to win over followers (or keep them when these "new" religions seem to be having so much more fun at this time of year with their present giving incentives).

But the attack on Christmas is real and I see it all around. Perhaps some of it is truly anti-Christian sentiment, but some of it is certainly commercial, and some is practical. No hard feelings, Christ lovers, but a lot of supplanting Christmas with "Holidays" is simply a matter of marketing to a growingly diverse population of shoppers. You might prefer that such groups add more words for the other groups than take away words for Christmas, but trying to fit in "Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Joyful Kwanza, Felices Saturnalia, Blessed Be the Solstice, and Enjoy Festivus!" simply costs too much money in print ads and too much time on TV ads.

The Sprint "ChristmaChannuKwanzika" song pretty much sums it up. Big business wants EVERYONE to buy more of their crap this time of year.

PBurns said...

Chris, you know EXACTLY why Bill O'Reilly in implicated -- and you bring it up yourself. So let's not act dumb on that one, eh?

Sure these hooligans may have been looking for a fight, but Bill O'Reilly and all the other hate-spewing ratings-checkers at Fox Television are very intentionally working to find an excuse for them to bash someone, aren't they? It's a WAR on Christmas! War, war, war!

Joseph Goebels would be proud of that langauge. As I recall, Joseph Goebbels also killed no one. All he did was tell folks, 24-hours a day, that there was a cultural "war" against Christians and the German way of life. Then OTHER people killed people. Woops! So sorry! I had *no idea* that words mattered.

Goebbels was not wrong about the power of propaganda, was he?

For example, you say you "see" an attack on Christmas all around you.

You do? Really? Where is that? Who is beating people up because they say "Merry Christmas?"

What I see are some businesses VULUNTARILY deciding that it's bad corporate practice to have their employees giving people non-product messages.

For example, it might not be a good thing for vegan car salespeople to go up to all the customers, stick out their hands, and greet folks with a cheerfully-said "Meat Kills" salutation. A car dealership *might* put an end to that, even though there are a LOT of vegetarians in the world. And yes, some of them might be his employees. Yes, there is a place for veganism. Do what you want on your own time, but on the car lot the dealer that owns the lot and signs your pay check will tell you what is permitted and not permitted.

And, funny enough, it turns out that you sell more cars by NOT alienating 20 to 40 percent of the client base. Who knew?

Which, of course, does not impact your FREEDOM to choose another car dealership. For example, you are free to got to a *Christian* car dealship (or a vegan one) if you want to. There they will no doubt pray (or is that prey?) with you in the parking lot about the "good deal" you are about to receive. It will be a wonderful Christ-filled sales lot where all the salesfolk will dress up like elves, just like in the Gospel of Matthew. I am sure you will get a VERY good deal at a Christian car dealership. Who knew a man wearing religion on his sleeve to ever tell a lie? Not me!

Each to his own.

That's the point of this country.

And, thank God, most people still get it.

Sure, more Americans can recite the ingredients in a Big Mac than they can the 10 Commandments.

But so what?

Most Americans know the essentials: treat people with repect, tolerance and kindness.

Or, as Jesus said, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Most Americans realize we live in a "big tent" society complete with evolution-denying Baptists, contraception-hating Catholics, alcohol-hating Muslims, Mormons that believe that God lives on the planet Kolob, Hare-Krishnas who used to be Methodists, Jews for Jesus, and a hell of a lot of "First Churches" of this and that.

Then we have the Greek Orthodox, the Jewish Orthodox, the Armenian Apostolic, the Amish, the Mennonite, the Lutherans, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Ba'hai, the Bhuddists, the Sikhs, and the Jews.

And God has blessed them all as far as I can tell (and they will tell you that too).

Of course the largest denomination in this country (and almost every other country on earth) are the folks who do not got to church, temple, ashram, or mosque.

These people VOLUNTARILY decide not to go to church 51 weeks out of the year.

Are you one of them? How about your boss? Your best friend?

The second largest denomination in the U.S. are the agnostics and aetheists who never go to church and do not believe in any organized religion.

And you what? Most of them are very good people with great values.

Most of them have better values than Tammy Fay or Jim Bakker. Better values than Jimmy Swaggert. Better values than Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland or Benny Hinn. Better values than Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. Better values than Bill O'Reilly.

But not better values than Billy Graham.

You never saw Billy Graham get on this "war on Christmas" bandwagon, did you? Reverand Graham understood that this was a Big Tent country, and his was a secure and loving Big Tent faith. If people said "Happy Holidays" to Billy Graham, he did not see it as a threat. His faith was not a small faith, or a weak faith. His God was not going to be crushed if a high school dropout working the counter an McDonald's said "Happy Holidays instead of "Merry Christmas."

Billy believed.

And he wanted you to believe too.

But the way he did that -- at least in the second half of his life -- was not by preaching a message of "war" and hate and anger, but one of love, compasssion, and respect. You were ATTRACTED to Billy Graham's message. He had IT, whatever it was.

But of course, people are free to think there is a "War on Christmas" if they want. I allow communists to believe their bucket loads of crap as well. It's all the same thing, as far as I can tell. Those who bang the gong trying to foment a "War on Christmas" are opposed to freedom in a capitalist marketplace. They are opposed to McDonald's and WalMart and Joe's Used Cars deciding the rules for employee conduct at their place of business -- the place of business they own. These "War on Christmas" koolaid drinkers are for forced taxation to support ideological beliefs.

My only question is this: If they are opposed to FREEDOM and opposed to CAPITALISM, what are they going to give us to to replace it?

I shudder to think! And then I remember Goebbels, and I remember that this is all the latest mainfestation of "the Jews control all the media" bullshit that the idiot right have been spewing for 100 years. And I am reminded, once again, why there is a place for Liberal gun ownership.


in costa rica said...

An atheist simply citing what Goebbels actually thought about Christianity(from his diaries):
(April 29, 1941)-Afterwards, long discussions about the Vatican and Christianity. The Fuhrer is a fierce opponent of all that humbug, but he forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons. And so for a decade now I have paid my church taxes to support such rubbish. That is what hurts most." (p. 340). Also (December 29, 1939): "The Fuhrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symbol of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race." (p. 77). Finally (April 8, 1941): "The Fuhrer is a man totally attuned to antiquity. He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity. According to Schopenhauer, Christianity and syphilis have made humanity unhappy and unfree." (p. 304).

P.S. I despise O'Reilly, but he is no George Lincoln Rockwell

Anonymous said...

"At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce. "

FYI This December 2007 Atlantic Monthly is making the same case as you that Obama is trying to stake the high ground reconcillor position.