Friday, August 05, 2011

Believe or else!

This use of religion in politics is a source of cynicism. It should raise alarms when the views of the Almighty conveniently match our most urgent political needs. A faith that conforms exactly to the contours of a political ideology has lost its independence. Churches become clubs of the politically like-minded. Political dialogue suffers, since opponents are viewed as heretics. And when religion becomes too closely identified with a detailed political platform, both are quickly outdated. Despite William Jennings Bryan’s best efforts, who now recalls God’s view of bimetallism?   - Michael Gerson
On the evidence, it's ludicrous to believc you have to believe in the Christian or Jewish deity to be morally qualified to hold elective office in America.

Politics is, as has often been said, the art of the possible. Which means it relies upon flexibility, compromise, change, cooperation. Religion often asserts not only what seems impossible (supernaturally, historically, scientifically, & in expectations of  human behavior), but in its stricter forms asserts it dogmatically, no debate, no compromise, no on-going revelation. In orthodox Christianity, revelation is closed, done, written, the revelation succinctly stated in several creeds. Of course, reason tells us this revelation, unbelievable as it sounds, & a matter of faith & even suspension of reason, says nothing specific about the debt-ceiling. In fact, it says nothing about democratic government, big versus small government, government programs,  Nor do the books that contain the revelation have anything to say about these. They have plenty to say about morality & ethics,  but even there we find contradictions, paradoxes, difficult parables, & "laws" we now consider unnecessary to obey if not outright barbaric.

How much does fundamentalist Christianity, the ultra-literalist manifestation of the faith  least open to differences of interpretation, to variety, contribute to the current  sorry condition of politics in America? It's sadly ironic that people who do not hold fundamentalist religious beliefs have applied its stubborn certainty to their political views. They definitely know what Jesus would do about the debt ceiling; he'd do whatever they'd do.

(Fundamentalists resist climate change science because they can't accept the eight known glacial cycles that have occurred during the developmental period of the modern human over 800,000 years, during which the most recent Wisconsin maximum glacial advance 20,000 years ago & subsequent retreat established widespread human presence & culture in the Americas before the time the Bible says  God created the universe. This makes them allies of the oil interests, which have to disprove major human-influenced climate change in order to preserve their power & profit. )

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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