Monday, January 23, 2012

Newt Gingrich & American Christianity

Newt Gingrich is proving that American christianity is a form of neo-victorianism. In that it finds it more distasteful to talk about adultery than it does to committ adultery. This redemption is a form of relativism. "We are all fallen. We all sin." This sickly relativism is American christianity's long as you speak the language of the tribe. If you are outside the tribe you are judged for your sins. If you are within the tribe you are given a pass.

This provinical and tribal theology allows for corrupt double standards and outright hypocrisy.

What is paramount is that one swears fidelity only to the spoken ideology. Your life and integrity is secondary.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Story of Science vs. the Story of Religion

The narrative of the natural sciences is not only more likely than the supernatural narratives it also possesses greater explanatory power.

The advantage that religious narratives have is their cultural & emotional identity connection usually developed in childhood and in family units. The religious narrative also has the advantage that it directly consoles the existential anxiety due to human consciousness and its propensity to metaphysical meaning and security.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rick Santorum's Political Christianity

Why Rick Santorum Can't Just Say: God Doesn't Want You To Be Gay | Politics | Religion Dispatches

It’s not as though Santorum dispassionately selected Catholicism from a menu of religious ideologies. He believes because he feels. Even before his wife’s miscarriage (in 1996), before his political career, some concatenation of circumstances installed what some have called religious “software” in his brain. Things are good when religion is dominant, bad when it is not. This is the truth of his experience.

I’m reminded of a story told by Tim LaHaye, notorious author of the apocalyptic “Left Behind” series. LaHaye was ten years old when his father died, and obviously devastated by the loss. As LaHaye tells it, it was during a pastor’s eulogy for his father that he truly came to believe. The pastor explained how his father was now in heaven with Jesus, and the young LaHaye knew this to be true, felt it to be true. Indeed, he must have wished it to be true as well. Of course he did; what ten-year-old boy wouldn’t?

That, not evolution or homosexuality or any other point of dogma, is the real issue for people like LaHaye, Santorum, and Chambers: the fundamental comfort that religion provides. If people evolved from apes, according to this logic, Timmy LaHaye’s father is not in heaven with Jesus and Rick Santorum’s son died for no reason.

And this is why we cannot argue with people who subscribe to this framework: there is simply too much at stake for them. They have wedded their fundamental sense of okay-ness to the truthfulness of a set of doctrines. Not only is sociology not at issue for Rick Santorum, Romans isn’t either. What is at stake is his very sense that the world is a good place, that things are basically okay, and that he himself is okay as a result. That may be expressed in a theological framework, but it is a psychological reality. If I marry my partner, therefore, Rick Santorum is not okay.

The rest is window dressing. The fake sociology, the religious doctrines of sin and salvation, all of it. Santorum and Chambers have had powerful religious experiences, and they avail themselves of such doctrines to articulate the inexpressible.

By Jay Michaelson

Thomas Paine Contra the Religious Right in America

Glenn Beck's use of Thomas Paine is quite ironic considering Paine's view of the Judeo-Christian tradition and his distaste for Church and State connection. Either Glenn Beck is woefully ignorant or he is a charlatan who takes advantage of the ignorance of those he fleeces.

The adulterous connection between church and state...
[Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]

Glenn Beck (and many others on the religious right) have been pushing this Judeo-Christian identity as the inspiration of the American Experiment and Founders. But again his history is very selective.
If we are saying that the majority of Americans were and are Christian then that would be fair. But the inspiration and knowledge that framed the American experiment was not the Judeo Kings of the Old Testament or the Kings of Christian Europe but rather it was the example of Ancient Greece (Democracy) and the Roman Republic. It was Pagan Europe not Christian Europe that was the inspiration. The American Founders had a classical education and they were inspired by Ancient Greece and the Republic of Rome. Political Christianity from Europe was not what the American Experiment was about. The Enlightenment and the Classical world were very influential in the philosophy of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Glenn Beck and David Barton say the separation of Church and State was to keep Government out of Church but not Church out of Government...that is like saying that Jelly should stay out of peanut butter but peanut butter can mix with jelly. If the mix is the problem what party crosses the line is not the fundamental issue. They want Church to run government but not government to run church? Take power from the Government and give it to the Church? Sounds like a theocratic dream. Freedom of Religion requires Freedom from Religion when it comes to the State. Otherwise the confusion of which God and which holy book is problematic. Even Christians who agree somewhat on the same God fight among themselves over the correct interpretation of that God. That is why the founders(important Deists among them) would only acknowledge a vague Creator or Providence. Something the classical pagans would have no problem with. Something as broad as Nature was used as a source of rights as well. When Thomas Paine argued for the rights of man he did not invoke Christian-Judeo heritage but the Age of Reason and the values of the Enlightenment.

What Athens was in miniature America will be in magnitude. The one was the wonder of the ancient world; the other is becoming the admiration of the present.
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

From the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers looked to classical history as a reliable guide to their successful experiment in building a lasting republic.
Dr. Joe Wolverton II

I too am an epicurean.I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.

Thomas Jefferson,Monticello, October 31, 1819