Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 17, 2005
By: Shakespeare's Sister

Saturday Musings....Im continually fascinated by presidents (and his supporters) insistence on rightness, and their predilection for equating it with goodness. So it was of interest that, as I mentioned earlier, the president used his weekly radio address to reassert not only the necessity, but the rightness, of his decision to authorize a secret domestic spying program, and cast those who exposed it to the light of day as putting American citizens at risk and endangering the country. There seems, at this point, little chance that Bush will be any more likely to admit error after this revelation than with any other that has come before. Being wrong is not an option. It never is.

I always find it particularly curious when a self-identified born-again Christian seems so patently incapable of admitting being wrong, as forgiveness is such a significant part of Christian doctrine. When a Messiah has died for your sins, surely it indicates an expectation that youll commit some.

Back in July, Mannion penned (so to speak) a brilliant post on why (certain) conservatives feel free to cast the first stone, which included one of my favorite lines of all time:

[I]f Jesus were around today and a woman taken in adultery ran to him for protection and he said to the crowd, Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone, forty-six Republican adulterers would bean her with rocks.

His post, in turn, inspired a post of my own, adding to his thoughts mine about the nature of born-again conservatives in the Bush mold. An excerpt:

Born-agains, like Bush, have a different attitude about this stuff than, say, traditional guilt-ridden Catholics or Lutherans, or even your average atheist. There's a sense of accumulation among the latterthe feeling that life is a continuing thread, and bad behavior may be past, but hasn't disappeared. Believers in souls might suggest that each sin leaves an indelible mark; absolution may wash the soul clean, but its shape is forever changed by the dings and dents of living a mortal, and hence imperfect, life. Non-believers might say that your mistakes stay with you, even after you have made amends, and leave a mark on your psyche, in your memory, on a strand of time. Whatever the language, the principle is the sameour flaws are a part of us, and it's usually considered a good thing. Youve learned. Built character. When we fall in love and find ourselves, on a lazy weekend morning, investigating a new and mysterious naked skin, we ask about the scars our fingertips find. How did you get this one? In the same way, we come to know who a person is by finding out about the bad things that have defined them, as well as the good thats ever more readily apparent.

Born-agains start with a 'clean slate' somewhere in life, andthey intend to keep those slates clean. They carry around their erasers, fastidiously erasing any sign of a mark on their shining slates and bemoaning the states of ours, messy as they are. The only good slate is a clean slate. They can't see the artwork that the rest of us see, finding beauty in each other's flaws and pain and mistakes and scars.

Inextricably linked with this notion seems to be (for many people, our president among them) the aforementioned unyielding determination to be right. Being wrong isnt necessarily bad or evil; on most occasions, its a neutral situationan unintentional error that can be easily repaired with a correction, and an apology, if one is required. And yet, all the stay-the-course rhetoric, the unwillingness to apologize (or even admit mistakes), the stubborn refusals to acknowledge disagreements as anything but ill-intentionedit all stinks of someone who fears more than simply being seen as vulnerable by virtue of error, someone who instead equates being wrong with being bad.

Im the good guy, so what I think is right. Anyone who disagrees is therefore not only wrong, but the bad guy.

This kind of black-and-white thinking is the vile, festering bog from which swells the impetus behind casting liberals as traitors. Not just opponents with genuine and legitimate disagreements. Not even just plain old wrong. Bad. Theres no room for such rigidity of thought in a healthy, vibrant democracy, which should accommodate a plurality of ideas, and yet we repeatedly find ourselves left with a choice between two extremesgood and bad, proponents of each pole casting themselves as the former, and their rivals as the latter. One side starts throwing stones over the vast wasteland that separates them, devoid of common ground, as the other finds it increasingly difficult to remain reasonable, particularly when affected measure does nothing to discourage the onslaught.

This isnt an argument for mushy political centrism, which I typically regard with no small amount of disdain. I just wonder if its possible for those who only see in black and white to start seeing some grays in the process of political debate, to stop casting their political adversaries as bad. To stop throwing stones long enough to admit a mistake occasionally. Maybe mumble the occasional sorry. Its not that hard; I do it all the time. Im a klutz with a mind like a steel sieve and a penchant for occasional bitchiness, the sum total of which provides plenty of occasions which require a fix, an amends, an apology. And, you know, sometimes it is hard to admit a mistake, to apologizebut its those times in particular when stepping up is a sign of strength, and staying the course is the cowards way out.

Clean slates are overrated. Especially the ones that remain so only because mistakes have not been admitted, even though theyve been made. My slate is a mess, and so are the slates of most people I know, but Ill take an honest mess over an insincere, chalkless tidiness any day of the week.

Ive no doubt that Bush will continue to steadfastly assert his rightness on a whole array of issues, no matter how starkly all evidence may point to the contrary. The question I have is why. No one is infallible. (In fact, thats sort of the whole point of his favorite philosopher.) So who does he think hes foolingand why does he try?

Shakespeare's Sister 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (82)

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Comments

Sakespeare's Sister.

I love the way you left wing wackos assume that Bush has done something wrong. When Bush and the NSA have said they are following the law and rules pertaining to the wiretaps. All you are going by is something from the not so truthful and biased NYT to scream at the moon about how Bush has pesonally violated the privacy of 200 million Americans.

You are hilarious. You have no proof but are ready to convict. Pretty typical and lame stuff from the looney left!

Posted by: Coach on December 17, 2005 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

In the world inhabitted by the Coach, nobody who breaks the law claims that he was actually obeying the law.

Posted by: lib on December 17, 2005 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Coach has to establish his credibility by swearing he was as dubious against claims of Whitewater/Travelgate/Vince Foster, etc...

Posted by: Darryl Pearce on December 17, 2005 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, no proof, except for the fact that Bush has admitted that he broke the law and defended his repeated decisions to do so.

* FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance except as provided for by statute. The only defense is for law government agents engaged in official duties conducting surveillance authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order. [50 U.S.C. 1809]

* Congress has specifically stated, in statute, that the criminal wiretap statute and FISA shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted. [18 U.S.C. 2518(f)]

* The target of a FISA wiretap is never given notice that he or she was subject to surveillance, unless the evidence obtained through the electronic surveillance is ultimately used against the target in a criminal trial.

...but hey, Bush says he followed the law, just like he said that the U.S. doesn't engage in torture. Unfortunately for him, the useful idiots who still believe his bullshit are now in the minority.

Posted by: Ringo on December 17, 2005 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

It was kind of funny watching the various newcasters after his little statement this morning--they were all like "huh? Did he just say what I think he said? Wow."

Posted by: Ringo on December 17, 2005 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Did coach even read the post, or does he/she? (hmmm) just hit all lib blogs and post the same cut/paste response and move on? Why so angry? Maybe it is true what they say about coaches.

Posted by: Gerald on December 17, 2005 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Coach, inasmuch as Bush has clearly stated that he has ordered this spying, I think your denial of reality is astounding. Even Bush is better than you in this instance. Shame on you.

He has bragged about breaking the law. He has, at a minimum, proclaimed himself the perpetrator of a misdemeanor, if not a high crime.

Posted by: Scorpio on December 17, 2005 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

No, the religion is just window dressing. The American South was an arrogant, militarist, slave-owning aristocracy centuries before the born again religion became popular. In combination with America's global military dominance, the traditional arrogance has grown imperial.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on December 17, 2005 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Every man on horseback draws a crowd of lackeys. Coach and his ilk will be there for every lunatic or fascist with a megaphone. They have contempt for the law, so they aren't impressed by it - the only law they understand is their own herd mentality - follow the leader. When they become the majority, the republic is fatally wounded.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on December 17, 2005 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

You lefties have no proof. Bush said he was following the laws and constitutuion. So come up with someting other than some other bozo lefty said so.

Open a window and get some fresh air or something. If some law was broken then prove it. Or at least admit that you are speculating and getting off on thinking you nailed Bush.

Posted by: Coach on December 17, 2005 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

What? Bush can do no wrong? Does he really believe he's the only human who cannot sin? Humans make mistakes and ask for forgiveness. God will forgive those who sin and admit it; He just asks that all humans have compassion for one another and not play God against others.

Posted by: Jesse A. Weissman on December 17, 2005 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Coach also proves he can't read, since he ignored Ringo's quite explicit list of the laws broken. Coach smells suspiciously like yet another incarnation of the Troll of Many Names - that you, Norman?

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on December 17, 2005 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Coach, I know I'm talking to brick here, but I'll give it one more try. Bush admitted he overrode statue law. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS? That means he intentionally broke a law. But he claims he was within his rights as President to do so.

We think he was not.

I'm sure you'll be happy to give President Hillary the same power to override laws whenever she feels like it, won't you Coach?

Posted by: KC on December 17, 2005 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

"And, you know, sometimes it is hard to admit a mistake, to apologizebut its those times in particular when stepping up is a sign of strength, and staying the course is the cowards way out."

This excellent point would perhaps be made more powerful if accompanied by some reflective thought about your own positions, assumptions, and rhetoric about the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. Speck in someone else's eye, and all that....

Posted by: Canuckistani on December 17, 2005 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

You lefties have no proof. Bush said he was following the laws and constitutuion. So come up with someting other than some other bozo lefty said so.

You have no defense for a man who broke the law, said he broke the law, then said that he was able to do so because he is the President.

Sorry, regardless of who sits in the office, the President is not above the law. This genius walked out in front of the cameras and said that he had the authority when, in fact, he does not have the authority.

And the best part of it is, he broke the law signed by President Reagan. How ironic.

Impeachment proceedings should begin soon. Rep Dennis Hastert should be prepared to take over the Presidency by mid-summer. Bush and Cheney are done. The Senate should elect either McCain or Warner President pro tem.

Posted by: Pale Rider on December 17, 2005 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Trolls are better ignored than argued with.

I like this analysis but I am not sure that the root cause is religion per se. After all, there are also people with deep-seated religious beliefs -- even born-agains -- who are willing to admit to errors. A few are even Democrats.

No, I think it's related more to a generalized class and gender based arrogance and sense of privilege, and an awareness that there are considerable benefits to be gained by putting political issues into a moral framework.

Posted by: fiat lux on December 17, 2005 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see Bush's attitude as having particularly to do with a theology, at least a well-thought-out one. Being myself a Protestant of the reformed tradition [i.e. Calvinist], I can assure you that guilt and repentance is intrinsic to the faith; we even build the ritual of confession and pardon into our worship. Rather, the problem is that, in the free market of spiritual ideas that is America, evangelicals have fallen prey to the temptation to water the language of sin and salvation down to gain adherents. Jesus sets pretty high standards, after all, and if the point is to fill the churches [and keep the lights on] standards get in the way. Sanctifying respectability works much better in the competitive race for adherents. Of course, you continue to give lip service to the old themes, but you externalize them, by shoving evil off on others. BTW, this problem is hardly exclusively evangelical; David Brooks's commentary on Steven Spielberg's *Munich* last week likewise equates externalizing evil with "taking it seriously," and he's not exactly a "born-again Christian."

Posted by: David on December 17, 2005 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has already admitted serious and gross wrongdoing in his use of bad intelligence. Are you twits reading the news or the fucking Bible? The question that needs to be settled right away is whether this was culpable criminal negligence or simple criminal conspiracy to wage an aggressive war.
With some new admitted serious criminal activity it would seem that a pattern of criminal activity exists and a minimal charge of criminal conspiracy to wage illegal and aggressive war must now be bought.
The clear precedent being the Nuremberg statutes.
There is a serial killer loose.
This perp needs to be frogmarched out of the W/house for justice to be seen to be done.
He may have to be shot if he will not surrender.
Your surrounded Bush! Come out with your hands up and you won't get hurt!

Posted by: Professor rat on December 17, 2005 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Open a window and get some fresh air or something. If some law was broken then prove it.

No problem. When can we start the trial? How soon can we start with depositions?

Prove the law was broken? Let's go for it.

Pass the popcorn, please.

Posted by: Thumb on December 17, 2005 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

>Not even just plain old wrong. Bad.

Which is why we can't say GWII is idiotic w/out being accused of being Saddam-lovers, or dislike capital punishment w/out hearing how we want to "coddle criminals", etc. Why can't I think that a certain course is overall simply the wrong way to do things without having to like the people that said policy is in the immediate crosshairs of? Because then I'd only be "wrong".

On our side the first thing that comes to mind is the quick charge of racism, when I think a lot of the white suburbanite kiddie-libs actually really want the race problem resolved, but they want it resolved as cheaply and with as little effect on them as possible. For example, the really rich, Christian base might want school vouchers so they can save some bucks off the tuition they're already paying, but our childless kid-libs support it because it seems cheap.

Posted by: doesn't matter on December 17, 2005 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

The association of Christianity with forgiveness of sin is not, of course, a strictly Catholic association, but it is a lot more strongly tied in with Catholicism and the confessional than with the fundamentalist-type protestantism that Bush seems to at least be associated with.

When you're "born again," you dedicate your life--your entire life--to Christ, and supposedly you "live through Christ and in Christ." You are Christ's vessel on earth, and so long as you are "in constant communion" with Christ and are always "filled with the Holy Spirit," then you, your life, and your deeds are God's instruments, you don't sin, and there's no need for the confessional.

That seems to be consistent with Bush's attitude.

Posted by: Trickster on December 17, 2005 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Shakespeare's sister, you have quite a few questions going on here.

Why do some Christians, even born-again Christians, refuse to acknowledge what we in the Episcopal communion call their "manifold sins and wickedness?"

I respond with more questions: Why are some people pathological liars? Why do some people take pleasure in cheating others? Why do pedophiles volunteer for youth activities? As a Baptist friend of mine once observed, the church is the Devil's playground: If you can wound a Christian, you score double. Some Christians, even born-again Christians, are evil, sick, narrow-minded bastards who use their "Christianity" to disguise malicious intent. Trust them at your peril.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 17, 2005 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's important to note that the same religion preaches love and tolerance in the Northeast, but hate and intolerance in the South.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on December 17, 2005 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ordering the monitoring of a private citizen's conversations without a warrant, is in violation of the U.S. Constitution, irregardless of what Coach or the other right-wing apologists assert. Bush admitted this morning he had given these orders, so there is really no need for "proof". As for consequences, that is up to the Congress, but it has become clear that most Republicans place party loyalty above following the Constitution.

As to Bush's piety - don't beleive it for a minute. It is convenient and politically expedient for him to say so. As Jesus said, "By their actions ye shall know them". His actions tell me Bush is no Christian.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on December 17, 2005 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I like this analysis but I am not sure that the root cause is religion per se.

I don't think that religion is the root cause, either. I think it's a particular mentality that finds its justification in a very specific misunderstanding (or deliberate miscontruance) of a certain religious ideology. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with being born-again, which I why I made the point that it's not all subscribers who share this problem. It's Bush's particular interpretation that is problematic - as he appears to use it as justification for his bad behavior (which I believe would be manifest whether he was born-again or not).

As regards the hows and whyfores of the criminality of the secret domestic spying program, Ezra's got a nice post here I recommend.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister on December 17, 2005 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know that this obsession with being right is something relegated to the - forgive me - right. I remember the morning after Arnold's recent ballot initiatives failed, I woke to a man screaming on Sacramento's NPR station, "We were right! You were wrong!" Over and over again. I thought, "Jesus, this is all that seems to matter to this guy. Not the policy. Not what this is going to do, or not, for people. Just the simple fact that he (or we, as he said) is right." It disturbed me. And, while I'm not necessarily getting it from our party's leadership, I wonder if we would had not so many of them lied down for the president in the months following 9/11. That is, its tough for them, at this point, to say that we were right because, at least on paper, they were mostly in perfect agreement with the president.

So I don't know. This "have to be right" thing I see going on seems to be going on for large swaths of both parties. I do agree, its verging on pathology; but I don't think its something that only the Republicans are doing.

Posted by: Scott Herbst on December 17, 2005 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

the problem with born again christians, is that they usually come back as themselves.

and as I've said before the christian right is neither

Posted by: TH on December 17, 2005 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

What amazes me is that the citizens of the reality based community continue to be amazed by the schizoid (perhaps psychotic?) separation from reality that is exhibited by Herr Busch and his fanatic supporters. Afterall, he owes what remains of his sanity to a delusional self hypnosis called Alanon in which you admit you have no control over your life (or your alcohol addiction) and turn yourself over to a higher power. Busch and probably 'Coach' is in the control of a "higher power". Who needs laws or the Constitution! Give me Catholic guilt anytime.

Time for shock and awe is over folks, action is required if we are to save the Republic from a cabal of arrogant, home grown fascists using a degenerate scion as its carnival barker. It would indeed be irony of cosmic proportions if Osama Bin Laden achieves the downfall of "The Great Satan" without lifting another finger. But thank God, irony is dead.

Posted by: US_PERSON on December 17, 2005 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Gary Sugar,

Just in case you just aren't playing a deeper snark than I am reading, are you aware that:
1) Bush is not Southern
2) Jimmy Carter is Southern
3) Pennsylvania (home of Rick Santorum) is not by any definition part of the South?

Posted by: MJ Memphis on December 17, 2005 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

David and Scott:

Thanks for the comments. I agree with both of you. I think Shakey really doesn't have a very good grounding in theology; it's sort of the way a secular person would view the actions of the Robertson squad, but it's a very shallow view.

Lords know, moral vanity is not the exclusive property of any party. I think the televangelists and megachurches leveraged it in the way you pointed out, David -- because pointing fingers and externalizing evil is a powerful marketing tool if you're selling righteousness and salvation.

But it's not at the heart at all of the kinds of Protestant theology that animates born-agains. They're not perfect -- just forgiven, as they'll tell you.

The Bush/fundie disease is what happens when you mass market religion like a commodity, and you have to accomodate people who are just plain outrage groupies because they donate to your church.

But we lefties can be just as bad with the "I'm RIGHT you're WRONG" stuff. To the extent we get beyond it (as Clinton was so good at recognizing his flaws) is the extent we can reconnect with the people we need to reconnect with at the ballot box.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 17, 2005 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Some fundies believe in Dominionism (someone on this blog gave me a link to Dominionism). One of their beliefs is that wrongdoing, even evil doing, is ok, as long as it ultimately results in good.

Posted by: WhoSays on December 17, 2005 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

There is a difference between admitting mistakes and admitting the particular mistakes that Democrats publicly accuse you of. Bush is claiming that he did the right thing because he thought it was right at the time and he still thinks it was right. Your disagreement is not evidence that he was wrong, it's evidence that you disagree.

This is arguably the greatest curtailment of American Civil Liberties since the Robert Kennedy/ J. Edgar Hoover wiretaps of the early 60s; but you have to make a coherent argument, not just get upset that it's done by Republicans instead of the sainted Democrats.

I believe that it's a less serious threat to American civil liberties than the numerous campaign finance "reforms" that were passed in the wake of Eugene McCarthy's upset wins in the 1968 primaries. As has been pointed out, McCarthy couldn't have succeeded under today's repressive laws, and those laws were mostly passed with strong Democratic pushing, and are right out in the open besides.

Posted by: papageno on December 17, 2005 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

WhoSays:

That was me :)

Dominionism is a tiny miority of radical fundies who work very hard to keep themselves behind the scenes. Truly, if there's an American Taliban, they are them -- because Dominionists believe in establishing a literal theocracy on the lines of the Puritan Massachusetts and take Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion as their touchstone.

Scary. Ashcroft is, at the very least, deeply influenced by them. As for the rest of the administration -- well, many of the neocons are Jews and so wouldn't, strictly speaking, be Dominionists.

But the neocon/theocon nexus is Leo Strauss, who believes in Machiavellian politics and the necessity of rulers to deceive the people.

As for how much Rove is directly influenced by Dominionism ... that's a very shuddery question. I'm not sure.

Robertson and your run-of-the-mill fundie Bush supporters wouldn't think of themselves as Dominionists, though. The term is pretty much banned from fundamentalist discourse. Nobody wants to get into the business of defending penal slavery and stoning adultresses to death the way they do it in Deuteronomy.

But they may well serve as "useful idiots" for the Dominionists behind the scenes ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 17, 2005 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Sanctifying respectability works much better in the competitive race for adherents.

Thanks for expressing so succinctly a phenomenon that bothered me, but gave me a tough time putting into words. The essence of the Bush presidency and a subsection of the fundangelical movement is selling the public a message of "We dress nice. We come from good families. We say good things," and not "we will do good things and strive to be good people." Bush is right because he shows up to meetings on time and demands that everyone in the white house wear a tie. The sanctification of respectability, indeed.

Posted by: Constantine on December 17, 2005 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think Bush embodies the most extreme form of the mantra that says, "Because the U.S. is good, whatever it does must be right".

Thus it is OK to invade another country (for its own good, and of course it should be grateful). And the ruler of such a country is necessarily inherently good, so whatever he/she does must be right, even if his/her actions involve ignoring such inconvenient things as federal law.

There is still the troubling matter of the oath that requires the President to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States". I would like to hear Bush's answer to a question that asks him to square the two.

The U.S. likes to think of itself as different, better than other countries: a nation of laws, not men; more freedom, more democracy, more . . . Well, guess what. Not any more (as Inspector Clouseau would have said).

Posted by: JB (not John Bolton) on December 17, 2005 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

[Bush] owes what remains of his sanity to a delusional self hypnosis called Alanon in which you admit you have no control over your life (or your alcohol addiction) and turn yourself over to a higher power.

You're thinking of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), not Al-anon. Bush never went through either of those programs. He believes that everything he has done well is to his own credit and all his failures are someone else's fault. Bush never internalized the fact that he has trouble controlling his impulses.

Posted by: Constantine on December 17, 2005 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think you miss the beauty of the "born-again" movement, particularly to someone like GWB. Having accepted Jesus as your Saviour means exactly that. Standing before the Almighty on judgment day is not you,it's Jesus. You are saved in both the corporeal sense as well as the spiritual sense. Acts have nothing to do with it which is why those aduterous republicans you mention would feel quite righteous about casting the stones. They won't be judged,Jesus will.

Which is largely why Catholics view Evangelicals as heretics. We believe in both faith and acts of faith.

Posted by: TJM on December 17, 2005 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Yes TJM, Bush's genuinely believes that he is a 'messenger of God'..and this explains much of the easy certainty with which he arrives at his decisions..and his indifference to their consequences. Ron Suskind's article Without any Doubt is still perhaps the definitive article on his faith-based presidency.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on December 17, 2005 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Constantine:

Actually, that aspect of fundosity is fairly closely tied to mainstream Protestant theology. First, it's the elevation of Grace over Works (Good Works is what those greasy Catholics do). You're Saved the moment you let Jesus enter your heart -- so what you do that's veryvery bad isn't the point at all of salvation.

Secondly, there's the hangover from Calvinist Predestination that you'll never really be sure if you're one of the saved -- so you need to cultivate an outward appearance of "godliness" to show you're one of the chosen ones. This has become conflated with worldly success -- because it gives evidence of an ordered existence.

Free Will has of course superceeded Predestination, so this further elaboration of Bible Prots insists that what befalls a person in their own lives is strictly the result of their own choices. So helping an indigent person is kinda pointless, since they did it to themselves by their own sinful behavior.

These are some of the things that help to explain the decidedly materialist cast of Prot fundamentalism.

Oh -- and then of course there's Prosperity Theology -- which sez that if you tithe three-quarters of your next rent payment to some asshole televangelist in a polyester suit, you'll get a free Blessed Prayer Towel(tm) that he personally drooled over -- and you'll get back sevenfold what of what you just got yourself an eviction notice at your trailer park for.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 17, 2005 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, this part of Mr. Bush, more than any other factor, caused this life-long Republican not tovote for him in 2004,that and the Freudian slip of asting the invasion of Iraq as a crusade. I know theat characterization changed quickly, but once was more than enough.

Posted by: TJM on December 17, 2005 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

bush has crossed the Rubicon. He has told congress: Impeach me if you can! Only blow jobs in the oval office are impeachable offences!
We now have a monarchy. The king has the devine right to rule.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on December 17, 2005 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, there's so much literature on this point it's hard to go over it in a post, but some Catholic scholars (what a surprise,I know) believe that Translations of Luther adopted this Grace versus Acts point and it bastardizes Luther's work. There is,however,some evidence that while Luther did not initially posit this, he later in life confirmed this view.

Posted by: TJM on December 17, 2005 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

TJM:

Very solid point. Jesus absorbs it all.

Take Salvation Through Grace Alone to its logical conclusion, though, and you get antinomianism -- which is the notion that you can go and, say, gang-rape cows in a pasture and it doesn't have any bearing, because you're Already Saved For All Time.

Which, truthfully, is behind Dominion Theology and why they believe deceiving the public is not immoral, but perfectly okay since it's done for the godly cause of establishing a theocracy.

Some Dominionists have actually signed a literal blood oath and granted themselves the license to kill for their cause.

Yes yes -- The American Taliban.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 17, 2005 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

I think you're misinterpreting Bush's denial, with his need for being, "right." The poor man is an addict and has switched substances from drugs and alcohol to power and fame. Bush's religious convictions are a cover to avoid dealing with himself. He can simply say he was a sinner but now he's a Christian and there's no more problem. He can point to his born again status and say,

"hey, I'm not an addict, I don't have a problem."

That way he can appear to be better without ever having to change his habits.

Posted by: D. on December 17, 2005 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

TJM:

Well, truthfully, Calvin rode extremely hard on Grace over Works as well -- making it a fundamental point of Predestination: Just because you're afraid of hellfire and have a deathbed conversion doesn't mean you *deserve* to get to Heaven if you're only motivated by wanting to save your poor sorry ass.

So he came up with an ineffible kind of Grace which totally wiped out the notion of Works. Luther might well have been less extreme; I'm not as familiar with his writings as the Calvinists are a *lot* more interesting, truthfully ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 17, 2005 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Good point,although so much of this is a not so hidden rejection of the idea of contrition/confession. When you're an anti-catholic sometimes you just can't help yourself.

Posted by: TJM on December 17, 2005 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

TJM, Bush may have dropped crusade from his speeches, but as we have seen with the disclosures this week of wiretapping, it still resonated in policy. Unlike Grahm Greene who knew something about espionage, who said "he didn't think there is life after death but had faith that he would be proved wrong," Dubya, who probably never studied the 'Age of Enlightenment' seems to have no doubts that even the Constitution and Bill of Rights can be superseded by the single-minded righteousness of his mission...Sometimes, I feel that our worries that Iraq will become the next theocracy are misplaced.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on December 17, 2005 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Shakespeare's Sister:

Back on a lighter note, the idea that an apology or making amends is good for you, here's a line from Garrison Keillor: "It's a big job, trying to correct the errors we make in life; but we should be grateful for the work."

Posted by: duvidil on December 17, 2005 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

MJ Memphis: "Bush is not Southern"

No Way! Unless you define "Texas" as "not Southern."

People think the Bush family are part of the New England WASP hegemony, but no, no, no! Great-grandpa Bush had a tool&die plant in Ohio. Son Prescott went east, negotiated deals with the Nazis for Harrimans and Rockefellers and got backing for won a Senate seat in the process. Papa Bush moved to Texas when GWB was a baby.

Wanderers, adventurers, front men, con artists, the lot. Papa Bush was the smartest and hardest-working. GWB reverts to type.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 17, 2005 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's one of the joys of blogging when several intelligent bloggers independently converge on the same subject from slightly different angles. Shakes and Mannion's take on the right wing's insistence on their rightness is actually very similar to what Rick Perlstein calls the conservative psychology of innocence -- "Tom Charles Huston often signed his memos to Richard Nixon "Cato the Younger," after the statesman of the late Roman Republic famous for both his stubborn inflexibility and incorruptibility.

What does it mean that the member of Nixon's staff who was closest to the conservative movement, who was best-versed in its literature and its habits, was not merely the most ruthless malefactor on Richard Nixon's staff but the one most convinced he was acting on principle?"

I think that Shakes is right in comparing the psychology of born-again christians to that of conservatives. But I don't think one stems from the other. Rather, they are both the logical conclusion of worldviews so inflexible, that one is forced to "make exceptions" for one's own mistakes in order to retain this black and white view that the world is divided into the good and the evil.

I've been talking about this phenomenon over at my blog and also at Lawrence Krubner's "what is liberalism blog". Lawrence is a computer programmer and has a unique insight into this from his work:
Among computer programmers (I know from personal experience) these two different mind sets lead to holy wars on big projects - one side says keep the core code small and fast and efficient, and then make exceptions for unusual situations the code might face. The other group says, no, find a method that is abstract enough that all the possible exceptions can be handled with the same code that handles the core problems that your code is suppose to solve.

In order to preserve their strict "small code" worldview, the conservatives have to make a lot of exceptions for them and their kind.

Posted by: Battlepanda on December 17, 2005 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

Actually, like many Southerners, I would define Texas as "not Southern". But even counting TX as part of the South, you can't blame W on us. He was born in New Haven, CT, to an old Northern family with CT & NY roots, educated (sort of) at a fancy MA private school... nope. No Southerner there. Even his accent sounds like a poor Northern imitation of a TX accent.

Sure, he would probably claim to be Southern if you asked him. He'd probably also claim to be a cowboy, too, so what?

PS- Ohio isn't part of the South either. :) Are you trying to claim the Bushes for the Midwest?

Posted by: MJ Memphis on December 17, 2005 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sis, There's merit in your conceptual analysis but I'd caution you and your readers against overstating
the potential for guiltless wrongdoing among 'born-agains'.

While I don't have much experience with that segment of the population, I don't think we should assume they all display the vivid sociopathic tendencies we discern in our president.

Posted by: BroD on December 17, 2005 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

MJ Memphis,
Michael Lind has written a book about the southerness of George Bush and the Republicans called Made in Texas. He comes from a Texas ranch family of many generations and says-

George W. Bush was ridiculed in the liberal press as a phony rancher, and indeed many of his activities on the ranch, like ostentatiously clearing brush in the heat of midsummer or signing bills in front of neighbors seated on hay bales, were public stunts. But that George W. Bush was an authentic cultural Texan, there can be no doubt. Although born in New Haven, Connecticut, the grandson of a U.S. senator from Connecticut and the son of an immigrant from the Northeast whose heart always remained in Kennebunkport, Maine, George W. Bush grew up in West Texas and absorbed the folk culture of Texas along with the worldview of members of the native white Protestant Texan elite.

...Of West Texas political culture in 1969, (D. W.) Meinig wrote: On the whole West Texas is a strongly conservative political area, with a form of conservativism... [that blends] the provincial, rural, folk conservativism of the native Texas-Southern tradition with the strongly ideological economic conservativism of the newer wealthy class.

He goes on to contrast this cultural world (and that of the Deep South Eastern Texas, land of cotton, aristocratic planters, and Protestant fundamentalism were Bush has his current ranch outside of Waco) with that of Lyndon Johnson, the Hill Country and the tradition of Texas populism.

Posted by: bellumregio on December 17, 2005 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Of course not, BroD. Sociopathic tendencies should be present in members of any religious group (Funny as how that thought isn't comforting)

Posted by: opit on December 17, 2005 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush has not been held accountable for a single action he has taken in his entire life. That's all you need to know.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on December 17, 2005 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Though I'd love to hear more about the influence of the Calvinist worldview and its intersections or contradictions vis a vis evangelical christian thought, I would offer that the driving influence here is fundamentalism.

My observation is that GWB is a fundamentalist. As such, he takes no stock in the immediate - but rather is awaiting his ultimate reward.

While in grad school in the early 90's, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Zbignew Breshinski (?sp) on this topic. He noted that fundamentalists - when referring to those who fundamentally believe that they are right, correct, justified, moral and will be rewarded in the hereafter - can guiltlessly assume the role of instigator. The rightness of their ultimate course insulatesthem from, or at the very least mitigates a substantial degree of, their responsibilty for the consequenses of their actions.

There are time when I envy those who can gives themselves over to a cause with unlimited certainty... However, upon reviewing the historical record, they tend to pass pretty quickly.

Peace be with you,
David

Posted by: Dr_hiller on December 17, 2005 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

MJ Memphis: "Are you trying to claim the Bushes for the Midwest?"

God forbid, NO!!! The man is radioactive. He is some kind of mutant species, neither fish nor fowl.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 17, 2005 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dr_hiller: "He noted that fundamentalists - when referring to those who fundamentally believe that they are right, correct, justified, moral and will be rewarded in the hereafter - can guiltlessly assume the role of instigator."

I have been mulling the possibility that fundamentalism represents a particular personality profile: extreme low scores on openness to experience (so rigid and incurious) & high neuroticism--so suspicious of others and anxious--with a dollop of inability to see the world from the perspective of another. It doesn't even occur to them that they could be wrong.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 17, 2005 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think what it comes down to is that Bush and his ilk are simply flaming moral relativists. Of course they can't be wrong, because they are by definition right. Torture is wrong...except if we do it. Leaks are damaging to national security...except if we do it. Build your own list.

For them to admit a mistake would be to undermine their entire moral system. After all, if they themselves are doing the things they condemn, and the only thing that makes it ok is that they're the good guys, what happens if the good guys are less than good?

This position does, of course, mean they seem themselves something as on the same level as God, but who ever said Bush was humble?

Posted by: moderleft on December 18, 2005 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

The usual liberal interpretation of scripture. Have any of you ever studied scripture? Do any of you actually believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

Posted by: Elinor D on December 18, 2005 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Elinor:

Are you familiar with the theodicy problem?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 18, 2005 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

The devil has insidious ways of disguising evil as virtue, the "Christians" often say, and I agree, especially the way he has influenced Christians to see blind belief as a virtue. If your parents and your community say it is so, then it is so, no matter what contrary evidence is presented. It will help us understand them if we see these people, including GWB and the neocons in that light. They first believe and then they coat their beliefs with flimsy facts which they dont try to verify because they are only window dressing. In their world, fact serves belief. In science, it is just the reverse.

In the political sphere, the rightists could invade a hundred countries which could all turn out as badly as Iraq, but they will never alter their belief that America can accomplish its goals through force. They will carry their beliefs, undiminished, to the grave.

This kind of non-critical acceptance of a belief system is especially a feature of the three monotheistic religions. They are currently holding the world hostage in the Middle East where Gods Elect are battling God's Chosen People, who are supported by the Only True Religion. This mindset has been getting us into wars for millennia, but I believe the evolution of our understanding of who we are is actually diminishing its ability to do mischief. Quite possibly, the current resurgence of irrational religion is its last gasp. One day blind belief (but not spiritual seeking!) will cease to be.

Posted by: James of DC on December 18, 2005 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

Elinor: The problem we're having is that George W. Bush thinks he is the Son of God.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on December 18, 2005 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry to take up so much space, but you hit on one of my favorite subjects. By the way, S.S., it's nice to have a bolder and more controversial style than Kevins, though his eveness is also welcome. Good choice Kev. Another slant on the subject:

A very fine recent cable series produced by the BBC, the NYT and the Discovery folks, on the politics of Jesus' times, claims that the Jews of the year zero considered the sick and the crippled to be evil beings, possessed by spirits, who were not allowed to partake in society in any way. They were left to private care or to die. This, claimed the series, was an abomination to Jesus, who incurred the wrath of the temple priests by welcoming them into his fold.

What a crazy turnabout! These right wingers who claim to be such uber Christians are the temple priests of our times. Are you an old person who has been cheated out of your retirement savings by George's Enron friends? Or maybe you simply didn't have a good enough job to put away a couple hundred grand for your retirement? Or you need an operation to prolong your life? Tough, you old fart, life belongs to those who grab everything they can for themselves. Call Ken Lay and we'll have a great party on your grave!

Posted by: James of DC on December 18, 2005 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

"...the president used his weekly radio address to reassert not only the necessity, but the rightness, of his decision to authorize a secret domestic spying program, and cast those who exposed it to the light of day as putting American citizens at risk and endangering the country."
That suggests his defense is not addressed to the public at large, or even to that Republican-leaning ~5% he had lost by last month on Iraq but regained as gas prices have fallen and the Miers nomination and Katrina debacles recede in memory. Once he lost credibilty on Iraq, GOP attack-talk worsened his losses in public opinion, e.g. with the jeering at Mrs. Sheehan. It was the tactic of first choice against Rep. Murtha until they caught on that that was offensive to the public. But it still appeals to the surly, resentful hard Right, and that is who Bush is trying to rally -- at the expense of the Constitution and the very rule of law. The likes of Bob Barr understand the long-term peril that poses even for rich white men like himself. Fitzmas may keep on giving, Abrahamoff may flip, and corruptions of such bland enterprises as Sen. Frist's AIDS charity finally get some of the coverage they deserve -- can the GOP leadership rant demagoguery about "law and order" or the sacred awe they hold the Constitution in? Bush, or the people who do his thinking for him, do well to worry.

Posted by: Dabodius on December 18, 2005 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

"A very fine recent cable series produced by the BBC, the NYT and the Discovery folks, on the politics of Jesus' times, claims that the Jews of the year zero considered the sick and the crippled to be evil beings, possessed by spirits, who were not allowed to partake in society in any way."
James of DC, it had to be less than fine, given that the Jews of the years 1 C.E. or 1 B.C.E. (there was no year 0) most certainly believed no such thing. Yesterday we read the Torah portion from Genesis in which Jacob is renamed Israel after wrestling with the angel and forever after limping with sciatica. His father Isaac had been blind enough by old age to be deceived about who he was blessing. Jeremiah 31:8 includes "the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together" among the "great company" of exiles to be returned. Our sages included in their number at least one blind and one lame rabbi (I remember the epithets "... the Blind" and "... the Lame" although I cannot just now remember their names.) Not for the first time, Christians impute preposterous evil to Jews to try to make Jesus look better than the people and tradition he came from.
"They were left to private care or to die. This ... was an abomination to Jesus..." It would have been an abomination, yes, to the rabbis as well, because then and now halakha (Jewish law) would deem that murder. OTOH, in the ancient Mediterranean, many non-Jewish peoples (e.g. the Romans) practiced exposure, culling the weak or sick or deformed from among their offspring. But not Jews. You may have confused what was said about most of the Greco-Roman world with what was said about Judaea.

Posted by: Dabodius on December 18, 2005 at 5:29 AM | PERMALINK


Dr_hiller from up thread wrote: My observation is that GWB is a fundamentalist. As such, he takes no stock in the immediate - but rather is awaiting his ultimate reward.


"My job is to, like, think beyond the immediate."GWB Washington, D.C., April 21, 2004

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I always find it particularly curious when a self-identified born-again Christian seems so patently incapable of admitting being wrong, as forgiveness is such a significant part of Christian doctrine.

I guess you haven't met many born-agains, have you? It is a rather different faith than even mainstream evangelical christianity. Self-righteousness is a cornerstone of the rebirth.

Posted by: loser on December 18, 2005 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

The born agains are not truly born again unless they have accepted the spirit of Christ into themselves as a replacement for their "old selves". At that time they are guided by the Holy Spirit in ways that manifest themselves appropriately (the ways of Jesus). And from the Bible, you will know these people by their works, for those who have been given the power of discerment. Everyone else is a false god, under the guidance of Satan.

Posted by: homer on December 18, 2005 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

With the perspective offered by another day's passing:

The big defense the Buhshills are using, including Condi this AM as grilled with reasonable flair by Punkinhead: The President is justified because of his powers as "Commander in Chief." Bunk. The CIC role simply means he is supreme authority over the armed forces, nothing more about any other powers w.r.t. the rest of us. Why do they think they can get away with such crap? Enough dopey basists, enough media enablers, enough compromised conservative "intellectuals."

Second, as per informing the bad guys: they would already know that they could be spied on if court order obtained, so already on guard. The difference was, as Levin made clear on MTP, was that Bullsh didn't even ask much of the time. He thinks he is indeed above the law - a true imperial president, and not at all legitimately "conservative" - do you get that, Al, tbrosz, Alice, Patton, et al?

Posted by: Neil' on December 18, 2005 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

As a lifelong atheist (until I discovered Mozart), I've been thinking/reading along the lines above about why people--especially AMERICANS--are so prone (pun intended) to religion. Even the most cursory objective look at the two Testaments (and yes the word is related to testicles that you would hold while swearing an oath), reveals a hodge podge of folklore that was finally edited into some kind of narrative rife with contradictions. E.g. the story of the flood, the ark, the bird finding land, a Noah-type, etc. appear almost word for word in the Epic of Gilgamesh which pre-dates the Bible by thousands of years. Give me a frikkin break! It's Mother Goose and the Easter Bunny!

Then we have the Greek philosophers who pretty much jettisoned the gods and what about the Enlightenment, for God's sake! It's over fantasists. You lost centuries ago.

So the question is finally a sociological one. Why America? Are we the dumbest ever on God's Green Earth? As we feverish destroy and consume the last of the "Creation"? As we deny evolution? As we alone and beyond stupidity reject national healthcare? WTF?

Posted by: geo on December 18, 2005 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

David Mailespammer, thanks for the blackjack information, but this isn't a thread about Bill Bennett.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on December 18, 2005 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

" Have any of you ever studied scripture? Do any of you actually believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

We're at the end of this thread, so I'll drift OT. I had this insight this past summer about claim that Jesus is "the Son of God", if anyone is interested. The claim that Jesus is the Son of God is, of course, a later addition to the Jesus story. (Not that one ever wants to feed the trolls, but I have studied Christian scripture rather seriously. Not that I can remember anything useful when I need to.)

This past summer, I was in Nimes, a marvelous town in the south of France, which still has a wonderful old temple, build circa 6AD in honor of Caius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, the adopted son & grandson of Augustus Caesar. Because they were the "sons" of Augustus, they were gods because, as we all know, if you got to be chief honcho in ancient Rome (or Egypt or wherever) you were not just "the Man" you were a god. The members of your family were gods. Temples were built to you, you had feast days, you were worshipped.

This was the insight provoked by that temple built for the worship of the family of Caesar: imagine that you are a Christian theologian, c. 100-200AD. You live in a world infused with gods--Greek gods, Roman gods, Persian gods, Egyptian gods. In the world in which you live, a ruler establishes authority by declaring himself a God or the son of a God. You, the Christian theologian, believe in one God, and you believe that Jesus Christ was something really special. So, in this cultural hothouse of many gods, do you describe Jesus as "something really special" or do you describe him as "the Son of God?"

Obviously, you are going to describe him as the "Son of God!" It is no big deal in a world with many gods: by doing so, Jesus, now Son of God, can compete with all the other gods. Jesus rules!

Now, fast forward to 2000 AD. Throughout Christiandom, all other gods are defunct. There is only One God and Jesus is the Son of that God. Do you see how the claim that Jesus is the "Son of God" has been distorted in significance and exclusivity as the cultural context for that claim shifts from polytheistic to monotheistic?

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 18, 2005 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I've started writing a new pre-apocalyptic adventure series for those of us who were born okay the first time: I'm calling it "Please, Leave Us Behind."

Posted by: Wonderin on December 18, 2005 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK
Some fundies believe in Dominionism (someone on this blog gave me a link to Dominionism). One of their beliefs is that wrongdoing, even evil doing, is ok, as long as it ultimately results in good.Posted by: WhoSays
Wiki's article on Dominionism and another discussion on that topic.
Do any of you actually believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Posted by: Elinor D
I believe you are confusing "God" with Wotan. Posted by: Mike on December 18, 2005 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Now, fast forward to 2000 AD. Throughout Christiandom, all other gods are defunct. There is only One God and Jesus is the Son of that God. Do you see how the claim that Jesus is the "Son of God" has been distorted in significance and exclusivity as the cultural context for that claim shifts from polytheistic to monotheistic?

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 18, 2005 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Or a really smart person, might wonder how a religion for a desert tribe became the religion of slaves then of a civilization poised to share the religion globally - and wonder whether God has plans you are too stupid to see.

If Christianity is just another religion used by man for sociological reasons, how to move from a religion of slaves and martyrs and a crucified man up the ladder? Wouldn't a pragmatic ruler use any other religion without rocking the boat.

Posted by: McAristotle on December 18, 2005 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

So by McAss' logic, when Islam overtakes Christianity as the world's dominate religion later in this century it will become the one true faith. The beauty of course is McA's first paragraph applies to Islam also. He will be right well into the next century.

Posted by: O'Plato on December 18, 2005 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Three things.

Dabodius, I tend to trust the NYT and the BBC more than scriptures, which are mostly unsupported stories. Personally I can't see why anyone trusts scriptures, except that their Mammas and Daddies told them to. Still, I will remain agnostic on whether the Jews cast out their sick back around the year one. (You're right about that part.) I wish I had some definitive scholarship on the subject---not written by Jews.

PTate in MN, it is not just the Christians, all the monotheistic religions have the same arrogant mine-is-the-only-true-religion attitude. The same is true even for the very first mono religion established by Pharaoh Akhenaten, who true to type, was the first to outlaw all other forms of worship except for the one true god. ( the aton---sun god).

Put a belief that ours is the one true god together with a worldview that sees a clear dividing line between good (us, of course) and evil (them, obviously) and you have a toxic brew that is certain to produce holy wars, pogroms, inquisitions, witch hunts and everyday garden variety intolerance.

McA, I grant your point about Christianity replacing the Roman religions because its message of love and forgiveness was ready to be heard about that time. (Why do we hear nothing whatsoever about these concepts from the right wingers today?) But the world evolves. We are ready to give up the non rational religions now and pick up the more sublime concepts of the Eastern religions. Ironically, the Christians outlawed Pythagoreanism when they came to power in Rome and it is just this sort of advanced understanding that we are at last ready to hear. After a 2000 year rest, look for a resurgence of interest in that great spiritual leader.

Posted by: James of DC on December 19, 2005 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

The beauty of course is McA's first paragraph applies to Islam also. He will be right well into the next century.

Posted by: O'Plato on December 18, 2005 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't dismiss Islam's claim to have providence behind it lightly - its certainly had enough of a historical momentum.

However, I've seen life under Islam or the life of a serious Buddhists quite closely. I know the fundamental differences between Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christians.

Christianity is different in its impact on a serious believer's life - largely because of the personal relationship with God.

Its different theologically because of the message of salvation by grace over earned salvation. The change in behaviour on the part of a saved Christian is a response to the gift of salvation, not the reason for salvation.

I'm not sure on Islam's role in God's plan. Externally, its another rules based religion. I've found anyone who thinks he has or is earning salvation to be more prone to self-righteouness than even the strictest evangelical.

If you are serious on moving from agnosticism to a position on the biggest question on your life. I would suggest going quickly through the major religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism)and picking the one that you feel called to may not be a bad idea. After all, they have all influenced empires in their own rights.

Posted by: McAristotle on December 19, 2005 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK

McA, I grant your point about Christianity replacing the Roman religions because its message of love and forgiveness was ready to be heard about that time. (Why do we hear nothing whatsoever about these concepts from the right wingers today?)

Posted by: James of DC on December 19, 2005 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

Well, 'right wing' is a political faction separate to Christianity. Christianity is separate from that and has not moved from the message of love and forgiveness.

Just remember, the story of the stoning also a message of redemption and the ending of the stoning story, is a request from Christ to "leave your life of sin", the reason the secular movement seems to conflict with Christianity is it only seems to remove the redemption part.

John 8: 10-11
Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."


Posted by: McAristotle on December 19, 2005 at 4:54 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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