Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 30, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

SECULAR MEDIA WATCH....Newsweek interviewed Jerry Falwell about the Liberty University debate team recently and made a wee transcription error:

Correction: In the original version of this report, NEWSWEEK misquoted Falwell as referring to "assault ministry." In fact, Falwell was referring to "a salt ministry"a reference to Matthew 5:13, where Jesus says "Ye are the salt of the earth." We regret the error.

That's some good bulletin board material for the Brent Bozell crowd. I guess Newsweek's copy desk needs to bone up on its Bible.

Kevin Drum 11:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (95)

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Comments

Perhaps they need to read E. D. Hirsch's "Cultural Literacy." Then they might understand why they need to read the Bible.

Posted by: Michael on January 31, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Onward Christian Soldiers" ?

Posted by: opit on January 31, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Give 'em time.

Posted by: catalexis on January 31, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

It's all code with these evangelicals, and if a journalist -- who is trained and educated to strive for objectivism and skepticism in the face of PR and agendum -- knows that code, then he's/she's no journalist but a true believer and kool-aide addict.

--
HRlaughed
rktect.blogspot.com

Posted by: HRlaughed on January 31, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

While I understand that literature is full of Bible allusions, and thus it is helpful to have some background, I think it is crazy to expect us all to have a book of myths memorized so that we can follow along with the lunatic rantings of the Christian whack jobs.

Posted by: tinfoil on January 31, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Help me out. I have a hard time going from Matthew 5:13 to the idea that christians have to stamp out homosexuality and the exposure of women's breasts in cinema. "Assault ministry" seems more accurate considering Falwell uses it as a synonym confronting and attacking American culture.

Posted by: B on January 31, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Not arguing for misquoting the guy -- just saying I can understand not making sense of the biblical reference.

Posted by: B on January 31, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Have you ever tried to read that thing? It's terrible!

C'mon, are you really going to believe everything you read in a scroll? Get real!

Posted by: abe on January 31, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Assault ministry is a hilarious Freudian Slip. Too bad it is also the real meaning of what Christian Evangelicals are about. Too bad, also , that Democrats, but liberals in general, have absolutely nothing with which to counter the republican "a salt" team. Democrats have allowed the opposition to define the game and declare the rules. Democrats have proven, to date at least, that republicans are right: might makes right, and to the victor go the spoils. What Liberals want, but what America needs (or face the doom of tyranny of the majority), is an almost equal contest between two tug of war teams. What we have gotten, instead, is a lopsided win. A Salt ministry, my ass.....they meant assault ministry!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Chris on January 31, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

What makes you think that "assault ministry" isn't precisely what he said, and meant?

Misquoted, my butt.

Posted by: craigie on January 31, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Considering the "spittle-flecked" and aggressive nature of these policy debate tournaments, "assault ministry" makes a hell of a lot more sense.

Based on phrasing like "Ex-Homosexual Ministry," "A Salt Ministry" should be preachers made from salt.

Like Lot's wife. See, even though I have plenty of Biblican cultural literacy, I can't keep up with coded fundy speech.

Posted by: anon on January 31, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that Jerry's words don't parse into English. Even if he was referring to Matthew 5:13 where Jesus' followers are the salt of the earth, it doesn't make any sense to refer to a salt ministry. Neither the phrases, nor the ideas, are parallel.

If I was an a poetic mood and said you had hair of black, you wouldn't go out and start a hair ministry.

It doesn't make any difference whether you have any familiarity with the Bible or not when it comes to interpreting the words of Falwell, Robertson and other fundies. For them it is more a matter of projecting their own prejudices onto whatever words that they can find that might justify them.

Maybe Falwell was referring to Lot's wife. The Liberty College debate team is going to look back fondly at the Sodomites and be turned into pilars of salt as a warning to the rest of us.

It makes as much sense as anything else.

Posted by: Ray on January 31, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

"salt ministry" only gets 378 google hits and most of those aren't about Falwell's Moral Majority, but about christian adults trying to get it on (Single Adults Learning Together).

"assault ministry" gets 488 google hits

"ex-homosexual ministry" gets 25800 google hits

Posted by: B on January 31, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

The transcript error aside, did anyone read the original article about the Liberty debate team? I'm a few years out of a major college debate program (and yes, also now in law school). Anyone who knows college debate would see this article for what it is: a perfect example of a reporter selecting, twisting, and overblowing facts (intentionally or unintentionally) to write a more sensational story.

Specifically...

-The rankings have Liberty's debate team #1 are pretty meaningless. They reward quantity (sending as many debaters to as many tournaments as possible) over quality. The real prestige in college debate comes from winning a handful of major tournaments each year, which I'm pretty sure Liberty has not really come close to ever doing.

-It's hard to tell what the "Harvard varsity team beaten by Liberty" means at all. It probably means very little, depending on which teams were debating. And a win in just one round doesn't say much either.

-An obvious point: a lot of debaters from everywhere, not just from Liberty, go on to law school. College debate been producing tons of important liberals for decades (as well as some important conservatives), and is still oriented overwhelmingly to the left.

-A few stupid Liberty debaters might have quoted patrobertson.com, but this is very exceptional and unrepresentative. The times I debated teams from Liberty were no different than any other debate round: normal arguments and normal evidence. And I guess that's the real point here: the Liberty debate team is decent, well respected, and pretty unremarkable. Their goal (apart from any that Falwell, etc. might have for them) is to win debate rounds, and try to do so in completely normal ways. It's just silly to hold them up as some important conservative vanguard or new and different evangelical foray into college debate.

Posted by: hjk on January 31, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who says the Bible is literally true hasn't read the Bible.

Posted by: reboho on January 31, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

So, why is there a hymn about a cross-eyed bear?

Posted by: bad Jim on January 31, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

More Biblical misreadings:

Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day but a ball of fire by night.

The seventh commandment is "Thou shalt not admit adultery."

Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

When the three wise guys from the East Side arrived, they found Jesus with the manager.

Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.

Posted by: bad Jim on January 31, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

"What's all this about violins on television?"

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 31, 2006 at 4:54 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but as an example of blue-state cultural illiteracy this one won't wash.

"A salt ministry" is a particularly strained figure of speech. No matter your familiarity with the Bible.

"Assault ministry" makes perfect sense, particularly in the context of coming from Jerry Falwell's mouth.

Think about it: The strength of Jesus's metaphor comes from the fact that people are seldom thought of as analogous to salt. What Falwell has done is used a part of the salt-of-the-earth analogy to substitute for the whole thing, then used the whole thing as an adjective (even though both the analogy and the thing analogized are nouns).

Any time you try to jam three figures of speech into a two-word phrase you run a serious risk of being misunderstood. If you do so with a homophone for something that makes sense, you've guaranteed misunderstanding.

There may be circles in which "a salt ministry" is a commonly used phrase. (As a long-time Sunday-school teacher, I've never heard it. But that doesn't mean it's not common in churches with which I'm not familiar.) If it is so used, there must have been a minister who used it first in some sermon. I guarantee you that minister did not just start using the phrase without explaining exactly what he meant.

It was probably a pretty bad sermon, too. In a self-referential, post-modernist sort of way.

Even with the explanation, I'm not sure what Falwell intended. Did he mean a "people ministry"? A "certain-kind-of-people ministry"? Of, by or for those people? As opposed to what?

Communication is a two-way street. And sometimes the responsibility for miscommunication is the fault of the speaker.

Posted by: scotus on January 31, 2006 at 6:54 AM | PERMALINK

Salting the earth is more like it.

"If you do so with a homophone . . ."
I would think Falwell would be horrified of the thought of doing anything with a homophone. Just goes to show . . .

Posted by: Dan S. on January 31, 2006 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

A ministry with added iodine? Hey, could be helpful . . .

Posted by: Dan S. on January 31, 2006 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

"She asked the waiter for iodine, but I dined alone."

Posted by: derek on January 31, 2006 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Correction on the correction:

In fact, Falwell was referring to "a salt ministry"a reference to Matthew 5:13, where Jesus says "Ye are the salt of the earth." We regret the error.

Should read:

In fact, Falwell was referring to "a salt ministry"a reference to Matthew 5:13, where Jesus purportedly says "Ye are the salt of the earth." We regret the error.

The history of the bible is like a giant game of telephone. The text has been altered 1000s of times by scribes and translators.

Only the mentally insane believe it is the word of god.

Posted by: koreyel on January 31, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Surely Jerry Falwell wouldn't try to spin his way out of misspoken words! He's much too upstanding to do anything like that. And that goes for GW as well. And Hannity, Limbaugh et. al.

We deserve what we get.

Posted by: slanted tom on January 31, 2006 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure what Falwell intended.

Neither am I, but Falwell usually uses it as a reference to culture wars and Francis Schaeffer.

Falwell: "Dr. Schaeffer taught me my "salt ministry" and how to confront the culture."

From the wiki on Schaeffer:

In A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer's argument is simple. The United States began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles. But as society became more pluralistic, with each new wave of immigrants, proponents of a new philosophy of secular humanism gradually came to dominate debate on policy issues. Since humanists place human progress, not God, at the center of their considerations, they pushed American culture in all manner of ungodly directions, the most visible results of which included legalized abortion and the secularization of the public schools. At the end of A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer calls for Christians to use civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality.

He describes the conflict with humanism as a battle in which "these two religions, Christianity and humanism, stand over against each other as totalities." He writes that the decline of commitment to objective truth that he perceives in the various institutions of society is "not because of a conspiracy, but because the church has forsaken its duty to be the salt of the culture."

Near as I can tell the Falwell translation of Matthew 5:13 is as follows: It is the duty of christians to make culture tasty. If they are not able to make culture tasty, they will be shunned by God and secular humanists will walk all over them.

Posted by: B on January 31, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Falwell and crew are fatuous gasbags but some of the comments here are utter nonsense as well which underscores the validity of Kevin's remark about this being easy fodder for the Bozell crowd.

A transcriptional error isn't hard to understand here. And in a few ways it does seem more apropos. What I find more interesting than the Newsweek error is the lack of comprehension and the really cluelessly stupid remarks here. THAT is why the left will continue to misfire with the "heartland". Go ahead and continue to call those rank and file church folks nasty names. And they will continue to elect more right wing fatuous gasbags. What other choice do you give em?

I always thought it was the fundies with the martyr complex but the left is doing a great job these days at self indulgent, superiority while they continue to allow our freedoms slip away in the process.

The salt reference is the metaphor Jesus used for saying to his followers that Christians are to be "like salt and light" in the world. Salt and light being preservatives or disinfectants for spoilage of things such as food back in the day before SubZero fridgies in your urban loft, folks.

In some red states such as Virginia, carnivorous "neanderthals" still make salt pork hams in little buildings knows as smokehouses. It creates "real smokehouse flavor" not created in some chemical plant on the Jersey Turnpike like the stuff added to your Doritos as the twenty ninth ingredient. It is delicious on biscuits with a dab of mustard. Beats the hell out of tofu squares. You should try it some time. Even if some Liberty students also enjoy ham-n-biscuits, it isn't tainted food and you won't get ideological cooties. It has been cured with salt.

The idea is that the Jesus set is to be generally positive, helpful, uplifting presence in the world. We should be so lucky, eh? We all should be so likeminded in our own ways too whether we are atheists, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims or Flying Spaghetti Monster adherents.

Salt preserves and "honey catches more flies than vinegar". (another useful country analogy from the heartland that the left could learn)

Nothing wrong with Jesus' exhortation to his buds--either in telling them to follow his version of the Scout law or in the poetic language he used-- except for how it generally gets interpretted by the "code-word" set either within the scary Falwell/Bozell/Robertson social cleansers and demagogues or the left wing peanut gallery who just come across as juvenile, illiterate and metaphor impaired. Forget the religion part. I bet some of you guys were a real joy to teach in high school literature classes. You make the fundies look downright poetic and eloquent. Utterly amazing.

Posted by: mama on January 31, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think that the Newsweek authors were unaware of the biblical passage of Matthew 5:13-- it's just that the invented term "salt ministry" is incredibly contrived and doesn't make a lot of sense in context. No one speaks like that, perhaps except for Falwell's inner circle.

Posted by: Constantine on January 31, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

He is lyinng, or "bearing false witness" as they say.

He mean ASSAULT.

Posted by: lilybart on January 31, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Constantine:
I totally agree. The "salt ministry" name is massively bogus but when people start mocking the very idea from which the reference comes it is offensive to a lot more people than just the nutbags who made the reference (in this case the Falwell set). That is the part that seems to escape so many folks as they speak so dismissively of other people, their lifestyles and their cultural mores. If the left is truly about being inclusive, they should consider what and how they are saying stuff. It comes across as rank hypocrisy.

Posted by: mama on January 31, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

THAT is why the left will continue to misfire with the "heartland". Go ahead and continue to call those rank and file church folks nasty names. And they will continue to elect more right wing fatuous gasbags. What other choice do you give em?

If they actually believed in a the Jesus of the Bible, and not the Jesus of Bile, they might not just vote to piss off the blue states.

Posted by: lilybart on January 31, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

tinfoil,

While I understand that literature is full of Bible allusions, and thus it is helpful to have some background, I think it is crazy to expect us all to have a book of myths memorized so that we can follow along with the lunatic rantings of the Christian whack jobs.

Ummm, now that we have a Christian whack job President and congress and judiciary I'm not so sure about how crazy it is.

If nothing else you better "know your enemy."

Posted by: Tripp on January 31, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

If the left is truly about being inclusive,

mama,

Oh no you don't. "The left is truly inclusive" is a slogan that has been pasted onto the left by those in the right who want to mislabel the left for their own reasons.

Once you have branded the left as 'completely inclusive' you can then brand them as saying "anything goes" and you can also, as you do, point out the supposed hypocracy.

The left's morality does NOT say that everything is okay and society should accept everything that anyone does.

So please stop propogating the lie that the left says they are completely inclusive.

Posted by: Tripp on January 31, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Every now and then I hear about how Falwell isn't particularly well regarded amongst evangelicals these days.

If that's so, why are evangelical parents sending their kids to Falwell U?

The fact that Falwell U. can produce a #1-ranked debate team (no matter how skewed the ranking system) strongly suggests that Falwell U. isn't just a safety school for the worst and stupidest evangelical high school grads, but gets enough applicants that they can afford to be at least somewhat selective.

This hardly sounds like the evangelical community has repudiated Falwell.

Posted by: RT on January 31, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Didn't something similar happen with Sen. Brownback in the last week or so. While talking about what he considered too much "toleration" of gays in Scandinavian countries, he made an allusion to Jesus' saying that "by their fruits you shall know them", meaning judge them and their actions by their results. The reporter thought he'd made a fairly tasteless reference to the Scandinavian gays.

Same planet, different worlds.

Posted by: VAMark on January 31, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Lilybart:

You are completely right. I guess my point being that to the ears of a lot of otherwise decent folk who are religously conservative (but not of the bile version) hear some of the things said about "Christians" as blanket statements it is very personally offensive to them and does not endear them to what else is being said.

I say this as someone who has family members who are very conservative Christians but not full of bile. They are salt of the earth, hardworking mostly uneducated and presented with a real conundrum of who to listen to. They don't like the pulpit gasbags at all as they see them as religious charlatans. But the left often mock their beliefs so mercilessly they don't want to listen to them either. Which gives an opening to the smooth talking Bush crowd who have learned all of the right buzz words.

I have gotten very tired of the slow progress of chipping away at their ill informed ideas just to have that all erased by some left leaning pompous blowhard mouthing off to score some stupid point. At some point you just say "oh to hell with it". Truly.

Posted by: mama on January 31, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"I think it is crazy to expect us all to have a book of myths memorized so that we can follow along with the lunatic rantings of the Christian whack jobs." Might be useful for overall literacy, however. I doubt one can navigate much of Western lit without a decent familiarity with the stories and actual language as well. But even if you think of it as just a book of myths, I recall having had to study Edith Hamilton's book on classical mythology in junior high.

Anyhow, Kevin blew it by saying they better bone up on the Bible, inviting the polarized and unhelpful debate that ensued. Constantin is right: no biblical knowledge would help. It's knowledge of the jargon of an American subculture that's needed, and I'd have missed it, too.

Posted by: artcrit on January 31, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Biblical puns are similar to Monty Python references - you have to know some of the background to 'get them.'

My personal morality says the following - don't sweat the small stuff. I think Jesus had a similar message when he preached out of love. Never sacrifice your core beliefs but, out of love, tolerate the rest.

The debate, then, is about what is a core belief. Jesus had guidance about how to have this debate. His guidance was that we should debate, but in a way that is not divisive, and in a way that explains our points but also reaches out for reconciliation and acknowledges that we are all God's children.

Our challenge as Christian liberals is to ignore the 'branding' and name-calling and insults and to not respond in kind. Clearly this is not easy to do.

Posted by: Tripp on January 31, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Tripp:

I am sorry I did not speak much more clearly when I spoke about being inclusive. I DO believe that enlightened people, while not buying into something, can and SHOULD understand the other guy who is buying in.

Example: I fully understand my family and think many of their religious notions are bunk. I dearly love them and try at every opportunity to share a bit of the education I got that they didn't get (thanks to their hard work and sacrifice in sending me to college) by explaining things that they missed out on. While I understand them and tolerate them and include them in my life, I do not share their beliefs or political world view on many issues. I do not call them morons and troglodites etc. I call them Mom and Dad etc.

Sorry if you find my mentality as that which is guilty of "propagating a lie". I am just pretty damned tired of cutting through the bile from where ever it comes. I am pretty damned tired of the way the culture war has put a very uncomfortable schism right down the middle of my family. I am pretty damned tired of a whole hell of a lot these days.

Posted by: mama on January 31, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Like Ted Haggard's prayer gangs, Jerry Falwell has an assault ministry which has influenced great Americans like Eric Rudolf.

Posted by: Hostile on January 31, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

mama,

I must apologize to you as well. I could not tell enough from your post and mistook you as a troll. Clearly I was wrong.

Just this weekend I heard a sermon from a Professor from an "Evangelical" college and I was defensive and worried that, since was was an Evangelical he was going to be an abrasive fundamentalist.

I couldn't have been more wrong. He pointed out some of the things I mentioned above.

I took hope that there were other Christians like me, even Professor's of Christian ethics, who emphasized the love of Christ and not the extreme and polarizing judgementalism we see from some on the right.

Unfortunately, as Protestants we do not have a single authority such as the Pope to tell us "Get in line, idiots, this is the way it has to be."

Much like Islam, Christian Protestants are told to seek their own path to God through Jesus.

Thus we cannot hope for a single voice of authority to 'set us straight' (meaning 'agree with me', of course :)). Still, there are individual voices starting to speak out and there are many reasonable people on the 'other side.'

Posted by: Tripp on January 31, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't seem to matter what Falwell actually said - its enough to ponder what he meant to say. Though I'm an evangelical, I don't have a lot of love for Falwell. But saying things like "salt" in the context of ministry isn't really rare. In any event, it is sad (whatever the cause) that we can't seem to understand one another anymore.

Posted by: ifpt999 on January 31, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

No offense taken. I truly understand. I could fill your ears for hours with the pain of loss in my family because of culture war crap. I have been encouraged to write a book about it but I am not sure if I am up for another round of being trashed by the right wing haters. Been there and done that. Sometimes the truth does not set you free.

Posted by: mama on January 31, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

You don't get to call yourself a "salt" ministry when you make that much money and travel in those cars and planes and helicopters, eating the finest foods and drinking the finest beverages.

Assault ministry sounds a lot more plausible.

Posted by: Mysticdog on January 31, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Another popular misheard phrase from my youth in a religious school: "Jesus swept!"

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 31, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Has no one mentioned that motorcycle reference in the Bible: Jason roared his triumph through the valley.

In many ways the label 'salt' ministry is very apt - salt is a preservative that keeps food from rotting by preventing the growth of germs.

The debate, though, is what constitutes a germ.

Also, who wants to live in a dried out stick of jerky that allows for no growth of anything?

Me, I like to risk a juicy ecoli-burger now and then.

Posted by: Tripp on January 31, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Assault ministry. Wow. Washed in the blood of the BAM!

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Two thoughts.

When I am bored or really buzzed, I tune into the Trinity Broadcast Network (I just love the PTL woman, Jan, with the pinkish hair and makeup that would make a goth blush).

To the point, these folks just love to redesign the language (e.g. He gifted our mission with a powerful annointing.) For folks who proclaim so loudly that they are literalists, they seem to be amazingly flexible in this regard.

To be just a bit snarky, do you think Falwell has missed a meal lately? Muy gordo. Talk about not fitting through an eye of a needle. And this man is the committed follower of a cult founded by the disciples of an ascetic nomad.

Talk about lost in translation.

Posted by: Keith G on January 31, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

The very best comment of the day:
"Talk about lost in translation" goes to Keith G. Well done.

Posted by: mama on January 31, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

I say this as someone who has family members who are very conservative Christians but not full of bile. They are salt of the earth, hardworking mostly uneducated and presented with a real conundrum of who to listen to.

This has nothing to do with the discussion at hand, but how exactly did "salt of the earth" come to mean the exact opposite of its apparent Biblical meaning?

Posted by: RT on January 31, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

I have no real problem with the conents mama's posts, particularly after the explanations, but am a little disappoint by the context. It is true that comments insulting Christians in general are counterproductive as well as just plain rude.

However, out of 26 posts by 19 different posters (if I counted right) before mama's first post, there were 2 that fit that description and 1 that was borderline. There were a few more that were insulting toward Jerry Falwell, but can anyone honestly say he doesn't earn it, particularly given that he is frequently and deliberately offensive towards everyone that doesn't believe as he does. The largest group of posts dealt with calmly with whether it is reasonable to expect anyone not already familiar with Falwell's preaching (or even someone who is) to recognize the term salt ministry and it seems pretty clear that it is not a commonly used term within the Evangelical community as a whole, much less among all Christian denominations.

So, it seems to me that mama's long post in response to this thread, as well as any fake outrage from Falwell or the Brent Bozzel crowd over Newsweek's error, are an unfortunate overreaction.

Posted by: tanj on January 31, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I guess if I were an interviewer, I would not have understood what "assault" or "salt" ministry meant, and I would have asked for an immediate clarification or, at the very least, I would have asked for one after the transcription were complete and the story ready to publish. Publishing such an incoherent term without any inquiry is just sloppy work from stupid people.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 31, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

In Lithuanian, the literal translation for the word for salt, saldus, is "tastes good".

Just sayin' in case it might be, you know, appropo.

Posted by: HRlaughed on January 31, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, just remembered that the Lithuanian word for salt, literally translated as "tastes good" is druska, while their word for sweet is saldus -- which is considered a possible origin of the English word salt.

I hate it when I post too quickly, afraid that someone else might beat me to my brilliant point.

Posted by: HRlaughed on January 31, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK
Publishing such an incoherent term without any inquiry is just sloppy work from stupid people.

Which, really, explains most of what passes for "journalism" these days.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 31, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

A very popular Christian book of the 1970's was "Out of the Salt Shaker". It used the quote of "Ye are the salt of the earth" to explain the ministry of Christians to the world. Like most of Jesus' analogies it is incredible in the fact that it has remained relevant. If you study the gospels, you will find that the messages of Jesus get across great concepts using metaphors that remain very relevant across the ages. This is part of the genius of the Bible which even any honest unbeliever must acknowledge. It is only the ignorant modern man that must be taught these things afresh. ( Note: I do not expect closed minded idealogues of the left to agree with that - but they seldom agree with anything which does not fit inside their tiny leftest bubble )

Salt was a familiar metaphor to the people of His time. It is both preserving, but has a little bite to it. The Christian can not do his work of preservation without the subject being a little bit irritated at the Christian.

Anyone who doubts the use of salt as a good metaphor that would stand the test of time should read Kurlansky's excellent book "Salt" about the importance of salt through the ages.

Once agian from reading the posts on this board, it is really the hypocritical intellectual left that has the "assault ministry" - desparately trying to tear down anything (like Christian saltiness) that stands in the way of their imposition of "progressive" thinking.

Thank-you Kevin for pointing out that ignorance of the most important book of western civilization, does not bode well for young intellectuals trying report on western culture.

Posted by: John Hansen on January 31, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G: To the point, these folks just love to redesign the language (e.g. He gifted our mission with a powerful annointing.)

The use of "gift" as a verb has been acceptable--nay, encouraged--in fundraising/advancement for a few years now. At some point someone decided that "give" was just too vulgar, I guess. This drives me batty.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I just love the PTL woman, Jan, with the pinkish hair and makeup that would make a goth blush

She has nothing on Paula Jones, who is HOT, especially when she is doing her preaching schtick. Praise to no lord! Preach to me Paula, preach to me, then bleat like a goat.

Posted by: Hostile on January 31, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the reference to the needle (strait gate) and Falwell's girth were just good fun.
Taking him seriously misses the point that much of the time he appears a buffoon.
The only thing that has to do with Christianity is that is his purported focus as inspired teacher : the fruits of that are mixed as well.
Which has nothing to do with peoples' devotion to the Christian ethic except that literacy is common enough people should follow their interest in Bible study if they wish. Caveat emptor applies to ancillary source material for that as much as any for other endeavor.
I recommend keeping it simple ; devout prayer and humility ; i.e. look to the Amish or Quakers as exemplars of tolerance. (Is Falwell an example here ?)

Posted by: opit on January 31, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Good bible"

Posted by: witless chum on January 31, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Whom does Fall-well think he's kidding with this little homophonic trick? Us, apparently. It's "a salt ministry" for the public at large, but an "assault ministry" in coded exchanges between knowing participants. Once again Newsweek gets it right by getting it wrong and are instructed to get back into formation. Yes, indeed, by all means let us get to know the "heartland," a/k/a fundamentalist extremists.

Posted by: Steve on January 31, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

tanj et al:

Sorry. You are absolutely correct. I overreacted to what I saw as people mocking the vocabulary of certain people as opposed to bothering to understand it to better counter it constructively. It just seems like such a common refrain, immediate context of this current thread aside. Seems reasonable that with large numbers of folks who think a certain way, one would want to take them seriously to decipher them?

You are entirely correct also on the matter of context. I am out of context. It seems my entire life has been out of context, caught as I seem to be between two warring worlds. It would have been much more clever of me to have been born into a world of truly educated, incisive wit and style where patient deconstruction of the fallacy of the "reasons" behind things such as the Rapture were not necessary. Belief in such stuff does tend to color where people stand on things like global warming and how they are personally making plans for their future such as doing a living will--or not. Or, for instance, whether they are leaving it to the hand of God and their "fortunate" children to sort out the mess later because they are old, easily scared/confused and have been demagogued ad nauseum about having a Schiavo plug pulled on them before their appointed time to go if not dying in pain because their meds are getting axed.

But that is a isolated personal drama that is utterly irrelevant and disconnected to any greater issue at hand here or in our society. I had no right to fly off the handle or employ sarcasm.

Most sincere apologies to all. Message received. Time to leave and do something more constructive and more in context to who I am and my station in life. I think the toilets need swirling out. No brevity, wit or contextual relevance required. These issues are well beyond my pay grade and who am I to think that anybody can do a damned thing about any of it anyway? I wonder if American Idol comes on tonight? I guess I just need a good opiate.

Posted by: mama on January 31, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

mama, I understand your frustration, but it's also important to remember that sneering, vehement atheists are overrepresented on the Web. And I would remind our sneering, vehement atheists that Falwell and his ilk are overrepresented in the media. Being a heathen kneeler, I consider their theology of glory a big, bad no-no.

If 75% of the American public self-identifies as Christian, they can't all be Republicans, or the only elected Dems would be San Francisco city council members. If your folks are concerned by the secularization of society (school prayer, etc.), this diary at Street Prophets might help.

I think a lot of liberal Christians think of religion as an intensely personal thing, and are therefore somewhat reticent. I know I was raised not to bug anybody about their beliefsor lack thereof. I went to school with people of every faith imaginable, from Pentecostal to Hindu. You just didn't make an issue of it. Going to college in Tennessee, where damn near everybody was either Baptist or Church of Christ was a culture shock for me.

Oh, yeah. The topic: "Salt ministry" really is a kind of odd formulation, so it would be easy to make that transcription error even if you were familiar with "the salt of the earth" business.

Posted by: hamletta on January 31, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Mother, you had me but I never had you,
I wanted you but you didn't want me,
So I got to tell you,
Goodbye, goodbye.

Mama don't go...

Posted by: John on January 31, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

mama, hamletta:
"I guess my point being that to the ears of a lot of otherwise decent folk who are religously conservative (but not of the bile version) hear some of the things said about "Christians" as blanket statements it is very personally offensive to them and does not endear them to what else is being said."
"but it's also important to remember that sneering, vehement atheists are overrepresented on the Web."

You know, I think one of the big problems here is that a large segment of the population considers any expression of atheistic- or, for that matter, even just non-Christian- beliefs to be "sneering and vehement" by definition.

Speaking from the other side, it's very frustrating for us "sneering, vehement" atheists that we are expected to sit back and take being told we are immoral, unethical, deluded nihilists, with nary a kind word in our defense from our liberal Christian "allies" for the most part- but if we speak even mildly critically of religion, then we are "sneering, vehement", "left leaning pompous blowhards" hopelessly out of touch with the "heartland".

Personally, as someone from the "heartland", I'll start respecting those "salt of the earth" people when they start actually living their beliefs instead of just talking about them.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 31, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK


John Hansen --

Sorry, you're the one missing the point by sneering at the "hypocritical intellectual left".

As I pointed out above, one can be quite familiar with both "pillars of salt" and "salt of the earth". One can even be well aware that "salt of the earth" meant valuable (in 0 AD), not commonplace and nearly worthless (as in 2000 AD) -- an significant way that Jesus' metaphor falls short of the mark today.

And one can still not understand what in the world Falwell is talking about. Even if you grant that he meant to say "salt ministry," and that "Out of the Salt Shaker" was a popular self-help book at some time -- it's currently around #30,000 on Amazon, and appears not to actually contain the phrase "salt ministry" -- this just shows how far evangelical culture has divorced itself from the mainstream.

Thus, it becomes incumbent on the evangelical to use conventional speech when talking to a mainstream audience. Unless, like George W bringing up Dred Scott in the last presidential debates, you really are using coded speech to talk to your base.

Posted by: anon on January 31, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

anon- in my household, the proper terminology is "Tabasco sauce of the earth."

Falwell and his cohorts are more like the "limburger of the earth."

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Golly, reading the comments (much less adding to 'em) on this blog is depressing: if y'all represent anybody, progressives ARE gonna wind up fighting to keep a plurality on the SF city council.

Mama is right, you are wrong. Face up to it.

In this country, if you don't know even a little bit about the Bible, you're culturally illiterate and ought to have the good taste to be reticent, if not embarrassed in polite company.

I wouldn't fault Newsweek, it's easy enough to get wrong cuz of how it sounded: "a salt ministry" isn't such a common phrase that you can blame 'em much for simply going with how it sounded.

Leaving matters of faith aside, though, the sad thing is how PROUD folks in this thread seem to be about their ignorance of a major pillar of our whole civilization.

Jack Miles had a great metaphor for the way our society has turned from its roots -- a kid who is born to a wealthy family, whose parents were rich and who was raised that way, may lose his fortune in later life: but he will always act and feel like somebody who used to have much, in a way that is different from somebody who never had the experience.

Mama, that's why these guys are fools about it, like a guy with no money and no income expressing opinions on what he's never earned and can no longer afford.

Take just two examples, one easy, one obscure, both from Keith: he wonders how "salt of the earth" changed from what he takes as its original meaning in the New Testament, to what it means now.

Kindly explain that one, KG: the Biblical reference sez 'you are the salt of the earth', but if you lose your flavor, since YOU are the flavor -- where are you going to regain it?

How is that changed when ordinary, decent people are described as "the salt of the earth"?

The more subtle one (and an example of why Biblical study is rewarding on lots of levels) is Keith's observation that (like me) Jerry Falwell doesn't miss many meals, noting Christ's metaphor about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Somebody pointed out once that there was (still is, I think) a narrow gate in the ancient city wall of Jerusalem that was called the Eye of the Needle, which is the sorta thing Jesus would have talked about, the way a modern American might talk about an entrance ramp on an interstate: handy image that everybody understood.

The only way a camel could get through it was by being led, since you can't push a camel -- and if it got ornery, it would be an obstacle.

And of course, for a RICH man to go through the Eye of the Needle gate is an image that would easily connect to a camel, since a camel was considerable wealth in those days: but a rich man couldn't go through the narrow gate ON his camel, he wouldn't fit.

So he'd have to get off, and (he hoped) lead his camel through -- but he'd go first, and on his own.

It's a superb metaphor for the way what any of us accomplish in life measures up: but to those who scoff at the Bible, it's a closed book.

And you're the poorer for it.


Posted by: theAmericanist on January 31, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, you guys are even illiterate without getting to culture: Anon writes ""salt of the earth" meant valuable (in 0 AD), not commonplace and nearly worthless (as in 2000 AD)."

I have never -- EVER -- read anywhere the phrase "salt of the earth" used to mean 'commonplace and nearly worthless', including the old Rolling Stones tune off Beggar's Banquet.

The phrase means good, ordinary people; it's used as such every day: and seeing that as "nearly worthless" pretty much sums up what's wrong with you folks.

.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 31, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK
...(in 0 AD)...

The Christian calendar is not a zero-based system. The years around the (notional) birth of Christ are 2 B.C., 1 B.C., A.D. 1, A.D. 2, etc.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 31, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist:

Additionally, I've usually heard that an part of the import of the imagery was that the narrow gate was too narrow for a camel laden with goods; not only did they have to be led, but also unloaded. The implication, therefore, regarding the similar difficulty of a rich man entering the Kingdom of Heaven as a camel passing through the eye of the needle is, well, you gotta lose your baggage.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 31, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I think one of the big problems here is that a large segment of the population considers any expression of atheistic- or, for that matter, even just non-Christian- beliefs to be "sneering and vehement" by definition.

Um, no, not "by definition," or else I wouldn't have added the modifiers. There are atheists who are live-and-let-live types, and then there are those who really do sneer about "invisible sky friends" and the like. I guess I didn't make clear that I was referring specifically to that subset of atheists, who I find every bit as annoying as the Bible-thumpingest fundie. Don't even try to tell me you've never seen it.

I don't see a lot of rightie Christians talking about the inherent immorality of atheism (on the internets, anyway, I'm aware of the sentiment). And if I did, I'd call them out immediately. It's more like they work on the assumption that the left hates Christianity and Christians, which is patently ridiculous, since many on the left are Christians.

And you're not alone as a sneeree, believe me. Being a Lutheran, I get beat up on by rightie Christians for belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist and for rejecting decision theology and believers' baptism. Hell, just the other day, I got a snotty little comment from a Missouri Synod Lutheran that we ELCA Lutherans aren't really Lutherans at all. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand, but some of those LCMS types just cannot pass up an opportunity!

The constant cries of triumphalism and oppression alike grow really tiresome to an ecumenical, tolerant person like me. It doesn't matter to me whether anybody believes or not, or what they believe; like I said earlier, it's an intensely personal thing. I'm more interested in their fruits. ;-)

Posted by: hamletta on January 31, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

What the hell? Geez dude, or dudet, I never referenced salt. Leave me out of that part of your padantic exhortation.

BTW, I bet Falwell won't fit on a camel either.

Posted by: Keith G on January 31, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Falwell would try to eat the camel, after salting it thoughly.

Posted by: Keith G on January 31, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G.- there is absolutely no way he'd fit after eating the camel, salt or no salt.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 31, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

In modern America, it's a truism -- and a potent political weapon for the Right -- that irreligious people are far less tolerant of faith than people of faith are of unbelievers.

There is a lot of evidence: prayer in schools, Christmas displays, etc. The slogan is that freedom of religion is not the same as freedom FROM religion.

So progressives ought not to take it for granted that looking down on folks of faith is socially acceptable, anywhere.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 31, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Mea culpa, Keith: it was RT.

"This has nothing to do with the discussion at hand, but how exactly did "salt of the earth" come to mean the exact opposite of its apparent Biblical meaning?
Posted by: RT "

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 31, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

I did not say that "salt of the earth types of people" are nearly worthless.

What I said was that salt -- you know, the stuff that comes in little free packets at restaurants -- is currently commonplace and nearly worthless.

This doesn't mean that we can't learn that "salt of the earth" means good honest folks. But it fails as a metaphor, because of the ossified assumptions it makes about economics circa 30 AD. And I've met many people -- including ostensible Christians -- who misuse the phrase, because they don't understand why it means what it means.

By the way, the "Jerusalem gate" story about the "eye of the needle" is a very old urban legend.

http://www.biblicalhebrew.com/nt/camelneedle.htm

Maybe you should spend more time, you know, investigating the Bible, instead of projecting your insecurities onto "liberal scoffers."

Posted by: anon on January 31, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"In modern America, it's a truism -- and a potent political weapon for the Right -- that irreligious people are far less tolerant of faith than people of faith are of unbelievers. There is a lot of evidence: prayer in schools, Christmas displays, etc. The slogan is that freedom of religion is not the same as freedom FROM religion."

So, let me get this straight: atheists are intolerant because we don't want to have the government push a religious agenda on us? Whereas Christians are being tolerant towards us by trying to push their religious beliefs on people who don't want them? Interesting.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 31, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Prayer in school? Are you saying people can't pray in a public school? Holy Toledo, Batman when did this happen?

I was just in a public high school. Heard an announcement for the CSA, Christian Students Assiciation on the morning announcements.

I guess they can meet, just not pray.

Posted by: Keith G on January 31, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist: In modern America, it's a truism -- and a potent political weapon for the Right -- that irreligious people are far less tolerant of faith than people of faith are of unbelievers.

There is a lot of evidence: prayer in schools, Christmas displays, etc. The slogan is that freedom of religion is not the same as freedom FROM religion.

I'm not sure what you think your second paragraph is evidence for, but it surely isn't backing up your first paragraph. Just the opposite, in fact.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, the "Jerusalem gate" story about the "eye of the needle" is a very old urban legend.

Hmmm...that's particularly amusing given the context of the Americanist berating others for biblical illiteracy.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck 'em, it was an understandable and honest mistake. These people better learn to stop bitching like pussies and start making some real difference in the world...go cure cancer, somethin'.

Posted by: Boorring on January 31, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

In modern America, it's a truism -- and a potent political weapon for the Right -- that irreligious people are far less tolerant of faith than people of faith are of unbelievers.

That is a blatant lie, which could only come from an Americanist bible fucker (bone up on his bible). It is true that the Right uses psychotic delusions of Christian persecution as a weapon to limit civil liberties of everyone, but tolerance was never part of a lot, most, many Christian lifestyles, especially in the US.

Posted by: Hostile on January 31, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Also, off of what RT said, the debate team at Liberty University is sorta different than the rest of the school. They give out massive scholarships and recruit heavily from High Schools for the debate team, which has a huge coaching staff and massive budget. What emerges is that for high school debaters that devoted themselves entirely to the game (debate is an obsession for most participants, whose entire lives tend to be centered on debate) but did poorly in school and the SAT, they can get a full ride at Liberty University, which they can continue to be competative in college. However, Liberty University is not really number one in any sense of having the best debate team, as was pointed out they have the most debaters who go to often the weaker tournaments rather then the more competative ones to get more points for easier wins.
It should also be noted that many of the Liberty University debate team are not hard core right-wingers, despite what I am sure Falwell believes and hopes for.
What is true is that debate produces most of the policy leaders of this country (Both Clinton and Gore were former debaters, most of congress is composed of former debaters, et cetera). Academic policy debate is a sorta overlooked training ground for many future political leaders.

Posted by: TheScu on January 31, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

I was just in a public high school. Heard an announcement for the CSA, Christian Students Assiciation on the morning announcements.

I guess they can meet, just not pray.

Now, you know that's not true. Students are allowed to pray, even form Bible study groups that meet at school. The idea is to not have prayer imposed from above (from teachers, principals, coaches, etc.)

That Street Prophets diary I linked to earlier makes a pretty good argument that prayer in schools was tantamount to an unfair advantage, a tacit establishment of one type of Christianity. It was Protestant prayer that was used in most schools, since they were in the majority.

Catholics and Jews got around this for years by starting their own parochial schools. The landmark cases that abolished forced school prayer were filed not by atheists, but by religious minorities, Catholics, Mormons, etc. This quiz from the Freedom From Religion Foundation will give you some good info on where the lines are drawn.

I would also remind the religious folk that separation of church and state strengthens both. I don't think it's an accident that church attendance is lower in Europe, where the two were intertwined until very recently. And it should also not be a surprise that the head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State is an ordained minister.

Faith can only be genuine when it is chosen at will. I believe that each of us should be free to express his faith, spirituality, whatever, in the way he sees fit. But just as freedom of speech doesn't include freedom from derision (from individuals, not institutions), neither does freedom of religion.

That said, and being a subject of derision from all sides, I'm hard put to see where I had anything shoved down my throat in the two decades I've lived in Nashville, the Southern Baptist equivalent to the Vatican. I only toddled back to the Lutheran church recently; in the years before I was an apathetic agnostic, a Deist, a "Whatever, Moses."

Seems to me that whatever your beliefs, or lack of them, your convictions should be able to withstand whatever some overbearing blowhard throws at you. If you're an atheist, and some Krazy Kristian says you are therefore immoral; don't pity yourself, pity him.

He has failed to learn the lesson of the good Samaritan. Yeah, everybody knows he helped the wounded guy in the ditch, but the part that a lot of people forget is that other people walked right past that wounded guy and didn't help him because he wasn't a member of their particular sect or whatever. But the Samaritan saw only a wounded man and didn't care who he was or who he worshipped.

This is what I'm called to do. To love all God's children. We are all 100% sinner, 100% saint.

Posted by: hamletta on January 31, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

MJ Memphis.

This is a democracy. 10% of the population is gay. Another 30% support their more radical agendas.

Another 30% give qualified acceptance if they keep it out of parks and restrooms and media.

And another 30% wants you to die of aids. They don't say it of course - but they think if they just let you eat enough fudge - you'll croak.

The way around this is PERSUASION>

and I think the qualified acceptance crowd needs a break from the drum beats of Hollywood.

Posted by: Ashley on January 31, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

A little more obvious example of religious illiteracy among journalists"
"An eager young thing with a national paper was interviewing me about yet another instance of political corruption. “Is this something new?” she asked. “No,” I said, “it’s been around ever since that unfortunate afternoon in the garden.” There was a long pause and then she asked, “What garden was that?” It was touching."
http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1360

Among other things, Falwell *does* need to learn to communicate better, but suggestions that this is somehow "coded" are just nonsense. Should there be some sort of authority to dictate approved useage of certain theoligical concepts?

Posted by: YetAnotherRick on January 31, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

God, you guys need work.

The historical basis for the standard interpretation of the Biblical text about the Needle Gate (that is, except for the, ya know, text itself, which is first century) goes only back to the 9th century.

Except that, as it happens, there are LOTS of ancient cities which have really narrow after hours gates, being as how THAT'S WHAT CITY WALLS WERE FOR: defense.

Perhaps you've heard of this, that an ancient city would have these things they called "walls" which were for this thing they called "defense", but since they had "people" who lived "outside" the "walls", who sometimes had to come "in" (whcih means, yanno, the opposite of "outside") after the big gates were closed, they would have these small openings which were easily defended, being, yanno,"small"?

So with an ancient corroboration of an even more ancient original text, anon, it seems downright, er, stooopid to argue further against the obvious purpose of the damn thing, don't ya think?

Psst, anon: an "urban legend" refers to a campfire tale like the hook on the car door, not a story that 1) makes sense in its own right, 2) has an original text that can be interpreted to support it, and 3) has an ancient source that corroborates that interpretation. (This is all the more true when you remember that in the 9th century, Jerusalem's walls were a LOT more like they were in the first century than they are now, not to mention that castellation was just coming into its heyday: some Crusader fortifications on the same principal as the Needle Gate lasted for decades against outrageously outnumbered assaults.)

Damn, you guys really ARE stupid, not to mention bigots.

And, geeze -- if "prayer in schools" doesn't speak to the shorthand for (deep breath) the SCOTUS-enforced ban on government prescribed sponsorship of religion, then you guys really oughta stop pettifoggery and all become (horrors) pain in the ass lawyers. With luck, you can become "public interest lawyers', so it won't matter when folks hand you your asses in court.

Cuz you proved the point: you ARE hostile to religion itself, to folks who actually understand the stuff you scoff at with utterly transparent, half-baked bullshit. And you CONGRATULATE yourselves for being ignorant and arrogant, to boot.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 31, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Cuz you proved the point: you ARE hostile to religion itself, to folks who actually understand the stuff you scoff at with utterly transparent, half-baked bullshit. And you CONGRATULATE yourselves for being ignorant and arrogant, to boot."

What hogwash. As Reagan would have said, "there you go again."

I'm an atheist, and let me tell you what we hear constantly: that we hate religion, that we belittle faith, that we scorn, sneer, mock, and persecute persons of any faith and Christians in particular.

Now, here's the uncomfortable truth. We don't give a DAMN about religion. We don't oppose it, except when it sticks itself into our faces. We find it sort of sad, really, that so many seem to need and want it, but we keep that opinion mostly to ourselves. What we are SICK of hearing is how a lack of faith is somehow a deficiency, that having faith is somehow normal and we are not. To that we say, with great humility,

GO FUCK YOURSELVES.

You are not persecuted, O people of religious temperament. You are merely whining.

You go on about the courage required to stand up for faith. What narcissistic bullshit! You want to know what courage is? Courage is the day someone runs for public office in this country and says, "I don't believe in God, but I don't mind if y'all do."

THAT will be the fucking day.


And by the way, having studied comparative religions extensively in school, I know a great deal more about your own religions, doctrinally, than most of y'all do. And I still think it's hooey. Interesting hooey, but hooey.

Gosh, I feel better.

And mama......I'm kinda tired of that "wholesome country livin' good, perverted big city livin' bad trope" too. Maybe you could rethink that boring, tired old fantasy.

Posted by: jprichva on February 1, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Hamletta...ah, that was sarcasm, dear.

Posted by: Keith G on February 1, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, jprichva, thanks for an inspirational post! (not sarcasm, hamletta)

Posted by: Keith G on February 1, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

JP writes: "You want to know what courage is? Courage is the day someone runs for public office in this country and says, "I don't believe in God, but I don't mind if y'all do."

Um, no: that would be politically bold, but it'd kind of a stretch to call it 'courage'.

A cop making a traffic stop? A firefighter running up the stairs at the WTC?

What JP refers to would be more properly identified as "honesty", e.g., if somebody asks if you're churched and you say 'no'. (I say that all the time, but I don't confuse it with bravery.)

If JP was to run for office and make his atheism into an issue, he might narcissistically figure that was 'courage', but in point of fact, it'd be merely stupidity: unless, I suppose, repealing the First Amendment was somehow an issue.

Since JP has trouble with the distinction between courage and honesty, here is a f'r instance. He complains that atheists constantly hear that they "hear constantly: that we hate religion, that we belittle faith, that we scorn, sneer, mock..."

That assertion is not courageous.

And he goes on: "having studied comparative religions extensively in school, I know a great deal more about your own religions, doctrinally, than most of y'all do..."

That is considerably more honest than JP knows.

To somebody with a bit more self-awareness that ol' JP, his own self-description denotes not so much contempt for faith, as for the faithful. The shorter version reinforces the theme: 'Gee, if you just knew as much about what YOU believe as I do, you'd see how STUPID you are..."

If you were more honest with yourself, dude, you'd have caught on that this is your message.

Do you really know people who buy your bullshit, JP? Or is it just this solipsistic, Web-posting thing?


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on February 1, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing more entertaining than a continually apoplectic Christian with Something to Prove. Carry on. But don't forget to breathe.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: fdfd on February 1, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK
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Posted by: 4343 on February 1, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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