Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 13, 2006
By: Roxanne Cooper

AN ALTERNATIVE NARRATIVE.... Why have Conservative Catholics rejected the Church's teaching on immigration issues? And will there be a call for priests to refuse communion to Michelle Malkin and Pat Buchanan?

/snark

The assertion that "the white activists who shaped the Left of the 1960s have remained mired in a culture of hostility toward religion and spirituality" is a misfire. Nixon-era Liberal activists transformed their own churches as much they transformed other institutions, as Mark Oppenheimer points out in his book, Knocking on Heaven's Door: American Religion in the Age of Counterculture. This is why some sects of Christianity now sport gay and women clergy, issue proclaimations against draconian immigration reform, work with labor unions and organize anti-war protests. What Liberals (most of whom are Christian) hold a hostility toward are policies that run counter to their own church's teaching.

Roxanne Cooper 10:41 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (107)

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Misfire? That's a polite way to describe the activities of Steve Waldman, who should go back to hawking diet plans on his jesus site.

Posted by: Mr. Bigglesworth on March 13, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

And will there be a call for priests to refuse communion to Michelle Malkin and Pat Buchanan?

Sure, right after they excommunicate them (and Bill Pryor and damn near every other Catholic politician) for supporting the death penalty.

Posted by: Martin on March 13, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Stop beating around the bush and cut to the chase: Atheists and other freethinkers are the cause of all problems must be purged, first from the Dem party, and then from the country!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 13, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of refusing communion, why aren't Steve Waldman and Amy Sullivan down here in Phoenix, trying to help reform the Church [that] denies Communion to autistic boy?

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

What Liberals (most of whom are Christian) hold a hostility toward is policies that run counter to their own church's teaching.
AMEN!

This theme isnt exactly new, although many pretend it is.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Many people calling themselves Christian have turned it into a political philosophy of anger and hate and righteousness, directly counter to the teachings of Christ. For example, many angry denounciations of homosexuals are purportedly based on the Bible, yet seem to ignore the fundamentals of New Testament.

Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, nor behaves itself unseemly, seeks not after itself, is not easily provoked, thinks not on that which is evil; rejoices not over unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all, believes all, hopes all, endures all. Charity never fails.

I Corinthians 13:4-8

Unfortunately, Christianity in the United States is based upon some fundamental misconstruction of the actual words of Jesus.

Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves. That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklins wisdom not biblical; its counter-biblical.

Its not so much that liberals are anti-Christian or that they fail to recognize historic contributions such as those mentioned earlier from th 18th century, but rather that those traditions have been betrayed by so many in the name of right wing politics.

Now being in favor of a personal relationship with God is deemed anti-Christian if that includes not wanting the governement to support religious organizations with tax payer money. Its now deemed by many to be anti-Christian to want to keep that relationship personal and not political or the basis of using state power to coerce others into following your religious beliefs.

Being opposed to the twisting of Christian beliefs for right wing political ends and to justify angry attacks on others isnt anti-Christian its pro-Christian.

Posted by: Catch22 on March 13, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

And in answer to your initial question -- we don't care about helping brown people. Jesus taught that the only problems were RU-486 and gay marriage. He never ever mentioned the poor or less fortunate.

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 13, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

The Roman Catholic Church is just screwed up. Deny Communion to an autistic boy?
Almost nothing official from the Church has made any sense, much less have been Christlike, since the priest/boy molestation scandal broke.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 13, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

This isn't exactly correct. Yes most mainline churches did undergo a liberal transformation, but while the leadership & sometimes the clergy of these churches may lean one way, the vast majority of their congregations do not. Even in 'liberal' churches, people are more likely to vote conservative because the big divide over religion is not between denominations or liberal vs. conservative protestantism, but instead those who actually attend church, and those who don't. And increasingly, church attendance is a much bigger indicator of someone's partisan affiliation than anything else, even marriage+children.

"Misfire? That's a polite way to describe the activities of Steve Waldman, who should go back to hawking diet plans on his jesus site."

Yes that's it. We'll demonstrate we aren't hostile to religion by snarking on someone dismissively for maintaining his "jesus site" (religious wacko!)

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals were always very active in their churches throughout the 60s and put the churches at the forefront of movements for civil rights, anti-war, environmental stewardship. Many of the policies that emerged from these movements have come to be embraced by the GOP. Just look at all the black people Republicans bring to the GOP conventions every four years.

What about the Berrigan brothers and their tradition of liberal Catholicism? Commentary by the National Catholic Reporter? Even the Pope opposed the Iraq War and the death penalty as counter to Christ's teachings.

We need to forcefully confront this loudmouth conservative derision of everyone who disagrees with the GOP as godless, secular humanists. They think it's OK to be a "pick and choose" Catholic on issues of violence and the environment, but not on issues having to do with sex and immigration.

The GOP has a lot more to worry about with the culture of corruption and greed that has grown so prevalent on their watch, in part because of the short-sighted policies they promote.

Liberals remain as faithful as they always have been, and their numbers are growing within faith communities with every new casualty in Iraq.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 13, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Its now deemed by many to be anti-Christian to want to keep that relationship personal and not political or the basis of using state power to coerce others into following your religious beliefs."

I can't think of any more than a few nuts advocating forced conversion.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

If you have a religion, and it doesn't influence your politics, you are a hypocrite.
Because POLITICS deals with issues of justice, the responsibility of a society for the well-being of individuals, and the questions about whether morality should be legislated.
At one extreme, your religion could tell you that politics should be every man/woman for themselves and corporations are instruments of the divine.
So if liberals only want to talk about how people of different faiths (or no faith) can work together to make our country (or the world) a better place, you still HAVE TO address how various religious viewpoints either fit in with (or oppose)your efforts. You must not ignore religion.

Posted by: eve on March 13, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Another liberal Christian.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

eve, the resposibility to determine the "fitting-in" of religious beliefs to political agendas belongs to the person with the religion, not to the political party or faction or whatever. You do see that don't you? Otherwise religious beliefs are judged from the political point-of-view. You don't want that, do you?

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 13, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

My, my. We're certainly getting a lot of posts on religion. Is the usual religion bashing (sorry, Christianity bashing) not working well in politics? Do the Democrats desire to be seen as religion friendly (sorry, Christianity friendly)?

How long would that last after the election?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Roxanne:

First, it's important to mention which "church" you're talking about. As I understand it, the Pope has one stance, and individual U.S. bishops are free to have their own. And, the stance of the main RCC is quite a bit different from the socialistic stance of the Arizona bishops for instance.

And, if conservative Catholics don't support the immigration stance of Cardinal Roger Mahoney, perhaps it's because they realize that his stance is fundamentally corrupt and immoral.

By supporting illegal immigration, those churches are supporting a bad situation and making it even worse.

Illegal aliens are frequently subject to worker abuse, and unless you're going to completely open the borders, it will always be so. If you want to prevent worker abuse, you can either completely open the borders and given everyone who makes it here the same rights, or you can enforce our immigration laws.

And, those "liberal" churches are also supporting the Mexican government. They send us illegal aliens and get billions of dollars in return. That helps prop up their corrupt government and enables them to avoid reforms.

And, those "liberal" churches are also supporting corruption in the U.S. Those companies that profit from illegal immigration give money to politicians that look the other way. That is corruption, pure and simple.

Some people even want to create "North America", an EU-style superstate. In fact, Bush is meeting to discuss a precursor to that: whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/03/20060309.html

So, by support massive illegal immigration, these "liberal" churches might look humanitarian, but they end up supporting:

  • corruption in the U.S.
  • worker abuse
  • the corrupt Mexican government
  • Mexican meddling in our internal politics
  • attempts to weaken U.S. citizenship and sovereignty

I hope this helps you understand this issue a bit better.

/do research first please

Posted by: TLB on March 13, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

The last line is the true kicker. The whole right-wing appropriation of religion has taken the mainstream view of religion so far off course, it runs almost exactly counter to what most people would consider the teachings of Jesus.

Help the poor? What you did for the least of them, you did for me? Turn the other cheek? Blessed are the meek? The chiding of those who would proclaim their piety to everyone on the street just to be seen as a religions man?

Forget it. The right wing religious motto seems to be 'censor everything, bless the rich, and pass the ammuntion'.

Posted by: Kryptik on March 13, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin:

"Its now deemed by many to be anti-Christian to want to keep that relationship personal and not political or the basis of using state power to coerce others into following your religious beliefs."

"I can't think of any more than a few nuts advocating forced conversion."

You arent thinking very hard coercion is possible in many ways beyond forced conversion. Try thinking about criminal abortion restrictions like those passed in South Dakota. Try thinking about criminal sodomy laws that many fundamentalists believe are both constitutional and important. Try thinking about taxpayer funded chuch programs which allow discriminatory hiring and some which essentially include prostelyzation in order to obtain public services.

Posted by: Catch22 on March 13, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

"You arent thinking very hard coercion is possible in many ways beyond forced conversion. Try thinking about criminal abortion restrictions like those passed in South Dakota. Try thinking about criminal sodomy laws that many fundamentalists believe are both constitutional and important."


In that case, I would ask how you distinguish between laws & policy positions advocated for from a religious values standpoint & ones from a non-religious values standpoint? If I thought Murder was immoral & should be criminalized, how do you determine whether this belief is based on a religious adherence to the first commandment or a non-religious secular-humanist belief in the immorality of murder?

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

In the political arena, you liberal Christians should just stress the importance of the separation of church and state (you do believe in that, right?) and confine your tedious squabbles with conservative Christians about what Jesus wants, what the Bible says, etc to your churches and other religious venues. Those of us who don't give a rat's ass what Jesus said are sick and tired of hearing his name invoked in political debates on everything from immigration to gay rights.

Posted by: Jesus Shmesus on March 13, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

another proud liberal christian speaks up.

Where did the GOp get this idea that liberals are contemptuous of the religious anyway?

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Catch 22-

I really am curious. Have you come to your positions by reading and studying the Bible or have you come to these conclusions by reading things people say about the Bible.

Nothing amuses me more than the position that the Bible and the teaching of Jesus supports liberalism. According to my study nothing could be further from the truth.

The Bible supports the concept of Love. Biblical love is always kind but honest. It does not choose to let others go on in self destructive sinful behavior ( e.g strong stands against homosexuality and drug abuse ) but points out the true effects of sinful behavior ( see Romans 1 ). It does not promote large government programs to force taxation on othersso the poor can be helped ( welfare state) , but actually goes to the poor and helps them (the many excellent Christian missions supported by private donations).

Love is not using the force of government to take money from all citizens to take care of the unsightly problems of society. Its private citizens banding together to really make a difference in the lives of the poor.

It is true that the Bible does not say "God helps those who help themselves" or even "Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish you feed him for life". But the concepts of the Bible are through love to deal with the issues which plague man.

The first issue is to offer salvation from both the eternal effect of sin (damnation).

Then to help actually change the behavior by depending on Christ to abstain from self destructive sinful behavior.

In my opinion it is foolishness to try and define Love, by

1. tolerance of someone's sinful self-destructive behavior.
2. passing laws requiring all people to contribute their taxes to the poverty and misery caused by this self-destructive behavior.

I would be interested in your thoughts,

Posted by: John Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Waldman, who should go back to hawking diet plans on his jesus site.

Obviously, you've never been to Beliefnet. It covers every sort of religion or spiritual belief system, not just Christianity.

And, if conservative Catholics don't support the immigration stance of Cardinal Roger Mahoney, perhaps it's because they realize that his stance is fundamentally corrupt and immoral.
What, it's immoral to give water to a man who's spent weeks crossing the desert? Could you please point me to the appropriate biblical passage where its immorality is explained? Thank you in advance.

Posted by: hamletta on March 13, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Where did the GOp get this idea that liberals are contemptuous of the religious anyway?
I got it from reading the comments in this blog.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK


Waldman should examine the people involved in American Buddhism. The most prominent teachers and writers are pretty much all aging lefty hippies.

Posted by: Jon H on March 13, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

>I would be interested in your thoughts,

I think that anybody for which the first example of "destructive behavior" is homosexuality is pretty much a clown who wouldn't know Biblical Love if it sat on his face.

>Where did the GOp get this idea that liberals are contemptuous of the religious anyway?

C'mon, Dustin. you know the people who are really contemptous of religion is the upper hierachy of the GOP itself. People here are telling you what they think - and don't imagine this is coming out of some sort of vacuum, the pervasive American opinion that if you don't have religious beliefs then something's wrong with you gets on our nerves after a decade or so. We could probably be a bit more eloquent and a bit less harsh but you get tired of it, very tired of it eventually.

Maybe if people didn't think there was a Big Guy to save them from their mistakes let alone an afterlife, they'd think a bit more carefully about how they behave here on earth.

Why aren't you fucking FURIOUS with the GOP, which wraps itself in the church while not caring a damn thing about Jesus' teachings???

I'd rather be with people who are willing to tell me the truth to my face -- that's actually generally a sign of some respect, you know. We don't take advantage of something critcally important to you.

But they're literally laughing at Christians. Dick Cheney is probably going to shoot Pat Robertson just to see if he apologizes for bein in teh way.

Posted by: doesn't matter on March 13, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

>I got it from reading the comments in this blog.


Tell us about your personal relationship with Jesus, CN. Go right ahead.

Fraud.

Posted by: doesn't matter on March 13, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut and John Hansen both remind me of how much I have learned to dislike the fake religiosity of these faux christians who use the bible and their particular brand of christianity as nothing but an excuse to promote a selfish, nihilistic, capitalism that Jesus would have been the first to reject. Roxanne's point was spot on. I'm tired of being lectured to by these amoral pseudo christians.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on March 13, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing amuses me more than the position that the Bible and the teaching of Jesus supports liberalism. According to my study nothing could be further from the truth.

Your study also revealed the deep disconnect between the Bible and Jesus in the Bible, did it not?

The first issue is to offer salvation from both the eternal effect of sin (damnation).

Then to help actually change the behavior by depending on Christ to abstain from self destructive sinful behavior.

Or is the first issue to do unto others as you'd have them due unto you, to cast the beam out of your own eye first,

but it's a trick.

To sin in thought is as much an affront to God as the sin in deed. You can pluck lumber of all sorts out of your eyes from here to eternity. You'll never be done with that noble task.

Posted by: Boronx on March 13, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

"here did the GOp get this idea that liberals are contemptuous of the religious anyway?"

It's not a matter of being contemptuous of religion. We're contemptuous of you for bringing your religion into politics. You're supposed to believe in the separation of church and state, remember? You're supposed to believe that civil law and public policy should not be based on what the Bible says or what Jesus says, remember? If you don't believe that, you never were a liberal in the first place.

Posted by: Jesus Shmesus on March 13, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Okay: back to Pat Buchanan and Michelle Malkin.

Buchanan actually avers that "liberalism is the ideology of cultural suicide" because it's tolerant of Latino immigrants. Consider the weirdness of that. Almost uniformly Catholic immigrants, culturally conservative in a way that gives the Karl Roves of this world a sugar rush, are the equivalent of "cultural suicide".

Don't hold your breath for the Steve Waldmans and Amy Goodmans to lambaste Buchanan for his intolerance of Catholicism.

Posted by: walt on March 13, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Eve, Hansen, Dustin, et al,

1. Countries and national governments were invented long after Jesus walked the earth. Does God really care what country a person is from?

2. Isn't it possible that a person can justifiably break a law (immigration quotas) in order to achieve a higher good (keep their family/village back home fed and clothed)?

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

From John Hansen 12:15
"Love is not using the force of government to take money from all citizens to take care of the unsightly problems of society. Its private citizens banding together to really make a difference in the lives of the poor."

Some might say the ideal purpose of govt is to pool together resources in an organized manner to increase the prosperity, health and happiness of all.

Realistically, who has the time and the personal resources to "make a difference"? I have worked in human resources and most volunteers, while well meaning, cannot be counted on to have the necessary skills and time commitment to "make a difference". At best, they are used to supplement the services provided by paid staff.

How easy do you believe it to be to find a volunteer who is a qualified accountant? Or a full-time volunteer with an RN degree? A full time housewife with extra time to volunteer is most often now from the two top family income quintiles. While she may feel ok about stocking a community food bank shelf for a couple of hours, she often will balk at spending her time testing homeless people for tuberculosis, or helping a poor elderly or disabled person with their personal hygiene issues.

Go find yourself a little island you selfish sob.

Posted by: susang on March 13, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

It does not promote large government programs to force taxation on othersso the poor can be helped ( welfare state) , but actually goes to the poor and helps them (the many excellent Christian missions supported by private donations).

Then according to your interpretation, God prefers that there be more poor people than fewer, since that state of affairs would be inevitable if the poor were left to the tender mercies of the private sector.

Posted by: kth on March 13, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Those of us who don't give a rat's ass what Jesus said are sick and tired of hearing his name invoked in political debates on everything from immigration to gay rights.

Would you really be willing to tell the REV. Martin Luther King Jr. to shut up about his faith? Do you really think Reverend Martin would have made the impact he did, if he'd been a veterinarian?

Posted by: Bart on March 13, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Walt 12:43
"Almost uniformly Catholic immigrants, culturally conservative"

An overnight stay in south cental LA might change your mind on this, pal. You must look at latino groups regionally and historically. You may have very conservative areas in a poor south Texas or New Mexico small town where the latino residents have been in place for generations. But, you certainly aren't going to find it in Haitian or Puerto Rican neighborhoods in NYC.

Posted by: susang on March 13, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

cn, almost overwhelming, liberals have nothingbut contempt for anti-intellectualism, falsehood, and artistic weakness, all of which has taken root within evangelical Christianity. This phenomenon within evangelicalism was observed even from within, by evangelical luminaries such as Francis Schaeffer. Because of these intellectual problems within evangelicalism, the right-wing in America is forced to rely of Catholics for its intellectual heft and foundations (eg, the conservative Supreme Court justices).

The hostility you see is not from liberals, it is a hostility from the evangelical movement which, as a cultural movement, set itself against intellectualism and artistic merit, two bedrocks of the liberal tradition. Physician, heal thyself.

Posted by: Constantine on March 13, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Would you really be willing to tell the REV. Martin Luther King Jr. to shut up about his faith?"

As a justification for civil law, Abso-frickin-lutely. Civil rights for racial minorities are and should be based on the secular principle of equal justice under law, not on someone's interpretation of what the Bible says or what Jesus wants.

If you really believe it's okay for liberals to appeal to religious doctrines and teachings to justify their positions on matters of civil law and public policy then you have absolutely no basis for attacking conservatives for doing the same thing.

Posted by: Jesus Shmesus on March 13, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Tell us about your personal relationship with Jesus, CN. Go right ahead. Fraud.

these amoral pseudo christians.

Whoa, can't you just feel the love? When I said I learned about the left's contempt for religion right here, I meant it. I have never once prostelitized, I have merely pointed out the hatred the left has for religion (sorry, Christianity).

I gather that the truth is not what you wanted to hear.

The hostility you see is not from liberals
You moonbats are too much fun. Want me to dig up some quotes from the archives? The rest of your screed showed a remarkable ignorance of religion.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

In my opinion it is foolishness to try and define Love, by

1. tolerance of someone's sinful self-destructive behavior.
2. passing laws requiring all people to contribute their taxes to the poverty and misery caused by this self-destructive behavior.

In my opinion it is foolishness to trot out such an obvious strawman to dismantle. No one tried to define love in such a way.

Your characterization and statements of amusement flies in the face of the prior quote from Paul. "vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, nor behaves itself unseemly, seeks not after itself, is not easily provoked, thinks not on that which is evil; rejoices not over unrighteousness"

Your attempt to falsely portray my comments about Christianity as such is unseemly and neither honest nor truthful.

"Then to help actually change the behavior by depending on Christ to abstain from self destructive sinful behavior."

Passing laws against sodomy or homosexual marriage or abortion dont depend upon Christ.
Perhaps you can point to where Christ says in the Bible, blessed are those that seek to enforce the dictates of the bible through the use of government laws and police?

Perhaps you can point to where Christ says in the Bible that progressive taxation is wrong or that seeking to feed and cloth the poor through goverment programs is against the Bible?

MOre to the point, I think its inappropriate to define Christian love as:

Using criminal pentalties to punish those we believe to be unrighteous and evil.

Using the bible to justify discrimination against those who are homosexual and to criminalize private consensual behavior.

Using the old testiment to justify discrimination against gays while ignoring the spirit of God's word as well as prohibition against many other activities that may have resulted in death in the old era.

A justification to cast the first stone, lest I be perceived as tolerating evil if I dont criminalize social behaviors I dont like.

While you laugh at those who suggest Jesus is liberal perhaps you can point to some actual support from the bible? Perhaps love thy neighbor, or turn the other cheek, or casting the money changers out of the temple or saying it harder for a rich man to get into heaven? Jesus advised us to love one another and help the poor, where does it say its wrong for the government to assist the poor? Where are those portion in the bible that you depend upon to make your conclusions that Jesus was no liberal?

Posted by: Catch22 on March 13, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 1:32 PM:

I have never once prostelitized, I have merely pointed out the hatred the left has for religion.

That's an overly broad characterization, cn...You've bought into the false idea that everyone who is a Christian is on the Right, while everyone who is not is on the Left. The reality is more complex, and you know it.

Speaking strictly for myself, not for this idea of 'the Left' that you seem to possess, it is not necessarily contempt for religion, but a contempt for religious hypocrisy, as well as a contempt for those who demand that I act in accordance with their personal religious views.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

2. Isn't it possible that a person can justifiably break a law (immigration quotas) in order to achieve a higher good (keep their family/village back home fed and clothed)?

Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Now, let's think with our left brains for a second.

Remittances (money sent from various kinds of immigrants to their home countries) are Mexico's second greatest source of income. Some smaller countries have an extraordinarily large share of their GDP due to remittances.

That props up those governments, which in the case of Mexico is corrupt.

So, remittances make things worse instead of making them better.

They also provide an incentive for those countries to send us more people.

They also corrupt U.S. businesses: they make money off illegal activity.

Then, those corrupt U.S. businesses corrupt U.S. politicians by donating to those politicians that help them make more money off illegal activity.

Once again: think with both sides of your brain, not just the right.

Posted by: TLB on March 13, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not a matter of being contemptuous of religion. We're contemptuous of you for bringing your religion into politics."

In what sense of "bringing religion into politics" are you referring to? could you give an example?

"You're supposed to believe in the separation of church and state, remember?"

I do. I believe quite strongly in a separation of civic & religious authority. In the modern sense I'm supportive of the view that the state should not discriminate between religions, or between religion and irreligion. I hold to some exceptions, for instance, as long as Christmas is going to be a national holiday I can't see much sense in crackdowns on nativity scenes, but as far as 10 Commandments plaques & such I'm a pure Jeffersonian.

I also adhre to "The Free Exercise therof." meaning faith communities can act in the public square and champion certain issues based on their religious beliefs, whether it be abolition of slavery, or the abolition of abortion.

"You're supposed to believe that civil law and public policy should not be based on what the Bible says or what Jesus says, remember?"

I don't remember that part. I agree for the most sense that civil law & policy should be based on what the people want (or the people they elect want really) not what Jesus wants. But if the people want what Jesus wants, and they want to vote for people who they think wants the same things, I don't have any objection.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

That's an overly broad characterization, cn
And fairly accurate as broad characterizations go, and you know it.

but a contempt for religious hypocrisy, as well as a contempt for those who demand that I act in accordance with their personal religious views.
This may be true for you as an individual. But you are a member of a group (the left) which is attempting to cancel Christmas. The left has crossed the line from opposing forced religious indoctrination to preventing religious activity.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Those of us who don't give a rat's ass what Jesus said are sick and tired of hearing his name invoked in political debates on everything from immigration to gay rights."

I actually somewhat agree with this, and one of the better reasons against mixing the civic with the divine is not that it corrupts our civic institutions, but that it poisons religious majesty. I believe that the bible, God & The church (any church) are quite clear in their positions on certain things, and many of these things may not coincide well with certain political parties. But when supposedly holy men try to make a religious case for their personal stances on narrow & trivial matters like the line item veto or social security, angels weep in heaven.

Jesus has no position on the Earned Income Tax Credit, stop pretending he does. (both sides).

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK
Remittances (money sent from various kinds of immigrants to their home countries) are Mexico's second greatest source of income. Some smaller countries have an extraordinarily large share of their GDP due to remittances.

That props up those governments, which in the case of Mexico is corrupt.

Most governments are corrupt to some degree, but there is zero evidence that I have seen that would suggest that the effect of remittances on the Mexican political system has been to stifle reform; while it may be argued that simply by injecting considerable amounts of money into the economy it has prevented catastrophic, revolutionary change, Mexico's past certainly shows several instances of catastrophic, revolutionary change which did not produce governments that were durably less corrupt than their predecessors, while the recent, slow reform resulting from the relatively stable conditions to which remittances have contributed has led to substantial reforms, including competitive multiparty elections with substantive differences between the policy agendas of the major parties.

I fail to see how a catastrophic collapse, which would almost certainly see a massive surge in attempted immigration to the US as well as the establishment of stronger, authoritarian, and more corrupt regime than the present one, would be better.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Where did the GOp get this idea that liberals are contemptuous of the religious anyway? "

They made it up out of whole cloth, just like all of their attack-mode lies. They figured (rightly) that they could persuade many of our less-intelligent citizens that "liberal" equates with "pagan pervert" and so get their votes. They will say or do anything to pander to the fears of the greath unwashed, as they know their true positions are contrary to the good of the majority of people in this country.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 13, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

TLB,

What's destabilized Mexico as much as anything recently is NAFTA, which has driven marginal farmers off the land and into the major cities, where there are no jobs for them.

It's hard to work on long-term government reform when you can't see where your family's next meal will come from.

Remittances generated by hard work and long hours seem like a much more cost-effective alternative than international aid, which Mexico would almost certainly need otherwise.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 13, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Alright, since cmdicely's on this thread and I posted this originally in the big thread which of course died immedately afterward (because not one but two new religious threads were posted), I'm going to re-post this one here. Sorry if it's a bit jargony for some. I know Chris'll get it, though.

Really, uhh, spirited discussion here. This is what I think's going on:

There's a huge disconnect between the economic doctrine embraced by
Republicans and ideas of consensus morality. I've argued that it's
self-contradictory to embrace an unfettered marketplace and be a
Christian moralizer, but it's probably more accurate to say that
this is precisely why they're so tightly bonded together. A market
without a moral check leads to nihilism -- the reduction of all
human values to exchange value. Immoral impulses move products.

Likewise, there's an inevitable conflict between reason and
superstition. While liberalism is not at all opposed to the moral
impulse that drives religion, it is very much on point to say that
rationalism is opposed to theism -- the strain of religion that puts
an active God who intercedes in human affairs at the center of things.
Why? Because a king on a throne with a beard 'n' sandals and a three
billion channel Multiplex Prayer Receiver is a bit hard to swallow.

Here's the problem: Liberal political values are as morality-driven
as conservative values. In fact, their morality is pretty much taken
from the same sources. And it is a historical fact that liberalism
was most politically successful when it was aligned with not merely
mainstream, but also activist religious institutions. Christians
and Jews funded the civil rights movement, and their numbers marched
alongside of King out of a deep semse of moral imperative. Dorothy
Day's Catholic worker organizations not only provided alms for the
poor, but organizational support for New Deal labor reforms.

People like Lerner, Sullivan and Waldman feel a deep nostalgia
for this era. They also know -- and we seculars gloss over this
at our peril -- that the explicitly secular, dogmatically atheistic
societies of the former Second World (the Communist bloc) were no
vouchsafe against a host of corrupt behaviors that gave the lie to
Marx's noble communitarian ideals. The fear here is the same as
was felt by the classical sociologists Emile Durkheim and Max Weber,
who chronicled the stages that societies pass through which culminate
in a modern social order: Anomie (normlessness), the "iron cage"
of bureaucracy. Because societies based on instrumental values take
their cues from behavior in the marketplace, and economists have
taken the great philosophical question, "what is the good life?",
and stuck it into a black box called subjective utility. The pursuit
of happiness is different for every individual and not comparable.

What they fear is that without a center of consensus morality,
liberalism will devolve into libertarianism and libertarianism
leads to nihilistic anarchy -- the Nietsczhean Will to Power.

So Lerner goes on in the pages of Tikkun about communitarianism (as
an antedote to the radical individualism instilled by the marketplace)
and "the politics of meaning" and gets Methodist Hillary all wet 'n'
gooey, nostalgic for the times when we liberals could wield the club
of shame to push for political change as implacably as the Christian
right does. This is, to a certain extent, at least understandable.

But make no mistake -- liberal values are as steeped in a vision of
consensus morality, an unpacking of the libertarian black box of what
makes humans happy, as religions are. It's simply much more difficult
for us to articulate our vision without religious tradition behind it.

Religious tradition is the Great Shortcut.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 2:19 PM:

This may be true for you as an individual. But you are a member of a group (the left)

Therefore, you are making an overly broad characterization. Once you begin making individual distinctions, you are no longer talking about a 'group'. That's like me saying that all Christians want the US to be a theocracy, when that is clearly not the case.

But you are a member of a group (the left) which is attempting to cancel Christmas.

Oh please. That is a figment of John Gibson's imagination...But if you want to make the argument that businesses downplay the religious aspect of the holiday to appeal to a larger audience, I can't dispute that; however, we aren't necessarily talking about 'the Left' in that case, but business.

The left has crossed the line from opposing forced religious indoctrination to preventing religious activity.

Cite, please. Something besides Bill O'Reilly. Please.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

There's a huge disconnect between the economic doctrine embraced by Republicans and ideas of consensus morality.

Yes, but it's linked. In my opinion, the Republicans have taken advantage of the "believer's instinct" among religious followers and substituted Bush and the Republican party in place of God. They've created a full-out cult-of-personality in which followers place their faith in the market, environmental deregulation, legal injustices, and an immoral foreign policy.

Posted by: Constantine on March 13, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please. That is a figment of John Gibson's imagination.
Renaming Christmas to Winter Holidays is a figment of John Gibson's imagination? I don't think so. But in any event, the Christmas remark was more of a passing gig, anecdotal evidence of a larger phenomena.

Cite, please. Something besides Bill O'Reilly. Please.
Judge Roy's rock.
- No laws were made.
- No one was forced to observe the rock.
- Judge Roy was Judge Roy with or without the rock.
No one was forcefully indoctrinated to religion because of Roy's rock. The left objected to a mere display of a religious nature.

I got more, find the forced religious indoctrination if you can.

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the widening wars over where the church-state separation lies, this time focusing on a tussle over the words "In God We Trust" on a county building in North Carolina.
Public elementary schools in parts of Arizona will perform Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even some Ramadan music during their winter celebrations -- even though the latter has been over for a couple weeks -- but they wont be singing about herald angels or towns named Bethlehem or a certain little guy born there, reports the East Valley Tribune.
A church that attempted to put a notice for their Christmas concert up on a public library bulletin board in Britain was told it could not do so because it might offend non-Christians, reports the Daily Telegraph.
How many you want? They're easy to find. I even have one of some sanity breaking out:
Denver city officials have decided to do the enlightened thing and allow displays of Christian symbols during next years annual winter season parade, reports the Rocky Mountain News...Earlier, officials said the parade could feature everyone from Chinese lion dancers to gay and lesbian shamans but not Christians who want to sing yuletide hymns or carry a Christmas messages.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Call me when Christians have become a minority in this country and then maybe we can talk.

Or if you're really *itching* to have this conversation, you can call me when anybody threatens the *private* display and/or advocacy of Christianity on private property in the US of A.

Otherwise, they sell Calamine lotion in any local drugstore.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bob
Would it make more sense to you to ban the religious displays of minority religions?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe we needed to get on with this and Kevin had the effect of snuffing it.
Dustin Ridgeway has been doing yeoman service on intelligent comment here.
Syntax isn't always helpful .
For the sake of argument; try defining "sin" as doing shit that doesn't work, most likely repeatedly in the face of obvious bad results.
I can't show how the dialogue has been perverted better than those who have been exposed to it, repeatedly
A Family In Baghdad
Thursday Mar 9 2006
Thursday Mar 2 2006
Monday Feb 27 2006

Posted by: opit on March 13, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

On public property?

Either everybody's allowed or no one should be allowed.

As per the Establishment Clause.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Either everybody's allowed or no one should be allowed.
Check the quote above starting "Public elementary schools in parts of Arizona..."

But thanks for playing.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

And why in god's holy name are Christians *offended* when *private* retailers decide that they'd get *more business* around the holidays by attempting not to *exclude* any religious group by replacing "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings"?

The Christians claim they're being excluded -- when in reality they seem to have no problem excluding everybody else with their "Merry Christmas."

Those were private decisions, C-Nut. What have you got against the logic of the free market -- let alone the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to make private decisions?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Not enough context there for me to evaluate that decision.

I very well might disagree with it -- but I need to see the whole reasoning before I jump to a knee-jerk conclusion about it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bob
If a Christian group tells someone they have to display "Merry Christmas" instead of "Seasons Greetings", I oppose the Christian group.

But I'm actually consistent, because if a group of lefties tells someone that they have to display "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas", I'm still opposing the group.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

e conservatives have no doubt the Marxists and quasi-marxists have hijacked the steering committee of the central synod of the presidium, and therefore got the titles and the trust funds of the chumps that left bequests to the mainstream churchs. What we dispute is that you have any relationship with the faithful, that have been abandoning your brick and morter institutions to join real megachurches in the exurbs.

Posted by: minion of rove on March 13, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

That long post is quite good, I don't really have a detailed response (a brief response to part is below), but there is a lot to think about there.

Religious tradition is the Great Shortcut.

Well, sure; religious tradition, in its most accessible forms is, after all, in large part, the conveniently-packaged-for-the-masses result of centuries -- millenia even -- of work at attempting to unpack and examine the contents of that black box (or at least feel around inside of it and describe the contents, like the proverbial blind men describing an elephant.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Catch 22 - thanks for your response. Maybe we can move this to a more substantial discussion rather than name calling. I apologize for the "Nothing amuses me more..." quote it was an emotionally loaded statement that hid my meaning.

The main point is that liberal people read Jesus' teachings and then assume that Jesus would have voted democratic because they think the best way to help the poor is through the government. I am merely suggesting that you must separate the command "You Love others.." from the way liberals typically apply this - "You Love others through government programs..." My personal experience is that Love is bettered administered through private volunteers than government agencies. The government does a poor job of charitable work because societies do not Love.

Perhaps you can point to where Christ says in the Bible that progressive taxation is wrong or that seeking to feed and cloth the poor through goverment programs is against the Bible?

Jesus and further teachings of the apostles never encouraged his followers to take over the government and use the power of the government to enforce giving. They were always encouraged to give from their own pockets. The Bible is clear that giving is to be just that "GIVING". Coerced giving by taxation is not giving. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that every one gives according to his heart. Forced giving according to income level was not practiced in the early church - why would Jesus want his followers to force this giving according to income level on the unbelievers.

MOre to the point, I think its inappropriate to define Christian love as:

Using criminal pentalties to punish those we believe to be unrighteous and evil.

Dennis Prager covers this excellently. He separates out for religious people what is "Holy" from what is "Moral". I should endorse criminal penalties for "Moral" behavior which is good for the whole society. ( Example: we still out law murder even though it is one of the 10 commanments. )

I should never use the power of the state for criminalization of activity to enforce the holy ( I do not think people should ever be forced to attend a religious service )

It is really difficult to separate out the merely "Holy" from the "Moral" but this is why we need to discuss these things in a manner where we are not just simply calling each other names.

Using the bible to justify discrimination against those who are homosexual and to criminalize private consensual behavior.

You have mixed two separate things which do not necessarily belong together. I strongly believe that we should not criminalize homosexual or other consensual behavior. An adult's private consensual sexual life I think falls within the "Holy". I would not pass laws to enforce my viewpoint on someone.

On the other hand, if somone chooses to advocate the homosexual lifestyle, I reserve the right not to allow him to be a Boy Scout troop leader, or public school teacher. This is about discrimination based on public advocacy of ideas, not on private practice.

Using the old testiment to justify discrimination against gays while ignoring the spirit of God's word as well as prohibition against many other activities that may have resulted in death in the old era.

Is it ok to use the new testament which condemns homosexuality in much stronger terms than the old testament.

A justification to cast the first stone, lest I be perceived as tolerating evil if I dont criminalize social behaviors I dont like.

Its not about criminalizing behaviors I do not like. Its about deciding what is in the best interest of the state to outlaw. Sometimes what is best to outlaw through govt action overlaps with the dictates of a religion. Should we not enforce something because it is in the commandments? Should we make stealing legal because "Thou shall not steal" is a religious law? I think what we decide as a nation to make illegal is an interesting debate. Things should neither be excluded or included because they are also religious laws.

While you laugh at those who suggest Jesus is liberal perhaps you can point to some actual support from the bible? Perhaps love thy neighbor, or turn the other cheek, or casting the money changers out of the temple or saying it harder for a rich man to get into heaven? Jesus advised us to love one another and help the poor, where does it say its wrong for the government to assist the poor? Where are those portion in the bible that you depend upon to make your conclusions that Jesus was no liberal?

It does not say that it is wrong to use the government to feed the poor, but again - forced giving is not giving. I think private charity does a lot better at charity than govt. programs. I think it is more consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Other people may have different opinions.

Let me turn the question back upon you. Why do you think Jesus wants you to criminalize not giving to your particular program to help the poor? ( That's essentially what government welfare is. Criminalizing withholding taxes that go to government charity programs ).

Again I am interested in your thoughts,

Posted by: John Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: But I'm actually consistent, because if a group of lefties tells someone that they have to display "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas", I'm still opposing the group.

You display your stupidity, ignorance and dishonesty every time you post a comment here.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 13, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

You display your stupidity, ignorance and dishonesty every time you post a comment here.
Would it be too much to ask for a little variety in your personal abuse? There's a wonderful online thesaurus. I even looked up synonyms for "ignorant" for you.

apprenticed, benighted, bird-brained, blind to, cretinous, dense, green, illiterate, imbecilic, inexperienced, innocent, insensible, mindless, misinformed, moronic, naive, nescient, oblivious, obtuse, sappy, shallow, thick, unaware, unconscious, unconversant, uncultivated, uncultured, uneducated, unenlightened, uninformed, uninitiated, unintellectual, unknowledgeable, unlearned, unlettered, unmindful, unread, unschooled, unsuspecting, untaught, untrained, unwitting, witless
If you throw in some variety, I'll stop misspelling brocolli.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

LOL !

You may be a troll, bro -- but noone can accuse you of not having a sense of humor :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

My ex-wife did.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 3:45 PM:

Renaming Christmas to Winter Holidays is a figment of John Gibson's imagination?

You wrote 'cancel Christmas', cn...Besides, is Christmas the only holiday that occurs around that time of the year?...Some people are pretty thin-skinned, if you ask me.

...anecdotal evidence of a larger phenomena.

And what does the John Birch Society say that larger phenomena is?

Judge Roy was Judge Roy with or without the rock.

Since Judge Roy believes that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of the U.S. legal system, no, Judge Roy doesn't believe he is a judge without his rock.

The left objected to a mere display of a religious nature.

Perhaps if Judge Roy didn't commingle his religious beliefs and his government duty, it wouldn't have been as big of an issue. He made a parade of his devotion, and wore his God on his sleeve.

I got more, find the forced religious indoctrination if you can.

If I can string together enough anecdotes and coincidences, I can demonstrate a conspiracy as well...Must be a lot of Umberto Eco fans in your household.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 5:02 PM:

My ex-wife did.

Boy, can I identify with that statement.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

grape
Perhaps if Judge Roy didn't commingle his religious beliefs and his government duty
That's the point. Judge Roy was Judge Roy.

Here the lefties were, complaining about some words on a rock that anyone could walk around without giving it a moments thought. The lefties were silent on the beliefs of the judge that installed the rock. What did the left think? When they took Roy's rock away he renounced religion?

The left objected to interior decorating, they did not object to mixing religion and government. That objection would have been with Judge Roy instead of his rock.

Summary: The left was not interested in the separation of church and state, they objected to the mere display of religious symbols.

If I can string together enough anecdotes and coincidences, I can demonstrate a conspiracy as well
Great, I await your list of anecdotes about the left demanding Christian displays in public.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK
Here the lefties were, complaining about some words on a rock that anyone could walk around without giving it a moments thought. The lefties were silent on the beliefs of the judge that installed the rock. What did the left think? When they took Roy's rock away he renounced religion?

Roy is entitled to whatever personal opinion of religion he wishes to have; he is not permitted to use the property of the state to display religious symbols in a way which suggests endorsement of a particular set of religious views on the part of the State.

If he wants to display a giant rock sculpture celebrating a part of his religious heritage, he can do so in his own home and subject the visitors there to it. That is perfectly within his rights.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know, it would help if you bothered to learn what the hell you're talking about before speaking up:

1) Catholic doctrine on abortion is different in kind from the doctrine on the death penalty. Talking as if dissenting from what a Pope has said about the death penalty is the same as dissenting on abortion just demonstrates ignorance -- and an insulting ignorance, at that.

2) As for Mahoney on immigration: Strange No More: The Bishops Finally Endorse Marriage In Immigration Law

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 13, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno why the link didn't post: google the title.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 13, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Roy is entitled to whatever personal opinion of religion he wishes to have; he is not permitted to use the property of the state to display religious symbols
Speaking from a practical, not legal, point of view; isn't this ass backwards?

Judge Roy can take his personal beliefs to the bench, from where there is no escape; but he can't display them in the rotunda where everyone can ignore them.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK
Speaking from a practical, not legal, point of view; isn't this ass backwards?

Nope.

Judge Roy can take his personal beliefs to the bench, from where there is no escape;

He can take his beliefs, locked up inside his head, wherever he wants to; if he makes rulings from the bench based on them in place of the law of the state and the union, well, there are remedies for that as well.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, so we can now control the leakage of one's thoughts from the mind. That's good to know.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 4:33 PM:

liberal people...think the best way to help the poor is through the government.

Prior to the advent of Social Security, Medicare, and other 'Socialist' programs, how well did private charity help the poor and infirm, John?

My personal experience is that Love is bettered administered through private volunteers than government agencies.

Examples?

The government does a poor job of charitable work because societies do not Love.

Since a society is a group of people, that doesn't speak particularily well about people...Yet you feel that private volunteers are a better solution. Interesting.

Jesus and further teachings of the apostles never encouraged his followers to take over the government

And yet some of his modern-day followers wish to do exactly that.

The Bible is clear that giving is to be just that "GIVING". Coerced giving by taxation is not giving.

Thus marking a major difference between religion and government. Do you feel that you have been coerced into paying for roads and libraries?

I should never use the power of the state for criminalization of activity to enforce the holy ( I do not think people should ever be forced to attend a religious service )

Do you think that people should not be legally required to act in accordance with a set of religious principles?

I strongly believe that we should not criminalize homosexual or other consensual behavior.

That's nice. But it contradicts this:

...if somone chooses to advocate the homosexual lifestyle, I reserve the right not to allow him to be a...public school teacher.

And how would you do that without enacting some form of discriminatory legislation?
Are there any other jobs that gay people aren't allowed to perform due to your religious convictions?

This is about discrimination based on public advocacy of ideas, not on private practice.

So as long as someone stays in the closet, they are okay. But once they bring their signifcant other to a school function, it is acceptable to terminate their employment, right?

Is it ok to use the new testament which condemns homosexuality in much stronger terms than the old testament.

Not when it negates the higher principle of love and compassion for your fellow human beings. Not in my Book, anyway.

Its about deciding what is in the best interest of the state to outlaw.

Who gets to decide that, based on what evidence that it is in the best interest of the state?

Sometimes what is best to outlaw through govt action overlaps with the dictates of a religion.

And sometimes it doesn't.

Should we make stealing legal because "Thou shall not steal" is a religious law?

Should we make something illegal based upon an interpretation of religious doctrine?

It does not say that it is wrong to use the government to feed the poor, but again - forced giving is not giving.

Yet it is better at meeting the needs of the less fortunate than relying on private contributions.

I think private charity does a lot better at charity than govt. programs.

Show me an effective private charity providing a public service as large as Social Security and Medicare, and you may have a point.

Why do you think Jesus wants you to criminalize not giving to your particular program to help the poor?

1) Social Security, for example, is a public service, not a charity.
2) Again, you are conflating religion and government.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut on March 13, 2006 at 5:38 PM:

The left was not interested in the separation of church and state, they objected to the mere display of religious symbols.

It's a pity that you can't see the latter as enforcement of the principle stated in the former.

'mere'...That monument is the size of a washing machine...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

> The main point is that liberal people read Jesus' teachings and
> then assume that Jesus would have voted democratic because they
> think the best way to help the poor is through the government.

Well, it's much more than this. It's that Jesus consorted with
prostitutes, lepers and outcasts, challenged the Sadduces on
their religious understanding, threw the moneychangers forcibly out
of the Temple. Jesus may not have been the political revolutionary
that certain liberation theologists have painted him to be -- but
there's no question that he was both an opponent of the Roman social
order and a staunch friend of the lowliest on the social ladder.

> I am merely suggesting that you must separate the command "You Love
> others.." from the way liberals typically apply this - "You Love
> others through government programs..." My personal experience is
> that Love is bettered administered through private volunteers than
> government agencies. The government does a poor job of charitable
> work because societies do not Love.

Well, to quote Tina T, "what's love got to do with it?" Government
programs to help the poor can be justified in any number of ways,
many of them, like with public health, entirely instrumental. If
people want to supplement that with charity, let them. But don't
pretend that charity is the sole answer to poverty, either.

> Jesus and further teachings of the apostles never
> encouraged his followers to take over the government
> and use the power of the government to enforce giving.

Jesus also said "Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's."

> Dennis Prager covers this excellently. He separates out for
> religious people what is "Holy" from what is "Moral". I should
> endorse criminal penalties for "Moral" behavior which is good
> for the whole society. (Example: we still out law murder even
> though it is one of the 10 commanments. )

Morality in a democracy is determined by consensus -- and this is
precisely what troubles Christian political activists, because they
see nothing substantial to ground it. So they're constantly trying
to fudge the distinction between the holy and the moral, or to argue
that the moral is derived if not in fact irreducible from the holy.

That's why you had Roy's Rock gracing a government courthouse.

> It is really difficult to separate out the merely "Holy" from
> the "Moral" but this is why we need to discuss these things in
> a manner where we are not just simply calling each other names.

Everyone in a democracy -- including atheists, Satanists and
wiccans -- participates in that ongoing discussion. Social
morality is contingent and evolving, not transcendent and fixed.

> You have mixed two separate things which do not necessarily
> belong together. I strongly believe that we should not criminalize
> homosexual or other consensual behavior. An adult's private
> consensual sexual life I think falls within the "Holy". I
> would not pass laws to enforce my viewpoint on someone.

Kudos. Many Christians would, however.

> On the other hand, if somone chooses to
> advocate the homosexual lifestyle,

And here's the first glaring flaw in your worldview. Look, bro, I'm a
straight guy, but I've known and worked with my share of gay people.
Only someone whose experience with gays is limited to watching videos
of a Gay Pride parade would call homosexuality a "lifestyle." As if,
you know, someone decides to become gay because he thinks he'll have
better orgasms with direct prostate stimulation or something. Or
somebody really, you know, *wants* to be persecuted, because he thinks
that will give him social status. Or, you know, hates himself enough
to want to die of the excrutiating condition of full-blown AIDS.

You've been thoroughly brainwashed by Christian anti-gay propaganda
if you can even let the phrase "gay lifestyle" crawl off your
fingers. Whether inherited, acquired or both is still up for
debate, but being homosexual is an involuntary condition; the DSM
IV doesn't call it a pathology and hasn't for well over a decade.

> I reserve the right not to allow him to be a Boy Scout troop
> leader, or public school teacher. This is about discrimination
> based on public advocacy of ideas, not on private practice.

Once again, you reek of ignorance about gay people. The idea
that gay people "publicly advocate" for their orientation is
a flat-out myth. You've heard of Don't Ask / Don't Tell, right?
While many human rights activists oppose that policy because
it prevents otherwise honorable openly gay people from serving,
it nonetheless has allowed thousands of gay men and women to
remain in the military provided they keep their orientations
to themselves. No gay person I have ever known or known
of has attempted to proselytize for their orientation.

Teachers, scout masters, priests, etc. who engage in pedophilia
are *perverts* -- and many more of them are heterosexual than gay.

> Is it ok to use the new testament which condemns
> homosexuality in much stronger terms than the old testament.

Aside from one passage in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus alludes
to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus himself remains entirely
mute on issues of sexuality and family life. The *later* Paul of
Titus and Timothy and the other deutero-Pauline letters (not to
be confused with the earlier, literally different Paul, the radical
aescetic zealot who wrote in Corinthians "it is better to marry than
to burn" but otherwise preferred celebacy) spoke about family life
issues and scourged homosexuality -- after the church was becoming
established in communities in the waning of the Apostolic age.

> Its not about criminalizing behaviors I do not like. Its about
> deciding what is in the best interest of the state to outlaw.

Which again, in a democracy, is not the province of any particular
religion but rather a discussion among the entire nation.

> It does not say that it is wrong to use the government to feed
> the poor, but again - forced giving is not giving. I think
> private charity does a lot better at charity than govt. programs.
> I think it is more consistent with the teachings of Jesus.
> Other people may have different opinions.

Of course they do, as it's an entirely political judgment.

> Let me turn the question back upon you. Why do you think Jesus wants
> you to criminalize not giving to your particular program to help the
> poor? ( That's essentially what government welfare is. Criminalizing
> withholding taxes that go to government charity programs ).

Once again, render unto Ceasar, bro ...

> Again I am interested in your thoughts,

Well, here are mine :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, you reek of ignorance about gay people. The idea that gay people "publicly advocate" for their orientation is a flat-out myth. You've heard of Don't Ask / Don't Tell, right? While many human rights activists oppose that policy because it prevents otherwise honorable openly gay people from serving, it nonetheless has allowed thousands of gay men and women to remain in the military provided they keep their orientations to themselves. No gay person I have ever known or known of has attempted to proselytize for their orientation.

I never said that all gay people advocate the "gay lifestyle" whatever that is. Thousands of people, probably some teachers I have had, did a marvelous job of keeping their private life out of the public. I don't refuse to see the wonderful movie "Lord of the Rings" because Gandalf is a practicing homosexual.

I know it sounds hackneyed to say things that sound like "I'm not a bigot, I have gay friends too", but what else can I do to defend myself from your baseless character assassination. When my son had to do a science project - he was the one who was brave enough to do the project with the kid who has two Dads. This included time where me and my boy and both of the other boy's fathers gathered at my house to work on the experiment.

Privately as a Christian, I go out to all kinds of people. Yes, Jesus hung out with the publicans and sinners and talked to prostitutes but he also said, "Go and Sin no more". Why can't liberal people accept the premise that I can hate the sin - and still love the person.

If someone is quiet about their sexual orientation, there is no reason to discriminate against him. I suspect that one of my foremer teachers was gay. Hey, he was an excellent teacher, what do I care about what he does in private.

On the other hand if a teacher is publicly advocating a position the rest of the community finds abhorrent, there is no reason he should not be fired.

The *later* Paul of Titus and Timothy and the other deutero-Pauline letters (not to be confused with the earlier, literally different Paul, the radical aescetic zealot who wrote in Corinthians "it is better to marry than to burn" but otherwise preferred celebacy) spoke about family life issues and scourged homosexuality -- after the church was becoming established in communities in the waning of the Apostolic age.

On another tack altogether - I love how you "intellectuals" love to pretend you have mountains of evidence about when the Bible books were written. Really, whether Paul wrote all the books attributed to Paul, is an interesting debate. You only take one side as obvious because you believe it. Why do you speak with authority about which books were written by Paul and which were not? Does it give you confidence that you are smarter than me? I don't know what your motivation for such an arrogant statement is.

Posted by: John Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Religion is just a means to an end for these people, just as it is for liberals; which is why, like liberals, they are perfectly willing to go against the dicta of their churches when they disagree with them.

They are "cafeteria Christians," just like liberal Christians.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on March 13, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 8:36 PM:

I never said that all gay people advocate the "gay lifestyle" whatever that is.

If you are not sure what consititutes a 'gay lifestyle', then how can you tell when it is being 'advocated'? Or is it subjective to your own viewpoint; i.e. "you know it when you see it"?

Thousands of people...did a marvelous job of keeping their private life out of the public.

That's the point. They shouldn't have to keep their private life out of the public any more than you do, John.

I don't refuse to see the wonderful movie "Lord of the Rings" because Gandalf is a practicing homosexual.

Gandalf is a fictional character whose sexual orientation is of no consequence in The Lord of the Rings...Sir Ian McKellen is an excellent actor. His sexual orientation is irrelevant, does nothing to lessen his skiil in practicing his profession.

what else can I do to defend myself from your baseless character assassination.

Your own comments indicate that it is far from 'baseless', John... Your comments indicate that you are placing your distaste for a particular sexual act ahead of your love for your fellow man.

Please understand that I don't think that you are hateful, only that you haven't quite thought things through...If I was trying to antagonize you, you'd know pretty quickly.

When my son had to do a science project...both of the other boy's fathers gathered at my house to work on the experiment.

And why exactly is this noteworthy?

Why can't liberal people accept the premise that I can hate the sin - and still love the person.

Why can't some religious people accept that most gay people don't think being gay is a sin?

If someone is quiet about their sexual orientation, there is no reason to discriminate against him.

If someone is quiet about their religious orientation, there is no reason to discriminate against him, either...How does that sit with you, John?

Hey, he was an excellent teacher, what do I care about what he does in private.

If you knew he was gay instead of just 'suspecting', would that have made his teaching less excellent?

On the other hand if a teacher is publicly advocating a position the rest of the community finds abhorrent, there is no reason he should not be fired.

So gays, white supremicists, and religious extremists should be fired for exercising their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech?

Please tell me that is not what you meant.

You only take one side as obvious because you believe it.

Works both ways...And I'm far from being an intellectual, but I appreciate the flattery.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

gc

So gays, white supremicists, and religious extremists should be fired for exercising their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech?

Please tell me that is not what you meant.

Yes, I would want a teacher fired who preached extreme religion, recommended gay sex to his students, or taught the doctrine of the KKK. There is a big difference between having the right to free speech ( no law can be made to prevent you from speaking your beliefs ) and choosing to exercise your speech before small children who have been placed in your charge.

Many liberals fall down on what free speech is. It is not the constitutionally guaranteed right to say whatever you want, wherever you want, without suffering any consequences. However, it does guarantee you can not have rights and liberties taken away because of your political speech. No one has a constitutional right to be a teacher. Thus firing a teacher for radical pronouncements to his class is not abridging his right to free speech. Please don't make ignorant arguments - they confuse the real issues.

If someone is quiet about their religious orientation, there is no reason to discriminate against him, either...How does that sit with you, John?

Yes, I would expect that someone who is hired to do an important job like teaching, and spent all his time proseltizing should be fired. This sits fine with me.

The "intellectual" comment was directed to Bob, not you, so don't feel flattered.

Posted by: John Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

I got that info about the deutero-Pauline letters from Elaine Pagels' wonderful book, "Adam, Eve and the Serpent."

Pagels is the Chair of the Princeton Religion Department. She also wrote "The Gnostic Gospels," an early and very well-received exegesis of the early aprocrypha found in the Nag Hammadi scrolls.

She obviously follows the Higher Criticism (close-reading textual hermenuetics pioneered by German universities at the end of the 19th century), which doesn't sit well, I realize, with most fundamentalists.

I follow it because it's a rational way to examine the historicity of the documents which are the cornerstone, for better or worse, of our civilization.

I mean, if you don't believe the first section of Genesis is from an entirely different story than the section, possibly written much earlier, with Adam and Eve, then I don't know what to tell you save I am curious as to how you resolve some of the blatant contradictions between them ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 11:11 PM:

There is a big difference between having the right to free speech and choosing to exercise your speech before small children who have been placed in your charge.

That is not what you wrote earlier, however:

On the other hand if a teacher is publicly advocating a position the rest of the community finds abhorrent, there is no reason he should not be fired.

Indoctrination and public advocacy are separate things, John.

Many liberals fall down on what free speech is.

Many conservatives do as well. Your point?

...it does guarantee you can not have rights and liberties taken away because of your political speech.

Yet that happens all too frequently.

...firing a teacher for radical pronouncements to his class is not abridging his right to free speech.

'Radical' is in the eye of the beholder. If a teacher is asked if she is gay, should she lie to be less controversial? Should a teacher be censured for comments made in an open discussion? Fired for public advocacy work outside of class?

Please don't make ignorant arguments - they confuse the real issues.

Funny, I was about to say the same thing to you.

I would expect that someone who is hired to do an important job like teaching, and spent all his time proseltizing should be fired.

For proselytizing, or for not performing the task of teaching the school's curriculum?

The "intellectual" comment was directed to Bob, not you, so don't feel flattered.

Last I checked, 'you intellectuals' is plural, and I'm fairly confident that Bob doesn't have a multiple personality disorder.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 14, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

My buddy cmdicely writes: I fail to see how a catastrophic collapse, which would almost certainly see a massive surge in attempted immigration to the US as well as the establishment of stronger, authoritarian, and more corrupt regime than the present one, would be better.

Threatening Mexico's leaders with the possibility of a catastrophic collapse - and a corresponding threat to militarize the borders at the same time - might work wonders and force them to take care of their own people instead of sending them to the north.

And, obviously, any time you're talking about billions upon billions of dollars (remittances), you're talking about people trying to get their own share and doing whatever they have to to get it.

pj_in_jesusland writes in:

Remittances generated by hard work and long hours seem like a much more cost-effective alternative than international aid, which Mexico would almost certainly need otherwise.

As I pointed out above, remittances have a devastating impact both on us and on them. For us, they corrode the fundamental political structure of this country. I guess only lunatic libertarians or delusional "liberals" could consider putting a price on that.

Posted by: TLB on March 14, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

TLB,

1. Desperate people take desperate measures. What would you do if your family was hungry, or homeless. No jobs around. Self-sustaining economic development will take decades to implement in most poor countries. What does a responsible head of a family do in the mean time to feed their family? Join the local chapter of the Republican Party and spend your days lobbying for economic reform?

2. Jesus always put helping individuals ahead of supporting "fundamental political structures," at least in the Bible I read. Should Jesus have worked through the Roman government in Palestine to bring relief to the poor 2000 years ago? If he had done that I don't think you'd be reading about him today.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 14, 2006 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Jesus always put helping individuals ahead of supporting "fundamental political structures," at least in the Bible I read...."

Sorta begs the question which Bible you DID read, if any.

Christ's first miracle was to save a centurion's boy. Whatever else this proves, it's not your point: performing a miracle for an officer of the brutally oppressive occupying army isn't exactly irrelevant to "supporting fundamental political structures", which is precisely how Christ's contemporaries saw it.

Trying to project modern, much less revolutionary politics into the Bible is a fool's errand, and it grotesquely distorts the contemporaneous story in the Text.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 14, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

The Americanist,

Even before Jesus began performing miracles, Mary and Joseph committed an act of civil disobedience by fleeing to Egypt to avoid Jesus' certain death at the hands of Herod's men. If Mary and Joseph had supported Rome's "fundamental political structures," Jesus would have been killed in the cradle and you wouldn't be reading about his miracles today. So, Jesus himself was an illegal alien.

Furthermore, Mary was an unwed, teenage mom. According to the Book of Luke, she was merely "pledged" to Joseph -- they weren't even married! Imagine that -- an unwed mom and her live-in boyfriend (a carpenter, like the Latinos you see at Home Depot buying supplies at 6:30 am) fleeing an oppressive regime and going to a neighboring country seeking safety.

One of the clearest messages I take away from this story is that the "political structures" you value so highly can be oppressive. I believe that in the face of these oppressive structures, desperate people are justified to take desperate measures.

If Jesus were to return to us today, where do you think he would appear? At a fundraiser for the Minutemen border patrol, held in some Republican living room in the Houston suburbs?

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 14, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Huh?

I'm not exactly qualified to speculate, but I'm reasonably confident that Christ is all around.

I dunno as it helps to see that by obliterating all distinctions between legal and illegal, which gets you pretty far down the slope to nihilism.

It's just stooopid to project the concept of "illegal alien" back onto the flight into Egypt. For one thing, under what law would the Holy Family have been illegal?

So far as I know, Rome did not bar a Palestinian family from moving into another province. I've never heard of Egypt having a law against it -- and there is nothing in the Text that says so.

Worst of all, pj, is that it isn't so much how you're misreading scripture, as that you're basically being a complete idiot about the debate over ACTUAL immigration policy.

Learn something. Read this (http://www.ilw.com/lawyers/colum_article/articles/2003,0213-donnelly.shtm)

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 14, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Bob said:

I follow it because it's a rational way to examine the historicity of the documents which are the cornerstone, for better or worse, of our civilization.

I understand that you would side with the German "Higher Critics" on the derivation of the Biblical text. I just wanted to know two things.

1) What relevance you think it had to the argument?
2) Why you ( claiming to be the rationalist ) brought into a basically philosophical moral argument as established fact a theory which neither of us could possibly verify?

It just seemed like the idea came out of left field. I honestly do not understand your point in mentioning it.

Posted by: John Hansen on March 14, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

The Americanist,

Well, if Jesus, Mary and Joseph weren't illegal aliens when they fled to Egypt, what would you call them, refugees? They were certainly Roman lawbreakers -- undermining the "fundamental political structures" by failing to obey Herod.

Furthermore, how do you think they got by when they fled to Egypt? Do you think they lived off of Joseph's trust fund? There's a very good chance they survived by Joseph performing odd carpentry jobs as they traveled from town to town.

So there he was, Joseph, the father of Jesus, taking good jobs away from the Egyptians. Not only was he eroding Roman "political structures" but Egyptian ones as well.

By projecting modern concepts of the nation state onto a time when the invention of national governments was still centuries away you distort a simple story and its simple message: Jesus was born an outsider who had a lot more in common with illegal immigrants than with comfortable supporters of "fundamental political structures" and the status quo.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 14, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

God, pj: you're full of shit.

Christ was born to the House of David. In American terms, that's like having ancestors on the Mayflower.

Read the link I posted: "learn something" is almost invariably excellent advice.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 14, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

The Americanist,

I actually did read the article you linked to by Donnelly about the Catholic bishops position on immigration and marriage, but I didn't think it was directly relevant to our discussion.

What I find interesting is that time and time again when I try to discuss important topics in a reasonable way with conservatives like yourself you resort to name calling and epithets, as if the very fact someone disagrees with you is grounds for questioning that person's integrity. I am increasingly convinced the opposite is true when I encounter attitudes like yours.

Think about the meaning of these biblical passages:

"The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:33-34)."

"What you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me (Matthew 25:40)."

Serve Godand do good toorphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet, [and those who have nothing] (Qur'an, 4:36).

Their meaning seems pretty clear, or were Leviticus and Matthew full of shit, too?

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 14, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

pj:

Helpful hint: theAmericanist -- pompous windbag that he is -- is citing himself.

Check his email :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

> I understand that you would side with the German "Higher Critics" on
> the derivation of the Biblical text. I just wanted to know two things.

> 1) What relevance you think it had to the argument?

I'm guessing (because I didn't follow it) that somebody criticized
you for basing a modern moral view of gays on an outmoded text like
Deuteronomy. You asked if it would be okay then to follow the New
Testament's much more stringent prohibitions on homosexuality.

My response is to bring it to your attention that Paul's words
on gays in the New Testament are unreliable, because the original
Paul -- the former Saul of Tarsus -- is literally not the same
man as the "domesticated Paul" (Pagels' term which she notes is a
standard scholarly appellation) of the much later Pauline letters
who wrote on family life -- and it shows. The Paul of Corinthians
is, like Jesus, a radical aescetic who deemphasized family life.

> 2) Why you ( claiming to be the rationalist ) brought into
> a basically philosophical moral argument as established
> fact a theory which neither of us could possibly verify?

Biblical hermenuetics is a form of modern scholarship. It makes
claims which are falsifiable, which live or die based on the evidence.
I'm certainly not a Biblical scholar, not even as a hobbyist; I don't
personally have the chops to evaluate the scholarly tradition Pagels
cites which is entirely confident that Paul was two different men.

I do, however, respect Pagels highly (I've read several of her books).

> It just seemed like the idea came out of left field. I
> honestly do not understand your point in mentioning it.

It doesn't come out of left field if you believe that social and
historical context are important in shaping the message of any faith.
Pagels' thesis in "Adam, Eve and the Serpent" is that the ancient
creation story had its meaning altered after Augustine converted.

If you believe, rather, that the Bible is the revealed and
inerrant Word of God, naturally you're going to think all these
attempts at contextualization to be so much academic bullshit :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it's directly relevant: like it says in the piece, most issues (notably immigration policy) don't easily reduce themselves to vast questions of Right and Wrong. As Ted Kennedy observed long ago, the Bible is silent on the question of a Deparment of Education. (LOL -- the idea that cuz I make sense by making distinctions, therefore I must be a 'conservative', is just ludicrous.)

The more you look at all the 'be nice to strangers' stuff, the more you realize that it is a con, an excuse NOT to make immigration policy make sense. You might as well rent the Catholic Church out as a (cheap) lobbyist for the most exploitive employers in America.

The sensible way to make immigration policy is to make the distinctions that count: legal and illegal are DIFFERENT.

Matthew 19:6, pj.

(And, yo, chewtoy: when you have something to ADD, speak up.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 14, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Donnelly,

Now that I understand I've been conned by Leviticus and Matthew all my life things make a lot more sense.

The problem is, it's making the Catholic bishops' position against current immigration reform measures so confusing.

Please help me better understand your bishops' position on immigration.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 14, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

So what basically bothers me about most Biblical hermenuetics practiced today is that the prevailing theories ( at least the ones that get news - which is maybe the selection criterion that creates the phenomena ) seem to push modern agendas.

For a hypothetical example - it seems that much of the "scholarship" that is practiced takes on a feminist viewpoint. The "scholarship" discredits views of patriarchal dominance and casts the stories in a much more feminist light. (Please do not press me for a specific example - I do not spend a lot of time reading Biblical criticism). To me, this finding of modern agenda in the traditional stories tends to discredit the field. Why should the conclusions of the studies of thousands of year old text favor modern agendas?

I would be interested in your thoughts,

Posted by: John Hansen on March 14, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Not "my" bishops, dude.

This ain't THAT complicated.

1) The Bishops have no special claim, for example, to state a moral position on the qualifications for licensing a plumber. That an archbishop has strong views on, I dunno, the Final Four doesn't mean much.

2) They DO have a special responsibility when they speak to the fundamental morality of an issue, e.g., abortion, so prudence (not to mention doctrine) requires that they not abuse this special responsibility.

3) As noted in my first post in this thread, lots of folks (most of 'em not Catholic) radically confuse lesser Catholic doctrines, e.g., the death penalty sucks, with much greater ones, e.g., abortion is wrong.

4) Mahoney's dumbass statements about immigration are an example of SQUANDERING the Catholic Church's moral authority in America.

5) There is no special moral distinction between 675,000 legal immigrants a year with a pierceable cap equal to 226,000 2a visas plus no more than 10% of that, 50% of something else, and no less than 77% of the other thing, and one that exempts immediate relatives and then re-allocates the remaining visas according to the algebra of the per-country ceilings. (Oversimplified, this is the current state of the ACTUAL debate in the Senate.)

6) Likewise, there is no moral validity to the Bishops' peculiar view that marriages of Mexican immigrants are somehow more valuable than those of, say, Indian immigrants. (Bet ya didn't know that was their position, huh? But it is.)

7) Still, there IS a distinctly confused view of morality in Mahoney's view that a guy who wants to make more money in the United States has more moral right to do that, than "We, the People" have to note that we didn't INVITE him.

8) This denotes that, in the end, the Catholic Bishops do not care about American citizenship. BUT

9) Rather than argue in that rat-hole, I follow Aquinas's advice: the best way to fight evil, is to do good. SO

10) Current immigration law promises the spouses and kids of LEGAL permanent residents green cards, but Congress does not deliver on that promise for 5-8 years. Since Matthew 19-6 is rather clear on the point, pj:

11) Kindly share with me your email to Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio of Camden, NJ, with a copy to Archbishop Mahoney, urging them to support an amendment that clearly and unequivocally enacts this sensible change in U.S. immigration law. (Use my eddress.)

Or would you prefer to just preen with the chewtoy?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 14, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

> So what basically bothers me about most Biblical hermenuetics
> practiced today is that the prevailing theories ( at least
> the ones that get news - which is maybe the selection criterion
> that creates the phenomena ) seem to push modern agendas.

Well, this makes perfect sense for a whole number of reasons,
none of which relate to what I think you're trying to imply
here, which is the modern biases of the researchers. Not saying
that modern biases don't enter into it necessarily, only that
you needn't invoke this -- which is a fairly serious charge of
intellectual dishonesty -- to explain what you're talking about.

First off, church theologians and biblical researchers have two
entirely different agendas. Theologians have a specific message,
honed over centuries, that they wish to read out of the life of
Jesus and his disciples (let's keep our inquiry to the New Testament).
Biblical researchers are using textual and archeological evidence to
get at the way that most people -- not just the ones memorialized
in scripture -- lived and what they believed. If you wish to call
this process selective, well, think of how selective were the church
fathers at Nicea, who threw out several beloved books of scripture.
If, as a believer, you'd like to consider the words of the Bible
divinely inspired, would you consider these men, convened by Emperor
Constantine, to be divinely inspired as well -- 300 years after Jesus?

Secondly and more generally, you're going to inevitably
undercut the notion of Biblical inerrancy if you use close
readings of subtle inconsistencies to propose five distinct
authorial traditions separated in time, and then flesh
this theory out with archeological evidence. This is,
needless to say, very threatening for orthodox believers.

> For a hypothetical example - it seems that much of the
> "scholarship" that is practiced takes on a feminist viewpoint.
> The "scholarship" discredits views of patriarchal dominance
> and casts the stories in a much more feminist light.

A couple points: First, as an American, I personally hold the human
equality promised in the Declaration of Independence far more sacred
than anything written in Palestine two milliennia ago. Anything that,
for any reason, undercuts patriarchal dominance is morally correct and
on the right side of history. If you and I disagree here, so be it.

The subjugation of women is a great historical evil, and the
Abrahamic religions have a great deal to answer for in this regard.

More to the point, let's return to the days before the Council of
Nicea when the Gospels of Thomas and Philip were current. Biblical
researchers are fascinated by this ferment, when the Christian
church was young and unformed, and taking influences from all sorts
of spiritual traditions. Orthodox theologians of course, find
this period dangerous, as Christians flirted with various forms
of apostasy. Biblical researchers are only concerned with how
self-described Christians actually lived and practiced their faiths.

Biblical researchers are thus justly fascinated by Christian
Gnosticism before Nicea declared it heretical and purged its
canonical texts. I could write at length on this subject, but
suffice it to say that Christian Gnosticism believes that all
people are potential Christs and spiritual enlightenment is self-
discovery. It's been likened to both Buddhism and existentialism.
When you have Jesus makin' out with Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of
Philip, this is bound to make the orthodox a tad unconfortable :)
Gnosticism also identifies wisdom with the female principle.

Now ... are the researchers who discovered this in the Nag Hammadi
scrolls and other documents simply indulging in their own modern
proclivities and delighting (nyah nyah nyah) in a strain of early
Christianity akin to a commune of Southern California Jesus freaks?

Or are they just following out where their research leads?

> (Please do not press me for a specific example - I
> do not spend a lot of time reading Biblical criticism).

Well, as I've said, I'm no Biblical scholar myself. But
if I were you I'd interrogate myself a bit here as to why
you have such a strong gut reaction in defense of "patriarchal
dominance" when you have nothing concrete to back it up. Even
if your gut instincts correctly identify an attack against
orthodoxy -- why should orthodoxy be worthy of defense?

> To me, this finding of modern agenda in the traditional stories
> tends to discredit the field. Why should the conclusions of the
> studies of thousands of year old text favor modern agendas?

Why should modern scholarship of the Biblical period
serve to reinforce church orthodoxy, when church
orthodoxy was devised hundreds of years after the fact?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Donnelly,

The way you cherry pick Biblical quotes and the Catholic Bishops' positions to suit your world view makes it look like the Church, for you, is just a means to an end.

You're a complex man. Consider simplifying your life.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on March 15, 2006 at 6:49 AM | PERMALINK

Huh?

Tell you what, pj: how about you consider making sense when you talk about immigration.

Start by defending marriage.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 15, 2006 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK

Bob

Why should modern scholarship of the Biblical period serve to reinforce church orthodoxy, when church orthodoxy was devised hundreds of years after the fact?

I followed you pretty closely until you made this point. I also admit I am no early Church authority, but I have read enough on both sides to have some pretty strong opinions.

Your dependence on the Council of Nicea as your supposed "hundreds of years after the fact" point in time when orthodoxy was "devised" is not intellectually honest.

It makes it sound impressive, and the "hundreds of years" part is a good rhetorical attack against Biblical authority, but it doesn't carry honest weight. It neglects the council recorded in Acts 15. There is no such "Gnostic" council recorded where orthodoxy leaned to Gnosticism.

I assume you know enough about the Gnostic gospels to know that from internal evidence they traditionally date much older than most of the assumed canonical books.

Why is it not a much more intellectually honest position to assume that an orthodox position existed throughout the first three centuries that was much closer to the Jewish roots of Christianity than the secular mysticism of the Gnostics. This battle against Gnosticism is recored in Jude and I John and other books which liberal scholarship dates to at oldest early second century, but of course I believe were written earlier.

The Council of Nicea (sp?) was only the first time this battle was considered so pivotal that a Governmental backed body was called upon to make an official statement. ( BTW - I think true Christianity suffered greatly by becoming intertwined with the State as it always does ). This is much more consistent with the development of a position of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is not invented by a group. It must be a past position, long developed with a long tradition, that is given approval by the group that holds the most sway. To say orthodoxy was "devised" ( not merelly "approved" ) at Nicea is not honest, it is a rhetorical trick that seems to make your arguments more believable, but doesn't hold water under scrutiny and shows your bias.

Posted by: John Hansen on March 15, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bob -

You might also want to peruse this sight. Maybe some of your assumptions are just wrong.

http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/nicaea.html

Posted by: John Hansen on March 15, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

> "Why should modern scholarship of the Biblical period
> serve to reinforce church orthodoxy, when church
> orthodoxy was devised hundreds of years after the fact?"

> I followed you pretty closely until you made this point. I also
> admit I am no early Church authority, but I have read enough on
> both sides to have some pretty strong opinions.

Fair enough. I have my own views, but not of course as a believer.

> Your dependence on the Council of Nicea as your supposed
> "hundreds of years after the fact" point in time when
> orthodoxy was "devised" is not intellectually honest.

Sure it is. Perhaps "devised" was a poor choice of words
(I could have said "certified" or "determined"), and I do
understand your point that orthodoxy is not created out of
whole cloth, but rather determining it involves a hopefully
honest attempt to preserve the most authentic traditions.
But somebody still signs off on the determination -- and
the decision doesn't necessarily end the controversy among
churches calling themselves orthodox, let alone believers.

> It makes it sound impressive, and the "hundreds of years"
> part is a good rhetorical attack against Biblical authority,

Well ... was Martin Luther divinely inspired when he fought
to remove Revelations from the canon? Are the Catholics right
to include Maccabees and other books in their Bible -- or is
the King James version the definitive collection of texts?

If so -- how do you know? The weight of tradition? A careful
analysis of the texts? The word of theologians you trust?

> but it doesn't carry honest weight. It neglects the council
> recorded in Acts 15. There is no such "Gnostic" council
> recorded where orthodoxy leaned to Gnosticism.

Well understand that I'm in no way attempting to argue that Gnosticism
deserves to be considered orthodox Christianity. Any path to
spiritual enlightenment that denies Jesus Christ as the sole vehicle
for salvation is going to contradict the four canonical Gospels.
My point was simply to use the study of Gnostic Christianity to
illustrate the fundamentally different agenda of Biblical researchers
who study these texts and the archeological evidence to determine what
early Christians believed and how they lived. They're attempting to
answer anthropological and historical questions, not defend the faith.

> I assume you know enough about the Gnostic gospels to know
> that from internal evidence they traditionally date much
> older than most of the assumed canonical books.

Sure. Gnosticism is based on the ancient traditions of Persian
dualism, and it's also influenced by the neoplatonism common in
the Hellenic world. The Jehovah's Witnesses, in fact, believe
(in the name of striving for that authentically Judaic tradition
that you argue below animates the quest for Christian orthodoxy)
that many concepts considered Biblical became corrupted by
neoplatonist ideas when they were translated into the Greek
Septugent. The JWs reject the soul/body dichotomy, think Hell
(gehenna) either refers to a root cellar or to a garbage dump
outside of Jerusalem, and believe in a literal ressurection of
corpses from graveyards when Christ returns to rule the world.

Because, you know, that's closer to what Jesus'
followers in Jerusalem would have believed.

> Why is it not a much more intellectually honest position to
> assume that an orthodox position existed throughout the first three
> centuries that was much closer to the Jewish roots of Christianity

I don't think that contradicts anything that I said. I have no
doubts Elaine Pagels would agree, and would call Gnosticism simply
one of a strain of variations of belief that thrived in the world
where Christians were outside of power and often persecuted. They were
a minority sect which held beliefs which challenged the authorities.
Any out-group belief is going to be held by the intellectually
courageous and embrace a wide variety of interpretations. Think
of all the various Marxist/Trotskyite/Socialist/Worker's parties.

> than the secular mysticism of the Gnostics.

Well, here you betray your own modern perspective. "Secular mysticism"
is decidedly a phenomenon of our world. The Christian Gnostics were
a varied lot, ranging from free-spirit types who strove to identify
with Biblical characters and interpret their dreams, to well-eductated
elitists initiated into the esoteric metaphysics of Valentinus. Their
morality ranged from extreme Manichean asceticism (because every
living creature contains shards of Light which contain the Godhead) to
libertine antinomianism -- but "secular" they manifestly were *not*.

> This battle against Gnosticism is recored in Jude and I John and
> other books which liberal scholarship dates to at oldest early
> second century, but of course I believe were written earlier.

And again, this is to be as expected as Sunni Muslim orthodoxy
considering the Sufi tradition heresy, because it likewise stresses
the power of human knowledge and agency over the sovereignty of God.

> The Council of Nicea (sp?) was only the first time this
> battle was considered so pivotal that a Governmental backed
> body was called upon to make an official statement. ( BTW -
> I think true Christianity suffered greatly by becoming
> intertwined with the State as it always does ).

But here's the thing, John. Without that power (whether secular
or ecclesial), how would you stem the controversy? Even after
Nicea, the Arian controversy over the dual nature of Christ raged
in the Western church into the 13th century at least, and the
Great Schism split Catholic from Orthodox on that issue and others.
At the end of the day, it comes down to Pope and Emperor issuing
decrees which determine What Is and What Is Not True Christianity.

> This is much more consistent with the development of a
> position of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is not invented by a group.
> It must be a past position, long developed with a long tradition,
> that is given approval by the group that holds the most sway.

And the "group that holds most sway" telling out-groups what to
believe is a fundamentally political decision. Considering the
persecuted nature of the early Church, it's at very least ironic.

Elaine Pagels is absolutely right to study the effects of
Constantine's conversion on all aspects of Christian doctrine,
the Christian message and how, most importantly, Christians behave.

Considering your own concern with the Church getting mixed up
with secular power, I'd think you'd be curious about this as well.

> To say orthodoxy was "devised" ( not merelly "approved" )
> at Nicea is not honest, it is a rhetorical trick that
> seems to make your arguments more believable, but doesn't
> hold water under scrutiny and shows your bias.

It was a poor choice of words, is all. Change "devised" to
"approved" and nothing substantial differs in my argument.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 15, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

John:

I read your link. Interesting. I wasn't aware of any of those internet legends about Nicea (my knowledge comes almost exclusively from Pagels, who's a reputed scholar). I wasn't aware that Nicea was supposed to suppress reincarnation or the Lazarus story, or that Constantine had all the books of the Bible piled on a table and the ones that fell off were excluded ...

That link *does* make the point that not only was Arius and his works anathemized, but also the Gnostics. So it's safe to assume that the Gospels of Thomas and Philip, as well as a text allegedly by Mary Magdalene, were suppressed. And it's clear that Constantine ordered the works of Arius burned, so it's quite likely he did as well to the extant copies of those Gnostic texts.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 15, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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