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Tilting at Windmills

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October 12, 2008

PITTING FAITHS AGAINST ONE ANOTHER.... After stoking the fires of hate, fear, and ignorance for far too long, the McCain campaign seemed to take some preliminary steps on Friday afternoon to keep the blaze from spreading out of control.

If the invocation at a McCain event in Iowa yesterday is any indication, it may be too late.

Unhelpful for establishing the tone McCain sought in Davenport was the Rev. Arnold Conrad, past pastor of the Grace Evangelical Free Church. His prayer before McCain arrived at the convention center blocks from the Mississippi River appeared to dismiss faiths other than Christianity and cast the election as a referendum on God himself.

"I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god -- whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah -- that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons," Conrad said.

"And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day," he said.

Nothing says "unity" like trying to pit people of faith against one another in a time of crisis. As divisive tactics go, Conrad's "prayer" -- I use the word loosely -- is just ugly. (ThinkProgress has an audio clip.)

To its credit, the McCain campaign distanced itself from this lunacy, issuing a statement denouncing "questions about the religious background of the candidates." The statement came from the "Midwest Regional Communications Director," instead of the campaign's national headquarters, but it at least struck a relatively decent tone.

It's nevertheless a reminder of just how far gone the Republican base has become. These are some very scary folks.

Post Script: Just as an aside, I can't help but notice that the Rev. Arnold Conrad referred to "Hindu" as a "god." There's quite a bit of stupidity in that invocation, but if Conrad is going to denounce the faith of a billion people, and pit people of faith against one another, the least he could do is learn a little bit about theology. Hindu is a faith, not a god.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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To its credit, the McCain campaign distanced itself from this lunacy

Please, Steve, stop this nonsense. Read Hilzoy's piece from last night on incoherency. You simply cannot keep putting these people on stage and microphone, and then claim they dn't speak for you. At some point you simply have to look for the pattern.

Posted by: Danp on October 12, 2008 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you,

In a way. He's right. But it's too late.
I already believe that.

If it helps, I think he thinks he's talking to God already, so he'll be happy to upgrade when he figures out he's been dialing the wrong number for some time now.

He deftly left out Jahweh. A lot of the unsaved heathen masses believe in that false God. All in due time, I suppose.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 12, 2008 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Buhhda isn't a god, either. Acctually i'm not sure Buddhism is a faith. It isn't supposed to be accepted on faith, anyway.

Posted by: wonkie on October 12, 2008 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

"Hindu"! OK on this one you have to give the bigot a break. You have your Shivas, Parvatis, Hanumans, et al. We're big fans of Ganesha here. I think he made himself quite clear to his audience over in the QC.

Posted by: wren on October 12, 2008 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Where is Amy Sullivan? I need a lecture on how intolerant I am toward religion.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on October 12, 2008 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Who invited Arnold to speak?

Posted by: anonymous on October 12, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

One love.
Let's get together and feel all right.

Posted by: Marley's Ghost on October 12, 2008 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Buddha is not a God. Buddhism is an atheistic religion. Conrad is in ignorant jackass.

Posted by: Blue Girl on October 12, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Look at how successful the Crusades were.

Posted by: Former Dan on October 12, 2008 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! Telling god a thing or two, in god's own language no less! The well of human illusions is bottomless.

Posted by: lou on October 12, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

I simply note the McCunt Campaign reply is a sly dig at Obama, implying he is NOT a Christian when they know perfectly well that he is.

Allah is just another name for the God of Abraham by the way, which the Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship. Ignorance of that fact is worse than not knowing the names of the Hindu pantheon or the fact that Buddha is not considered a god.

Posted by: Lance on October 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

This doesn't even inspire me to anger this morning. This makes me want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head to get away from all sight and sound of these awful, awful people.

Posted by: shortstop on October 12, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

>And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation

As lou said, WOW! That guys going to have some 'splaining to do at the Pearly Gates.

As somebody else famously said, "You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!".

Posted by: doesn't matter on October 12, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

The only thing Pastor Ignoramus Conrad is correct about is that people all across the world, regardless of faith, are rooting for an Obama victory. In fact polls show that the only countries besides the U.S. in which McCain would even have a ghost of a chance are Georgia and Macedonia. So while it is true that a great many non-Christians outside the U.S. are hoping - perhaps even actually praying - for McCain to lose, so are an overwhelming majority of non-U.S. Christians.

So when Obama does win, does Pastor Conrad accept that "his" God must have wanted the Obama victory? Does he being to wonder whether "Hindu" or "Buddah" might be the greater God (which might at least give him occasion to learn that they are not considered Gods at all)? Or does his head just explode?

Posted by: Nick Nayme on October 12, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, I was wrong. I thought the campaign was being managed by Howard, Fine and Howard, but now I get it. This whole campaign isn't for real. The same way the Marx Brothers prepared for their movies by taking the script on the road and refining the jokes by watching the audience reaction, obviously this is the 'try-out' for a new situation comedy to run next year.

Only who wil play the various parts? (Sadly, the obvious John McCain, Tim Conway, has left us -- as has Harvey Korman, who would have been cast as Joe Biden.) Okay, Tina Fey is Palin, but the others?

Don Rickles has the McCain look, but he's even older, and they might not give him the contract because he might have to be replaced. If they were willing to ignore the English accents, two roles could be filled -- Clive Swift (Richard from KEEPING UP APPEARANCES) for McCain, and Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones from DOCTOR WHO) as Michelle Obama. Unfortunately, they won't be able to afford Glenn Close as Cindy, but is there a better pick? (I don't watch current sitcoms.)

Afain, if they can afford him, Will Smith would be Barack, and some of the guest stars are obvious, like Tony Todd as Pastor Muthee.

But anyone out there have other casting suggestions?

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 12, 2008 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

We could see Tim Conway, as he is still with us. But I doubt he'd want the role.

Posted by: CN on October 12, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, I've been a bit bemused about all the fuss about this because I simply don't understand the quote. Is this 'speaking in tongues' or just an unfamiliar dialect?

Posted by: BroD on October 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK
I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god -- whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah -- that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons
What a complete and utter jackass. The Holy Church of the Inquisition propels scism and smallpox across the Atlantic, exterminates whole peoples, reshapes an entire continent in the image of Mammon -- and this mealy-mouthed doubting Thomas only gives them credit for reaching the semi-finals.


Posted by: Jassalasca Jape on October 12, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

We may not know whose side God is on, but it is clear that the Father of Lies has been working overtime to defeat Obama.

Posted by: david1234 on October 12, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

I'm going for the old tried-and-true here:

"Every time I think I've seen and heard the worst, it gets even worse next time".

I can't even be cleverer than that anymore.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on October 12, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Really, beyond even the horrible nature of the comment, and the ignorance displayed regarding Buddhism, Hindu, and Islam, he really seemed to display ignorance of Christianity as well. Or was I wrong to think that a central tenet of that religion was that there are no other gods. He really seems to believe that these other gods are distinct entities that his god has to beat. And this guy is a priest?

Posted by: My Name Here on October 12, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Glad to see you point out the 'Hindu' gaffe. These bigots can't even discriminate rationally. But must correct you as well. Hindu is not a faith; Hinduism is. Hindu is a follower of Hinduism.

Also, if McCain loses, should we assume by their logic that god wasn't listening? Or simply doesn't like them?

Posted by: Patrix on October 12, 2008 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

God:" OK, Jesus, it's fourth down and long to go. You go out for a screen pass to the right to try and draw out Buddah, Sarah, you go left and take out Hindu and Allah, while I sneak the ball to Ol' Johnny Boy here who goes up the middle and sneaks past the Krishnas and Atheists and hopefully into the end zone."

Posted by: Lew Scannon on October 12, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Why does God, being omnipotent and all, need advice from people like Conrad?

Posted by: AJB on October 12, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Congressman John Lewis, MLK's friend who still carries the scars from his beating in Selma, issued a statement yesterday comparing these McCain mouthers-off to those who followed George Wallace. Ronald Reagan co-opted the Wallace camp, much to the relief of Democrats, in 1976, and the Republicans have been using their lynch mob mentality to push them to victory ever since. It's a little too late to disown them or wonder ingenuously how they got there. They're really all that's left of the Republican Party.

Thanks for the religious corrections, but they go unheard in that camp. They and their preachers all listen to the same sources: Limbaugh and Beck nationally, and local sleazebags like Jan Mickelson, a fundamentalist lay preacher who pretends to be a political commentator and broadcasts daily from a Des Moines radio station that's heard all over Iowa. This is what passes for truth to these pathetic people.

Posted by: ericfree on October 12, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

If McCain was "distanceing" himself, he wouldn't get these nutbags to grandstand for him. My big problem with the comparison to George Wallace from Lewis is that it is a deep insult to Wallce. Wallace at least had the balls to be honest with his racism - McCain revels in the racism*, then tries to claim it isn't him. The reason he was in a cage for 5 years is that the North Vietnamese were so suprised they had found the world biggest c*unt that they had to keep him, because otherwise no one would believe them.

Considering all him crap, at this point I consider his mother a traitor for not smothering him at birth.


* My personal take on his Bangladeshi daughter is that it was considered a legal way to get a dark-skinned domestic. For instance, saw a Mccain-Palin family picture - everyone was standing real close together, except that daughter, who was over in the corner and on the ground; real subtle there. McCain's debate problem with Obama is that Obama refuses to cringe and bow when he walks by, like he's used when he sees people with darker skin than him to at home.

Posted by: phalamir on October 12, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

God, of whatever religion, is Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent. He/She/It neither wants nor needs anyone to protect or defend Her/His/Its reputation. How could anyone accept such a prayer as being authentic? Rev. Conrad may think he knows who God is, but he clearly does not recognize the unfathomable nature of God. As for atheists or non-believers in this particular "form" of religion, they are no more denied equal access to the Power of God than any other "True Believer" who may worship in a form not recognized by another. Universal laws, whether natural or spiritual, are imutable and apply equally to all. To pray for a negative consequence for another is simply ignorance of Truth. I support Obama, not because God told me to, but because he speaks more for my interests than anyone else running. It is disconcerting to know that there are so many who would call for harm to someone simply because he or she does not represent their personal interests.
I 'pray' that the truth is revealed and all citizens of the U.S. and the world see the truth of our interrelatedness.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation,
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on October 12, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Danp has it right: this is just another variation of the dog-whistle.

Posted by: coldhotel on October 12, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

While we're at it, "Buddah" [sic] isn't a god either, just the guy who founded Buddhism. And further, Buddhism is a religion without a God - an atheist religion.

Posted by: argle on October 12, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Buddha isn't a god either. And if I understand Islam correctly, Allah and the Jewish/Christian G-d are one and the same.

Posted by: Keith on October 12, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Left out a word when describing Jan Mickelson, the Jerry Falwell of Iowa radio. Should have read "bigoted sleazebag."

Posted by: ericfree on October 12, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the religion-related hysteria is probably spontaneous, not centrally directed from Republican headquarters. This is happening in our rural conservative area.

When faced with a crisis, in this case loss of political power and imagined threat from alien races, people tend to fall back on tribally unifying beliefs.

Posted by: skeptonomist on October 12, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I find the comments openly insulting toward God.

"You know, God, if you don't do this for me, they'll think you're WEAK. They'll tease you, God. They'll think their fictional 'gods' they didn't even know they believed in are bigger than you. They'll call you names. Come on, God. You know you have anger management issues. Don't let them tease you. Show them who's the REAL God around here."

I've seen more morally righteous schoolyard bullies.

Posted by: Tom Dibble on October 12, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Someone is surprised when a Fundie Moron publicly reveals himself as a Fundie Moron?

Christianity, the only religion that prides itself on public displays of stupidity and revelry in ignorance.

Posted by: TCinLA on October 12, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

phalamir @ 10:29: Actually, Wallace wasn't all that racist, and certainly not honest about it. The first time he ran for office he ran as a racial moderate, and was beaten by a candidate with ties to the Klan. He vowed he never be "outniggered" again, and he never was.

When George W. ran for Congress in Texas he was beaten by a Bible thumper who called him a carpetbagger (sorry Steve) and questioned his religious commitment. Like Wallace, W. vowed he'd never be "outJesused" again.

None of these rightwing politicians and media people are sincere about anything except their commitment to money and power at all cost, the country be damned. They use the crazies, then pretend surprise when things get violent.

Posted by: ericfree on October 12, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

a "shout-out" to the left out: why no mention of the noodly goodness of the flying spaghetti monster?

c'mon, it all boils down to "my imaginary friend is stronger than your imaginary friend."

Posted by: mellowjohn on October 12, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

This theology is confusing. I'm Jewish, so I believe that there is only one G-d. I always assumed that Christians believed the same thing, even if they have a different concept of G-d (to say the least). Is Conrad saying that there ARE other gods, who are in competition with his? Is it the name that's important here? And I thought there isn't a name for God other than "God", synonyms like "Lord" or "Our Father" or the translation in other languages. It's kind of like we call our planet "Earth" or "Terra", and our sun "The Sun" or "Sol", except that in astronomy it's not in dispute that there are other planets and other suns.

Posted by: Bruce in South Florida on October 12, 2008 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Screw the stupid hey-god-show-who's-bigger stuff that everybody seems to be focusing on.

The absolutely chilling part of the quote is, "...step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day."

Am I the only one who sees that as goading some wacko to go out and do what everybody I know is worried might be coming.... in god's name?

Posted by: mats on October 12, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I may not be a "cookie cutter" religious person but one thing I did learn in my parochial school days...we miserable and sinful beings probably shouldn't challenge God like the good reverend did. Gutsy?!

Posted by: Steven on October 12, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I may not be a "cookie cutter" religious person but one thing I did learn in my parochial school days...we miserable and sinful beings probably shouldn't challenge God like the good reverend did. Gutsy?!

Posted by: Steven on October 12, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Look, religion is a mental illness. You mildly crazy religious "moderates" merely give aid, comfort and cover to the real crazies. Don't like hearing that? Tough. I'm forced to listen to YOUR mush-brained bullshit all the time.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on October 12, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

That's great, Steve LaBonne. When you've finished indulging yourself sophomorically, feel free to join those of us unbelievers who are trying to win an election here.

Or continue your snit alone in the corner while the world goes on around you; makes little difference to us.

Posted by: shortstop on October 12, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Used properly, religion is a wonderful, even inspiring, thing. It can help feed and clothe the needy, channel the struggling to a better direction in life, teach us how to work with and tolerate others.

But when right-wing punks such as this Iowa minister pervert religion and its aims, the entire concept is sadly diminished.

Posted by: Vincent on October 12, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Two things to note:

First, the people claiming Buddhism is atheistic are overgeneralizing. Yes, Buddhism is compatible with atheism, and yes, many Buddhists are atheists. But "Buddhism" is not monolithic, and there's a wide variety of beliefs among people who consider themselves "Buddhists".

For example, Tibetan Buddhism -- of which the Dali Lama is the spiritual head -- is rife with gods. Tibetan Buddhism is absolutely not atheistic.

Second, if the "Hindu" in "their god, whether it's Hindu, Buddha, or Allah" was intended as a noun, yes, the guy's fundamentally misinformed on the nature of Hinduism. But:

While I would certainly not be surprised if this bigot is fundamentally misinformed on anything, let alone on the nature of Hinduism, there remains the possibility that he intended it as an adjective, not as a noun.

In this case, his phrasing would be equivalent to "their god, whether it's a Hindu god, Buddha, or Allah", which would not misrepresent the polytheistic nature of Hinduism.

Kind of like saying "a Republican-backing Senator, whether he's Republican or Joe Lieberman". Yes, linguistically it's possible that the speaker meant "Republican" as a proper noun rather than an adjective, but no reasonable person would assume that he meant it that way.

Posted by: on October 12, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I thought it was weird that this preacher was demanding that 'his God' justify and show himself 'cos otherwise all those other Gods might win somehow. Didn't know God was on the Republican ticket and also in danger of his name being dishonored. Where did the Republicans find this amazingly stupid preacher. As some one else posted, the least he could do is have a working knowledge of Religions of the World. Bunch of books out there about it. And he really should consider spending more time reading the Bible.

Posted by: lisaintexas on October 12, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Used properly, religion is a wonderful, even inspiring, thing. It can help feed and clothe the needy, channel the struggling to a better direction in life, teach us how to work with and tolerate others."

but why do you need religion to accomplish all those nice things?

Posted by: mellowjohn on October 12, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Rev. Conrad echoes REv. Lovejoy on "The SImpsons"

In the episode “Homer the Heretic,” Springfield’s multifaith volunteer fire department mobilizes to save the Simpsons’ home--and Homer’s life. Reverend Lovejoy explains to Homer that God was working through his friends and neighbors, including a Christian like Ned Flanders and a Jew like Krusty.
But the minister comes up short when he points toward the other firefighter, Apu Nahaasapeemapetilon. After a nonplussed pause, the minister characterizes the convenience store operator’s religion as “miscellaneous.” This level of ignorance is too much for the normally mild-mannered Asian immigrant. Apu explodes: “Hindu! There are 700 million of us!” Corrected, Lovejoy replies with condescension, “Aw, that’s super.”

Posted by: TomH on October 12, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Pastor Conrad seems a little off-message in his admonition to God. Christ said, "My kingdom is not of this world." So clearly, losing a campaign for public office is better than winning it, and more in keeping with God's will.

Of course, not running in the first place is best of all.

Leave it to Caesar.

Posted by: tamiasmin on October 12, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

If Jesus doesn't get around to this guy's request, it's because he's too busy interfering in high school football game outcomes.

Posted by: Arachnae on October 12, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Christianists", like Conrad, do have a problem there, though, don't they? On the one hand, their God -- as several people pointed out above -- is the same one as the God of Judaism and Islam, just with a different name. On the other hand, the one they really venerate -- Jesus -- is only a half-god (on his father's side), not God, and, as such, probably not quite as powerful in arranging the outcome of elections.

Posted by: exlibra on October 12, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

This is one of the most insane/awesome comments ever made about the concept of gods.

He's really telling his ominpotent god to stop being a pussy. Hey Jehovah, we're playing for your team but how about a little help out here. Are you in it to win it, or what? Get off your ass and beat team Hindu!

Posted by: ozymamdius on October 12, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad he's not tasking my god. He already promised to help me load a moving van next weekend, so all you would be posers kindly backoff and let His Bigness honor this commitment.

Posted by: dennisS on October 12, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

So, this guy Conrad is a polytheist? It sure sounds like it, because he talks as though other people's gods exist (even if he doesn't know their correct names) but that his god is bigger 'n badder than theirs, and can whup their butts. I thought Christians were supposed to believe that there is just one (or occasionally three) Gods.

Posted by: T-Rex on October 12, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK
When you've finished indulging yourself sophomorically, feel free to join those of us unbelievers who are trying to win an election here.
I've given quite a bit of money to Obama's campaign, asswipe. But thanks for playing. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on October 12, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, it sounds to me like he's saying that these other folks' gods are real too. Just not as good as his god [the god of the republican party].

Someone once said: "Prayer is the act of beseeching the Almighty in the vain hope that He will suspend the laws of physics for the benefit of one person who, by their own admission, is not worthy."

This here's a perfect example of that.

Posted by: chrenson on October 12, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not leave out those perfidious French, who worship someone they call mon Dieu or the Latin Americans, who worship a being they refer to as Dios

Posted by: the Gnarled Oak Deity on October 12, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Buddhism is not atheistic in the common antagonistic sense of the word -- it generally rejects the premise of the question of the existence of a god or gods as completely irrelevant. The core of Buddhism is working to attain the state of enlightenment, universal compassion, via meditation. Everything else is ornamental.

Some of the more ornate branches of Buddhism (Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism here, like the Dalai Lama's sect or, more accessible to westerners, the New Kadampa Tradition) posit a litany of gods who are helper beings, friendly protective spirits without harmful ulterior motives. But they're not gods in the western sense, and they're not the fundamentals of the practice.

The theory is that Buddha was an ordinary guy who attained enlightenment, and all sentient beings have the native ability to do so as well, and along the way, become happier in this life and make other people happier as well. Works for me.

Posted by: Blue Tara on October 12, 2008 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

"I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god -- whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah -- that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,"

From the Muslim persective, Conrad was praying to Allah too.

Posted by: C.L. on October 13, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

This is crazy. What I find truly amazing in this is that this guy is in fact stating that there are many gods and is asking his god to be stronger than the other ones. This guy doesn't even understand what monotheism is about, he does not understand the core teaching of his own religion. This is simply stunning.

The fundamentalist right has really lost it, to me this is the greatest danger that america faces today. Reasonable people from all stripes must denounce these people and force the medias to talk about it. If that doesn't happen these crazy ideas will keep spreading like cancer cells and when the economic recession hits hard and public anger explodes there is no telling what these guys will do.

Posted by: Grigou on October 13, 2008 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

At the risk of offending: the good reverend might be stupid, but he is in good company in asking (the right) God to prove he (used advisedly) is better than other gods. It is a tactic used frequently in the Old Testament. And God usually fell for it.

Maybe he is on to something.

Posted by: Marc on October 13, 2008 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

At post 61, I am probably wasting my time posting this, but after making a quick scan of comments, I feel the need to point out something rather obvious about the good Rev. Arnold Conrad:

The ludicrousness of his prayer is laughable in it's heresy... By absolute Christain orthodoxy there is NO other God, but GOD, as embodied in Jesus Christ.

The Reverand Arnold Conrad is a heretic. As such, if he had lived in the times of say, the Inquisition, he would be burned at the stake. Fortunate for him, He lives here, now, where all are free to be as big an idiot as one feels the need to.

Posted by: tom p on October 13, 2008 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen quotes Rev. Arnold Conrad: "... there are millions of people around this world praying to their god -- whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah ..."

Steve commentd: "I can't help but notice that the Rev. Arnold Conrad referred to 'Hindu' as a 'god' ... Hindu is a faith, not a god."

In fairness, I would be willing to grant that what the Rev. Conrad meant is "praying to their god -- whether Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim". He's not saying there is a god named "Hindu". He is saying that there are people who pray to Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim gods.

His error is in referring to Buddha as a "god", or even to a "Buddhist god", since Buddha was not, did not claim to be, and in Buddhism is not regarded as, a "god". Nor does Buddhism postulate the existence of any "god" or "gods".

Buddha was a human being who attained nirvana -- the cessation of suffering, complete awakening, and liberation from birth and death -- through his own efforts, and spent some forty years teaching others how they could accomplish this for themselves.

In Buddhist scriptures, there are many references to various "gods", various "heavens" and "hells", and other entities that we would today consider "supernatural". But these entities were part of the fabric of the belief system of people in India 2500 years ago, and were accepted as a part of nature and of life in a time when people did not make the modern distinction between "natural" and "supernatural". They are not fundamentally important to the teachings of the Buddha, which address the human condition in the world of common experience. Nor are they objects of worship in Buddhism.

The most fundamental teachings of Buddhism can be seen as incompatible with the idea of "God" as it exists in Middle Eastern monotheistic religions. Buddha taught that all things are impermanent, interdependent, and without "self". Those ideas are hard to reconcile with an eternal, omnipotent God, or with the idea of an eternal "soul", as found in Middle Eastern religions.

Indeed, Buddha taught that the various "gods" of ancient India were, like human beings, simply sentient beings caught up in the endless cycle of birth and death, destined to reincarnate in different forms in various realms of existence unless and until they attained nirvana and liberation.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 13, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

As the Norse god of mischief, I am deeply disturbed that Rev. Conrad did not mention me during his invocation. Especially since I wrote it.

Posted by: Loki on October 14, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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