Life Will Answer: Religion & Politics Pt 3

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Our Constitution granted each and every one of us the freedom to believe or not believe as we decide. That protection applies to all of us. When one group has decided by some form of spiritual osmosis that their version of the unverifiable and occasionally insane has been decreed to be the new Law, and thus their political mission is to ensure that is so, then it is up to the rest of us to put that crazy back where it belongs: away from public influence.

 

THE STARTING POINT FOR NONSENSE

 

An entire sub-genre for religious-political debate has risen up in recent years as a result of the Right’s curiously-framed arguments that they are not being allowed to practice their religion and share their beliefs. Evidence amassed by those who study this issue in more detail than I demonstrates just as clearly that such allegations are both hypocritical and appropriately massaged to raise points which facts would not justify.

Not surprising that facts tend not to matter much to religious extremists….

None of these claims are doing anything to temper the partisan rhetoric flying across the great separation between progressives and conservatives. Widening the divide between the two camps is not exactly a benefit to most of us. Problems and challenges—economic, cultural, and political—will not step aside because we haven’t found paths to bridge the disunity and antagonistic nature of what passes for public debate. We actually do not need any more polarization. We have quite enough as it is.

That much of the discourse stems—as least as far as progressives are concerned—from a tenuous link to facts and reality is yet another obstacle. The Christian Right seems hell-bent on making their case with or without facts on their side, and much of what passes for rationales regarding their fears about religious persecution and denial of liberty indeed are fact-free.

While that is certainly a time-saver and an efficient negotiating strategy, it’s a bit light on integrity and respect-worthiness. Unfortunately, too many of those same extremists are particularly untroubled by that lack. They have a case to make to preserve their interests, others be damned. God’s Word? [If so, perhaps an Update might be worth considering?]

 

POLITICIZED RELIGION

 

I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war….
The religious right’s professed insistence upon ‘family values’ might appear at first blush to be at odds with the anything but saintly personal behavior of many of its leading proponents. Some of this may be due to the general inability of human beings to reflect on conflicting information: I have never ceased to be amazed at how facts manage to bounce off people’s consciousness like pebbles off armor plate. But there is another, uniquely religious aspect that also comes into play: the predilection of fundamentalist denominations to believe in practice, even if not entirely in theory, in the doctrine of ‘cheap grace,’ a derisive term coined by the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. By that he meant the inclination of some religious adherents to believe that once they had been ‘saved,’ not only would all past sins be wiped away, but future ones, too—so one could pretty much behave as before. Cheap grace is a divine get- out-of-jail-free card.

Harsh. True, but harsh. Also worth pondering?

A major component of the “leadership’s” strategy, in addition to their passing nod to facts, is that keeping the faithful suitably fearful, anxious, and agitated over the relentless—albeit manufactured—threats to their freedom to not just practice their pseudo-faith without interference, but to insist that others must do so as well, also prevents those same loyal followers from asking themselves too many questions about the what, the why, and the how. Some are certainly benefitting from the misleading nonsense, but it would be death to those same leaders’ interests if followers realized they weren’t the ones so blessed.

And so onward and upward go the Christian soldiers to fight the good fight, unfettered from those pesky truths which get in the way of their unverifiable religious mandates.

So while the loyalists may be too distraught over the prospects of one disaster or another always just around the corner, the rest of us, burdened as we are by truths and the like, have their own duty to make sure future generations are allowed to carve out successes and benefits without having to pay homage to nonsense.

 

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Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings here [see the Links above] and at Peak Oil Matters, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:

The Tretiak Agenda

They began [here] on June 15, and will conclude later this summer

 

~ My Photo: A Good Harbor Beach Sunset – 07.04.16

 

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Concerted efforts by Christian Right extremists to weave their highly questionable beliefs into the fabric of public policy must be challenged–vigorously so. The routine demonstrations of hypocrisy which serves to pervert the commonly understood tenets of that faith, and fact-averse denunciations of science or other evidence clearly at odds with the nonsense, imposed anxieties, and promoted fears, have no place in the problem-solving arena of the 21st Century.

Magical thinking is not a shield to the inevitable harm which results when irrational and mindless behaviors collide with reason and fact. We have some choices to make, and a future to concern ourselves with.

I was raised as a Catholic. For eight years in elementary school, and four more in high school, I learned what [mostly] priests and nuns taught me. Several decades ago, I fell madly, deeply in love with a wondrous and dazzling born-again Christian who ultimately broke my heart into a million little pieces. The magic, and sorrow, of youthful thinking. That didn’t prevent me from future relationships with devout but less extreme Catholic women. [Not that I am complaining or offering regrets, since I am married to the best person I’ve ever known!]  

So I come to this later stage of my life having had a full dosage of less overt but still impactful indoctrination into the ways of God as defined by more overt Christians. My departure from those experiences has come by way of many life events and a great deal of study and introspection.

In 2014, I published an eBook entitled Life Will Answer. It’s an exploration of life, religion, and the tenuous connection one has with the other—at least as has been defined to date by the various theologies of past and present-day believers. 

I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar. I am at best a casual observer of some religion-based behaviors, but given that I have also authored a book discussing those matters, perhaps that makes me more than a casual observer.

A fundamental point of the book is that Life has been established to honor and answer the choices each and all of us make—whatever they are and however they may be judged by the standards and guidelines we as a society have established. I do not accept the notion that there is a God or another Deity of choice offering wildly arbitrary thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs, or that this Deity has edicts we’re free to abide by or not (although if we don’t there will be hell to pay).

I wrote that book on the premise that there is more to this life than the narrow-minded, conflicting, and occasionally dangerous notions various religions offer. Given the large number of them each claiming passionate followers, it’s absurd for any collection of humans to insist that their Deity assures them It is the One and Only. Countless Peers and their own loyal adherents take issue with that.

Every day we are witness to the absurdities—and too often, the atrocities—committed in the name of some Deity or another by adherents convinced that they and they alone are privy to the guidance and dictates of that One and Only. There is little room, if any, for reason, logic, or rational thought. The absence of an intelligent component guiding their beliefs and conduct—replaced as it as by fears and justifications untethered from reality—carries its own set of consequences.