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August 06, 2005




reminds me of a book that a friend of mine just wrote:



You should have been brought up in a "hippie" church like me where the pastors laid themselves over the tracks to block trains carrying the first Trident sub missles to Bangor.

I think "most" Christians are conservatives and justifiably subject to accusations of hypocracy, but it is not an overwhelming majority.

When Harper's talks about the US being last among developed countries realize that in all these "developed" countries Christianity is the prevalent religion. The article should be titled the "American Christian Paradox" or better yet "The Right Wing American Christian Paradox" or best of all, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them", but that one may already be taken...


Well not exactly, you're forgetting Japan. And unfortunatley I think most Christians, not all, are hypocrits-the worst tippers when I worked Sunday brunch where the churchgoers who would run you around like a dog and then leave a 50 cent tip. At least Catholic charities try to feed the poor, provide meidcal assistance, etc...instead of the attempts to convert that go on among many churches, most notably the Mormoms. How many Christians do you know who regularly give money to charities? Volunteer to help the neeedy?



This is not specific to Catholicism, nor is it the "core." Both these rules pertain to nearly every reasonable flavor of Christianity, and the core of Catholicism lies in how it is different from the Angelican sect from which it splintered. Both, and most others, would claim a more generic core of believing that Jesus is the son of God who died for your sins and that he is the key to eternal salvation.

I agree with most of what you wrote, but find it dangerous to stereotype such a large group of people based on the acts of a few personal interactions (the "church people" on Sundays at the Boiserie). I too find them reprehensible, but I also know a handful of the devout (of which I do not cliam to be) who actually walk their walk & talk their talk.

My personal opinion is that most of the ills caused by the religous right are caused by fear (& ignorance) rather than a bold claim of authority. They may go hand in hand, in that the former feeds the latter, but fear is at the root of it. Read "What's the Matter with Kansas" for an excellent discussion of how the conservatives have used fear to wrestle control in areas that would clearly be better served by their counterparts.


Dang it, the beginning of my last post was cut off:

"...that core of Catholicism (aside from “love the Lord your God with all your heart”-which is impossible for a agnostic to do)-”You shall love your neighbor as yourself”"

This is not specific to Catholicism, nor is it the "core." ...


Mark, my first question is-have you read the piece in question? If not, I urge you to do so. McKibben is much more eloquent on the paradox than myself, I was merely paraphrasing what he said and applying it to my personal experience. Any religion that follows the new testament adheres to what Jesus said werre the two main commandments. So I challenge you to tell me then what the core of Christianity is, if it is not these two commandments.

I don't judge all Christians on the action of the few who I've encountered (incidently working breakfast at Bully's in Bellingham during graduate school, rather than at the Boiserie), it was just one examle of the hypocrasy tha ti have seen. I agree that I am generlizing, but you cannot talk about anything of substance without generalization, otherwise the arguement would be incomprehensiable.

I am thinking more about the good Christian people who continually vote down school bond bills and other community benefical measures, because their children are grown and they don't want their money spent on other people's children, or they don't feel that it personally benefits themselves. There's a good example in the magazine article about people in Arkansas, I believe, where closer to 90% call themselves Christians and they are usually at the bottom or near it in education and other essential areas and the citizens continually vote down legislature that would be bebeficial for the greater good of the community ("God helps those who help themselves.") I saw this in Spokane and you can see it in national legislature as well. See the examples above in the post as well. I think you"re reading too much into my response to Arie.

I chose to single out Catholicism as a fairly benevolent religion, because it is what I know and was singled out by the author in the article.(However, he did mention that they seem to spend a lot of their resources and efforts of late to promote pro-life issues) Give me examples of what other religions do. My cousin's wife who is active in the church, not Catholic, but I don't know which one, went to Africa and while they provided some assitance, the trip was about converting the Africans and saving their souls.

I am familiar with "What's The Matter With Kansas?" and like Thomas Frank, but I haven't read it and I think that both claims are legitimate. I recently read about a group of turbo Christians who have decided to move to South Carolina, en mass, to infiltrate the civil service and government posts (school distiricts and local governemental posts) in order to create a conservative utopia with laws that would ban abortion, gay marriage, etc...if it is ignorance then why do the have sophisticated answers to evolution, why homosexuality is a crime, why abortion is wrong, etc...? I agree there is some fear of the other, some ignorance, but also a lot of arrogant certainity as well.


'Turbo Christians'?? Who the hell are they?

The 85% stat is pretty high (and a bit scary for a non Christian). I checked the 2001 census in Australia, and 25% either stated no religion, or did not state their religion (this includes Jedi - as was the fashion at the time). 70% said they were Christian, although in my personal experience I think a lot of these are just going through the motions - and are not all to be considered 'true believers'.

I tend to think of religions primarily as clubs - and in the modern world the club is a kind of tribe substitute. I believe that those who subscribe to religions are more often than not just people who want to belong somewhere, and feel safety in numbers. Consequently, strict adherence to the morality of religions is quite low (at least in my experience). It also seems that in the case of Christianity specifically, there is quite a strong emphasis on the belief side of things, rather than the actions required to live a Christian life. It's ultimately through belief (in) and submission to God that you go to heaven, and although this is supposed to influence your behaviour in such a way as to make you live according to Christian morals - it obviously hasn't worked very well over the years. This aspect always makes me think of the guys writing up the accounts of Christ's life many decades after he died, thinking how best to attract people to their new club, and thinking that if they emphaised the importance of belief, then they would be able to attract more converts.
Lastly, I've always wondered what it is about conservatism that attracts people to it. I thought people would be attracted to having fun? I read the following quote once - "Puritanism* - the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy". I had a good laugh at that. Written by an American - H.L. Mencken.
(*I think this is close enough to conservatism.)

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