Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why We're Slow Learners

Change comes when a people are uncomfortable. Small changes have come throughout American history when business required it or a group of uncomfortable citizens demanded it. As a whole, Americans are not nearly uncomfortable enough for change to come anytime soon.

Reason Number One: The majority of our country has its physical needs met, though poorly. We have to work for them (some of us harder than others) but the majority of us are sheltered, fed, relatively healthy, and warm. Most people who are comfortable will maintain or increase their comfort by staying within their zone. Conversations about controversial subjects are uncomfortable, especially when pertaining to religion and politics. I don't know why. People whose needs are met to a lesser degree spend too much time working hard to "waste" their free time on politics, and need to believe that there is a better place than this one. Which brings us to:

Reason Number Two: Religion is enfeebling America. When people believe that they will get to heaven eventually, that everything happens for a reason, and that their mistakes (no matter how many times the same ones are made) will always be forgiven if they ask, they are less likely to focus on the problems that exist in the here and now. Or they believe that those problems will not matter so much (as suggested by our resident "logician") if we just accept Jesus. Those people who are religious and interested in politics tend to follow the party line or the Preacher's line. If it's all in god's hands, then it's not in their's, so why bother?

Just a reminder: Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. The current President makes mention of religion and religious issues more than others. Faith-Based initiatives are put in motion. The President interferes in legislation on the behalf of religious issues. Non-Christians grow weary of persecution and seek to remove religious symbols from government. Social issues and debate hinge on religious doctrine.

On May 14th, the Mother of a March in DC will be calling attention to the:
3,355 US Soldiers killed in Iraq
25,090 US Soldiers wounded in Iraq


United We Lay said...

I know the link to religion is going to piss a lot of people off. I dont care. People who believe in a better life somewhere else are less likely to try to improve this one. There are exceptions, of course, but the politics of the religious are so often completely clouded by god that they cannot see the opinions of the "godless" as valid. That hurts America.

daveawayfromhome said...

The problem is not religion, the problem is a personality type which social psychologist Bob Altemeyer calls a "right-wing authoritarian" (RWA), which incidentally, is not necessarily pertaining to right-wing politics so much as to "established" authorities. Read the latest Altemeyer here. Or, easier, read John Dean's book, "Conservatives Without Conscience" (chapter 2) for a short, but informative, summation of Altemeyer's work. Here are the characteristics of a "right-wing authoritarian":
1) Almost unquestioning acceptance of Authority.
2) Aggressive (including violent) support of that Authority.
3) Strong belief in the conventional, i.e. "traditional" values.

Sound familiar? Yet these people existed in communist countries as well as here. It's a mind-set. The problem is not religion, it is bad behavior. The mind-set merely uses religion as a garment. It's not so much about religion as it is an inability or unwillingness to think for one's self or take responsibility for one's actions (the idea that all you have to do to go to heaven is accept Jesus as your Personal Savior is called "cheap grace" by more responsible religious types).

Religion is just a life philosophy dressed up in easy-to-understand clothes. That some idiots use it as a ticket for a free ride is not the fault of religion. If they didnt use religion, they'd use something else.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Enfeebling is a good word for the effect of religion.

TomCat said...

I find that my faith empowers me to commitment to oppose the Bush Reich and the Pharisees and Saducees of the religious right. Is religion the problem, or is it the improper use of religion by despicable leaders?

Kathleen said...

Interesting read, but I think your premise is flawed. Historically, Americans were far more religious and were considered very tied to the church during their most forward thinking, innovative and productive years. After all, it was religious Americans who built this country in a relatively short period of time to lead the world in the areas of science, technology and human rights.

"Conversations about controversial subjects are uncomfortable, especially when pertaining to religion and politics."

These conversations have always been uncomfortable. I don't think that religion is the culprit. I think that we have become pitiful victims of our over-indulgence and the disappearance of civility. It is fairly easy to suck the passion and drive out of a person by burying them in entitlements and requiring nothing. Of course, I realize that it is politically incorrect to suggest such a thing. Just my opinion.

United We Lay said...

The Americans who have made the changes have historically (except for the Black Civil Rights Movement) been atheists or non-religious.

daveawayfromhome said...

"Acceptance of traditional religious beliefs appears to have more to do with having a personality rich in authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism, than with beliefs per se... Authoritarians just absorb whatever beliefs their authorities teach."
Bob Altemeyer,
The Authoritarian Specter

Before anyone religious gets all offended, this doesnt necessarily apply to everyone. But dont think that lets you off the hook, either.

Balloon Pirate said...

I see far fewer examples of religion being used as an opiate, as you state , in this country, but a lot of examples of Christianist doctrine being used as a weapon.

Yes, there are rightwing nutjob holy rollers out there, like Dobson, Robertson and that creepy catholic league guy. There are also active, committed people of faith who work to oppose the reactionary forces currently running the country, and to also simply work for the common good. I know of a group of very religious young women who go to a local university, who have spent every spring and winter break going down to New Orleans and working in the 19th ward. They have joined up with a non-religious based social action network, and are working as much as they can to help them.

Groups like the Christian Alliance for Progress and the National Council of Churches are both Christian and Progressive, and have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who do their part to fight the Christianist right.

Far more dangeous, I feel, are the people who use the Christianist weapon of fear to get what they want, without actually believing what they say. I believe Bush and Cheney are this way, although they would never admit to this.

Karl Rove, however, admits to being an atheist.

It comes down to the person, not the values they espouse.


Bryan said...

Well written. I, however, am not one of those kind of Christians. I've made some more recent posts on my blog that you may or may not be interested in.

Post Titles:
Prophecy Unfolding
The Future of Food
The Amero
An Educating Tulsa Seminar

And may I say that I don't believe Bush to be a real Christian at all, but rather one who knows very well how to use dumbed down Christians to further the cause of a world-wide fascist dictatorship.

Have a nice weekend.

undergroundlogician said...


Gee, first off, you know full well what kind of response happens when you make posts like this. I'm sure you'll get all sorts of activity on your site. Don't take the number of comments you get on this one as a sign, though, that you are making an impact with your message.

Specifically, you're interpreting me as one who is with the "just accept Jesus" crowd? After all my explaining about the Catholic position on this blogsite, that is your final conclusion?

I certainly DO NOT take you for an idiot, so it must be that you are stubborn to the extreme in your refusal to hear or read anything that counters your anti-religious agenda. What you end up doing is countering the very purposes you have established in this blogsite. Mr. Orwell would be scratching his head in wonderment by now. Is this your intent, or are you searching hard for religious certainty?

You offer us YET ONCE AGAIN, a perfect example of using extremes as examples of the mainstream. Your constant use of overgeneralization is an indicator that you have a deep spiritual problem, and it is by no means an intellectual one. I have no doubt you are a very intelligent person. Somewhere there is lodged within you something that has tricked your imagination to accept the extreme as normal. It somehow serves a needed purpose (though very destructive) to ignore the normal range of religious expression and cling to the wierd or imbalanced.

I am concerned for you, no matter how much you despise my comments or my being the loathsome "resident logician." I'm not here just to piss you off or foil your intentions for sport. There are methods to my perceived "madness."

Therefore, I ask, Why do you constantly do this? What do you hope to accomplish by using such methods of misinformation? Is this a malicious attempt to disinform?

The answer is within you...I hope you find peace. I really do.



I can agree with most of what you said, for there are a lot of church denominations whose doors I will not darken for the reasons you allude to. I would only add that there are very healthy views that hold to authority properly, one main one is that of holding to the authority of Jesus Christ that prevents such despicable displays of false religion. For those "cheap grace" folks, their agenda is kept intact: they get to name themselves as Christians and do what they damn well want to do and call it Christian. The rest of us pilgrims, who are trying to slog throught the trials of life, have abuse heaped on us for their irresponsibility. Nothing has changed much in two millenia.

For Catholics, the authority of Christ was given to the Church by Christ prior to his resurrection. This authority is found in the ex-cathedra declarations of the Pope and magesterial teachings from the body of doctrine and the ecumenical councils. They form a ground of certainty for us to understand the meaning and intent of what Christ taught. It eliminates the private interpretation that often leads people to "cheap grace." More on that later.

daveawayfromhome said...

But do you question that authority, or would that be presumptuous of you?

Cranky Yankee said...

For Catholics, the authority of Christ was given to the Church by Christ prior to his resurrection. This authority is found in the ex-cathedra declarations of the Pope and magesterial teachings from the body of doctrine and the ecumenical councils. They form a ground of certainty for us to understand the meaning and intent of what Christ taught. It eliminates the private interpretation that often leads people to "cheap grace." More on that later.

This sounds like a fancy way of saying, "god told us we are the true religion." Don't all religions say the same thing? Why would the Catholic church be any more valid than, say, the Greek Orthodox Church?

Again, this is not an atempt at snark. These are questions to which I have never received an adeqaute answer. I find great divergence from the teachings of Christ in the Hierarchical Authoritarian structure of Christian churches as they exist today. I really believe that Jesus would crap himself if he saw the Vatican today.

daveawayfromhome said...

The Catholic Church, however much its work may be connected to God and works of the soul, is not run by God, but by Man, and is therefore imperfect. Imperfect, and liable to both error and corruption, and so not to be believed unquestioningly. The same goes for any religious organization, or secular organization for that matter. Unquestioning obedience (or questioning obedience that nevertheless obeys) are sure roads to injustice and corruption, for what human can resist such absolute power?

Questioning Power is the only way to assure that you are not selling your soul without even looking at the contract.

United We Lay said...

Then you're not looking.

I fully admit that not all Christians are like this, but the ones who are certianly overpower the ones who aren't. I see all religion, not just Christianity as enfeebling, but it is the Christians of this nation who are hurting our freedom the most.

Considering you told me not too long ago that many of my problems would seem better if I just accepted Jesus, yes, you are the person to whom I am referring, and for you to accuse me of using misinformation is absolutely laughable.

Balloon Pirate said...

Nice response. I could say the exact same thing to you--that you deliberately overlook people who don't fit your stereotype in order to make a point. Does it resolve anything?


United We Lay said...

I don't. I fully admit that this is a stereotype that does not represent all Christians. It does, however, represent most that I have met, and I am not in an overly evangelical area. My area is mostly made up of Catholics and Jews. Religon of all kinds is a serious problem and always has been where progress is concerned, and it is only when a large majority of people buck religion that actual change occurs.

United We Lay said...

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A 27-year-old Austin man was arrested on Friday and charged with placing an unexploded bomb containing some 2,000 nails outside an abortion clinic in the state's capital.

The explosive device also included a propane tank and a mechanism "akin to a rocket," Austin Police Commander David Carter said.

The device was discovered on Wednesday in the parking lot of the Austin Women's Health Center, police said.

The Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force -- made up of federal, state and local law enforcement authorities -- arrested Paul Ross Evans, who authorities said was on parole for an unspecified crime.

Evans was charged with violating federal laws banning the manufacture of explosives and interfering with access to an abortion clinic. He appeared before a federal magistrate, and was being held without bail.

No further arrests were anticipated in the case. "The threat is over," Carter said.

A robot was used to disarm the bomb after the unmarked clinic building and an apartment complex were evacuated, police said on Thursday.

This was the first bombing attempt this year at an abortion clinic, according to the National Abortion Federation, which tracks violence against abortion providers.

Four incidents of attempted bombing or arson were reported in 2006, the NAF said. More than 40 abortion clinic bombings have occurred since 1977, with the last reported in 2001.