This is shaping up to be one of the most difficult elections for me since I became aware of the true nature of what abortion does. Yes, because of my faith, I have been one of the ?one issue? voters who see killing half a million children a year in this country as the overriding issue.
Problem is, since I started voting pro-life (for the first President Bush), I have seen dwindling results. The death penalty is stronger than it was, needless war has been waged, and still even partial-birth abortion is legal.
Since Uncle Ronnie, the Republicans have presumed that voters like me are stuck with them. What seems often to me to be an unholy alliance has allowed them to toss many of the broader values we hold into the dustbin while paying barely more than lip-service to curtailing what I see as little different from the holocaust (even when they held the White House AND legislative majorities).
Now the DNC has introduced a religious undercurrent in their convention, at least that is what they want me to see... well, I have to be at the very least skeptical. Dean?s influence reeks in the convention as a whole, and I have to question any viability of the inclusion as little more than a cynical ploy.
Ok, what about the individuals?
John McCain has taken the recent Republican tack to the logical extreme, presuming his lackluster record on this core pro-life concern is better than Obama?s pathetic one. But I have concerns about both what he has said about his faith and what actions (or lack there-of) that ?faith? has led to. That and the annoying fact that I remember when the word ?friend? was reserved for not only for folks you actually know, but for those who are actually close to you (ooops, cynical opinionated annoyance showing there...).
Barack Obama, however, seems to have one thing going for him in this conversation: I accept that he is a real Christian. Let me be clear, I disagree with him on abortion, but I have seen no reason to deny his faith in Jesus. True, I think he is either badly informed or perhaps deceived on the issue, but he is not trying to portray himself as a minister of the Gospel while still holding that abortion isn?t murder. This is a departure from folks like Jackson or Sharpton; both of whom, if actual ministers of the Gospel, should know better and if not... well, that answers itself. Sen. Clinton didn?t leave me trusting the genuineness of her faith the way Sen Obama does; she has no problem lying about her experiences and that calls everything she says about Jesus in her life into question.
If anything, when I compare Sen. Obama?s ?witness? (a churchy term for his confession of faith) to Sen McCain?s, I have to admit the former seems more genuine. So where does that leave me?
I don?t see anything now in either candidate that looks remotely like there will be pro-life action on abortion if they are elected. Because I insist that I have a responsibility to vote, secondary pro-life issues (health care to take care of folks even after they?re born, ending our part in an unjustified war, and ending the death penalty) have to come into consideration. Yes, it will be a faith-based decision. No, it has not been impacted so far by anything either party or campaign has said or done to be ?inclusive? of America?s religious citizens. Honestly, I have to say that nothing I?ve seen or heard so far gives me reason to believe that either party has any intention to remember people of faith or our concerns after the votes are counted.
Well, here it is some 4 to 5 days after I read your post.
T-Pat, I'd like for you to think that I value what you write enough that I let my brain cook on it until it comes up with what I consider a reasonable response. (I hated that extended response time in my dad, how ironic).
What I see is that you anti-choice people leave out the people who are killed by their all too human mistakes.
I grew up in the fifties and early sixties, when girls, and I emphasize "girls" would disappear from our Junior High School, and reappear months later to "wild rumors" of aborted pregnancies or babies given up to adoption, or not coming back at all, just as the names of girls who died of back alley abortions.
I grew up in the era of teen suicides because of of "mistakes" and of newspaper reports of "girls" dying from self inflicted clothes-hanger abortions, of dangerous chemicals being used as to abort unwanted pregnancies.
You demand perfection where I and I believe "most" pro-choice folks just ask for the best possible in an impossible situation. Prevention and sex education.
Pro-Choice is really "Pro-Life" in the most moral and responsible way possible.
The current "pro-life" folks are really just "soul-murderers" of humans who make mistakes, they lack compassion and forgiveness for humans who don't know and who screw up.
"The current "pro-life" folks are really just "soul-murderers" of humans who make mistakes, they lack compassion and forgiveness for humans who don't know and who screw up."
Well, I disagree, Tom. I think the compassion is to make sure that women and girls who get to this point have options that don't kill the child or leave it in a home where the mother feels burdened instead of blessed. Ever talk to a woman who has aborted her child and only later found out the truth about what she did? I have. Where is the compassion in making it all but impossible for her to know before hand what she was really doing? Who winds up paying for it, the woman or the social machine that lied to her?
No, I don't agree.
This mixing of politics and religion makes me VERY nervous. Politics is all about compromise, while religion is all about absolute truth, and I cannot see how the two can be reconciled. Faith is the belief in something in the absence of objective evidence, and faith is even stronger in the face of evience to the contrary. Politics must be the exact opposite. The genius of our democracy is the separation of church and state.
Much ado about nothing. But in politics nothing is as important as keeping peoples belief in nothing, in the forefront of elections. If you can get them to profess firm belief in nothing, and to worship nothing, you can tell them anything you want as long as you tell them with the look and sound of authority.
Faith in nothing is basic training for blind faith in anything the rulers say, like for instance, "We have to invade Iraq because they have WMDs", which was immediately an obvious lie to those with Critical Thinking skills.
I'm with jmahoney53. There should be a strong separation between state and church. I'm concerned the U.S. is becoming a theocracy like Iran: the leaders of both countries act as if their "faith" provides them with moral authority to impose their will on others who have different beliefs. I prefer that faith and religion remain personal, not used to garner votes in an election. It seems politicians will do anything to get elected, but they won't lay out and execute the hard choices that we need. This pseudo-religious posturing of both candidates is scary.
You have a good point about the U.S. becoming like Iran. This is something that so many Americans miss. The Bush administration rails against theocracies in the Middle East yet works dilligently to establish one here.
Just curious, how is this tied to important local or statewide Oregon issues?
(Yes, besides the obvious fact it's a national election). I'm concerned you are missusing my OPB membership money to cover the national conventions (which NPR and PBS are already doing a fine job). PLEASE use Think Out Loud to discuss the thousands of LOCAL and STATE issues that don't get covered anywhere else. Sorry, but in my opinion your hosts and producers are being very lazy. Plus you are spending a lot of money to send your online host to Denver. What a waste :(
BooBoo, thanks for your post. You've hit on one of the editorial questions we ask ourselves all the time: how is this related to our region? What is our interest in this story? How can we take a national or even an international issue and see it through our own lens? Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don't, but our hope is that by bringing a Pacific Northwest sensibility to every topic, we get it right more often than not.
This election is so important-- not only to our region, but to the nation as a whole-- that we've committed to extensive political coverage (and yes, resources) about issues that may shape our region for decades to come. The conventions offer a chance to find and question influential people from our region and on the national scene who will be shaping the policies that we have to live with in the future.
I don't know if you caught the show on health care that we did yesterday: it did what we strive to do every day... bring together policy makers like State Rep. Ron Maurer (R-Grants Pass) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to explain the competing Republican and Democratic health care plans to two people from Oregon who want change-- a person who has no health insurance, and somebody who feels he's paying too much for the insurance he has. Health care is a national issue, of course, but it's also of great interest and importance to people in our region. Bringing our public officials into contact with people who have to live with the consequences of the policies they make is one of Think Out Loud's highest callings. And it would have been pretty difficult to nab Congressman Blumenauer for an hour during convention week to answer questions if we hadn't been there ourselves.
This is the first time that OPB has sent anybody the conventions, and one reason we've done that this yearis that we have a forum in Think Out Loud where people can discuss what's going on there, and interact with those attending.
Think Out Loud
This sort of thing in politics just amplifies how commercializated our culture is. Wasn't this country founded on seperation of church and state? For me, the more religious one is the more I have reason to be worried. I don't trust those to "leave things in God's hands" especially running our country. I also don't feel you have to go to church or be part of an organizated religion to be a moral, just and capable person. I understand the both presidential canidates must place that card since there is a huge population that is looking at them as under that light but that seems less sincere and faith driven to me. If I was running as president, I would go to church too, not because it is what I believe or what I have faith in but becasue it is what is expected of me. I am not saying these candiated don't aren't believers, it just seems awfully "convenient". Churches want more say in politics and politician want to be elected.... Goes hand-in-hand now.
As a non-Christian and non-Jew (I am Buddhist), I am dismayed at the pandering to those groups by Republicans and Democrats when the founding fathers (no mothers) tried to separate religion from government. Health care, education, environment and Iraq are issues that have no particular religion in mind. And I object most strenuously to those who inject those beliefs into those issues--particularly abortion and same sex marriage. And to make candidates declare their faith is flatly wrong.
I would prefer less religion, not more.
As an atheist, the mixing of politics and faith also makes me nervous, but that is more because of heavy handed evangelicals that have been ascendant lately and the myopically single issue voters who ignore every issue but one.
But it has also troubled me that politics on the left has excluded religion entirely. The fact that I am uncomfortable with faith itself does not mean that I'm uncomfortable with people of faith or that I don't respect the fact that their faith informs their decisions. I just don't want their faith to control MY decisions.
I think the strength of our democracy is that it embodies the core spirit of many faiths without adhering to one or another
I also agree with jmahoney53. Church and state are supposed to be separate in this nation, and the fact that they are becoming more intertwined makes me extremely nervous. Faith is the antithesis of reason, and has no place in politics. People can and should practice their religion/faith as they please in their private lives, but it should never be an issue that deserves such attention in national politics. I want to hear candidates talk about REAL issues - like healthcare and the economy - NOT religion.
I agree that "Church" and State should be separate and that now both major parties are pandering to the People of the Book (Christian/Judaisim/Islam) in order to win elections. However, I do not agree with Alaric (below) that: [quote] Whether or not Christianity, and Protestant at that, is by far the majority choice of religion in America, the President represents everyone, Athiest, Baptist, Muslim, and everyone in between.[/quote] Many of us are Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, Confucian, Taoist, Shinto, indigenous religions and definitely NOT in between but also represented by the President. These other religions have very different views towards the relationship of God/dess and humans and the nature of life for humans, though the Do and Don't concepts towards other humans are remarkably similar. It is false and insulting of politicians and the media, especially NPR and PBS, to continuously use only Bible references and views as all "religion" and "faith." The views of the hosts and reporters are limited and ignorant, though they have a professional duty to educate themselves. The narrowness of this very radio show discussion is a great illustration of why the founders' principle of separation of religion and state must be upheld and enforced.
This courting of evangelicals is ironic, scary and insulting. How and why you would encourage a group who directly conflicts and often engages in bigotry towards a good portion of your members makes no sense. It is another terrible attempt by the Democratic party to win at all costs---perhaps, this is simply the unavoidable reality of politics at this point in the USA.
You said it all in one paragraph, I feel like I don't even need to comment. Courting religious groups is sickening and unnerving true, unavoidable reality though, I hope not. We can begin to rally against this trend. Look at the unanimity of the other comments. Almost all of them share the sentiment of this one. Thanks again for stating the point so well Scott.
May I suggest a different, perhaps more effective style? All of your posts go something like this:
People who are (circle one: conservative, republican, religious) are (choose one: bigots, racists, exclusive ) and therefore they are wrong and I don't like them.
Whether this is true or not is irrelevent. This is exactly the attitude that drives and motivates right wing religious folks feel under attack and feel they need to put aside other issues such as health care, education, labor rights, the environment to defend themselves against. I urge the Democratic party and liberals everywhere to take a different approach, one that respectfully disagrees so we can move forward.
Thanks for the same suggestion you always make. Unfortunately this logic you've used never goes deep enough, it is superficial and trite. Requesting me to speak about something while saying nothing.
Yes they are all exclusive, the very act of having a faith means all those people have already done what you are asking me not to. Even if not directly, then by proxy, they have declared every other faith wrong, declaring they have the answer to the unanswerable. Most of them also declare they are the chosen people and I am going to hell or at least eternal death. I know this because my father spoke those words to me. This is the height of exclusivity. How strange you don't see this.
How strange you have repeatedly lumped groups together on this site, based on stereotypes with absolutely no justification, except your personal anecdotes. Actually you just did it in your post by suggesting you understand what "attitude drives and motivates right wing religious folks." Now you ask me not to do the similar---of which the structure is really dissimilar, because I have sound logic on which to do so.
"I" repeatedly lump groups together on this site, based on stereotypes? Whew :)
Look, your style is not winning any converts. It's great for preaching to the choir, but you're not going to find any common ground with folks who think differently than you do this way.
I'm not trying to win any converts. For I have nothing to convert them to.
The centerpiece of what you are suggesting I do, or we do, is to TOLERATE THE INTOLERANT! This is something I am not willing to do!
"The centerpiece of what you are suggesting I do, or we do, is to TOLERATE THE INTOLERANT! This is something I am not willing to do!"
I agree. The religious right is always on the attack and when they are challenged they claim victimhood. They are always trying to divide people against each other, spreading their hate and lies, and distorting the bible to justify their attacks on people.
If some Christians seek to codify their particular beliefs into the laws of our country, doesn't that make them exactly the same as the Islamic countries they seem to fear so much?
Of course it does, but remember these Christians don't see it that way, because they believe their faith is the correct faith. They forget to acknowledge the fundamental barrier that it is after all 'faith'---not 'fact!' That is why it is kept out of politics by intelligent and rational people.
I agree that any individual religion shouldn't be able to "codify" their specific beliefs into the laws of the nation. But is it any better to exclude them because they have faith or beliefs? And they have felt excluded. That is why they have voted for people that made them feel included, even against their own interests.
Of course it is! Religious belief or faith is not commensurate with the color of your skin, eyes and hair. We are repeatedly told to be respectful towards religions as if they were all the same and just another character feature that we can't control, or shouldn't be judged by. Faith and belief have real-world impacts.
For practical purposes, religious belief is the equivalent of faith in any belief system, whether it is communism, Nazism or the powers of Shirley MacLaine. Religions should not be included under some generic umbrella of religion---under which everything contained within is acceptable. Religions need to be judged on there individual beliefs. If the beliefs themselves contradict and discriminate against the principles of the party, it is ignorant and dangerous to include them---and it is an insult to members of your group.
I guess we just can't agree. I can except that their religion, whatever it is, is a fundamental driver in how they make their decisions and I DO judge the decision itself on it's own merits, and some religions (or whatever) based on their overall tenets, but I don't see why someone should hide or be ashamed of what motivates their choices especially if those choices are positive ones.
I think it is just as bad to lump all christian groups together as "christians" or all faiths together as "religion" and dismiss them because of WHY they believe what they believe.
I never suggested the religious should hide what they believe. I suggested the Democratic party should not court Evangelicals because several of their beliefs are in direct conflict with the principles of the Democratic party.
I specifically said religions "should not be included under some generic umbrella of religion" and they should "be judged on there individual beliefs." This is nothing to do with "WHY they believe what they believe"---it is about WHAT they believe.
But you are lumping evangelicals into one pejorative category. I know some who I agree with on many subjects and others who I'm totally divergent from. Being "evangelical" is not the divisive issue for me. Heck, I know a fair number of environmental evangelicals that I consider to be WAY out there. I don't judge all environmental people (or myself) by them. I'm just saying that they shouldn't be excluded because of it and they have been so the effort to include them deliberately is a somewhat balancing gesture, like affirmative action. Pandering would be way different.
Evangelical is evangelical---as they have so defined themselves in the USA. This whole unwillingness for many to generalize (especially when they are supported by statistics) is absurd and counter-intuitive and counter-productive. If we do this all the time, it would be hard to talk about anything. We shouldn't be balancing religion at all. It shouldn't be brought up---period. If it wasn't, it would resolve all these issues.
Thank you for this conversation.
Of course, religion in politics is nothing new, but I too desire the SECULAR office of President to be just that - SECULAR. As it became more and more apparent that Obama was pandering to religious factions, I sent a note to his campaign to that effect. I received no reply, of course ( they must be awful busy over there ).
Whether or not Christianity, and Protestant at that, is by far the majority choice of religion in America, the President represents everyone, Athiest, Baptist, Muslim, and everyone in between.
The American government was designed to be SECULAR. There is a separation between church and state for very good reasons. It's sad to see a waning power like the USA slide into such a deranged state of political nonsense.
I'm voting for Chuck D.
Chuck D. Nice! I second the motion in this hour of chaos. If the U.S. president is to represent all Americans, not just those in their religious posse, secularity provides a vehicle to achieve the verisimilitude of impartiality.
and I resent having the "Old Testament" Christians impose their hellfire and damnation judgments on those of us who are "New Testament" Christians, practicing the love and acceptance preached by Jesus Christ.
I think that it is important to recognize that, while Christianity is the majority religion in America, there are others in this country. I think the DNC is supposed to have a representative of Judaism there as well (the RNC gets Joe Lieberman), not sure about Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism?
When we speak about being religious in this context it seems that we are speaking about being Christian. While I understand that Evangelical Christians carry serious voting power, this pandering becomes a slippery slope. By reflecting the interests of one religion more than another we are walking a fine line, though technically not breaking constitutional provisions, as no law has been established. I am always disappointed when a politician makes a decision based in faith, it becomes a game of favorites and non-Christians are the forgotten step-child of major party politics.
I am turned off when I see canidates use religion as a means for transportation to the White house. It all comes across as a little phony for me. I would rather see someone who is accepting of all peaceful religions as president.
From Portland, OR
I am of the opinion that politicians and their parties pander to religious groups and through religious means out of necessity. In general, people today are not used to thinking deeply about political or social issues so in order to get peoples' attention political groups use emotional appeals. There are the fear-mongers who appeal with 'us-vs them' or 'beware the bogeyman' tactics. There are the faith-mongers who appeal with 'they don't believe' or 'their moral values are weak or off-base' tactics. There are family buzzwords that spark emotive responses.
In short, politicians have increasingly used emotive triggers and buzzwords to get attention as the public has (seemingly at least) done less and less thinking. People will never be immune to emotional appeals, even if we do get mentally lazy.
Keep faith in the home and out of the political sphere. Theocracy is part of what prompted the early settlers of this country to leave western Europe and begin fresh.
Well said. It should also be pointed out that ignorance breeds fear, and the reason why fear-mongering tactics are so effective in this country is the overwhelming ignorance of the American populace. The evangelical right-wingers have a whole host of bogeymen with which to scare the ignorant, and they have no qualms with pulling them out one after the other.
The thing is, Christian Democrats just assume that other Christians believe in the Jesus teachings like "even as you treat the least of these ...", but Conservative Evangelical Republicans reject those teachings as "Socialism" and as "Feminized" Christianity.
So what does "God Bless America" mean? The teachings of the forgiving and compassionate "God" Jesus or the judgemental and punishing father figure "God" of the Conservatives?
And let's remember that the Nazi soldiers belt buckles read "Got Mit Uns", and the Allies defeated them and their Christian God in WW2.
Why do I, an atheist, have an easier time accepting a religious politician than religious people have accepting a non-religious candidate?
You do a stupid thing humans refer to as "thinking"?
I am very unhappy with the emphasis on God/religion/prayer at the democratic convention. The US Constitution includes "freedom of religion" which means each person is free to believe as she/he wishes. I am a Unitarian Universalist. Our faith includes all religious beliefs from atheist to pagan, to methodist, to episcopalian to Roman Catholic to Buddhist and everything in between. I dislike hearing "God bless..." this and "God bless America." We must allow for the fact that some US voters don't believe in a god or believe in several gods and are excluded with such "God" talk. The emphasis on God feels staged to gain votes. I don't like it at all.
The most important religious freedom is freedom FROM religion, period. Between Obama's Faith-Based-Initiative pandering and genuflecting to the Leviticus crowd at Saddleback, it's obvious that we're talking about mighty fine shades of grey when trying to distinguish between him and the religious lunacy infecting recent political history.
I can't believe we accept so much intertwining of religion in politics in this country. Let churches support whomever they please, but keep the religious talk out of the political speeches and platforms. Government should be secular and public policy should not be driven by religious morals. Period.
As a side note, even if I DID think public policy should be morally driven, wouldn't the stronger moral authority come from someone who treated others kindly because of secular values, not because by doing so they would get into heaven? I am more convinced by people who are driven to be "good" through intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation.
We haven't addressed the possibility that those who seek the presidency are driven by certain levels of ego, megalomania, or God forbid, truly good intentions to do right things. Right now the candidates' focus is given to winning at all costs. They find themselves with low ratings in one group or another so they create a sales pitch to appease the sleeping sheep. What may be more sad than candidate pandering is the indictment against the American people concerning their inability to critically think about their situation and demand real solutions to our problems. Right now we're fighting over scraps but the meat is off the table.
"Let churches support whomever they please, but keep the religious talk out of the political speeches and platforms. Government should be secular and public policy should not be driven by religious morals. Period."
In fact that is what Jesus taught: "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars and render unto God that which belongs to God", or similar words. It is ironic that right-wing Christians reject that very specific Jesus teaching, isn't it? Keep religion separate from government, how hard is that to understand?
Still a good teaching, a couple thousand years later.
And still unlearned, except for a few.
You can like it or hate it. Id really doesn't matter. It's a political reality right now. The alternative is that the Democrats lose another election. One thing the Republicans are good at that the Democrats are late to learn, is that you have to PLAY THE GAME!
When do we change this game? It isn't working for us in the long run.
The great political game will not change until people are so physically miserable that revolution is the only solution. Americans are too comfortable and apathetic to do more than complain. Once the economy bottoms out and the real reprecussions of Peak Oil start manifesting, then people will start to actually do something. Too bad it takes a crisis to cause real change.
I come from a fundamentalist religious background, so I think I have some insights on how to change the game. The one thing that these folks feel is that they do not get respect from Democrats or the left. It may not be intentional by the Dems or the left (but in many individual cases on this board, it obviously is). They feel that middle America, religiously conservative white folks are the last safe group to mock. They feel that liberals openly mock and disrespect them, while claiming open mindedness and showing respect for every other religion. This sense of being "dissed" and even attacked has caused them to circle the wagons and feel like they need to band together, driving them to be single issue voters. If you stop giving them the sense that they are under attack by the left, they will return to supporting other liberal causes such as health care, education, labor unions etc.
Stop feeling like there is nothing that can be done, or that the only option is an mean spirited, anti, aggressive option.
If the left gave up on a few things like gay marriage, for example (gays can't marry in France...as a reference point. In Germany, the "sort of" can but not with the same rights as straight couples), you take away a bunch of their motivation to oppose the left and find more common ground.
"I come from a fundamentalist religious background,"
The religious right keeps attacking people that I love and respect and I wish they would stop. They have gotten their way for far too long and I will defend the people I love from the religious right because the religious right is really the religious wrong, they distort the Bible, rejecting the Jesus teachings and warping and twisting Christianity into a religion of hate and divisiveness instead of the love, forgiveness, compassion, and inclusiveness that Jesus taught.
The separation of Church and State does not mean that people involved in politics cannot be religious. It prohibits a State mandated religion, or the State preventing participation in a religion.
Religion is spoken about by politicians because it is a way to express to a large portion of the population that they have a shared background and identity. I appreciate Obama sharing how his faith affects his decision making, because it's about taking care of the least of these and that is a value I share with him, as I know many other Christians do.
Christians are making a mistake by wanting to make Christianity some sort of official religion and all politicians must pass a litmus test. As we've seen again and again churches are always splitting up over minor disagreements. I realize that this is unlikely, but what happens when the government selects some official doctrine. They are sure to leave out many peoples' beliefs.
Let church and state be separate in order to preserve religion.
"I realize that this is unlikely, but what happens when the government selects some official doctrine."
Yep. Around 200 CE (AD to the religious), a fellow named Irenaeus decided that he only wanted one interpretation of the gospels and so he gathered up all the other apparently hundreds of other versions and burned them. The only surviving version is the Thomas gospel which is radically different from the big four and was discovered as part of the Dead Sea scrolls.
Rulers have always corrupted religions to their own benefit, rewriting the books to fit their own politics and so no religion is credible.
I agree with your premise, but am afraid that until Roman General (and soon to be Emperor) Constantine?s ?conversion? 312 AD and subsequent ?nationalization? of the church, there was no such issue. Fortunately, we have a large number of documents that predate him to confirm that what we have in the New Testament (especially as represented by Nestle-Aland 27) is basically unchanged from what was originally accepted at first by use and only later by canonicity. No offense, but since you are now into an area of specialty on my part, I want to clarify some things where it seems you are misinformed.
?Yep. Around 200 CE (AD to the religious), a fellow named Irenaeus decided that he only wanted one interpretation of the gospels and so he gathered up all the other apparently hundreds of other versions and burned them.?
Care to provide any evidence that Irenaeus of Lyons burned materials in his own location (he was a bishop in what is now France), much less was able to collect materials from elsewhere across Christendom and destroy them also? Even any links to speculation that might support your contention that actually have any archaeological or scholarly support? Irenaeus had strong words against the Gnostics, as seen in Against Heresies, but he neither had enough authority, nor enough respect (even though trained by Polycarp) to pull such a stunt off. Further, since Eusebius mentions the ?Gospel of Thomas? as one of the spurious documents he was familiar with in his Ecclesiastical History some 130 years later, I have to suspect your source?s accuracy.
Perhaps they were thinking of Caliph Uthman of Medina?s decree (hundreds of years later) that all but the his approved copy of the Qur?an were to be burned and all further copies of the text were to be made from that one copy.
?The only surviving version is the Thomas gospel which is radically different from the big four and was discovered as part of the Dead Sea scrolls.?
The original "Gospel of Thomas" Koine Greek fragments were found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt in the late 1800s. The complete version (which had been translated into Coptic) was in a codex found in Nag Hammadi (the site of an ancient Gnostic enclave) in Egypt in 1945.
Fragments sometimes identified as portions of the Gospel of Mark were found with the Qumran library (the ?Dead Sea Scrolls?), but I haven?t seen anything to imply that anything linked to the ?Gospel of Thomas? were. Also, the Gospel of Thomas is a collection of 114 ?sayings? of Jesus, and while it is gnostic in nature, it is far from ?radically different? from the Gospels. There are even some within the redationistic community who see this as closely related to the presumed ?Q? resource.
Please note that I?m not arguing with you about your opinions of faith, we will disagree anyway; I do, however, hate seeing someone like yourself get such bad information and would rather clear up the errors for you and your readers...
I believe it was Elaine Pagels that I got my ideas from in a book about the Thomas Gospel. I'll freely admit to possibilities of errors and dates on my part as those are not of importance to me, what is important is that religions have always been used by rulers to abuse people and so must be rejected as completely unreliable.
There is no evidence that anyone but humans came up with all of the stories and ideas and while I can applaud the ingenuity and creativity of humans, I cannot agree that there is any proof of any supernatural being, well, except for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The radically different idea in Thomas was in "The kingdom of heaven is in man but he doesn't see it" or similar words. That puts "God" in his proper place, as you and very other human being. That is what is "holy", humans, and not some supernatural being outside of humans. We're it, we're all we have and that is the reason for all of the religious teachings.
I believe it was Rabbi Hillel (I'm likely to be mistaken) taught in the story about reciting the entire Torah on one leg in response to a challenge, he said words like "do not unto others as you would not have done unto you, and all the rest is commentary" or what we know as the Golden Rule. The Jesus version is words something like "love your neighbor as yourself". The Geneva Conventions and General George Washington version is something like "don't torture prisoners so that your enemies won't have reason or justification to torture you when you are captured".
And of course the opposite, the Conservative Republican version, "The man with the Gold makes the rules".
As I see it the battle has always been between people who respect and want to uplift humans and people who want to abuse humans for their own enrichment. And sadly, religion has not worked to end that battle. But then nothing else has either. So it is ongoing and the currently best thing I see is a scientifically based rule of man-made and agreed upon law.
Well, since it?s probably only the two of us in here anyway, I don?t think it?s overkill to continue the conversation and respond.
?The radically different idea in Thomas was in ?The kingdom of heaven is in man but he doesn't see it? or similar words. That puts "God" in his proper place, as you and very other human being.?
I know we are not going to agree about this, but you are misreading it if you think it is different from what Jesus teaches in the four canonical Gospels. In fact, in the original Greek that is translated as ?your kingdom come? (Jesus speaking from Matt 6:10a in what is commonly called the ?Lord?s Prayer?), the verb is imperative aorist, meaning it is not tied to just future, past, or present, but is vibrantly active without a time barrier. In other words, I too can say the kingdom of heaven is within me, because I acknowledge the Jesus? kingdom exists right now in my life, just like when I was stationed in the Phillippines years ago, I still could consider myself an American because I was convinced of it in my heart.
I would further say that because the gift of the Crucifixion covers everyone, it is really those who deny the Giver and the Gift who are being addressed. There are truely gnostic passages in the document that I do disagree with, but the irony I see here is this passage could be applied to someone who rails at even the possibility that God exists...
It is all a matter of keeping context...
?The Jesus version is words something like ?love your neighbor as yourself?.?
You probably don?t want to go there either, because Jesus? complete response to a question about what the greatest commandments are from the Mosaic Law is:
And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.? (Matthew 22:37-39 ESV)
Again, kind of hard to leave God out of what He said if you keep the context...
You like the little stuff but it distracts you from the larger in my opinion.
"I would further say that because the gift of the Crucifixion covers everyone, it is really those who deny the Giver and the Gift who are being addressed. There are truely gnostic passages in the document that I do disagree with, but the irony I see here is this passage could be applied to someone who rails at even the possibility that God exists..."
Of course you do, you are well trained in that, but you are afraid to jump up a frame and ask yourself just why you were trained in and believe that.
"I believe, but why?"
That is the question that scares you, and that is precisely the question with the possibility of freeing you and enabling you to take control of your own life.
Your past makes you afraid of your future and that is precisely the reason that the rulers use your religion against you.
T-Pat I immediately recognized that I wrote this for myself and not for you, you will write for yourself.
You're still searching for what someone else said.
Buddha said something like "look inside yourself", which my goodness, sounds like "the kingdom of heaven is in man but he doesn't see it", or similar words.
Don't you get it? It's tag, you're it! You're the one who can forgive! You're the one who can punish without mercy! You can be Dick Cheney. You can be pres Bush! You can be Barack Obama. You can be the man you aspired to be when you were 13 or 14 years old. You can be Mother Teresa.
Dare I say it? You are the "God" that you want to be. I hope that you choose wisely.
"I am human, nothing human is foreign to me", quote summady.
You're the one who can be the best human being you can be!
Or the worst that mankind has seen, it is your choice as a human and that choice is yours and nobody elses!
I have no problem with the larger stuff. If anything, I'm rather annoyed at myself for editing while you were in, you miss the second edit... i went back once too many times (sigh).
You might consider some things that don't appear in my profile:
I grew up in an alcohol soaked home where my da was a confirmed athist and my mum thought church had social value only.
I first read the Bible in high school to use against the Bible thumper Christians, and to my shame I employed it regularly in that capacity for a long time; you see, none of my classmates were perfect...
I was Chan Buddhist by the time I was 15 (no, I can?t recite the Noble Eightfold Path from memory, sorry).
I was a convinced pot-head hedonsit by the time I went into the military (I discovered I could reach a state of Wu Shin (sp?)(or ?no mind) in meditation without nearly the work if I just got stoned... didn?t go over well with my teachers and I went my own way as a result).
While I was in the Air Force, I even got a girl pregnant and paid for an abortion when she insisted that it was important for our relationship (she was sleeping with someone else in less than two months, but that?s another story).
I think you get the picture.
I was the guy I wouldn?t really want in a Bible study... hostile and willing to take anything for advantage, even if I had to twist the meaning by taking it out of context. The guy who got me thinking still doesn?t know (unless he has gone Home) that his witness lead some three years later to my finally being convinced.
Problem is, I?m still not perfect. Do I still have problems sometimes trusting the Living One? Yup. Have I seen enough to believe that Jesus is God With Us (Emanuel)? Without question, yes.
Part of my reason for trying to engage you at a detailed level is to remind you that there are believers who can think and reason, have applied those faculties to the questions of faith, and come to the conclusion that there is a God and I am not Him.
"Part of my reason for trying to engage you at a detailed level is to remind you that there are believers who can think and reason, have applied those faculties to the questions of faith, and come to the conclusion that there is a God and I am not Him"
I have never doubted that you are intelligent and a believer. I believe that you are both.
I appreciate that you search out sources to support your belief.
I have argued with a very committed Catholic Christian person who I very much admire who has an IQ over 150. And I agree with him mostly.
I guess that I am very much on the side of "Jesus" Christians, and so I agree with you most of the time.
I think its just Tom and I here after this long (he, I, and perhaps scottmil are usually the only ones who post even just 48 hours after a show, much less four or five days later), but please feel free to let me know if you want me to let it die for being too far off the original topic.
I think what might have gotten missed is that I do believe that separation is important at the level of it being a litmus test... and your original premise was closer to the mark than others might see. What happened in the post-Constantine Roman Empire and its Byzantine child makes the case painfully well that in a political environment where there is a "national" faith, those who aspire to power will often take on the garb of that faith as a way up, bringing a corrupting influence to what is handed down as acceptable. Its one of the reasons I take pains to look to what the first three centuries had to say... back in the times when you could be turned in and punished for believing that Jesus and not Caesar was Lord and worthy of ultimate worship.
I no more trust a theocracy here than I do the rising one in Russia or the one in Iran. But lets stop for a moment and realize that the science for the bomb was conceived and developed by folks who were atheists or only associated with religion by what they were born into (feel free to look at the physicists from Einstein and Planc on... what they actually say about faith, even those who considered themselves Jews by birth, is rather unequivocal); uninformed science (when ethical ramifications are not considered) and not religion is the easiest thing for the power hungry to manipulate, since no one there has a reason to really push back against the military and social implications of their developments. Sure, they wring their hands after the fact, but they originally do the equivalent of handing the keys to the Exxon Valdez to teenagers who just see the dollar signs at the end of the trip.
Back to our now wandering topic: want to really be honest? The best thing for faith in this country would be the kind of persecution that the early church and the modern Chinese church have endured... you know, the kind of thing that extreme liberals (including some here) often imply would be ?good? for America. Faith in Christ is usually best recognized where it isn?t convenient because it makes clear what our hope really is. It won?t be pleasant for the faithful, we will suffer and I don?t wish that on anyone... but the ?blessed are you when you hunger and thirst after money and power and selfish indulgence? types will abandon the pretense and their abuse of the Good News will vanish like lake fog in a Chinook wind. Then the only Christians you will have to endure will be the ?Jesus? Christians. I submit, however, that things won?t get better for the rest of you for long. Remember, uninformed natural selection in human history favors the selfishly powerful...
imnsho, of course.
Laura from Oregon here. thanks for this great topic. I am a practicing Catholic who is very involved in my parish community and in particular youth ministry. I am a Democrat. I will be voting for Obama. My beliefs are the foundation for who I elect and how I live my life. The Democratic platform has always been one of inclusiveness and not divisiveness. This is what Jesus taught us. Peace, truth and love are His fundamental teachings. One needs to look at all the issues not just singular ones in order to select the best candidate. Religious right seem to vote singular and avoid the complex decision making that is required. I do not support abortion but do support right to choose. I support freedom of conscientiousness and separation of church and state. This war has resulted in innocent death of the already born. The current administration continues to ignore the needs of the poor and the growing lower middle class. And then there is the deceit of the current party. These are grave concerns and why Christians vote democrat. I am surprised that the religious right seems to avoid evaluating these issues against the ten commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The religious right does not represent many Christians and this needs to be known and discussed more. thank you for listening.
I really appreciate your comments. It is very thoughtful and heartfelt. As a Buddhist, I can agree with your assessment of meeting the needs of the poor, the need for peace and truth and love. We only have one life and to live it to the betterment of all of our brothers and sisters and to continue to bring it to the attention of whoever is in power. I find it ironic that many Christians invoke the name of Jesus and not his teachings. Gassho.
Thank you for your comments and the gentle reminder that the teachings should be invoked rather than the teacher. Although i am a practicing Catholic i also embrace the teachings and wisdom offered by other religions such as Buddhism. All faiths need to be humble and not claim to be the one way as all are limited by human capacity to believe. All true faiths (declared and yet undeclared) strive and aspire for peace, truth and love - we need to work together. Gassho, Shalom, Pax, Peace
Considering the number of stories of scandal, corruption and abuse among religious leaders (Catholic priests, philandering evangelists, etc) and our leaders who are religious (bribery, torture and illegal wars), I can't understand why anyone would use faith as a barometer for a candidates moral judgment. I am not say that the religious are immoral, but the public image of established religion right now seems so tarnished, I am surprised more candidates are not trying to distance themselves from it instead of cozying up.
It would be interesting to see some statistics on curruption among professed religious politicians versus those who don't put their faith out in front.
Like it or not, religious beliefs will guide many people's values and ethics. Separation of church and state does not and should not mean that people can't take their religious views under consideration when voting on moral and ethical issues.
The debate about what those religious beliefs are should be relegated, primarily, to the individual religious institutions, but the nature of the beast is that some debates will almost certainly fall into the public realm.
That is not the same, however, as government sponsored religion, which is what the First Amendment is concerned with.
Martin Luther wrote about this issue about 500 years ago. The proper relationship between government and churches is this:
Government leaders (Princes, to Luther) should pray to the Holy Spirit for help and guidance in being just administrators of the law and its consequences. Princes should always remember they are servants of the people, not tyrants, and should behave better than they expect the people to behave. Princes primary goals should be the improvement and safety of the lives of the people.
The people are to pray for the Princes, that the Holy Spirit will help and guide them in using power wisely for the benefit of the people. They are to honor and respect the men and women holding these difficult positions and assist them in every way. When the Princes are good and just, praise should be given, and when Princes are hypocrites and tyrants fair criticism should be given. The people can even rebel if the prince is really out of line, but it better be justified.
I tend to vote for politicians who seem to be following the Great Commission as laid down by Jesus: Love God with all your mind heart and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Love God by worshipping and praying (or not) as you see fit. Love your neighbor by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, educating the ignorant, healing the sick, visiting the prisoner, and protecting the vulnerable. Politicians and other leaders who do this will probably get my vote.
In the radio announcement just before today's show, we heard, yet again, about a group of evangelicals "and pro-life" people. I grow weary of the media's uncritical habit of using this term for people who are "anti-choice," and protest, yet again to make the point that this sort of labeling automatically transforms those who want to protect a woman's right to choose into "anti-life" advocates --- which is just what the anti-choice people want to happen.
The fact is, there are plenty of people of many faiths who are pro-choice, and these groups, many of them quite well organized, never get any press. Also, why is it that the likes of mega church leaders like Rick Warren of the right,receive most if not exclusive attention while other evangelicals coming from a different position, like Jim Wallis, get little press? The full spectrum and diversity of evangelicaly influenced political positions is simply unacknowledged, which is sort of like limiting your news watching or talk show listening to Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.
Sadly, both presidential candidates are more worried about deferring to Rick Warren than they are, say, inviting some teachers, or political scientists, or philosophers, or artists, or representatives from other groups to interview them. I was appalled when I heard Warren on NPR, before his interview, say that he didn't want to ask Obama and McCain questions about "short term topics," but address bigger existential issues that had "long term implications." All well and good. But what did he say were those short-term issues? The war in Iraq and global warming. Calling these two issues merely ephemeral or consequential only in the "short term," is astounding and speaks volumes about the way Warren misjudges what's important. It is part of his juvenile apocalyptic theology which sees the end of days around the corner so it's Ok to keep driving our SUV's and trashing the planet since doomsday is immanent.
I'll close with the following item which I saw a few weeks ago during a news program that showed McCain addressing a large evangelical meeting. He opened his speech by proclaiming how nice it was to be there and how difficult it was to "do God's work in the city of Satan" --- presumably Washington DC. That's a direct quote and it reveals so much about his and his allies' continued contempt for government. And yet it is this very contempt, this radical, if you will, lack of any real FAITH in government, which ONE faction of evangelicalism insists upon, and it is the ONE religious position that receives almost exclusive attention by the media who, also, in habitually insist on equating "values voters" with conservative evangelicals, remains complicit in casting anyone liberal out into a desert of atheistic valueless reprobates. The right wing must be ecstatic every time a news "analyst" uses such language to describe the political landscape.
The irony, of course, is that it is precisely this satanic city and its governing structures which many conservative evangelicals want to control for their own benefit. It is an irony that is becoming increasingly difficult to bear.
Good point. but remember that "anti-choice" people also believe that "choice" is a euphamism as well. Going back a bit further, the word "abortion" itself was considered a euphamism.
Perhaps those of us who think the baby should have a right to choose have identified ourselves as "pro-life" in error... after all, it is such a broad term... "pro-child" would be more correct, don't you think? Of course, since I do favor treating those we both can agree are alive as if their lives matter too, I do qualify as ?pro-life? (even if you do not like the title).
The issue of secular or religious on abortion can be boiled down to a series of questions, the most basic of which is: is a person alive when the body can not breathe? If it isn't, then, yes, I am wrong and your framing the conversation as "pro-" and "anti-" choice is fair. If it is, however, then my identifying my position as "pro-life" when I try to protect any helpless one (in the womb or out) is valid.
Lets be brutally honest with ourselves: it is an old debate tactic to try to dictate the terms that define the debate. "Pro-life" was a direct response to being harshly labeled "anti-abortion"... (something accurate, but negative). Your side responded with redefining yourselves as "pro-choice" and now we are further from restoring the discussion to rational debate where we can look at facts than when those on my side objected to the "anti-abortion" appellation.
As an aside, do you know which side of the debate the original "Jane Roe" (Norma McCorvey) of Roe v Wade is now on? How about Doctor Bernard Nathanson, who was an original founder of NARAL?
Of course you can take it to the extremes of Jainism also or to the opposite extreme as in Ghengis Khan "let the dead bury the dead".
Abortion is an issue that the far right uses to emotionally flog people just like they do with their fear-mongering and smearing. But the core reason of their flogging is that they need cheap-labor to exploit and so they work to prevent responsible family planning and sex education so that the lower classes are always easily exploitable.
I couldn't disagree with you more, Tom. If the baby is alive, what does that mean about saying it's life isn't important? Where does one draw the line? More American children died last year just from partial birth abortions than American soldiers died in Iraq. It is a shame that the latter died over there, but why aren't the former important too?
Teach boys to be responsible and not pressure girls into sex? Yup!
Make the guy getting "lucky" by getting a girl drunk until she will say ?yes? a rape crime REGARDLESS of his age? Again, yup!
Reinstitute statutory rape covering any underage intercourse (and actually punish offenders)? I would.
With this in mind, I?m willing to consider possible exceptions for rape or incest. I allow that, even though it is still wrong to kill a a baby who had no say in what happened.
Yes, teach young folks about consequences of sexual intercourse. Make a clear line of distinction between what a consenting couple should do if they are not intending to get pregnant and what potential consequences are if they don?t. But when consenting adults both say yes and a new life starts, they have already chosen.
Now should we as a society provide health care for mother and child (and everyone else)? Yes, the current system is so broken that it isn?t funny. Health care is the one issue where I?m an old fashion socialist: give it to every citizen. Period. Makes me a serious conservative, doesn?t it?
"Makes me a serious conservative, doesn?t it?"
No room for forgiveness.
No room for Jesus.
So, does compassion in your opinion mean not having to sort through natural consequences of one's actions? Can't it be helping someone deal with the consequences so good can come of it? I can forgive the mom who does this kind of thing to her child because she has been lied to or pressured into believing it is ok... it is the machinery of lies that I don't accept, it is the culture of male sexual gratification as the ultimate end that I push back against.
How many teen girls have you spoken with who had sex with their boy friends because it was expected of them and they feel less of themselves because of it (then or soon after)? Why does it seem that there is a willingness here to sell the most vulnerable women down the river (and yes, I'm choosing that analogy VERY carefully)?
Why isn?t it compassionate to hold the guy accountable for trying to sow some wild oats? What is the problem with trying to tell women that they and their baby are valuable? Did you know that the most aggressive persons against pro-life protesters at abortion clinics have historically been the boyfriends who don?t want the girl to have a chance to reconsider? As I?ve hinted at above, did you know that even the original Jane Roe is now pro-life?
Let?s make an analogy here with something we can agree on: whistle-blowers who point out deception among the powerful political machines need to at least be listened to. After all, it is the whistle-blowers who exposed water-boarding, right? So isn?t dismissing the whistle-blowers like Ms. McCorvey and Dr. Nathanson a bit disingenuous just because you disagree with them before you hear them out? Isn?t that what folks who blindly follow the current administration?s line on torture are doing?
Earlier in today's show one of the callers said that she associates the phrase "prophetic voice" with right wing religious politics. But that's why it's so important for people like Barack Obama and his supporters to make the "prophetic voice" understood for what it really means. The term itself includes the word "prophetic" and calls to mind the prophets of the Torah or Old Testament who took personal risks by pointing out what the leaders should be doing to help the people, and by pointing out what wasn't being done. The prophets called for action to restore justice and to show compassion. That is the prophetic voice Barack Obama's campaign is bringing to the political conversation, and the campaign is doing it with respect for individuals of all backgrounds. That's also the kind of work that many of the more liberal religious groups have been doing for decades without as much publicity as the right wing.
I also wanted to respond to one caller's reference to religion having the "one" answer versus the coalition required in politics. That is also a view reinforced by some of the more right-wing religious groups. For a long time now, and even more so since 9-11, religious leaders from many faiths have been coming together to promote understanding, acceptance, and coalition-building. My rabbi in Portland, Aryeh Hirschfield, for instance, has invited a minister and an imam to speak at our High Holy Day services several times, and he leads many interfaith efforts with the goal of promoting respect and understanding.
What religion a President is makes no difference to me as long as the person has empathy, sympathy, a well formed idea of what is right and wrong, and at the core believes in the separation of church and state.
I am a Roman Catholic, but like most Catholics I give little weight to the non-Biblical views of priests and bishops. For example the current Catholic teaching that life begins at conception is absurd, since 80% of fertilized eggs are naturally aborted with the vast majority showing up as heavier than normal periods. I am not prepared to believe that the majority of those in heaven were unborn. Also, the Catholic teaching has varied over time. It used to be more reasonable--life begins at the quickening, when the fetus starts kicking and moving independently. If the bishops were that influential 80% of fertile Catholic couples would not be practicing artificial birth control which is also prohibited by Catholic teachings.
Even above religion, I firmly believe that the political stability of the USA rests primarily on the separation of Church and state. The USA is one of the most diverse nations in terms of religions at peace here. I though see no harm in not discriminating against religious organizations in advancing public services when they can do it cheaper or more effectively for a section of the public, don't discriminate against non-believers, and receive only performance based public funding. After all the largest hospital care provider in the United States is Catholic hospitals. Seventh Day Adventists have a very effective and health oriented program to quit smoking that worked extremely well for two of my past co-workers. President G. W. Bush was able to use a born again faith oriented approach to quit being an alcoholic. Similarly other faiths have nitches in providing public services that should be eligible for performance based funding. The harm only comes when public funding is not performance based and arbitrarily given.
The USA has no one majority faith. Lumping all Protestant Churches together and with Roman Catholics, Orthodox Catholics, and Mormons to call Christianity a majority religion defies logic given huge differences in beliefs amongst these groups and a virtual certainty of never reconciling differences. Also, although I practice my faith many people just give themselves a religious label based on family history without practicing any faith, so the USA is even less religious that the Census reports.
As Americans we should be able to work together and compromise on all public policies to minimize the conflict in our single nation. If not, what hope is there for ever obtaining world peace and universal prosperity?
On the one hand we are asked not to discriminate against religions and to judge and treat them all as the same. We are conversely told by the religious themselves that they are not all the same. That every religion is different and not every religious person is 'this' or 'that.' So for practical purposes how are we to decipher any of this in politics? How are we to treat them all the same, when they are not. It is impossible, which is why religion should not be part of political discussion or encouragement---and this is the crux of the problem.
How dare any politician mention religion at all, when we have been told they can't be discriminated against. A mention of support of religion, is a slap in the face to people who aren't religious---and it is additionally a slap in the face to other religions. Mr. Obama claimed not to play, or tried not to play the race card, but now it is okay to play the religious card? The implications of the religious card are much more egregious then the race card he was accused of playing. How and why do we let our politicians get away with this?
My favorite Ghandi quote
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. "
They made him a God instead of learning from him as a man, and so took him and his teachings out of the reach of possibility and reason.
And so it goes.
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