Friday, September 25, 2009

Who do conservatives trust?

I have had several conservative friends tell me that a public health insurance option is a terrible thing because the government can't do anything right and so we can't trust the government with our health care. If they actually believe this then how come they don't act like it?

If a conservative who doesn't trust the government has his house broken into, who does he/she call? The police? Cause that would involve them putting their trust in the government.

If a conservative walks into a restaurant and sees a high health department inspection score on the wall do they walk out of the restaurant because they can't trust the score since it was issued by the government?

Do conservatives walk everywhere they go? I mean how could they place the cars they worked hard to pay for on roads that were designed by and are maintained by the government? Surely a conservative wouldn't be crazy enough to use a public transportation system either, after all even the name contains a code word for inefficient big government, "public"

When a conservative gets sick do they only use herbal remedies since to take prescription or over the counter drugs would mean trusting the government's studies that help keep unsafe drugs off the market?

Say a conservative is currently looking to buy a home. How much time will they spend cursing the government for the low interest rates they can get on their mortgage? I mean the government sets interest rates in this country.

When our nation is threatened why do we all, conservatives included, all stand up and cheer our men and women in the military, how can you trust a government run entity like the US military?

How come so many conservatives support building new nuclear power plants when they will then have to rely on the government to inspect these plants to make sure they are running safely?

Instead of visiting a national park while on vacation would conservatives rather go to "The Grand Canyon Powered By Windows Vista" or "General Motors Smoky Mountains" or "McGeyserland"? I mean how could we trust the government with our national parks?

How many conservatives tell their parents or grandparents to refuse Medicare or to only go to one of the very few doctors who refuse Medicare since a government run health-care system like Medicare can't be trusted? How many older conservatives refuse Medicare themselves?

How come so many conservatives want me to be denied health care because they claim that government can't do anything right when they themselves don't seem to believe this?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is this where we are heading?

Saw this on CNN and it made me wonder, is this just a rouge crazy preacher or does he just have the guts to stick his neck out there and say what a lot of other crazies are thinking?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Religious confusion

So tonight I am watching  Countdown hosted by Keith Olbermann and he has sex columnist Dan Savage on to discuss the apparent disconnect between much of the religious right's stance on health care reform and the values espoused by Christ. I have to admit that I thought it was a bit odd to have a liberal, atheist, sex columnist, on to talk about this subject, especially since it was obvious from the beginning that all we could hope to get from this interview is 3 minutes of time filler as the two of them agreed with each other on every topic they discussed. But Mr. Savage did hit on one topic that interests me, the way Christians and Christianity are viewed in America today.

Quite often we hear right wing religious leaders go on and on about the victimization of Christians in American society today. Apparently every penis shown for a brief moment in a movie is an attack on Christianity. The Supreme Court's decision to ban school sanctioned or officiated prayer wasn't about protecting religions by making sure that none of them became quazi-official in a school, no, it was an attempt to force all public school students into becoming Godless atheists. Teaching a well documented theory on the origin of species isn't science but is an attack on the Bible and government regulation of businesses is the work of Satan. You would think that Pat Robertson had been tossed onto the field during halftime at a Redskin's game and lost an arm to a lion while the atheists cheered at some point in his life.

On the other side there seems to be a never ending chorus of voices singing out about how Christians are forcing their beliefs on the country. Christians, in the opinion of the anti-Christians (they would probably be more likely to refer to themselves as anti-organized religion), are all hate filled, ignorant, hypocritical, crazies who should be put on trial for the crimes of their ancestors during the Salem Witch Trials and the Crusades.

OK, so I am overstating things a bit, but not by much. It seems as though our country has been divided into these two sides and that they are both incapable of doing anything but shouting at each other. This poses a problem for me, you see I am gay, very, very liberal politically, a supporter of separation of church and state, pro-choice, and a Christian. I am a walking oxymoron by today's standards, but I am also far from alone.

I was raised going to church every Sunday but at some point I either turned my back on religion or religion turned its back on me. Probably some of both, but notice that I said religion, I never gave up on God, and I know God never gave up on me. You see I found evidence of God and the love of Christ all around me and I also found that many of the "church people" I encountered took a rather dim view of what I found and where I found it.

Karl Marx taught me a considerable amount about being a Christian and trying to live as Christ would want me to. A quote commonly used by Marx and often attributed to him although it actually seems to come from French socialist Louis Blanc, is "From each according to his ability to each according to his need." I have the feeling that Blanc might have been reading from the New Testament book of Acts when he coined this phrase;

Acts 4:32-35

32. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

33. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35. And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Christianity isn't a conservative movement, it is a radical movement started by someone who had no interest in protecting the status quo.  Over time though, Christianity became the status quo and thus became intertwined with other societal norms until they became one in the same to most people. This is how the religious right came into being. The text from Acts I quoted above should be printed on cards and handed out to health care reform protesters who are calling the plan for a public health care option "socialism" because they obviously don't know what socialism is. The early Christian church knew exactly what socialism is about because they lived it every day. Here in the South, I don't know how common this is in other parts of the country, it is very common to see companies advertise themselves at a "Christian business" and yet Christ over turned the tables of the money changers in the temple, apparently none too pleased with those trying to make money off of God. He also said:

Matthew 19:23-24
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
So how is it that the pro-business Republican party could wind up being aligned with a religion that promotes the virtues of socialism and celebrates the least amongst us? Simple. The religious right likes to claim that the United States is a Christian nation. While it is true that the majority of people in the U.S. see themselves as Christians the fact is that Christianity in America has become a hybrid religion combining aspects of Christianity with aspects of another, newer religion, Capitalism.

It may seem strange to refer to Capitalism as a religion, but on close examination the comparison is obvious. The "Bible" of Capitalism is a book titled 
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations which is typically shortened to The Wealth of Nations, written by 18th Scottish philosopher Adam Smith. In The Wealth of Nations Smith lays out the tenets of Capitalism. He describes it as a system ruled by an omnipresent, omniscient, "Invisible Hand" that guides the marketplace and is incapable of being wrong. This "invisible Hand" has such a strong control over the market that its control also carries over into the rest of our lives as everything we do, in some way or another, is an economic action and therefore we as individuals are in effect controlled by the Invisible Hand. The only real threat to the power of this mystical force is restrictions that might be placed on those under its control which would limit the Hand's ability to carry out its master plan of bringing the masses out of the depths of feudalism. Therefore the "satan" that stands in opposition to the "salvation" offered by Capitalism is, in effect, the government and its urge to regulate the market. We accept all of this because we have never been offered another possibility, in other words we accept Capitalism, no matter how many times we see it fail, as a matter of faith.

In the United States these two great world religions have been merged. Christ tells us to care for the needy, churches today give us "Prosperity Theology". The early Christian church existed as small, secretive groups, today we have mega-churches with giant projection screens, television studios, and fitness centers. In America there is no longer a separation of church and capital and this union has given birth to the modern Republican party where taxes and government regulation are seen as un-Godly and the Christ that died for everyone has morphed into a God that only helps those who help themselves.

This juxtaposition of Christ and cash has also given us the modern American liberal rejection of Christianity. Many liberals today have accepted the right's vision of God as the true vision of God and have therefore rejected God entirely. They see Christianity as supporting hatred and intolerance without going to the source so they can see how untrue this is. They let their own prejudices prevent them from looking past the thin veneer that has been applied to Christianity and seeing the reality of Christ's teachings in which it is doubtful they could find anything to disagree with. 

This is where we find ourselves today. Two opposing groups fighting over a religion that neither seems to have a very good understanding of. Many in both camps now seem to see their primary purpose as being the opposition of the other side and not working on getting the things done that our society so desperately needs. It also leaves people like myself in a bad position. I don't see either side in this debate as really understanding what the debate is or how they even got into it. So I will just try to continuing living my life as God leads me to and hoping that one day we will all be able to see each other with greater clarity and understanding.