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Steev
06-25-2008, 03:01 PM
So how are we liberals supposed to consolidate Obama's quest for progressive change with his belief in a magical Jesus god? With most Democratic candidates, wasn't it pretty much a given that their belief in Christianity was pretend, just meant to placate middle-of-the-roaders, all the while winking to their non-believing hardcore constituents?

Obama seems pretty into this whole Jesus thing.

Is it palatable because he's a black man? If he were a white man, would his religious conviction be as compelling?

Is it feasible that we'll ever have a president who openly rejects the concept of a magical being and speaks with real intelligence about skepticism and atheism?

Who's the atheist's candidate? Obama, right? But how and why?

robbersean
06-25-2008, 03:20 PM
I don't think we live in an age when an atheist could become president. A senator, or maybe even a governor, but not president.

Someday mabye.

It's funny because so many of our early presidents either had a mechanistic view of the universe (meaning God created the world, but then left when he was done) or didn't believe in any of the magical parts of religion (Thomas Jefferson didn't believe in miracles, and Abe Lincoln didn't believe in heaven).

I think Obama is the atheists candidate, even though I buy his religiousness more than I buy McCain's. I think on the issues that matter to someone not-of-faith, like acceptance of evolution (and science in general) over creationism (and religious hoodoo in general) he's the guy. I don't think that he would let his personal faith interfere with matters of logic the way that a president like Bush has or Reagan did.

hixx
06-25-2008, 03:42 PM
Man, remember when Obama was debating Allen Keyes and Keyes was bringing up some asshat religious stuff and Obama just turns to him and says "I'm not running for minister Mr. Keyes, I'm running for Senator" HEYO!

Anyway, honestly, part of me believes that Obama's belief in God is some....posturing. He didn't always believe and spent most of his life questioning what the answers were. Part of me wonders, like others have in the past, whether Obama went to Trinity to get more cred, because like Robbersean says, an athiest couldn't be president, not right now anyway.

And I'm loving Dobson attacking him on his interpretation of the bible, and how Obama said:

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asked in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?"

I think Obama will be the one to steer clair of faith-based politics, more than any other politician right now, which is a large part of why I would vote for him.

Hixx

macarthur31
06-25-2008, 03:56 PM
I can see why some may perceive Obama's born-again conversion to Christianity is borne out of political ambition. After all, to succeed in the South Side of Chicago, allegiance to the African-American Church is a necessity.

However, I can also understand why such a conversion would be authentic to him. Perhaps this comes from my own experience of having my mother become born-again as I was in high school. At first, I resented it and ridiculed it. Later, I would condescend by trying to explain it as if I were some sociologist (she's trying to lock into a solid consistent community with rock-solid worldviews and that could benefit from her gifts and service -- this in the face of being less relevant in her own with her two children becoming independent adults). Finally, after many years, I've come to accept that her faith and conversion was and continues to be a real experience. At points it may have caused a rift between her and I, but above it all, is an undeniable part of her identity and being. While I may be frustrated with some of the tenets or products of her faith's dogma (i.e. Dr. Dobson's Focus on the Family leaflets in the church bulletins, or the unwavering belief that homosexuals should not marry and that itself is a sin), I can't deny that it has invited her to be even more loving, compassionate and grounded person.

Anyway -- back to Obama. From my mother's experience, I draw upon the possibility and trust that Obama's faith is what grounds him, but does not dominate or dictate him. Watching him in the CNN Faith Forum a few months ago, I saw him skillfully navigate to create a space where reason and faith (or for some folks, perhaps it was cynical) can intersect in the public space, and that its the faith-based politician's charge to find a way to translate his/her personal faith into practice that can be of utility and benefit for the universal citizenry. I haven't seen many examples of that, but I am willing to "hope" and "have faith" that he will give a good go at it.

Scol
06-25-2008, 03:59 PM
In this age, a politician must claim religion to have any hope of being president. Not only religion, but Christianity. What century is this again?

Obama will not make it an issue. He understands his constuiency (sp?). But, in order to be electable, he must pay lip service. What are his personal convictions? Who knows? He'll never cop to 'em for real, because he can't...unless, paradoxically, they are exactly what he says they are.

He is the candidate of athiests, agnostics and progressive thinkers of all American stripes, because he is not a conservative republican (in other words, not a republican). That's the choice we have in America at this time. And, for the forseeable future.

Wouldn't it be great if he were to drop by The Best Church Of God at Donny's Skybox at 10:30 am on any given Sunday morning? (This is not a plug, because the interests of the nation are at stake.)

Edison
06-25-2008, 04:46 PM
Irrespective of personal beliefs (and really; they ARE 'personal' beliefs), it's sad that it's a dance that public figures feel compelled to do to endear themselves to the masses.
The key, I suppose, is to avoid or defuse these issues when they arise, but it's pathetic that it's even an issue.

Another clear illustration of the swelling 'dumbass' quotient at work in our country.

Biddle
06-25-2008, 04:46 PM
I have to say that, even though I, myself, am an atheist, I have no problem with my president having faith. In fact, if he were a true Christian and followed Christ's codes of behavior and not some crazy, modern-interpretation to justify world domination, the country (and the world) would actually be a much better place. If he were a little more "Love thy neighbor" and a little less "God tells me that it's okay to invade that there country", for example.

And I think that's Obama's take on things. His religion and his faith aren't calling cards that he, himself, has hung out for public view. I'll be honest, I never knew who his minister was or where he went to church until AFTER the conservative media and Hillary Clinton latched onto that as "Important Issues" and endlessly recycled them on the 24 hour news channels and the pundit shows. It wasn't something that HE advertised. It was brought forth by his enemies as a way of discrediting him by means of "guilt by association".

I think that's the kind of president that he'll be. Quietly religious for himself and practical in application of his authority to improve the lives of the American people in THIS life, instead of the next. And that's as it should be. I have no business telling him (or anyone else what God to worship or how or when) and he has no business promoting his God to a cabinet position or making policy decisions based on what God wants. You know, a separation of church and state. As was intended.

It's interesting that the religious right has flexed so much muscle over the recent eight years, showing that their approval means electability for a candidate, that they almost expect to be placated by whomever chooses to run for office. Dobson's recent attacks on Obama reek of "hurt feelings because he isn't being played to the way that he would like to be" and Obama isn't rising to it. Once again, he's redefining how the game is played. Once again, the old paradigms don't work because in the post-Obama world, relgious leaders are counselors, advisors and officiates at holiday gatherings and not king-makers. As it should be.

One more point, Steve, Obama is the closest thing that this country has seen to an atheist candidate in years - if only because he keeps his religion separate from his politics and that's the best that can be expected, right now. Make no mistake, Atheism is steadily growing in our country. It's building steam in the major cities and has potential to spread to the middle-sized and smaller cities and then to grow in the heartland. Just as young people shed the traditional roles assigned to them in the 70's, so to are they redefining who and what they want to be, powered by the limitless potential of the global media and telecommunications. I think that this is a trend that you'll see continue to grow, as people wean themselves off of magical beings of any nature and focus, instead, on the world around them.

Cheers,
COB

Crescent
06-25-2008, 05:27 PM
In fact, if he were a true Christian and followed Christ's codes of behavior and not some crazy, modern-interpretation to justify world domination, the country (and the world) would actually be a much better place. If he were a little more "Love thy neighbor" and a little less "God tells me that it's okay to invade that there country", for example.



The UCC church is founded on that very notion. They are extremely liberal and don't take the bible as fact necessarily. Jesus was a man who taught love and hope and NOT to judge. My sister is very involved in this church in Madison and they are about as far from the Christian right as you can get. They don't "recruit" but they DO get out in the community and teach their kids about all other faiths, have them volunteer every week and bascially just teach how to not be a dickweed. I stand behind this church 100% even though I'm not really that religious.

stevescholz
06-25-2008, 08:04 PM
So how are we liberals supposed to consolidate Obama's quest for progressive change with his belief in a magical Jesus god? With most Democratic candidates, wasn't it pretty much a given that their belief in Christianity was pretend, just meant to placate middle-of-the-roaders, all the while winking to their non-believing hardcore constituents?

Let's remember that our US Constitution doesn't allow any religious test for public office. It prohibits it. (Thank you, Founding Fathers.)

Let's also remember that someone's faith and religious beliefs do not automatically influence their political decisions. We've had 7 years of a President who openly admits his religious views shaped his foreign policies. But not everyone is George W. Bush.

That said, I am completely fine with Obama's religious views. When he's reaching out to people and saying "your faith and my faith can work together," that's very cool. It's not posturing; it's his approach to unify people. He respects differences, and accepts what we share in our goals for this nation.

Also, during this campaign, he's done something nobody expected; he bravely stood up for himself by leaving the church he was with for 20 years. Think of that....you quit something you called home for two decades. That's not an easy thing to do for some of us. If you aren't spiritual or religious, consider leaving something like The Playground after 20 years because you felt "they don't represent me anymore."



Obama seems pretty into this whole Jesus thing.

Is it palatable because he's a black man? If he were a white man, would his religious conviction be as compelling?

Interesting observation. The most notable presidential candidates with religious backgrounds on the Democratic side have been black (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) but on the Republican side they've been white (Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee).

I believe Obama's approach works for many atheists and non-atheists alike because Obama isn't wearing his faith on his sleeve. He understands and conveys the need for inclusion, not division by fear. He's not saying "you are WRONG if you don't believe what I do." And he's actually garnering support of people who may have once followed George W. Bush.


Is it feasible that we'll ever have a president who openly rejects the concept of a magical being and speaks with real intelligence about skepticism and atheism?

Who's the atheist's candidate? Obama, right? But how and why?

Obama might speak on that issue, if the times are calling for it. But I see this as less of a concern right now as the election approaches. It's a great idea, and I encourage the acceptance of all beliefs, along with the freedom to not have beliefs.

But if his running mate is an atheist....watch out!

matthewp
06-25-2008, 08:38 PM
This was all strategy. Obama knows in order to win the crucial states like most of the Red States and Ohio he needed to cut ties with his old church. The pastor has said some questionable things to say about white people and The southern voters know that. However cutting ties with a church of any kind doesnt go over well in the souths eyes because the majority of those voters are pretty faith based. This is a double edge sword for him.

Crescent
06-25-2008, 08:44 PM
He didn't cut ties with his religion. He just cut ties with that specific church which made sense.

macarthur31
06-25-2008, 09:44 PM
Him cutting ties with Trinity:

On one hand, perceived as a political necessity. It was causing too many negative headlines for him, and was distracting from other issues that Obama could "win" on.

On the other hand, perhaps it was an honest admission that Pastor Wright no longer represented his aspirations. Also, maybe he cut ties since he saw that his candidacy was distorting the image of all of the others that attend that church -- his political ambition was sullying the faith?

I know the CW thinks its alot more of the first than the second. I can also empathize that it must've been difficult to turn away from someone who meant alot to him.

On a somewhat related topic, this does remind me of how a friend of mine invited to review the Rev Wright situation:

My old roommate has been a youth pastor in a Lutheran church (in Oak Park) and completed his divinity studies at UChicago. While he no longer works in the ministry (he's now in alumni development at a university), he provided me an interesting take on Jeremiah Wright and sermon process itself.

Sermons, like Wright's, were intended to be for the congregation in the room, and in that moment. They're supposed to be divinely inspired after much contemplation, and intended to channel the Word (or at least Insight) of God. Those clips that YouTubed Wright were within a larger context that would not be understood in the form that was cycled on Faux News. He told me that it would be unreasonable to judge a pastor's career on a 30 second soundbite. For example, he cited himself in when he finally got the opportunity to do a sermon in his Lutheran church that week, he compared Jesus returning on Palm Sunday to the Rock entering the squared circle during a WWE Pay-per-view event. At the time, he thought it was a clever use of pop culture to engage the younger males in his congregation in the message, and generally well received. However he cringed at the thought of someone being able take snippets of that particular sermon today and airing it.

He reminded me, it's not that he regretted ever saying those words in that manner. In fact, he had thought long and hard on the message that week, and prayed and reflected on how to better bridge this story of Jesus' return to a more contemporary audience. However, he knows that it wouldn't have been understood within the context it was first offered and inspired.

As my roommate, he had supported me by attending many shows when I was doing harolds at iO -- and he used the analogy: what if someone took out of context one of your characters you performed during a harold, and then looped it over and over. Would that be a fair way to represent you as an improviser? Of course not -- that character you did was within the context of a spontaneous piece, co-created by your ensemble. In a sense, that one moment was divinely inspired, and made sense within the context is was created.

How-EVUH (Stephen A. Smith inflection), my buddy did want to point out -- "at the same time, you didn't put every one of your shows. On DVD. And for sale. As that's what Wright did with his sermons." That's what gets him -- that Wright had considerable hubris and ego to do that. While Wright may argue that he captured those sermons for the record, and for folks who couldn't be there to hear him...those two notions by themselves run contrary to the core sensibility of what a preacher is about.

Like trying to tell a friend about a kick-ass harold, it's useless. I'd also imagine its the same process for the pulpit. The sermon is in that moment, and for those people in the room.

stevescholz
06-26-2008, 06:29 AM
Mac,

Great analogy, and thanks for sharing your friend's cool insight into Rev. Wright.

Re: Obama's "strategy" on leaving his church. I don't see it as a strategy. I see it as a way to focus his campaign on what really matters, and not a manufactured controversy. But to suggest that people in the southern US will not respect someone's religious choice strikes me as very short sighted. Even insulting. I don't believe that the Obama campaign is pandering to people; I do believe he's standing up for what he represents and he's letting the chips fall as they may.

I've said this before: Obama is running a different campaign than most voters are used to. And the more I see anyone try to apply "conventional wisdom" to what he's doing ("he cannot win without this group of voters" or "he won't make headway into this state unless he does _______"), the more I see that conventional wisdom get thrown out the window.

If he wins this fall, he will do so having brought together a coalition of voters that crosses ages, races, gender, economic backgrounds, education, and yes, even religious beliefs. It's already happened in the primaries and caucuses. He's got the plan to make it happen in November.

Telfer
06-26-2008, 02:17 PM
Yeah, nobody gives a fuck about atheists. I find nothing about Obama's faith surprising.

He's still my candidate because he's a humanist. Most atheists are humanists. That's the best compromise I think atheists can hope for- I agree that we won't see an atheist President in our lifetime (http://longlivethevillagegreen.blogspot.com/2007/02/atheists-poll-at-bottom-we-are-scum-of.html). There was just that poll (http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0625-25.htm) that showed 21% of atheists in America believe in God. What's so horrible about that is it means 21% of those American atheists who were polled are so stupid they don't even know what atheism means. Poll any other country in the world and I bet it would be well under 10%, because we're just that rare country that places infinite importance on phrases and no importance on their definition.

We're a country of God-fearing morons. There's no way we'd elect someone who didn't believe in Jesus. Saying you believe in Jesus doesn't even mean anything to the common American other than "I have values". There is a commonly held belief that atheism is synonymous with hatred and amoralism. Good luck changing that- attitudes have only gotten worse in the last 8 years.

zartan
06-27-2008, 04:52 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg8lCLumByw&feature=related

pmottaz
07-02-2008, 09:38 PM
I'm late to the table, and I might even go off the road, and I might even start some sort of debate that I don't mean to, but stay with me.

And before we get started, I wanted to note how touchy a subject this is, but that it's good to discuss. I also want it noted that those of you who know me in the real world have (I hope) known me to be a nice guy. Very reasonable. OK. Anyway here's my beef...

Isn't atheism--a belief that there is no God--just as potentially "dumb" as full fledged belief in a god because of the nature of absoluteness? I guess I'm a little offended at the broad implication that if you believe in a religion--many that have been around for hundreds of years and will see life well beyond our own--that you are a sucker. And dumb. I'm not out to convert here. I'm just saying, "Don't call me an idiot for not thinking exactly like you."

To say you know everything is to declare yourself a fool.

I am what you might call a skeptical Christian--which is to say "Methodist." Always have been. In some weird way, I kind of believe in the existence of God mostly because to completely NOT believe in the existence of God seems, in a word, arrogant. Just as arrogant as someone who makes strangers say grace at the table next to them in a restaurant. But I also believe in science, and that the Earth has existed for billions of years and that dinosaurs once lived here even though they aren't mentioned in the Bible.

...and I think Obama separated with that church because he's got common sense. They said some things that reflected poorly on his candidacy, he stuck with them a little, then it happened again, and he said, "You know, I'm trying to get people to like me here!" so he dropped 'em.

Steev
07-02-2008, 09:52 PM
Sure, that's a pretty valid point.

I guess the original question was more like... folks on the far left tend to bash the right for its religious-speak. And most appeals to religious folks from the left have always seemed a little ingenuine, couched with a small wink to the non-religious folks. So I was asking how the far left would consolidate Obama's seemingly sincere and fervent worship of Jesus Christ, and his outreach to the evangelical and born-again communities.

I agree with you about atheism being a pretty brash declaration, right on par with demanding a literal interpretation of any other religious text. Atheism takes plenty of faith, and even though I call myself an Atheist, I don't know that the true spirit of the designation is even humanly possible. It's probably a word that agnostics use when they're trying to make a point.

Telfer
07-02-2008, 10:06 PM
Yeah, I don't look down on Christians as an atheist. Atheism does not by definition mean you DEFY belief in God.

Sometimes I do get a little "militant atheist", but it's usually in direct relation to someone calling me amoral or some other such thing. Steve also makes a good point about it basically being the same as agnosticism. But lots of agnostics define themselves as "searching" for a belief, or open to suggestion. I've called myself an agnostic in the past and it seems to be like blood in the water when you're around Christians who want to save you. I'd rather be an atheist if it's intimidating enough for people to not try so hard to convert me.

Anyway, the point is no matter where you turn in society people drop phrases like "people of all faiths" existing in our society. Well what about those of us who don't use faith that way? What if it's sciency-faith? There's not a lot of common respect for that.

hixx
07-02-2008, 10:27 PM
I totally agree Phillip. Just for the record.

But continuing on with this thread, I'm a little concerned about my man endorsing and extending and enlarging these faith-based programs that Bush started?

I need to read a little more of exactly what he wants here, but um...separation Obama? Please?

I know he's trying to woo these "new evangelicals" but um...I was kind of hoping he'd go the other way here...

Hixx

zartan
07-02-2008, 10:34 PM
Atheism means a lack of faith in god. It doesn't mean a faith in no god. Even Dawkins, king of all atheists, acknowledges that there is an extremely slim chance that there is a God.

Scol
07-02-2008, 10:42 PM
Someone recently pointed out that 'athiest' is a bad term because it defines you by what you are not. I am not a mathematician. Does that make me a mathiest?

I'll personally define it this way: Someone who has rejected all traditional notions of God and a supreme being.

Let's say then, that an agnostic is someone who will still keep that door open, even though they have some pretty strong doubts.

Well, as someone who has rejected the traditional notions of religion, I will say that I don't particularly care what others believe. Until it has an impact on my life. And in this country, in this time, it sure as hell has an impact.

I know full well that not all Christians are on board with the far-right. But let's be real here; those numbers are not small. To re-state a few points that have already been made:

We're at war because a president thinks Jesus told him to do it. A big reason we even have this president, and his corrupt (evil?) administration, is because a block of voters, namely The Christian Right, were galvanized by Ralph Reed in the 2004 election. There are far-reaching consequences due to this. We have deficits and debts that threaten the well-being, and even continued existence, of this nation. Stem cell research is repressed. Draconian tax laws are in effect. Our prisons are clogged with non-violent drug offenders while murderers and rapists serve shorter terms. Affordable health care remains beyond the reach of a large percentage of our population.

No, I'm not saying that Christians are responsible. I'm saying the Christian Right played a role.

To take a good hard look at all these implications is not the same thing as calling Christians "Dumb." And it would be nice if it were more common for them to take a harder look at themselves.

pmottaz
07-02-2008, 11:22 PM
You're all the best. Well said all around. I just wanted to use the quote button because I haven't typed in Politico for a long while...


Sure, that's a pretty valid point.

I guess the original question was more like... folks on the far left tend to bash the right for its religious-speak. And most appeals to religious folks from the left have always seemed a little ingenuine, couched with a small wink to the non-religious folks. So I was asking how the far left would consolidate Obama's seemingly sincere and fervent worship of Jesus Christ, and his outreach to the evangelical and born-again communities.
To this, I'd say this...

Though it's still a generalization to say "folks on the far left," I do agree with you. By and large, if you read the Bible every single day, you're probably a Republican. It's generally true. To me, anyway. The left wing tends to allow for multiple interpretations of things (which I think is good/great), and the right is more a "this way is correct. Period" kind of way.

Politicians -- even the "good" ones like Obama -- are still politicians, and they have to appeal to a broad number of people to win elections. I don't doubt Obama when he says he believes in God or whatever. I think he really does. I wish he didn't have to trumpet it up so much to win over skeptical votes because I know it's a turn off, but he does.

And honestly -- and directly relating to your point, Steev -- I'm fine with it. Not from a Christian standpoint at all, more from a "DO WHATEVER YOU FUCKING HAVE TO DO TO GET YOUR ASS ELECTED" standpoint. Sensible people know he's sensible. If you want your sensible guy in charge, then get him elected by any means necessary.

To continue picking on my own kind a bit, Democrats and liberals really tend to piss me off because we all want things done the "right" way, but what we don't realize is that you've got to cheat your way into power before you can make things the right way. I've told so many friends during this endless campaign that I'm so sick of seeing the Democrats roll over and die "for the good of the country." They acted "morally" and with "the country's best interest in mind." They were pussies. They were weak. They were shitty candidates. In 2000, Bush didn't accept defeat because he believes in God. He didn't accept defeat because accepting defeat is the first step toward losing and he didn't come to lose. "You say it looks like I'm losing? Fuck you. It's not 100% over, and because it's not 100% over, there's still a chance I could win, and because there's still a chance I can win, I can win." Gore and Kerry behaved like rational human beings who allowed for doubt to enter the picture. They did things "the right way." That's where they lost. It makes no sense to me how they get elected at all because they're so obviously out of touch with the rules of politics. Karl Rove ran a campaign smearing a CONFIRMED war hero to elect a guy who never saw active duty! And nobody calls him out on it? There've been so many atrocities in this Bush White House, but with a zillion lawyers attached to the Democratic party (I'm just guessing, but I'm positive I'm right), nobody can mount a serious impeachment charge? Bull shit. BULL shit, you shitty fictional political party! Republicans win because they're like the Terminators or the Cylons or any number of killer robots: they will never stop until you are dead. They run not to change things, but to get elected and THEN they change things.

So I hope Obama gets together his own dirty-tricks team, gets zillions of dollars mounted in attack ads and thoroughly whups McCain's tired ass. And I respect McCain. As a senator and a war hero and all that good ol' American stuff. But I'm tired of losing.

I'm going for a real Bob Gibson approach to this campaign. When he pitched for the Cardinals, Gibson was notoriously competitive and still is to this day. When his former teammate and roommate was traded to an opposing team, the two faced each other later in the season and Gibson threw at the guy's head. The message was clear: "We aren't roommates any more." When McGwire and Sosa had their homerun chase in '98, and they were all hugs on the field, Gibson (who did radio for the Cardinals at the time) didn't like it. "They're not on the same team," he said.

McCain's not on my team. When he's defeated, then I'll shake his hand. Until then, it's war.

...Now THAT is a tangent.

pmottaz
07-02-2008, 11:57 PM
And then Scol wrote while I was composing, and here we are...

To re-state a few points that have already been made:

We're at war because a president thinks Jesus told him to do it. A big reason we even have this president, and his corrupt (evil?) administration, is because a block of voters, namely The Christian Right, were galvanized by Ralph Reed in the 2004 election. There are far-reaching consequences due to this. We have deficits and debts that threaten the well-being, and even continued existence, of this nation. Stem cell research is repressed. Draconian tax laws are in effect. Our prisons are clogged with non-violent drug offenders while murderers and rapists serve shorter terms. Affordable health care remains beyond the reach of a large percentage of our population.

No, I'm not saying that Christians are responsible. I'm saying the Christian Right played a role.

To take a good hard look at all these implications is not the same thing as calling Christians "Dumb." And it would be nice if it were more common for them to take a harder look at themselves.
First of all, I love "mathiest."

Secondly, I don't think we're at war because Jesus told Bush to do it. That reasoning has always felt overly simplistic and paranoid. (Yes, I'm using fighting words here, but it's just what I think. You don't have to agree, but it's what I think.)

I think we're at war because Iraq has oil and Bush looooooove oil and he want oil for cars go zoom. He sold the war to the Christian Right as a holy war to get re-elected so he could keep fighting in Iraq, but he's there for oil.

As I said, I'm probably just more insulted than I should be and I'm reading between the lines in this thread. I'm personally struggling with being in conflict with my faith and my "party." Faith usually lumps you into one group, and personal politics lump you into another. Personally speaking, I don't consider myself a Democrat because I don't trust them to be left enough. Gay dudes should marry. Stop drilling off the coast of California! Check them guns, fools!

But I mostly piped up here to say that I felt an insinuation -- in this thread a little and definitely in the comedy community -- that if you admit to believing in God, you get an eye roll. It's even in the first line of the thread: "So how are we liberals supposed to consolidate Obama's quest for progressive change with his belief in a magical Jesus god?" Like you can't be progressive and believe in 'magic.' (which if I want to really get nasty is sort of insulting to me and assuming that everyone will take it the funny way).

Less tangenty and directly to Steev: The answer to your question lies in what YOU believe.

So now I'm asking. What do you believe? And I'm not asking in a converting way, more in a personally curious way. This is for anyone and everyone. I like people.

Telfer
07-03-2008, 12:51 AM
Well, to an extent I say Christians- if you get an eyeroll get over it. You're in power whether you like the way it's working or not. Those of us who AREN'T Christian have to deal with worse than eyerolls. We have to deal with insane platitudes and death and destruction all in the name of something that we oppose with our very core. Atheists specifically usually find themselves calling themselves atheists because we're dedicated to a life of questioning the universe. To pull the "doesn't questioning include admitting there's a possibility" card can feel a bit condescending. Of course we freaking question atheism! Welcome to our world.

I have a thing I tell especially condescending people. Not that I feel this condescended to here, I tell this to people who tell me stuff about God like it's going to surprise me, because I'm an uninformed person apparently. I say, hey, I've spent 30 years trying to catch a ghost the size of the universe in my skull. You can call me a loser for not catching the ghost, but give me some credit for trying what I would call a fairly impossible task.

So if you think people are rolling their eyes at you here, or in the comedy community... well get over it! There's 3 people rolling their eyes in a room of 100. Consider perhaps that they're rolling their eyes not out of some generic, unnameable condescension, but because they're sick of people treating them like dismissible, untrustworthy douchebags despite the fact that all 100 people in the room have the exact same morals. Sure, we could win more friends with less eye-rolling, but nobody wants a friend who ignores their point of view.

That said, I am not rolling my eyes.

Scol
07-03-2008, 01:49 AM
Clearly, it is vital that as many people as possible attend The Best Church Of God every Sunday morning, 10:30am at Donny's Skybox.

And, in addition, visit our website: bestchurchofgod.org

Again, this is not a plug-the interests of the nation are at stake.

speedymarie
07-03-2008, 03:43 AM
I think the problem is that we "non-Christians" can sometimes paint all Christians with the same brush, like Steev did with his initial post (which may or may not have been intentionally inflammatory), and it can go the other way as well. Like, if you believe in Jesus, you don't believe in science - either one or the other.

In reality, there's a really long continuum, with people who believe only in what they can observe, and nothing else, at one end, and people who believe what the Bible says (or what they think it says), to the exclusion of what science tells them, at the other end.

But there are a lot of people in the middle - Christians who know that humans never rode dinosaurs, and that the Earth isn't only 6000 years old. And people who don't necessarily believe in God, but who think there is something bigger than us out there. But, just like in politics, it's the far ends of the spectrum that get the most attention.

Just because Obama is a Christian, I don't think he is the same kind of Christian as Bush. The fundamentalist, right-wing Christians who think that their way is the only way, who feel the need to shove their morals onto everyone else, who are willing to believe in their own interpretation of the Bible, over science they don't understand.

Obama has shown that he is not that kind of Christian, that he can believe in a higher power without surrendering all common sense to it, and without feeling the need to shove his beliefs into everyone else's faces. That religion shouldn't be used to govern policy decisions. As long as he can make that separation, I don't really care what he believes in.

hixx
07-03-2008, 04:09 AM
Politicians -- even the "good" ones like Obama -- are still politicians, and they have to appeal to a broad number of people to win elections. I don't doubt Obama when he says he believes in God or whatever. I think he really does. I wish he didn't have to trumpet it up so much to win over skeptical votes because I know it's a turn off, but he does.

And honestly -- and directly relating to your point, Steev -- I'm fine with it. Not from a Christian standpoint at all, more from a "DO WHATEVER YOU FUCKING HAVE TO DO TO GET YOUR ASS ELECTED" standpoint. Sensible people know he's sensible. If you want your sensible guy in charge, then get him elected by any means necessary.



I think Tess from Working Girl said it best Phillip:

"You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you're trying to get there."

Hixx

stetsko
07-03-2008, 06:24 AM
Golly gee, I knew I liked Phil for a reason. I pretty much agree with everything he said. Except instead of "Methodist," substitute "dissenting, but practicing, Catholic."

I do want to add, to answer Steve's original question, that I'm not sure I could bring myself vote for someone who strictly defined themselves as an atheist. And if my left-wing ivory-tower self wouldn't vote for an atheist, I'm not sure it'll ever happen that a mainstream candidate could be both viable and atheistic.

It's not that I don't belive atheists can be moral people and it's not that I believe in a need for a "Christian" nation. In fact, political realities aside, I don't care whether a candidate is Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Wiccan, Jedi, Animist, or even healthily/agnostically/humanistically skeptical. I don't care what a candidate thinks happens in the afterlife, and I don't care what knee they use to kneel or what holy book they follow.

However, if a candidate truly defined themselves as a DIS-believer, (rather than even identifying as a NON-believer), I just couldn't do it. Aside from doctrine, aside from theology, I have a fundamental belief in a divine purpose for the universe, and I don't think I could support a candidate who only saw the human race as a random collection of carbon-based molecules floating around a hydrogen-fusing sun. Call it identity politics if you want, but I need to know that the person who's representing me has a sense of wonder and glory when he looks at the world and those who dwell upon it. And after all, we're a representative democracy.

Now, in reality, I find that many of my friends who describe themselves as "atheists" seem to do so for the pragmatic reasons Telfer noted or merely as a way to opt-out of the Western Judeo-Christian hierarchy, and I can understand those reasons. But given the practical inability to separate those "atheists" from the whole, I just don't see myself voting for anyone who'd identify themselves in such a way.

K.

stevescholz
07-03-2008, 06:46 AM
And honestly -- and directly relating to your point, Steev -- I'm fine with it. Not from a Christian standpoint at all, more from a "DO WHATEVER YOU FUCKING HAVE TO DO TO GET YOUR ASS ELECTED" standpoint. Sensible people know he's sensible. If you want your sensible guy in charge, then get him elected by any means necessary.

To continue picking on my own kind a bit, Democrats and liberals really tend to piss me off because we all want things done the "right" way, but what we don't realize is that you've got to cheat your way into power before you can make things the right way. I've told so many friends during this endless campaign that I'm so sick of seeing the Democrats roll over and die "for the good of the country." They acted "morally" and with "the country's best interest in mind." They were pussies. They were weak. They were shitty candidates. In 2000, Bush didn't accept defeat because he believes in God. He didn't accept defeat because accepting defeat is the first step toward losing and he didn't come to lose. "You say it looks like I'm losing? Fuck you. It's not 100% over, and because it's not 100% over, there's still a chance I could win, and because there's still a chance I can win, I can win." Gore and Kerry behaved like rational human beings who allowed for doubt to enter the picture. They did things "the right way." That's where they lost. It makes no sense to me how they get elected at all because they're so obviously out of touch with the rules of politics. Karl Rove ran a campaign smearing a CONFIRMED war hero to elect a guy who never saw active duty! And nobody calls him out on it? There've been so many atrocities in this Bush White House, but with a zillion lawyers attached to the Democratic party (I'm just guessing, but I'm positive I'm right), nobody can mount a serious impeachment charge? Bull shit. BULL shit, you shitty fictional political party! Republicans win because they're like the Terminators or the Cylons or any number of killer robots: they will never stop until you are dead. They run not to change things, but to get elected and THEN they change things.

So I hope Obama gets together his own dirty-tricks team, gets zillions of dollars mounted in attack ads and thoroughly whups McCain's tired ass. And I respect McCain. As a senator and a war hero and all that good ol' American stuff. But I'm tired of losing.

I'm going for a real Bob Gibson approach to this campaign. When he pitched for the Cardinals, Gibson was notoriously competitive and still is to this day. When his former teammate and roommate was traded to an opposing team, the two faced each other later in the season and Gibson threw at the guy's head. The message was clear: "We aren't roommates any more." When McGwire and Sosa had their homerun chase in '98, and they were all hugs on the field, Gibson (who did radio for the Cardinals at the time) didn't like it. "They're not on the same team," he said.

McCain's not on my team. When he's defeated, then I'll shake his hand. Until then, it's war.

...Now THAT is a tangent.

Indeed, but a great tangent at that. Terrific posts, Phillip.

I agree with you about the Bush Terminator-like approach to campaigning for President. Trouble is, it doesn't always work. But some people believe it's effective, and yes, at times it was. So I want to take that "win at all cost" mentality and suggest a different approach that doesn't involve cheating to win. I'll call this attitude by another name.

Fearlessness.

I've been pissed at Democrats for many years who don't get that concept. Fearlessness ain't about kneecapping your opponent to win; it's about focusing on victory with all your strengths. It's about leading and inspiring people. If you have to cheat to win, that's fucked up. And really, it's a sign that you can't play the game because you can't hold your own and you're too insecure. (Did Gibson really throw at that guy's head? Cuz the message it sends to me is not "we're on different teams now" but "I'm out of my fucking mind!")

I agree Kerry and Gore weren't very inspiring. But I do not agree that they were out of touch with reality. Kerry lost by 3 million votes (insert Ohio irregularities here) in a 103 million vote election. Gore lost by a Supreme Court decision. Also, Gore challenged the Bush victory, and that wasn't just "right," it was him being fearless until the end. If he was scared, he could've bowed out long before the 5-4 decision.

Yet we've seen the dark side of fearlessness from the GOP, combined with the tremendous fear from the Democrats who've resisted impeachment and other legislative actions against the Bush administration. I've written to Senator Obama about impeachment a few times, and each time the reply is "I don't feel it would be in the best interest of the nation." Am I dumping Obama because I disagree with him? No. Do I want him to take action now? Absolutely. Do I fault Obama for this fear of "being in the best interest?" Yes. And still I want him to win because I believe there's more that he can help everyone with beyond impeachment.

When talking about the Democrats priding themselves on "what's right." I, also see that as a limiting thing, but not in the manner of going to the "all out war" extreme. I see the need to be "right" as different from being "fair." A race for public office need not be a war. Again, we've seen that happen in the past, and to some it has become a standard behavior. Yet that can change, and it is changing this election cycle. If you're competition becomes you're enemy, it's self-defeating. I don't expect McCain and Obama to be chummy. I do expect Obama's crew to point out what John McCain stands for, and against, and then raise the real issues without backing down. No cheating required.

To answer your other question...for my personal spiritual beliefs, I go back to what I discovered during my Philosophy of Religion class in college. I was raised a Unitarian Universalist, though I had some Evangelical Christian relatives who tried to get me to follow their beliefs as a kid, and other relatives who celebrated other kinds of Christianity or just ignored religion. So during my college class, as we kept journals of our thoughts and beliefs, I started figuring out what I have held since then to a large degree: I am a product of a universe that has creator which sets things in motion, and who allows us a free will to choose what we do. All the possible combinations of choices and life paths are known to the creator, but not our exact outcomes until we individually achieve them.

In a nutshell, it's like the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. ("To see the hero jump off the cliff, turn to page 57....to see the hero walk down the forest path, turn to page 98...."). Yet everyone else makes choices at the same time, turning their pages, and that affects our future choices, and theirs, and so on. For me, there is a spirit of life that connects us and holds us together, and there are inequities and horrors and fucked up behaviors along with the greatness, the joys and the love we can share. Personal peace is truly a personal path, reflective of many choices we can make.

And I believe in an afterlife, I believe there is a Heaven, and sometimes that spiritual connection beyond this world is frightening to me. Quick improv aside: Gary Austin does an exercise in his workshops where people introduce themselves. They touch three objects (wall, chair and then hands at their side) and say "My name is ______, I am ___ years old, and I don't know when I'm going to die." Getting to that last sentence without being shaky was hard. I still don't know, but I'm more okay with that now. Personal path, y'know.

And I believe I wrote this earlier....



I've said this before: Obama is running a different campaign than most voters are used to. And the more I see anyone try to apply "conventional wisdom" to what he's doing ("he cannot win without this group of voters" or "he won't make headway into this state unless he does _______"), the more I see that conventional wisdom get thrown out the window.


Faith, people. Faith is what Obama talks about. He's not pandering to Christians for votes; he's talking with them because he is one of them. He's been at Evangelical conferences before because he wants to include everyone in his campaign. He's also talking about tolerance of religious views, or non-religious views, regardless of beliefs. He's preaching unity for all Americans, and he's walking the walk.

Senator Obama continues to amaze me. He just made a clear policy statement this week condeming the existing "faith-based" initiatives of the Bush administration, and said he wants religious and non-religious groups to work together without using federal funds to convert anyone. Period. But the media reports--AP first, then others repeating--say "Obama to continue Bush's faith based initiatives." Uhhhhh, no....that's not even a correct headline there, AP. The Obama campaign issued another statement to correct what the AP wrote, because the truth wasn't getting through.

That's leadership. Putting out the message, staying on it, getting people to support it by extending it to them, and then watching what happens.

Believe it. That's fearlessness in action.

Telfer
07-03-2008, 01:38 PM
...but I need to know that the person who's representing me has a sense of wonder and glory when he looks at the world and those who dwell upon it.

Arg arg, freakin' arg.

THAT'S WHAT AN ATHEIST IS!

Atheists don't just go "oh, we're carbon, so, I guess that's it!"

Yeesh. We have a sense of wonder and glory about everything! Seriously, where do people come up with these presumptions about atheists, it's gross. I don't think anyone on this board who identifies themselves as a Christian has demonstrated they even know what an atheist is, and that's why having a Christian-led country is so frustrating. It's like Christians think they have a monopoly on open-mindedness.

Scol
07-03-2008, 03:28 PM
I get the 'wonder' part, but I want to know what you mean by 'glory.'

I've heard the word thrown around a great deal in chruches, and in the bible (yep, I read the bible-there's another little tidbit about athiests-many of them know the bible better than the Faithful).

I can't presume to know how any one individual defines this word, but the context in which it is frequently used, is one of subservience. As in, "let's glorify God. Let's praise him. Forever and always."

If there is a God who actually created the universe, why would HE need to be praised and glorified at all? One would think that an omnipotent being would be serene. What is all this constant harping on obedience?

And why is God jealous of other gods if they don't exist? Of what is there to be jealous?

In the bible, God is frequently spiteful and petty. I'd be happy to site passages to anyone who needs evidence of this.

Enough with the glory.

Telfer
07-03-2008, 03:49 PM
I think/hope you're taking her use of the word glory out of context a little. She was referring to the glory of god's invention, not the glory of god.

But yea... it drives me nuts when people act like atheists aren't/can't be in wonder of the universe! It's our bread and butter. We learn about something like Eagle Nebula (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Nebula), all it's details, and we just think we don't need a god! Look how massive and powerful this thing is! It's literally more complex and powerful than the human mind can grasp. That's fucking gorgeous. I just don't think someone created it for me to look at and go "ooo, pretty". I think it's simply something so powerful I am truly humbled by it.

The way the universe twists and bends follows a pattern. An arm of the universe could slice through our galaxy, instantaneously turning our entire solar system into a cloud. We'd never see it coming. Do I think we're being protected? Do I think it doesn't happen because we're being "good" as a society? No, I personally don't need to think that. I lack the need to find a purpose. I am simply grateful I am not being turned into a particle cloud. Pretty fucking awesome that I'm not, actually.

I think divine purpose has gotten the human race into a shitload of wars and sadness. "Purpose" is such a human invention in my opinion. Isn't nature too good for a "purpose"? What, it's having a midlife crisis, so it needs some sentient beings on Earth to worship it? Fuck that! Nature is too cool for worship. So back to the word glory I suppose- I don't think any one entity deserves credit. I see no reason why I should thank, praise, worship, or humble myself to a singular god. I am thanking and praising and worshiping and humbling myself to the awesomeness of the universe every day. Isn't that essentially the same thing?

So I don't call it god. I'm insulted that I'm expected to.

Scol
07-03-2008, 04:15 PM
I'm with you on everything you said.

I picked on the word 'glory' not because I want to foist my interpretation on someone else (which you are not accusing me of doing), but because I dislike the word.

It means to exalt, worship, praise. It is a puffed up word, loaded with adoration and exaggeration. It literally means this. What has love and beauty to do with pomposity?

But, I am on the precipice of falling into the trap of semantics, which usually steers healthy debate into irrelevant areas. And so far, this has indeed been a healthy, intelligent and respectful debate.

I'll exit this tangent.

matthewp
07-03-2008, 05:08 PM
I am not ashamed I worship and Glorify my God whom I believe in. I understand why many dont acknoledge a God,mainly because since GW there has been a growing movemebnt in fundamental Christian beliefs. However there are many like me who believe in God, Believe in Jesus,Believe in Hean yet still would never push our views onto you or anyone else. I would prefer a President who has beliefs like me but this time of year you never know because they both want your vote and will lie their ass off to get them. Just please do not assume that us "believers" all feel the way the very far right believes because its not true at all. My God, the God I choose to believe in doesnt care what you do as long as you live a kind life. My God accepts everyone.

Edison
07-03-2008, 06:26 PM
*God* is such a loaded word it's no wonder people can't agree on anything.
How do you define "God"? And if you do, aren't you also limiting it?

That's the Taoist in me speaking, but it's a useful way of addressing the real issue, which is that of semantics and human nature.

I'm not a religious person. I do believe we're spiritual beings having a human experience, not vice-versa.
That's something I feel innately, and I don't have to go into a house of worship to connect with it. It's all around me and it is absolutely glorious.
It is also a deeply personal experience, as it should be.
The universe is resplendent in its divergence and we all get to be a part of it. I'm awed enough by the moments in which I can be truly present.
And I've known most of my life that that sense of wonder and awe is not limited to 'people of faith'.
We're all born connected. Some folks just get lost, distracted, or fall asleep.

So when anyone asks me if I believe in God, my immediate response is; "Which one?" While that implies that I'm a polytheist, it's simply me wanting them to be more fucking specific. I see religious practices and even most spiritual ones as psychic software. A construct or guidebook intended to bring about a specific outcome. In the best cases they're focused paths of conscious living and personal discipline that lead its practitioner to a more balanced and joyous life. But even that is limiting their overall experience of it.
Life is dynamic, unpredictable and often chaotic.

People who really need religion in their life are looking for answers outside themselves, and that's not where they lie.

Steev
07-03-2008, 06:46 PM
Sorry, I'm not good at asking questions. I really meant to be asking this to a very specific closed community, and didn't mean to offend by insinuating all lefties are atheists or vice versa.

The question was for lefties who consider themselves atheists, or who had problems with Bush's ties to the church, a group of which I knew existed on this board. I was asking how those specific people could reconcile support for Obama, who seemed to share those same ideals in a very genuine fashion, and if those religious ideals were suddenly okay.

But I'm bad at political discussions. I will step back and just listen!

:)

stetsko
07-03-2008, 07:16 PM
No, Telfer, that's exactly my point. YOU see wonder and glory and call yourself and athiest. I believe that, and I'm cool with that. On the other hand, I know other people who call themselves atheists and legitimately see the world through eyes of true disbelief. The "well, there's nothing more than this, so I'm just going to make myself as comfortable as possible" school of thought.

Atheists have to admit that those people exist just as others have to acknowledge the zealot idiots in their faiths. (It drives me nuts that those Ave Maria jackasses are Catholic, but there we are.) At a certain level, it does come down to the inability to be exact in labeling and the correlated stupidity in labeling people. However, unlike most labels we use in life religion or the lack thereof is one we claim for ourselves, and have the ability to change.

If I'm talking about friends, if I'm talking about my day-to-day life, it's not something I think about or care about. (Until people start telling me that I'm an uneducated simpleton for going to mass.) If we're talking about someone who gets up on a podium and tellls me that he wants to be MY voice in MY government, it does matter to me. If a candidate stood up and said, "I don't subscribe to a particular theology but (quoting Telfer) I think [the universe] is simply something so powerful [that] I am truly humbled by it," I'd probably vote for that candidate. If a candidate stood up and simply said, "I don't believe in a god or anything like a god," then I doubt I could.


K.

pmottaz
07-03-2008, 07:56 PM
Sorry, I'm not good at asking questions. I really meant to be asking this to a very specific closed community, and didn't mean to offend by insinuating all lefties are atheists or vice versa.

The question was for lefties who consider themselves atheists, or who had problems with Bush's ties to the church, a group of which I knew existed on this board. I was asking how those specific people could reconcile support for Obama, who seemed to share those same ideals in a very genuine fashion, and if those religious ideals were suddenly okay.

But I'm bad at political discussions. I will step back and just listen!

:)
Since I fired this cannon that got us where we are now, I'd like to take this moment to say to Steev: please do not step back. Not because of this. I know you're a good guy and I hope you think the same of me. I wasn't taking anything personal in this discussion from your question--and it is a valid one. I just felt under-represented.

It feels like deep down we're all after the same things. None of us (in this discussion anyway) are trying to convert or convince one another about their religious/non-religious beliefs. We all want peace and love. We find it in different ways, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume we'd be cool if everyone had more.

Dealing with anything belief-wise is always going to strike a nerve. Always. It's fine. It's healthy.

As to Telfer's earlier comments, I think we could all use a heavy does of "get over it" juice. How about we just agree not to roll eyes at each other when it comes to things neither of us can prove or disprove, and we call it even?

And as for Hixx's "Working Girl" quote... that's exactly what I was talking about. That's an ideal situation and that doesn't work. Cheating works. I want to win.

Telfer
07-03-2008, 07:57 PM
Well, as an atheist I don't think it should be my job to make my beliefs "sound like God". I think it helps this conversation, but the fact that it colors almost every Christians opinion of me is something I have to fight against. I have many Christian friends, and it is sad that I have had to have this conversation before. "Oh, so you're more like an agnostic! I can trust an agnostic!" Ugh! Why don't you trust people based on their character and how they present themselves, and not on the flash-image you get when you hear the name of what they believe?

I mean, yes I will admit there's nihilistic atheists, but didn't you just refer to atheists as a group of DIS-believers? Didn't you only just admit you don't see them all that way? Sure, because I went out of my way to describe my atheism to you in a way that resembles Christianity, you say you'd vote for a candidate who went out of their way to do the same. But if they simply said they were an atheist, you'd assume the worst.

So I bring it back to the 3 out of 100 arguement- I think it should be the burden of groups in power to not dismiss the minority. For instance, I am a new parent. Isn't it my job to tell my child, if there is a salmonella outbreak in lettuce in 2015, that not all lettuce has salmonella? I don't want them to live the rest of their life in fear of lettuce, thinking it's disgusting or poisonous. It's my burden as the person with the most control in that situation to research and allay fear. So if you identify with Christianity, and a non-Christian comes into discussion, isn't it your duty to research their beliefs and not dismiss them? Oh how I would love to feel that reaction just once.

I wish religion was private and never came up at all. But because I am forced to live in this Christian world, I have to fight for my point of view to be shown respect.

I guess my bottom line is, I am okay to an extent with Obama's agenda here. It's not the worst thing I've ever heard. But holy crap am I sick of Christianity viewing itself as the misunderstood majority in these situations. Guess what? The minority knows your religion. We're not in the dark. We know the good Christians and the bad Christians and everything in between. You're everywhere! How can we not? So when we are all-out dismissed, it's freaking gross. And here we are trapped in a two party system where both parties pander to the same demographic. The majority. And atheists don't even get a cute, pandering generalization the way Muslims do when Christians talk about minority beliefs. We're just villains within the liberal demographic. And here we have a black candidate, another kind of minority, one who speaks of nothing but change, but here comes more of the same mainstream Christian agenda.

Are you a believer? I like to try. It's a shame knowing the faith you have will likely not be honored by society in your lifetime. And it's hard to listen to people in the mainstream pretend they understand. You have no idea how used to having it your way you are!

pmottaz
07-03-2008, 08:08 PM
also, more specifically...

...it drives me nuts when people act like atheists aren't/can't be in wonder of the universe! It's our bread and butter. We learn about something like Eagle Nebula (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Nebula), all it's details, and we just think we don't need a god! Look how massive and powerful this thing is! It's literally more complex and powerful than the human mind can grasp. That's fucking gorgeous. I just don't think someone created it for me to look at and go "ooo, pretty". I think it's simply something so powerful I am truly humbled by it.
I need some clarifying on this, because I don't want to read things into it that shouldn't be there.

1) I never knew people acted like atheists can't be in wonder of things. If that's true, then those weren't just religious people. Those were dumb people.

2) Is the point of this sentence--I just don't think someone created it for me to look at and go "ooo, pretty" --is the point that you don't think someone or thing created it? Because going on to include the "for me to look at and go "ooo, pretty" kind of implies that people who DO think someone or thing created it just look at the Eagle Nebula and go "ooo, pretty." And I guess it's that kind of stuff--included humor and jabs, I suppose--when coupled with a potentially sensitive subject that gets my goat. 'Cause I--as a religious person--don't think someone made the Eagle Nebula for me to look at and go "ooo, pretty" either. It's there for... I don't know why. Probably some amazing purpose or for some reason that, as you said very well, my feeble human brain cannot possibly comprehend. I don't know. I'm just getting hung up on the "ooo pretty."

3) This paragraph could be written by someone of any belief system.

So clarify yourself for me, please.

EDITED TO ADD--it just hit me what really triggered all this talk (that I started) in the first place!

It was the implication that someone cannot simultaneously be religious and progressive. THAT'S what bothered me from the get-go. I already addressed it, but I'm restating my position: I'm saying you can. I know many people who are. So to any atheist friends out there who worry that you don't have men "on the inside," do not be afraid. "We have some gay friends in the red states."

ALSO THIS...

Why don't you trust people based on their character and how they present themselves, and not on the flash-image you get when you hear the name of what they believe?
Right back at you, man.

Telfer
07-03-2008, 08:16 PM
1) I hear this at least 90% of the time my beliefs come up. Welcome again to our world.

2) Well, yea I was being snarky. If it makes you feel better I wasn't directing it at anyone in this conversation, just the sort of people who give me a hard time. The people who would, in fact, say God only created the stars and the universe for his children to "marvel" at or some such thing. I've heard that particular line too often for my taste, so pardon me if I got dickish there. It's exhausting to have to map out your guts for people so they won't distrust you instantly, and sometimes I will get a bit defensive. But, you know, if you're still offended you can take comfort in the fact that this holiday weekend my patriotism will be questioned by family and friends of friends and I will have to rehash this again (with kid gloves on) over and over.

3) That was my intention, because I believe the prevailing opinion is still "Well, most of us are Christians, so can't the non-Christians just deal with it?" Don't I have to word it this way to make my opinion valid?

stevescholz
07-03-2008, 08:39 PM
EDITED TO ADD--it just hit me what really triggered all this talk (that I started) in the first place!

It was the implication that someone cannot simultaneously be religious and progressive. THAT'S what bothered me from the get-go. I already addressed it, but I'm restating my position: I'm saying you can. I know many people who are. So to any atheist friends out there who worry that you don't have men "on the inside," do not be afraid. "We have some gay friends in the red states."

Right on. Having known many UU's who fit that description, and others who held Christian beliefs, I can testify to that. And for me, Obama has that "religious & progressive" combination. That would be true were he of any faith at all. And if he wasn't, I'm equally cool with that. I have certain expectations of what my President will be; religiousness or spirituatlity is not one of them. Great if it's there, but at the end of the day, it's the American people that our President has to be accountable for.

And to Telfer--I hope that you find better acceptance than you may have this holdiay weekend. I've had friends and family members through my life who've run the spectrum of beliefs. I've had heated discussions with people I love because we've disagreed about religion. If someone else isn't comfortable with what I believe, then that's them. I am comfortable to just be without trying to convert others, and I look for the same in return.

Scol
07-03-2008, 08:56 PM
Undoubtedly, there are many progressive Christians.

However, here is something that has bothered me quite a bit over the last seven or eight years:

The number of moderate Christians (the majority) who are silent about their far-right bretheren. I am not including the people who have been posting (who all seem to be pretty liberal, whether Christian or not).

Where was the massive outcry, among these moderates, when Jerry Falwell blamed gays and pro-choicers for 911? Where was the outrage when Ann Coulter spewed her venom and suggested we kill Muslim leaders then convert their people to Christianity?

Yes, there were liberal dissenters. But a sweeping condemnation from the mainstream? Nope. Didn't happen.

And it isn't like this poisonous hatred has disappeared. Not by a long shot.

What does it say about people's beliefs that they would avoid these outrages? Because if mainstream Christians held these views, we'd probably be living in some sort of Nazi police state. Bad as things are, I don't think we're near that.

Yet those in the middle remain silent.

That's my view anyway. And it might well be my biggest issue, right now, with religion in America today.

stetsko
07-03-2008, 09:05 PM
Again, Telfer, in real life, I DO judge people on who they are and not what beliefs they subscribe to. Anyone who's spent time in the world realizes that's a dumb way to go through life. The only times I've ever found myself liking someone's personality, but being unable to take their beliefs, those people were Christians and those beliefs were grounded in converting the infidels and not in what I'd call Christianity.

But you've confusing the personal and the political. When we're talking about a POLITICIAN, yeah, I want more. I want a politician, (whom I do not know personally,) to give me the assurance that they operate on a belief system I can identify with. I don't care if they tell me that they're devotees of Gaia and I don't care if they tell me they're happily agnostic. But, if a candidate gets up and says, I'm an atheist, well, then I'm going to want more information. I want an assurance that they're NOT a nihilist and I want an assurance that when faced with the unknown they'll be grounded by something larger than themselves. As my father noted when discussing the possibility of me marrying someone non-Catholic, "I don't care what they do believe, I just want to know they believe in SOMETHING."

And, again, I've always known that all atheists weren't nihilists. (Hell, I was one, before I realized that it wasn't who I was.) But given that I've never actually met anyone who identified themselves as a nihilist, (at least not seriously), I'd question a politician who identified as an athiest and if that politician couldn't give me more than "nope. no belief here" I wouldn't vote for them.

K.

Telfer
07-03-2008, 09:30 PM
Well I think the burden should then be on a Christian President to not be a crazy Christian. I'd argue our current president is a huuuuuge nihilist, as are most Republicans in office. They see the second coming of Christ as an inevitable end to existence that they would happily usher in.

Why shouldn't they be put to the same iron as an atheist?

I mean, I know you don't mean to insult me. Let's forget that. You apologies just make me defensive, because I'm used to being on the defensive about this.

Scol is steering this back in a much more interesting direction than my personal disgust with constantly being questioned- what about the people in power? Why is the Christian death/destruction/hatred streak given such a huge pass? Why are all American politicians given a pass if they say they claim they are Christians? Maybe you personally don't give them a pass. I'd assume everyone here is far too intelligent. But the idea of even giving Obama some license because he's Christian "like me"- isn't that one of the biggest problems in this country? That we let someone claiming to have faith then steer our destiny into their personal, limited ambitions?

Think of how many people you know who would say they only feel electing a Christian president- isn't that what we've been doing for 8 years? Hasn't that one point gone a long way towards enabling mediocrity? Why don't you think Obama or McCain shouldn't have to admit they're not nihilists?

speedymarie
07-03-2008, 10:19 PM
"I don't care what they do believe, I just want to know they believe in SOMETHING."

I would say that most atheists do believe in something - they believe in science.

Telfer
07-03-2008, 10:30 PM
Exactly- I'd say there's just as many atheists who really "believe in something" as Christians, percentage wise! Hence my indignation.

speedymarie
07-03-2008, 11:53 PM
Exactly- I'd say there's just as many atheists who really "believe in something" as Christians, percentage wise! Hence my indignation.

Right, atheists are not defined as having disbelief, but as having belief only in what can be observed. That's not the same as believing in nothing.

Nihilism is about a lack of objective morality, and nihilists don't care if there is a god or not. It doesn't matter either way. No higher power, be it god or man, can create morality for anyone else.

That's part of the problem with these people who think we need to have prayer and religion in schools, to "teach kids morals." They think that being Christian automatically means having morals, and not being Christian means you have no morals. Not believing in God doesn't mean that you don't recognize that other people have the right to live and be respected and treated decently.

Scol
07-04-2008, 12:06 AM
Exactly.

Morals come from empathy. There are passages regarding this in the bible, but by no means is it a big focus.

What the bible mainly preaches is obedience to law. Do what God tells you, or ELSE. Worship him endlessly, or ELSE. Read the book if you doubt this.

In fact, there are numerous bible passages where God is anti-charity, and explicity tells you NOT to help others. I'd be happy to cite them.

If you were raised with any degree of love and compassion, and taught to empathize with others, there is a strong chance you will turn out to be a decent, moral person. It is entirely possible to be raised in a religious household that is completely devoid of these qualities.

Obedience has NOTHING to do with morality.

pmottaz
07-04-2008, 01:31 AM
Undoubtedly, there are many progressive Christians.

However, here is something that has bothered me quite a bit over the last seven or eight years:

The number of moderate Christians (the majority) who are silent about their far-right bretheren. I am not including the people who have been posting (who all seem to be pretty liberal, whether Christian or not).

Where was the massive outcry, among these moderates, when Jerry Falwell blamed gays and pro-choicers for 911? Where was the outrage when Ann Coulter spewed her venom and suggested we kill Muslim leaders then convert their people to Christianity?

Yes, there were liberal dissenters. But a sweeping condemnation from the mainstream? Nope. Didn't happen.
What happened? I dunno... internet?

Are you blaming me (and by "me" I mean, "Me, Phillip Mottaz, height 5-foot-10, weight 168 lbs") for this? Or is this your reason for not aligning yourself with a religion?

Either one I could understand. Religions are weird and potentially dangerous. But if you want me to theorize why I didn't lead a massive outcry about these things among my religious friends, it's probably because I didn't think I hung around radical right-wing religious nuts. It's the same reason YOU didn't rally those people--you don't live in Atlanta suburbs.

But in our own comedy circles--if there are, as you and Telfer have stated, more of "us" than "you"-- then the outrage among moderate and progressive religious folks was already there. I was personally very upset by those things you mentioned, and I distinctly remember getting pissed at the whole "gays caused September 11th" lunacy. Common sense is there, we just don't have Ann Coulter's legs. On the plus side of common sense, I'm proud that even my historically-Republican family thought Allan Keyes was a nut and an idiot in the 2004 election (in a weird way, I became a big fan of Keyes for being so damn entertaining).

And the reason (again, personally) you didn't hear me say, "I'm a Methodist and I'm really upset about this Jerry Falwell business" is because:
a) that's personal to me
b) it's a really awkward thing to say
and c) I would've gotten the eye roll just like I've gotten the eye roll for mentioning any kind of religious stuff in my improv land.

While we're all playing the victim here, I just remembered a few friends of mine AT MY WEDDING saying it was nice ceremony, "except for all the God stuff." It's my fucking wedding, jack ass.

(as a personal note and tangent, that's something you never want to do to a friend. Don't do it. I don't care if your friend is getting hitched under a bleeding cow and you think it's gross... save it 'til after the honemoon at least. Also, never tell them that their choice of "God Only Knows" was a bad first dance choice because of its opening line 'I may not always love you...'. Listen to the rest of the fucking song, you dolt! And, no, it wasn't chosen because it had "God" in the title. It was chosen because it is a beautiful, heartfelt, warm song that was special to me and my wife. The end).

ANYWAY... back to my theory. I think you don't hear the moderately religious or the progressive religious because they tend to be the least crazy and therefore the most calm and non-shouty. But I know personally I wouldn't have mentioned it because I've been burned before/made to feel awkward about my beliefs which really--and I think you'd agree--don't really matter in those discussions. Idiots are idiots.

And FURTHERMORE, I like to think that I'm doing some good on this front by remaining a progressive mind and getting involved in a religious community. Isn't that more effective than just washing my hands of the whole thing and, as they say, "Moving to Canada?" Don't "they" win if we just give up this valuable territory?

Telfer
07-04-2008, 01:48 AM
While we're all playing the victim here, I just remembered a few friends of mine AT MY WEDDING saying it was nice ceremony, "except for all the God stuff." It's my fucking wedding, jack ass.


Ugh, I don't like your friends.

I suppose all I have left to say to you Phil is, well, if ever there was a time for sane middle-of-the-road Christians to be outraged, it's now now now!

Scol
07-04-2008, 03:39 AM
What happened? I dunno... internet?

Are you blaming me (and by "me" I mean, "Me, Phillip Mottaz, height 5-foot-10, weight 168 lbs") for this? Or is this your reason for not aligning yourself with a religion?

Either one I could understand. Religions are weird and potentially dangerous. But if you want me to theorize why I didn't lead a massive outcry about these things among my religious friends, it's probably because I didn't think I hung around radical right-wing religious nuts. It's the same reason YOU didn't rally those people--you don't live in Atlanta suburbs.

But in our own comedy circles--if there are, as you and Telfer have stated, more of "us" than "you"-- then the outrage among moderate and progressive religious folks was already there. I was personally very upset by those things you mentioned, and I distinctly remember getting pissed at the whole "gays caused September 11th" lunacy. Common sense is there, we just don't have Ann Coulter's legs. On the plus side of common sense, I'm proud that even my historically-Republican family thought Allan Keyes was a nut and an idiot in the 2004 election (in a weird way, I became a big fan of Keyes for being so damn entertaining).

And the reason (again, personally) you didn't hear me say, "I'm a Methodist and I'm really upset about this Jerry Falwell business" is because:
a) that's personal to me
b) it's a really awkward thing to say
and c) I would've gotten the eye roll just like I've gotten the eye roll for mentioning any kind of religious stuff in my improv land.

While we're all playing the victim here, I just remembered a few friends of mine AT MY WEDDING saying it was nice ceremony, "except for all the God stuff." It's my fucking wedding, jack ass.

(as a personal note and tangent, that's something you never want to do to a friend. Don't do it. I don't care if your friend is getting hitched under a bleeding cow and you think it's gross... save it 'til after the honemoon at least. Also, never tell them that their choice of "God Only Knows" was a bad first dance choice because of its opening line 'I may not always love you...'. Listen to the rest of the fucking song, you dolt! And, no, it wasn't chosen because it had "God" in the title. It was chosen because it is a beautiful, heartfelt, warm song that was special to me and my wife. The end).

ANYWAY... back to my theory. I think you don't hear the moderately religious or the progressive religious because they tend to be the least crazy and therefore the most calm and non-shouty. But I know personally I wouldn't have mentioned it because I've been burned before/made to feel awkward about my beliefs which really--and I think you'd agree--don't really matter in those discussions. Idiots are idiots.

And FURTHERMORE, I like to think that I'm doing some good on this front by remaining a progressive mind and getting involved in a religious community. Isn't that more effective than just washing my hands of the whole thing and, as they say, "Moving to Canada?" Don't "they" win if we just give up this valuable territory?

Blaming you? Not my intention.

I still think it was a legitimate point. I stand by it. I honestly did not see a major outcry from the mainstream (I don't consider people in the comedy community to be mainstream) when Falwell made his comments. Individuals spoke out. Of course. But was it anything on the level of the outcry about, say, gay marriage? If there's evidence of that, I'd be willing to look at it. I'm not calling any single person out because they, by themselves, failed to start some sort of 'movement.' That isn't how it's done. I completely get that. But the fact that there wasn't a natural collective outrage says something. It isn't BLAME. It's an observation. Yes, a very critical one. That's not the same thing as giving any individual person a hard time because they didn't do what I thought they should. Shit, I didn't play the hero either.

But then again, it wasn't my religious views being co-opted by some evil asshole. That's my point. I wondered why Christians didn't seem more offended. Maybe they were. But if so, I never heard about it.

Also, I would never pick a fight, or be mean, or snide, to a friend at their wedding, baptism, bar-mitzvah or anything else. I've been to a gazillion religious functions. It ain't my thing to ruin it for anyone. Live and let live.

This thread has so far been pretty civil, and personal defensiveness has been kept to a minimum. I'd like it stay that way. No more from me on all this.

Peace out.

matthewp
07-04-2008, 09:20 PM
Falwell isnt evil he just has beliefes you dont share. he could say the same about you and maybe he does. hes WRONG!!! Thats irrelivant. What I notice is a huge movement of far right christians ruining the name of people who have a sound Faith in God. Not all of us judge you because you dont believe. I feel we are all God children we were not made the same way he knew not everyone would believe in him or her. My God doesnt judge at all. I tend to follow Gods overall message of saying everyone has faults but it doesnt mean we are bad. I am just so sick of the very far right christian movement ruing everything for me. They are such the minority but it gets blown up because of the hideous staements they tend to make. Just ignore them we dont all think or feel that way.

frankandbeans
07-16-2008, 02:13 AM
Hi.

My name is Fawad Siddiqui (weird name, huh?) and I believe that there is one, all-powerful, indescribable God and that Muhammad is his last and final messenger in a line of prophets dating back to Adam, the first human being, and including Jesus, the messiah who will return at the end of the world. God sent holy books with some of the prophets, the last of which was the Quran with Muhammad. The quran, the teachings of the prophet and human reasoning over time make up a general and evolving set of guidelines for a successful life and hearafter for humans on earth, meaning heaven and hopefully not hell. The application of these rules varies from country to country and culture to culture, as it has since the inception of the religion. Generally, we're supposed to be good and stuff, and not be bad.

And all that, together, is called Islam. It's the largest religion on earth, with variations on that theme in every Muslim majority country, and most of the non-Muslim majority ones, too. You should all believe it, too. If you want. (Though hopefully God'll let you go to heaven anyway. I'll put a word in for you. If my word's worth anything. I'm not all that good at any set of rules to a healthy life lately. But I'm pretty religious, I guess. So who knows. Inshallah.) (Oh and that homosexuality stuff is right out. Sorry, gays! But it's ok, cause so is christianity!)

Being an American born and raised Muslim, of middle-class, urban Indo-Pakistani descent, my application and understanding of this faith might be a bit more "moderate" or "liberal" than most Muslims you'll meet on earth. But who can say? Perhaps Muslims are much more liberal and pragmatic than I, or you, think. Or maybe you've only ever met more liberal Muslims. I mean, who can say, really? The world keeps moving on, at any rate, right? I mean, the world hasn't stopped turning because of any of it. And it's not like this isn't just about how it's always been, more or less. Give or take the advent of nuclear weapons by the western world. (Thanks!)

But yeah. As the sole representative of a fourth of the world's population on this forum, let me just say....greetings, white people.

*wave*

I hope assuming that all of you are white does not make me a racist.

Moving on.

As regards the subject of this thread, Obama and Religion, I'd just like to point out something I find interesting.

I was always taught that in America, religion and government were seperate, except for a few generalized mentions of god in a few official declarations that nobody much minded until the 60s-or-such. That all religions were to be respected. And that anyone of any religious background, as long as they were born here and not a criminal, could grow up to become president, just so long as they were the best person for the job, were running country well and treating everyone equally and respecting everyone's religous rights or lack thereof.

It used to give me hope as a child. I never planned on becoming president, but just hearing that sentence as a kid in elementary school...it made you feel good. It reminded you that you belonged. That you could do anything. That you, that all of us, are Americans.

What saddens me now, as an adult, is that apparently, watching the news coverage of this election, it isn't true.

Because Barrak Obama's dad was Muslim and that apparently was a bad thing that he has to "clarify" and "prove won't be a problem" and "distance himself from." And Barrak has a Muslim middle name, too. It's the name of the Prophet's nephew. The nephew that was martyred at the famous battle of karbala. An arabic word that means "the beautiful".

These things are described as liabilities by both people on the left and right. It's questioned whether or not he'll be able to be elected because of them.

And he's not even Muslim. He's just connected to Islam. And they talk about it like that.

So what does that say for a Muslim boy like me and my hopes?

:(

hixx
07-16-2008, 03:07 PM
You know FrankandBeans, that is the issue, that is totally the issue.

And its something I keep getting tripped up on in my own head. All this defensiveness, all this protection, all this insisting insisting insisting that Obama doesn't have Muslim ties.

And yet, the question really should be, why would it matter if he is?

I mean, I understand America's irrational fear, I do...now we've all get little 9/11 fear men in our heads telling us what evil looks like, but in this country, we should be open enough to realize that even if Obama is not a Muslim, it honestly should not even matter if he was.

Damn straight.

Hixx

schaefe
07-16-2008, 03:57 PM
Most atheists are humanists.

Erasmus would find this statement very humorous, I think... : )

The thing of it is, Religion (particularly Protestant Christianity) is very much a part of the American political process, going waaaaaay back to Jamestown and Plymouth. To many colonists and religious exiles from England (and other parts of Europe, particularly Germany), America IS the "New Israel", the new promised land. That attitude has pervaded our social and political processes down the centuries. It has influenced everything from anti-immigration feelings, the Civil War, and most other political initiative and elections ever since the Founders stepped off the boat.

Remember when Kennedy got elected? Our first Catholic president? That was a BIG deal during the election that year. It was even a debate (hypothetical) question asked to him about whether or not he would obey the Pope over the American people and Congress if there was any type of papal decree made. That was in 1960.

Another example, why do you think that historically, most Americans don't really care for Mormons? Persecuting them, and driving them accross the country to Utah?

The irony is that despite this religious cultural identity that America has, the Founders in their wisdom specifically entered in the separation of Church and State into the Constitution. My feeling is that they correctly recognized that there were many different sects and denominations of Protestantism in America already, and secondly, 1789 was a lot closer to 1648 in everyone's memory. People could more closely remember (especially the German Menonite, Dunker, and Amish communities) what had happened in Europe the last time there was a major intra-Christian conflict (Thirty Years War: 1618-1648). No one would care to have that repeated here. I could go on and on...a good read would be "The Cousin's Wars: The Triumph of Anglo-America" about the effects on religion on American cultural and political identity.

I guess my main point is that, until very recently, only Christianity (and Judaism to a smaller degree) has been the focus on American politics. It's what everyone remembers and understands--even if people are not particularly religious. Islam, Hinduism, Buddism (for example) are "new" to the US from a mainstream political perspective, and that is hard for many people to come to grips with. We are a large multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. I believe that this gives us great strength and flexibility, but it's also a divisive issue that Conservatives can rally around. Change is frightening to many people, and people will use that fear if they can.

Telfer
07-16-2008, 04:00 PM
Oh and that homosexuality stuff is right out. Sorry, gays!


It's hard to see past this, you know?

It's hard to see past a lot of beliefs someone has that you think are based in "wrongness". And I'm probably more "liberal" than most white people. Probably as liberal as you can get. Did I dismiss you for that comment? Of course not, because you wrote a lovely, thoughtful post. But that line about the gays really stuck in my craw and I can't let it go.

No matter how many Muslims there are on Earth, we were still a country founded on Christian colonies. Remember, we were doing pretty great for a while there with respecting all religions, but in our short history our country has also allowed slavery longer than most civilized countries, and our little "Manifest Destiny" image of ourselves committed genocide against Native Americans. We're only moving past mistakes like that if we remain progressive, and to some old white people progressive is a dirty word.

One thing I always think gets ignored is that Islam, by most accounts, is a very accepting religion. I mean, you give props to Jesus! And are scared, rural Christians grateful? Hell no! They think their magic fairy in the sky is more real than yours, and make fun of you for it.

It's an irony I think about a lot, honestly.

Steev
07-16-2008, 04:06 PM
Hey, I think I speak for all the other white people here when I say, "GET OUT OF HERE, MUSLIM! GO TO SOME OTHER MESSAGE BOARD!"

Am I right, white people?

robbersean
07-16-2008, 04:19 PM
I think a problem with religions is that many of them deal in absolutes (except for Unitarianism, and some sects of Buddhism) and this leads to intolerance.

When you believe that you are absolutely right about something, and you live near somebody who believes in some other thing absolutely, it will of course lead to conflict in that neither person has left room in their minds for any sort of understanding or compromise.

I also don't think that this is limited to religious folk. I think people there are atheists who absolutely believe in their own belief structure and have a hard time tolerating religious folk (or even other atheists) whose beliefs differ from their own.

Also, just to clarify, roughly 21 percent of the Earth's population is Islamic while 33 percent is Christian, though each can be divided further into smaller sects.

Telfer
07-16-2008, 04:51 PM
I also think that while everyone should practice tolerance, the burden is much more on people and communities with power over others to practice tolerance.

Tolerance gets thrown around a lot by sects of people who dominate minorities, as if the minorities need to be more tolerant of the people lording over them. It's all well and good to talk about even something as simple and good as tolerance like it applies to everyone, but I think far too often American Fundamentalist Christians preach it to the masses like they're victims of intolerance, and I think that's pretty passive aggressive. Americans need to be tolerant of other nations and "lead by example" so to speak, not lecture them on tolerance as long as they are a superpower. Ditto with Muslim extremists who commit genocide against small sects, etc.

As an atheist, every time I comment on hypocrisy in religion I hear how we can be intolerant too. Well, that's great, but you know our opinions are usually shut down on almost all fronts, right? So, buck up.

frankandbeans
07-16-2008, 09:11 PM
You know FrankandBeans, that is the issue, that is totally the issue.

And its something I keep getting tripped up on in my own head. All this defensiveness, all this protection, all this insisting insisting insisting that Obama doesn't have Muslim ties.

And yet, the question really should be, why would it matter if he is?

I mean, I understand America's irrational fear, I do...now we've all get little 9/11 fear men in our heads telling us what evil looks like, but in this country, we should be open enough to realize that even if Obama is not a Muslim, it honestly should not even matter if he was.

Damn straight.

Hixx

I have been waiting for someone, anyone, to make that statement, anywhere, outside of my own imagination. Thank you, Hixx. It made me feel better just to see it, even if it is just in a message board discussion. Sometimes, in a media circus like this, you wonder if you're the only one who notices some incongruity like that. And you wait for the media or some commentator or some editorial page somewhere to notice. And it never happens. And then you feel like the only sane person with eyes. Or maybe start to question your sanity to begin with.



Remember when Kennedy got elected? Our first Catholic president? That was a BIG deal during the election that year. It was even a debate (hypothetical) question asked to him about whether or not he would obey the Pope over the American people and Congress if there was any type of papal decree made. That was in 1960.

Y'know, this is actually a much closer corollary to the Muslim question with Obama and I wish more people would point it out or refer to it in those terms instead of how they do. Or even just notice.

What's really unsettling is that the possibility of him being Muslim is being put in another category of controversy all-together. The idea is the unspeakable evil of the "other." It's the role the "Turk" used to play in Shakesperian-era plays, or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Sure you had white villians, then you had half-breed civilized Moors, like Othello, but then...then there was the unspeakable evil of savagery beyond civilization, the Turk. Who would come and take your women and wealth and destroy your way of life, enslave and convert your sailors. Unthinking brutes! Tamerlane with his pyramids of skulls! That's what we are again in American popular political discourse where the presidency is concerned. I am not part of your world. I am a world killer. This is the view that extremists on both sides of the fence would love to reinforce. But what about those of us in the middle, which, I think, are the actual majority? Or I would hope. It's the antithesis of the multiculturalism-as-a-given which I grew up with as an suburban American youth in the 80s and 90s.

I'm sure him being black doesn't add any rationality to the reactions. It's a big bowl of fear soup.


[re: "That homosexuality stuff is right out! Sorry, gays!" line]

It's hard to see past this, you know?

Yeah, I know. I'm trying to figure it out, myself. Penises in butts, man. Penises in butts. Penises in guys' mouths. Penises touching penises. It's....a lot to reconcile with an old-timey faith system, y'know? *shakes head confusedly* man kissing...um. Two dads. Two moms? Lady love? Like, constant lady love? With no penis involved!?

Thank you for calling my post lovely and thoughtful! :-D as someone said before, i really think this is the best discussion of this kind on this subject that i've read. and i've been involved in a LOT of these my whole life. (like i'm sure many of you have, too.) but yeah, very thoughtful and insightful stuff, all around. and very classy. no arguing, no assholes. sweet.



Also, just to clarify, roughly 21 percent of the Earth's population is Islamic while 33 percent is Christian, though each can be divided further into smaller sects.

Dude, I could swear I heard somewhere we were number 1 now, I just ran with it. I'll go with your percentages, though, cause you probably actually read it somewhere. But don't worry, christianity...we'll get you! and your little sweater-wearing dogs, too!! (MORE THIRD WORLD BABIES! *whippish!* FASTER!)


Ditto with Muslim extremists who commit genocide against small sects, etc.

hey, those shiites were asking for it. believe me. they are SOO annoying! you don't even know! and they only pray 3 times a day!!! wtf?

(and we woulda gotten away with it, too! if not for this fricking iraq war! argh, shiites! LIVE IT UP FOR NOW! WAIT TILL THEY'RE NOT LOOKIN! WE ARE so GOING TO OPPRESS YOU twice AS HARD WHEN THEY'RE NOT!!!)

btw, is darfur muslims? i've met sudanese muslim people and they're black. i mean, i hear people say it's muslims killing black people, but, wait, wrong thread, n/m.

Telfer
07-16-2008, 09:23 PM
Yeah, I know. I'm trying to figure it out, myself. Penises in butts, man. Penises in butts. Penises in guys' mouths. Penises touching penises. It's....a lot to reconcile with an old-timey faith system, y'know? *shakes head confusedly* man kissing...um.

So hilarious.

You can reconcile other people's beliefs without visualizing the literal fucking going on in their lives, you know?

frankandbeans
07-16-2008, 09:27 PM
I Can't! I Can't!!!!!!!! That's what it is!!! AAAAAHHH!!!!!

Chip
07-16-2008, 09:30 PM
I Can't! I Can't!!!!!!!! That's what it is!!! AAAAAHHH!!!!!

I'm not gay, but I imagine sometimes it's just holding hands and kissing and hugging.

Scol
07-16-2008, 09:31 PM
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, but Christianity still leads it by about six hundred million people.

As for the gay thing-there are seven passages in the bible that condemn it. There are forty that condemn the eating of yeast.

Get the hell out of people's bedrooms. Consenting adults can do whatever the hell they want. I don't relish the thoughts of penises in men's mouths either, but you know what? Not my business. It has nothing to do with me. Zero. I'm sorry, I don't respect certain views on this. There are times when you have to grow up and live in the....drumroll please...21st century.

Now yeast however-that's just plain evil.

BigHig
07-17-2008, 01:58 PM
I'm not gay, but I imagine sometimes it's just holding hands and kissing and hugging.

This is such a Chip comment.

Chip
07-17-2008, 05:08 PM
This is such a Chip comment.

Wanna hold hands?

frankandbeans
07-18-2008, 11:02 AM
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, but Christianity still leads it by about six hundred million people.

As for the gay thing-there are seven passages in the bible that condemn it. There are forty that condemn the eating of yeast.

Get the hell out of people's bedrooms. Consenting adults can do whatever the hell they want. I don't relish the thoughts of penises in men's mouths either, but you know what? Not my business. It has nothing to do with me. Zero. I'm sorry, I don't respect certain views on this. There are times when you have to grow up and live in the....drumroll please...21st century.

Now yeast however-that's just plain evil.

yeah, those yeast comments don't work on a muslim. the bible? what's that?

oh, and if like 75 percent of the planet feels one way about something and 25 percent feel the other way, then which percentage is living in a fantasy world? which question could also be more largely applied to the whole religion question, in general. (mind you, i'm much less fidgety about homosexuality than my jokey post would imply. but as long as we're keeping things as real as possible, y'know? might as well lay out the terms and whatever biases i'm trying to deal with. and it's actually quite liberating to just say something so blatantly obvious and real as "islam forbids homosexuality" in such an increasingly, incessant PC world where people talk less and less about what actually needs to be talked about. we want to imagine the whole world thinks like us on everything and then we hate them for not thinking like us. while condeming people who have an "us and them" mentality? c'mon.) the scariest thing about anti-religious arguments for a lot of people on the world, i think, are their newness and untestedness in comparison to the old ways. much as someone pointed out about many traditional christian americans now fearing the new faiths in america. fear, fear and more fear. meanwhile, mostly, there is status-quo on the planet.

politicians, often, in the mix of these things, i find, are pragmatists. they try to be populists. they try to pander to the lowest common denominator, elevating it here or there as they can. which is why, perhaps, i'm not as aggitated about barrak's religiosity or lack thereof. or president bush's persay. i'm quite used to having a president who doesn't share or give two fucks about my religious background or views. and yet i still participate as optimistically as i can muster in the political process.

both of these men come from pretty pragmatic, political backgrounds. they are part of machines much larger than individual faith, and even organized religion in this country. the neo-con agendas that george bush is part of are not wholly fundamentalist or even religious by some reckonings. they are capitalistic and materialistic and perhaps imperilialistic in design. but they would willingly work with muslims of various ilk to further their means. as would the democrats.

as americans quibble over the supposed differences between our political leaders, people in the muslim world tend to just look at it and shrug indifferently. they know that US foreign policy will move inexorably of its own accord without any serious concern for them as anything other than expendable assets to be taken advantage of, or colateral damage to be killed or devestated. "who cares what religion they are, they're going to support israel over us and they're going to come and kill our leaders when they want, and maybe destabilize our country, or maybe give us a billion dollars that we'll never see much of" is what you often hear there.

like the cuban expatriates i grew up around in miami, my family--upwardly mobile small-business owning entrepenuers that we were--was always republican because ronald reagan was a friend of our country during the cold war, facilitating our moving here and setting up our lives of middle-class prosperity in pursuit of the american dream, while helping things for our dirt-poor people back home, militarily and economically.

now, things have changed on that score, and ironically, i'm voting democrat. who-da-guessed? oh and on the side, it turns out, they like minorities better, too, which comes in handy when people are suddenly taking your civil liberties away for no reason, at all. (the same people who you were friends with a few years ago.)

will barrak obama help the muslim world or hurt it? i don't think he cares that much either way. where do my loyalties lie? here, mostly. where do his loyalties lie? here, obviously. if people here are so blind that they can't even recognize these ground realities, then...well.....status quo. whatever.

oh, and i'm not in anyone's bedroom. believe me. fuckin sucks.

Scol
07-18-2008, 03:14 PM
Okay, so it was sloppy to make a bible comparison when the Koran was initially referenced. And I'm not going to claim to be a Koran expert. I do know that Islam believes that both books contain common divine sources, and there are many similarities.

Yes, there is far too much fear in America regarding new faiths, new ideas, new anything.

So, as far as comparing the old ways with the new, I would suggest that the world is changing at a perpetually accelerating rate. The old ways are often falling by the wayside. Many of them were never true to begin with. We learn. We evolve.

And I don't buy the argument that if %75 of the world's population believes on thing, and %25 believes another (inaccurate math, by the way), then maybe the minority is wrong. There was a time when close to %100 believed the earth to be flat. I guess those sailors who knew better were living in that "fantasy world" you referenced.

At least a third of the world believes that the earth is between 6 and 12 thousand years old. I go with carbon dating, fossils and other massive amounts of evidence to suggest that is wildly inaccurate. Fantasy again?

That to me is a bullying type of argument. Athiest, agnostics and general non-believers number 1.1 billion. For the most part, they (we) base their views on the scientific method, which spends virtually all its time and energy trying to disprove its own findings and beliefs. It discounts nothing. It never fully accepts its own 'proofs' (based on overwhelming statistical evidence) and always keeps an open mind. Meaning, it is always ready to change if evidence goes the other way.

To me, that has more basis in objective truth than any form of mass-acceptance: "If everyone else believes it, it must be so."

Yes, American bigotry, ignorance and fear is idiotically targeting Muslims as "bad guys." No question about it. I don't care what O'Bama's religious origins are. I'd agree with any views in that area.

And the reason I, and others, reacted to the gay comments, flippant as they often were, is the unfairness and hypocrisy. This is what caused the craw-sticking. This group is also persecuted, feared and hated. I don't give a shit what any religious doctrines have to say about that. And I know that most people who believe that the bible and koran forbid it are still generally peaceful folk, but just paying lip service to these so-called "laws" feeds the fire. Live and let live.

frankandbeans
07-19-2008, 04:42 AM
Okay, so it was sloppy to make a bible comparison when the Koran was initially referenced. And I'm not going to claim to be a Koran expert. I do know that Islam believes that both books contain common divine sources, and there are many similarities.

...

And I don't buy the argument that if %75 of the world's population believes on thing, and %25 believes another (inaccurate math, by the way), then maybe the minority is wrong. There was a time when close to %100 believed the earth to be flat. I guess those sailors who knew better were living in that "fantasy world" you referenced.

At least a third of the world believes that the earth is between 6 and 12 thousand years old. I go with carbon dating, fossils and other massive amounts of evidence to suggest that is wildly inaccurate. Fantasy again?

That to me is a bullying type of argument. Athiest, agnostics and general non-believers number 1.1 billion. For the most part, they (we) base their views on the scientific method, which spends virtually all its time and energy trying to disprove its own findings and beliefs. It discounts nothing. It never fully accepts its own 'proofs' (based on overwhelming statistical evidence) and always keeps an open mind. Meaning, it is always ready to change if evidence goes the other way.

To me, that has more basis in objective truth than any form of mass-acceptance: "If everyone else believes it, it must be so."


First, Muslims don't mind the idea of the world being millions of years old. It doesn't conflict with Muslim cannon. So save that one for the christians and jews, too. the quran is actually quite different from the bible in style and content. it features streamlines versions of many of the biblical stories. the bible is thought to be flawed and changed from its original pure form and therefore not to be used as a source for religious rules.

Secondly, the scientific method was invented by and improved upon by christian and muslim and jewish scientists. And Muslims are encouraged to reason and excell in fields of knowledge and discovery, hence the buttload of muslims who get pushed into the engineering and medical fields. (but also just for the money.) unfortunately, much of that spirit of exploration has been lost in our current state of political, economic and educational downtroddenness in the wake of the colonial era.

the first people to hypothesize the world was round were the greeks, who believed in their gods. for a long while the church called it heresy to say such things, but the sailors who eventually actually circumnavigated the globe were doing so to avoid trading with one muslim power they didn't like (the turks), so they could trade and eventually plunder another muslim power they did (the mughal rulers of india). they did this with the catholic church's blessing and encouragement. manifest destiny, was, of course, a religious concept, as well.

most of the advances of human civilzation, be they pyramids, or irrigation systems, or even scientific methods came from people who believed in one religion or other. religious thought does not preclude scientific thought. not everyone had the same dark ages of rule under their religious authorities as europe did under christian rule.

Thirdly, oh, I don't mind any reactions to anything I say. A lot of what I say is often devil's advocacy or tongue in cheek. It's hard to tell what I think on some issues sometimes. I'm literally a person in a state of flux. thank you for your replies and honest reactions. i take none of it as offensive and do not aim to offend in reply. simply to keep things as real as possible.

And, I'm not saying the minority is wrong. I'm saying the minority is a minority and the majority is the majority. And it's good to keep that in mind sometimes without a chip on one's shoulder about it. Or at least that's what helps a lot of us minorities get through life with a cool head.

The minority should not pretend like the majority does not believe what it believes because it doesn't fit in with the minority's view. Neither should the minority assume that the majority is backwards because they hold a contrary view. There is such a thing as a difference of opinion.

the fantasy world that i find a lot of people live in in america is the one in which their rhetorical "enemies" are so conveniently pigeon-holed into this or that dismissable category of human being, unworthy of respect, worthy only of patronization.

But on the issue of homosexual rights, when discussions come up, the discussion is often posed in the most severe and polarizing of terms. To believe homosexuality is a sin is to be a hatemonger, an intollerant, a nazi. I've heard that view often. So, fine. let's say the vast majorities of christians and muslims on earth who believe homosexuality to be a sin--as is taught by most majority, mainstream interpretations of their faiths--are intollerant hatemongers.

where does that conclusion leave you? what are you going to do to change their view if you care to? and how, more importantly, will you be interacting with them in general? (mind you, this is only a minor issue for them. a religious side-note.)

i'd argue that a lot of humanity isn't "evolving" at nearly as rapid a pace as a lot of us here like to think. and thinking of people as underevolved is a dangerous road.

there is a clear shift with regards to homosexuality, or sexuality in general, homo or hetero, in the western world. with these things being dubbed affairs of the home and no one else's business, and being more and more protected as such by law.

it's not that there is more storming of people's homes to uncover private sexual behavior in the muslim world--there isn't--it's just that laws protecting such behaviors if they are uncovered do not exist.

more than that, there is a difference on public discussion and display of sexuality there. a public discourse allowing open discussion on matters of sexuality does not exist in much of the muslim world. and not just because of governmental pressure, but because people genuinely don't like talking about such things in public. they think it's lewd. they think it's disrepectful. and if you do get them to talk, what they'll tell you is they don't like it. they don't think it should exist. (sex with the same gender, or sex outside of marriage, or sex in public.)

so that is the stark difference between east and west. when you visit, you see it. there is a sharp lack of public displays of skin and sexuality in media and in dress. in mentality. one way to look at it is that they are hatemongers. they are repressed. they are backwards.

many of those people live here, too. come from their countries with their homegrown morality. in fact, many traditional christian americans share their views on these issues.

they, meanwhile, think that YOU'RE crazy for thinking the way you do. that you're a lecherous, godless, immoral, materialistic, pervert, or supporter of perversion. they think you and your whole society are disgusting. that you're leading the whole world to hell.

and this is the nature of the world today. hate and fear.

so, what do you do about it?

i actually think american politics manages to produce fairly representative moderate leaders on these issues. i'd think barak was your guy for this sort of thing. the evolver you'd want.

you know, it's easy to say we should all get along. it's harder to mean it without really meaning "everyone should think like ME!"

frankandbeans
07-21-2008, 09:40 AM
Hey, I think I speak for all the other white people here when I say, "GET OUT OF HERE, MUSLIM! GO TO SOME OTHER MESSAGE BOARD!"

Am I right, white people?

Argh!

When Sheikh Imam Barak pulls off his FALSE-jaw-mask to reveal his luxuriant FOUR-FIST-LENGTH beard on his inauguration day, KACKLES into the news cameras and declares the FULFILLMENT of his MASTER plan...when the jihad comes, Gadling...YOUR house shall NOT be spared!

*hurls a gas pellet and escapes the thread in the ensuing cloud*

schaefe
07-21-2008, 05:14 PM
the first people to hypothesize the world was round were the greeks, who believed in their gods. for a long while the church called it heresy to say such things, but the sailors who eventually actually circumnavigated the globe were doing so to avoid trading with one muslim power they didn't like (the turks), so they could trade and eventually plunder another muslim power they did (the mughal rulers of india). they did this with the catholic church's blessing and encouragement. manifest destiny, was, of course, a religious concept, as well.

That's one way to put it. Another way would be that going the direct route to trade directly with the Levant was extraordinarily risky at the time, despite the birth of the Insurance industry in Italy in the Late Middle Ages. Shipping accross the Med could be extremely profitable, IF you could avoid all of the pirates along the way (some Christian, but mostly Muslim corsairs from the Barbary Coast in North Africa--who if they didn't kill you outright, would place you into slavery), IF you could avoid being condemed by your local bishop if and when you got back for trading directly with "infidels". But that is almost a knee-jerk description of it as well. The Venitians did quite well for themselves trading with the Turks and other Muslim countries around the Eastern Med for centuries.

The church could condemn it all they wanted, but as long as the money flowed in, I don't think that they protested too much. Only in times of serious crisis (capture of Rhodes in 1535 by the Turks, the siege of Malta, the battle of Lepanto) would trade seriously slow down between the East and West. The Crusades, for all their destruction and loss of life, also opened up a HUGE economic market for eastern goods, services, and knowledge to the west. However, there were way too many players in the game to attempt to make it profitable for everyone. Add in pirates, the recurrance of religious-based conflict, religious-based bans on trade, and just the hazards of sea travel (storms, mutiny, sickness, reefs, etc.) it just wasn't cost effective for some nations to compete for those lucrative routes. They wanted routes that they could control themselves, or at least be major players in. To be sure, one could argue that the expansion of trade outside of the Med was partially motivated by religion, (Grenada was reconqured the same year Columbus sailed west), but the Italians pretty much had the eastern Med trade locked up.

Only Portugal was really involved in India at their primary port of Goa, as they eventually discovered and controlled the African routes (eventually "blessed" by papal sanction by the Treaty of Torsidellas in 1494). Spain got the long term investment, the Americas. France was pretty much wracked by Catholic/Protestent civil wars for most of the 16th century and didn't really do much of anything. England "supplemented their treasury" by ripping off the Spanish gold shippments, and starting up their own colonies. The Dutch had their own bone to pick with the Spanish, and followed suit (90 year long war for independence from Hapsburg rule will do that to you). Since the English and the Dutch were Protestant, the 1494 Treaty didn't apply to them...

Man, all this really makes me want to get another EU game together...lol....

frankandbeans
07-22-2008, 10:24 AM
yeah i know. i'm getting a history nerd jones, too. i didn't anticipate this thread ending up like this but then...

http://edward.oconnor.cx/2006/01/The_Spanish_Inquisition.jpg

schaefe
07-22-2008, 04:39 PM
Now that's an awesome card to play!