What the hell? No, man, I’m Jonah.
So why not let’s piss everybody off and talk about faith.
Faith, it’s said, is the belief in things not seen.
I honestly don’t have a problem with that. Seems like a pretty benign definition, as such things go, although I prefer this: “Faith is Belief in the absence of Proof”.
Faith and Science don’t need to be enemies; they can coexist very comfortably in the same human household…just as long as they have separate bathrooms, and each have their own phone line.
Faith, however, immediately becomes a cancer when instead of “Belief in the absence of Proof”, it becomes “Belief trumps Proof.”
Down that road lies most of the horror and tragedy that has ever been done in the name of God or in the name of the State, so much so that I’d offer this up as an iron-clad Rule of Thumb: whenever a cult or a religion or a school of thought or a political party starts pushing and agenda that requires that Faith in [fill in the blank] be given pride of place over Science or Facts or Logic, you are rocketing off into a very dark realm from which it will be very hard to return.
This isn’t open for negotiation.
This isn’t “discussable”.
You want to believe that Jesus ascended bodily to Heaven, or that water got fortified into wine long before Louis Pasteur invented skid row, that’s fine by me. In the bosom of your own sacred places (not that bosoms are not, themselves, extremely sacred places :-) believe whatever the fuck you’d like. Jebus, Budda or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, if there’s no specific evidence either way, and as long as you’re not trying to use the courts and the law to force me to believe your crazy space religion, or your crazy turtle-stacking religion, I don’t care.
Who knows, but what I may actually agree with you.
But when your politics or religion requires that you jettison your critical thinking skills and believe in drivel like the Creationism, or the debatability of Global Warming, or that with a little more prayer and legislation, Terry Schiavo was gonna leap from her bed and kick-line her way across the parking lot singing “Aida”…run like Hell.
Because when your politics or religion demand that you eviscerate your own critical thinking skills – that you deliberately smash your most basic, human safety and early-warning equipment -- as a condition for membership, please know that you are absolutely in the presence of you enemies and that they are out to fuck you. So I am dead serious when I say get the hell away from them, and I don’t care who it is that’s trying to hawk this venom to you -- parent, school, church or party.
That’s one side of the dance floor.
On the other side is this.
A friend of mine (among other things) keeps the network up and healthy at a medium sized shop in the greater metro area. About a 100 people, doing their thing, and over the years he has gotten into the habit of adding a quote to the daily logon script.
Sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes a little provocative....but this was a pretty broadminded group, and he never used any curse words or insulted anyone mother, so he had never gotten a complaint of any kind.
Until September 11th, 2002.
A year after 9/11 he posted up a quote from the Bible. This quote, from the Book of Nehemiah. A quote about the city gates being burned, and that the time comes to rally and rebuild
“Then said I to them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and its gates are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem...”When he told me the story, I remember thinking that it was a pretty good quote. Apt. As appropriate someone citing the Gettysburg address in the weeks and months after 9/11.
It was up for about an hour before my pal got an email message and a visit from two of his colleagues in a state of high piss-off.
"Where," they wanted to know, "did he get off prosthelytizing people!"
It was totally inappropriate, in their opinion, for him to "push" his religion on others in the workplace.
WTF x 2?
So he took it down -- it was a somber day, and some days there are some fights there’s no sense starting in the first place -- but it does serve to illustrate a strain of rather hysterical intolerance from which some of my brothers and sister on the Left seem to suffer. Maybe it’s a Marxist remnant, or a product of being smacked with a Bible once too often, or noting all the blood that has been let in the names of Gods throughout history.
I don’t know.
But I do know that some of us have got to stop freaking right the hell out every time Christianity gets brought into the conversation. The reaction my friend got (and that I have gotten under similarly innocuous circumstances, and maybe you have too) was way out of proportion with any offense he might have caused, so I asked him what was his usual fare.
He said he’d posted quotes by Stalin and Mao, by Budda and Machiavelli, by Twain and Churchill and Gandhi and had never, ever gotten a complaint.
Quotes by religious leaders and tyrants and floated right past, but one quote out of the Bible made two of his Lefty co-workers so furious that they came to him and insisted that he take it down.
First, this is just plain stupid. I believe I'm correct is saying that the Bible is the #1 source of literary quotations is common usage in the Western world. #2 is Shakespeare. It's how my granddaddy and probably yours learned to read. See, it’s going to get brought up a lot, so lighten up.
Second, it’s tactically idiotic to be this violently allergic to religion. And not just any religion – citations from the Bhagdiva Gita, for example, apparently raised no eyebrows – but just the one that the Carpenter’s Kid tried to get off the ground. Almost 77% of Americans are religious and identify as Christian, and telescoping in any way that we think that a belief in God is stupid or sinister is suicidal.
Third, shit, look at the numbers. Most Liberals and Progressives are religious to begin with. Most undecideds are too.
The problem is that we’re uncomfortable talking about it…so we cede the field to Evil Cocksucking Christopaths who have no problem whatsoever barking and braying and yowling their bigotry and hatred and hucksterism as a Great Big Erect Throbbing Love Of Jesus at 1,500 decibels all day, every day. And it seems that the only ones who step in and engage them on the Side of the Angels are always arguing policy and prescriptions and secularism as a free-standing virtue.
We need our Secular Warriors and I am grateful every day that they fight for us, but they will never win the battle.
Part of the reason we lose is because many of us think it's in bad taste to talk publically about God. We think it's rude or it's bad form, and we need to get the fuck over that immediately. As is true with the absolutely maddening habit among some leading Democrats to pull their punches or play "Let's All Play Nice" patty-cake with thugs who are armed with tasers and razors, if we keep dancing around by these 19th Century rules of Engagement while our opponents have no compunction about using Nukes For Jesus, we're going to keep getting whipped. Badly.
This particular theater of the culture war is one in which, regardless of how much support and air cover we give them, it’s only the boots on the ground of the millions of Liberals of Faith that will carry the day.
And it’s not like there aren’t hundreds of Progressive Christian groups out there working very hard on turning this country around, but they need our help and we all need to get Very Much More Emphatic about militating for our vision of morality, and not just policy. About articulating exactly how our principles intersect with out politics, and for a lot of Liberals, that vision is explicitly religious.
We need to take the fight right to our enemies. We desperately need our own Righteous Army of the Lord to be making some Very Fucking Loud Joyful Noise about the Christian causes of Peace and Poverty, of Tolerance and Respect for the Earth.
We need to take the Bad Guys over our Nehemiahs and give ‘em what for.
We need to boot ‘em in their Deuteronomies with the Shoes of the Fisherman until they stop behaving badly.