I am not a big fan of having to write about a specific issue twice in one week. I hate abusing the proverbial equine once it has shuffled off its mortal coil and such. Every once in a while though someone, or something, sticks in my craw. Maybe the issue is so big, or maybe someone reminds me that they still need an education on it. Such is the case with the following meme. Continue reading
The label Christian is claimed with an almost rabid eagerness by most people in America that want to serve in public office. To say you are not Christian is to invite the distrust of the electorate. Continue reading
“There’s only been one perfect person”
- Christian admonition to not expect imperfection.
“Yeah, and I can only be so many places at once.”
- Me Continue reading
I am by no means a theological scholar. I know maybe (very strong maybe there) a little more than the lay person owed to my training in philosophy (thank you Dr. Georges Dicker) and my insatiable thirst for knowledge (thank you John Noble!) So when I wanted to understand original sin, and why it was so important to the anti-choice crowd, I did what any sane person would do: I asked an expert. Actually, I asked four of them, all friends or acquaintances who attended seminary.
Specifically, I was curious when original sin took root. Are we born or conceived in sin? My initial thinking was that if we are born, but not conceived, in sin, then the anti-choice people would believe they are protecting the one innocent form of human life. My friend, Craig Kunkle, quickly dashed that line of thinking by pointing out Psalm 51 5 to me: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” So, strike one for Christine.
I hit a long, towering foul ball on the very idea of original sin. I already knew that it had nothing to do with being a willfully bad person. I got that it was something we were born with. I took it (and while I am loath to try to read another’s mind I believe many fundamentalists do to) with being an inherently bad person. Craig, however, explained it thus to me:
We were created good, but we have a broken relationship with God from the beginning. This is because we finite humans are in a relationship with an infinite being. God is always faithful to us but we both
1) don’t keep the relationship
2) try to do good things but sometimes screw the pooch in the process.
So, okay, I get that. It’s a Sartre-esque existential crisis between us and God. The sticky part, and the part of all this that finally explains to me why the Religious Right gets so very worked up about abortion is the difference between them and actual Protestants (which Mr. Kunkle explained to me Baptists, and thus most Evangelicals at least in this country, are not really part of. Yay for learning more stuff!) For Protestants, the idea of original sin was resolved in Christ’s death and resurrection. In this act, Jesus redeemed the entire human race. Original sin, while still a problem, was forgiven at that point.
For Christian Fundamentalists, however, this is not the case. One is not redeemed until one accepts Christ as one’s savior. This, I now believe, is what causes so much furor over abortion. The child (and they see zygotes as children) unsaved is forever denied their place in heaven as they were never able to seek salvation.
Both of these positions require acceptance without proof beyond the Bible and personal faith, which is a big argument for keeping faith out of public decision-making. This question gets very heated when you inject the notion of salvation and sin into it. To me, the only questions worth asking about the abortion debate are ones of public health and society’s needs. Women lose agency when we turn their bodies’ into our spiritual battle grounds, and that is not good for anyone.
Right from the outset I need to set the record straight on something: Intelligent Design is the silliest bit of new-speak I have ever encountered. Whether or not there is a prime motivator is of no interest to scientists. It is entirely possible that an intelligent force did put the universe in motion,that is not something science can answer, nor is it something scientists would claim it could.
What they can claim is a fair amount of understanding of what unfolded once the universe was set in motion, and roughly how far back that was. I’ll give you a hint: it was not 12,000 years ago. Why some people insist on that particular number is beyond me. I get how they came about it, vaguely, I just don’t get why they get caught up on it. Can’t your faith allow for some gaps in the details? Strike that, I know it can. After all we are talking about people who believe contradictory versions of the same events (you know, Luke and Matthew should have had an editing session.)
Really though, I don’t care what you chose to believe. I only get upset when you try to force those beliefs on others and threaten society’s general well being. That is what happens when you try to force Creationism (seriously, I’m standing firm with this) into a science class. Leave it in social studies to teach that some people believe the universe is 12,000 years old and that it was created, all as we see it now, minus mankind’s influence since then, in six days. That’s fine, maybe even important, because those people have had an influence on just about every society currently in existence. It does not, however, belong in a science class.
Science is about testing ideas about how the universe works. You can’t test Creationism, pure and simple. Evolution has been tested, over and over. It is the best explanation for how life came to be in the form it is now. It relies on multiple disciplines and discussing it allows for students to learn about all of those. It allows for the opportunity to develop the skills you might need if you want to go into a field where the scientific method is essential, most notably medicine.
Which brings to mind the most obvious harm done by wanting to shoe horn Creationism into a science class and refute evolution. By undermining the teaching of the scientific method, you are making it that much harder to train the next generation of engineers, doctors, meteorologists, nurses, and chemists. I’ve heard the argument from the anti choice side of the abortion debate that an aborted “baby” could have been the one to cure cancer. That requires one hell of an assumption. What I find particularly curious is that these people also fall down on the side that would almost guarantee we never find a cure for cancer by making sure the next generation does not have the know how to do it.
Again, believe what you will, even if you hurt yourself doing it (though I’d prefer you didn’t.) When, however, you make the world a less certain place by impeding learning I have to take a stand, for myself, for the people I love and for the greater good of all mankind.
Apparently there is a witch hunt going on in this country. I was concerned to find this out at first, because as self described atheist, tranny dyke, I’ve been on the receiving end of witch hunts. I’ve had, as mentioned before, Presidents suggest I am not a real American and right wing hate mongers suggest I was a pervert out to rape children. When you see the torches and pitchforks (usually metaphorical) heading your way it makes you really anxious. I would not want anyone to feel like that so I wanted to know who needed the support of someone who could empathize. As it turns out, it’s Christians.
Now this was all news to me. Two of my friends are ministers and have shepherded fairly decent sized flocks and they have never given me any inclination that was going on. I felt a little guilty. Was I so blinded by my atheist privilege that people I cared about were being targeted and oppressed right in front of me? What could I have done to let these friends know that they have an ally in me that they can lean on? Then it occurred to me, neither of these people (and I’ve known one of them almost a decade now) has ever given me reason to believe they would ever back down from a fight, especially with those seeking to harm those that put their trust in them.
Still, it is entirely possible that they were somehow spared the horror of this cruel attack. Maybe they lived in a nice safe bubble while all around Christians had people standing outside their churches with hateful signs, throwing rotten fruit at them and screaming that their children were abominations. I looked everywhere for signs that this might be going on. Then I saw it, actually, I saw several “it”s.
It started with a Wendy’s commercial. They were touting their fish sandwich. I had never seen them do that before. Sure they sell one, but they’ve never felt the need to go after that market before, as far as I can remember. The others were all in on it too. McDonald’s, Burger King, heck even Arby’s! Who were these people consuming all this fish, creating all this demand for fish sandwiches that these mighty competitors are desperate for their dollars? Apparently the answer, once again, is Christians.
We are in Lent right now, a season of personal sacrifice for these folks. Traditionally, they give up meat, of which I guess fish (and I know pesco vegetarians that feel the same) is not a member of the class. Traditions have changed some, still I have been informed many of them still practice it, enough that the restaurant business can turn a decent buck on it.
I wondered if these companies knew about the witch hunt. After all, aren’t they risking their well being by aiding these pariahs in their rituals, even if it is just to make a quick dollar? I looked elsewhere for signs of this witch hunt, not finding them in popular culture. A popular culture that still has fictional characters in all media usually still married in the Christian tradition. A popular culture that still tolerates (even among atheists) “In God We Trust” printed on our money. A popular culture that still, despite the “War on Christmas,” has almost 24/7 broadcasting of Christmas stories for the entire month of December on dozens of channels. I could find nothing.
The only thing even remotely not catering to Christianity at this point were the fact that public employees and officials were barred from leading people, especially children, in prayer on public time, and that apparently religious organizations cannot forbid employees of their secular institutions from receiving birth control as part of their health care coverage. Apparently the government has told them that they cannot tell private companies that they are not allowed to save money (and therefore keep their premiums down) by offering the cheaper solution of birth control to their employees. That couldn’t be it, could it?
After all, how could anyone who follows in the footsteps of a man who said “as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” or “render unto God what is God’s and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” or a favorite that I have quoted before, Matthew 6:6 “but thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” could think that the above demands on them are somehow oppressing them. Surely those people would not suggest we not take care of the weak, or not keep our spiritual life separate from the temporal, or not keep our relationship with God private, would they? I mean after all, that sounds like they are the ones engaging in the witch hunt.
Then it occurred to me, they are. To them, anyone who disagrees with them, that calls them out for their mistreatment of others is picking on them. That is classic bully behavior and bullies are what this (much smaller than they realize) minority of Christians are. They shake down their fellow Americans, their fellow Christians for the coin of their integrity, denying us our personal dignity and right to make decisions for ourselves. They back us into a corner, because we let them, and then cry when we push our way out.