“I know it’s a sin, but I’ve always enjoyed sinning.”
Don’t recall who said that, but it probably applies here given that I do hereby and forthwith dedicate this post to Teh Troll who frequented my last Friday’s (March 28 2014, Zoo blog-post titled “Outrage”), the Troll who commented thereupon via moniker “dntx16” and who wrote, in “its” final comment:
“I’m sorry that pointing out the anti Christian sentiment here was so painful for you. But your pride at occasionally qualifying your remarks with ‘…but only fundies and Christianistas’ doesn’t take remove the hatefulness of FSM [presumably “Flying Spaghetti Monster” mentioned ONLY by ‘dntx16’] remarks and questioning the sanity of believers . . .”
The keywords there seem to be the writer’s penchant for equating “anti Christian sentiment” with “hatefulness” and “questioning the sanity of believers” — words from the same writer who, in “its” own ‘summation’ (sort of) on that same post, suggested that . . . :
“. . . you all justify your daily dose of hate by making your targets into ‘the other’ and not like yourselves. . . . we know your posts questioning why ‘the others’ are so hateful are rhetorical. You know exactly why. They are the extreme right and the mirror image of you.”
Well, OK. So let’s backup a couple of centuries and review ideas expressed at the time by noted American Patriot Thomas Paine who eventually became notorious because of his pamphlet The Age of Reason (1793–94), in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and freethinking, and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular: (underline highlight added). It should be fair to note, too, that Paine also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income. Stated another way, today’s “leftist” and “socialist” (read: NOT Republican) political movements are not new; they clearly have roots in the days of this nation’s emergence, of its founding.
OK. So. The current political conflict in this country seems to have evolved to once again reflect that ‘eternal’ tug-of-war between (a) the far right wing (including dntx16’s so-called “fundies and Christianistas“) and (b) the left wing, including each and all of those America-hating “Leftist Satanic ‘Marksist-Facist’ [sic] Socialist-Nazi-Communist” movements that seek only to . . . umm . . . what, first hate then enslave/destroy that “Constitutional” and Christian America? Something like that.
In other words, the current premise seems to propose that those who ARE NOT willing to assist in any way the nation’s poor and underprivileged (i.e. the elderly, the unemployed, the hungry, the sick, those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” including even military veterans), but who are willing to reduce tax rates on billionaires; to pay subsidies to big oil corps and to big Ag (among numerous others); to guarantee big banks and financial institutions THE RIGHT to pull off any financial rip-off that suits them, and to allow the imposition of THEIR ‘beliefs’ onto everyone else simply because THEIR beliefs are presumed to trump the beliefs of non-believers everywhere . . . Nah. No “hatefulness” embedded in any of theses courtesy the political rignt. Right? Right.
So. How to describe those Americans who, as devotees of either or both the political and religious right, can see no further than the edge of their nose? And can such description be accomplished without hatefulness or (‘heaven’ forbid) gunfire? Can words alone suffice? Let’s ask that famous British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic — a fellow named Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) — HIS impressions of . . . well, of wild-eyed Christianity. Russell’s impressions were, over the years dutifully recorded, a (presumably appropriate) handful of which read as follows:
“We may define ‘faith’ as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. . . . We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”
“I am sometimes shocked by the blasphemies of those who think themselves pious.”
“Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.”
“Most people would die sooner than think; in fact, they do.”
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
“. . . all refutation must begin with some piece of knowledge which the disputants share; from blank doubt, no argument can begin.”
“[If] sin consists in acts of will that are in conscious opposition to . . . the moral law being known by Revelation as God’s will, it follows that a man destitute of religion cannot sin.”
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.”
“If throughout your life you abstain from murder, theft, fornication, perjury, blasphemy, and disrespect towards your parents, your Church, and your king, you are conventionally held to deserve moral admiration even if you have never done a single kind or generous or useful action. This very inadequate notion of virtue . . . has done untold harm.”
“In so far as religion makes its appeal to fear, it is lowering to human dignity.”
“Those who first advocated religious toleration were thought wicked, and so were the early opponents of slavery. The Gospels tell how Christ opposed the stricter forms of the Sabbath tabu. It cannot, in view of such instances, be denied that some actions which we all think highly laudable consist in criticizing or infringing the moral code of one’s own community. Of course this only applies to past ages or to foreigners; nothing of the sort could occur among ourselves, since our moral code is perfect.”
“If you think that your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument, rather than by persecution, and will abandon it if the argument goes against you. But if your belief is based on faith, you will realize that argument is useless, and will therefore resort to force either in the form of persecution or by stunting and distorting the minds of the young in what is called ‘education.’ This last is peculiarly dastardly since it takes advantage of the defenselessness of immature minds. Unfortunately it is practiced in a greater or less degree in the schools of every civilized country.”
“What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.”
And finally, my favorite bit of “B.Russell’s Spouts”:
“The date of the creation of the world (according to the orthodox view) can be inferred from the genealogies in Genesis, which tell how old each patriarch was when his oldest son was born. Some margin of controversy was permissible, owing to certain ambiguities and to differences between the Septuagint and the Hebrew text; but in the end Protestant Christendom generally accepted the date 4004 B.C., fixed by Archbishop Usher. Dr. Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, who accepted this date for the Creation, thought that a careful study of Genesis made even greater precision possible; the creation of man, according to him, took place at 9.00 A.M. on October 23rd. This, however, has never been an article of faith; you might believe, without risk of heresy, that Adam and Eve came into existence on October 16th or October 30th, provided your reasons were derived from Genesis. The day of the week was, of course, known to have been Friday, since God rested on the Saturday.”
Is Russell driven by “hatefulness” ? By “anti Christian sentiment” ? Was he “questioning the sanity of believers” ?? I think not. I think he was only discussing that which he saw, perceived. One can only dare ask, these days, why those of us who simply describe that which WE see or perceive to be wrong, or problematic, are suddenly defined as vindictive and hate-obsessed bastards, as those who “justify your daily dose of hate by making your targets into ‘the other’ and not like yourselves.”
Nope. Hard as it may be for some to believe, there are those of us who forever maintain that beliefs of others are forever their own, and we inviolably respect that premise. What puzzles me is why they so constantly refuse to allow myself and others the same option? Why do they presume that EVERYONE must believe as they do?
Thomas Paine in “The Age of Reason” . . .
It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.”
Bertrand Russell in “Unpopular Essays” . . .
“Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion; it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindliness in favor of systematic hatred.”
Bertrand Russell in “Freedom” (Harcourt Brace, 1940)
“The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.”
And yes, the beat goes sadly on. See dntx16, above.