Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Atheism and lobbying

Atheists are lobbying in Congress. See here.

62 comments:

Zach said...

They want to take 'In God We Trust' off money. It has been there forever, our founding fathers liked it there, what a stupid move.

Except 'In God we trust has appeared on U.S. coins since 1864 and on paper currency since 1957. '

Seems innocuous.

B. Prokop said...

If for one instant I actually cared about the issue, I would approve of removing the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. They were not in the original composition, and break the rhythm of the line. The history of their addition is also somewhat foolish - they were stuck in at the height of the "Red Scare" when paranoid Americans were seeing commies under every bed.

But to be totally truthful, I'd prefer to just scrap the whole damn thing. Never cared for such enforced faux patriotism.

Amusing side note: I wonder how many of the uber-patriots who love to recite the pledge at every opportunity realize that it was written by a (horrors) socialist!

Karl Grant said...

I wonder how many of the uber-patriots who love to recite the pledge at every opportunity realize that it was written by a (horrors) socialist!

Not one.

As for the money issue, why friggin care? My faith is not weak enough to be upset by the removal of a slogan from currency and as for atheists it is a stupid and counter-productive move. The Constitution doesn't give you the right to pretend that something you don't like doesn't exist nor does that slogan really affect your lives and freedoms one way or the other. It's an utterly pointless exercise in petty harassment of religious believers that is guaranteed to keep the Religious Right mobilized. I don't have a whole lot of respect for people so stupid they work directly against their own interests solely to lash out at something trivial they dislike.

B. Prokop said...

The Pledge was composed in 1982 by the Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy, a tireless fighter for the rights of women and African Americans. The original wording went, "with liberty, equality, and fraternity for all", but Bellamy later altered the line, not because he thought the current wording was ideologically better, but because it was shorter and more succinct.

Bellamy, by the way, preached from his Baptist pulpit that capitalism was intrinsically evil, against the explicit teachings of Jesus, and that capitalists were in grave danger of damnation.

I'd love for every tea partier to think about that, the next time they recite the pledge!

Hah! My not-a-robot word for this posting is sclosm - almost an anagram for socialism.

Crude said...

Bellamy's views on immigration and universal suffrage were somewhat less egalitarian. He wrote that "[a] democracy like ours cannot afford to throw itself open to the world where every man is a lawmaker, every dull-witted or fanatical immigrant admitted to our citizenship is a bane to the commonwealth; where all classes of society merge insensibly into one another.”[2]

Syllabus said...

"Bellamy, by the way, preached from his Baptist pulpit that capitalism was intrinsically evil, against the explicit teachings of Jesus, and that capitalists were in grave danger of damnation."

He's partially right, but perhaps somewhat hyperbolic. Certainly capitalism as it is now practised here in the US has some gravely immoral things wrapped up in it, but I don't think that capitalism qua capitalism is intrinsically evil - though it does contain within it provisions that certainly make greed and idolatry very easy to fall into.

B. Prokop said...

I agree Syllabus. I don't regard capitalism as any more evil than say, feudalism or socialism. Although I do have an MBA (Boston University, 1979), I am not an economist. But I will say that I believe the jury is out on "pure" systems, be they capitalist or communist - they don't work. A mixed economy, like a mixed breed dog, is the healthiest and fairest.

Syllabus said...

"A mixed economy, like a mixed breed dog, is the healthiest and fairest."

I tend to agree. Of course, with the House divided along such absurdly partisan lines as it is...

Crude said...

But I will say that I believe the jury is out on "pure" systems, be they capitalist or communist - they don't work.

What doesn't work about capitalism and communism? As we derail the thread at ten posts in.

B. Prokop said...

"Pure" capitalism leads to profit being the sole motive for economic activity, and damn the environment or the health and well-being of the workers. It also does not live up to the Biblical mandate to care for the least of us.

"Pure" communism is simply a way to hand over all power into yet another ruling class. As the old Soviet joke put it so well: "Capitalism is man's inhumanity to man, whereas communism is precisely the opposite."

Crude said...

Alright, Bob.

"Pure" capitalism leads to profit being the sole motive for economic activity, and damn the environment or the health and well-being of the workers. It also does not live up to the Biblical mandate to care for the least of us.

How does this result? How does capitalism "lead to profit being the sole motive for economic activity"?

I could question your communist take too, but I don't want to hammer you with a hundred questions. Let's focus on why you think capitalism results in what you say it does.

B. Prokop said...

It's all in the word "pure".

As a capitalist, to get to that state you must either subordinate or discard all motives other than profit (at any cost, and to hell with the consequences). Once you start being a socially responsible capitalist (and good for you, if you are!), you have leavened your pure capitalism with the yeast of something higher (call it whatever you will: humanity, Christianity, community, justice, I don't care).

Now I'm in no way a foe of capitalism. But even the worst of economic systems with social justice is superior to a pure system without it. It's the blind ideologues who can't stand the idea of compromise or gray areas that get humanity into so much trouble.

Lord save us from the single issue candidate (or voter), or those whom Charles Williams so aptly labeled "loquacious with a graph or a gospel".

Crude said...

As a capitalist, to get to that state you must either subordinate or discard all motives other than profit (at any cost, and to hell with the consequences). Once you start being a socially responsible capitalist (and good for you, if you are!), you have leavened your pure capitalism with the yeast of something higher (call it whatever you will: humanity, Christianity, community, justice, I don't care).

Alright, Bob. But that opens up a whole new problem. A few, actually.

First, you talked before about "pure" capitalism as a system. But now, you're referring to it more as an attitude of an individual. And I agree, it's the attitude that's the problem with capitalism, not the system.

But I defy you to name a single pure capitalist beyond an anecdotal 'some guy I know'. I don't think you can do it, and if you try, I think it will be easy to show they don't pass your standard.

On the flipside? It's trivial to point out communist systems with ruling classes. Hell, the real challenge would be to find a system that does *not* have a ruling class in practice. The difference being that 'having no ruling class' is essential to the communist ideal, so when it fails there, it fails spectacularly.

I bring all this up mostly to point out that you're giving an argument here for capitalism, and against socialism, whether or not you realize it.

Mike Darus said...

What if we admitted that economic systems have no affect on people's inhuman or humane actions?

Crude said...

Mike,

What if we admitted that economic systems have no affect on people's inhuman or humane actions?

I'd have to hear what you mean, but I'm pretty sure I'd disagree if I'm understanding you right now.

Economic systems, at least if that includes the effects of marketing, etc, certainly do have an effect on people's actions, including those.

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

I'm very much against Bolshevism, as a form of socialism. It has proven itself to not work. (And it would be ridiculous in a blog posting to cover that ground.)

No, I'm not referring to an attitude. I'm referring to a system governed by an attitude. you see it when corporate heads say they're acting "in the interests of the stockholders", rather than in what is good for society. any businessman who does not regard the security and well being of his workers over the bottom line is acting as a pure capitalist. Any marketer who does not take into account the needs of society in decisions about what to sell, how to sell it, and whom to sell it to, is acting as a pure capitalist.

Now there's not the least thing wrong with including capitalist elements into a healthy and just mixed economy - indeed, it is quite advantageous to do so. But for someone to insist on unbridled capitalism is like asking for a gas pedal on your car, but no brake!

Crude said...

Bob,

No, I'm not referring to an attitude. I'm referring to a system governed by an attitude. you see it when corporate heads say they're acting "in the interests of the stockholders", rather than in what is good for society. any businessman who does not regard the security and well being of his workers over the bottom line is acting as a pure capitalist.

You're shifting your standards here. You previously said your standard was 'any leavening of the desire for profit with a higher calling'. Now you're talking about pursuing profit for other people (the stockholders) and very narrow goals (believing that the security and well-being of workers should take priority over the business performing). It's getting messier already.

But my challenge still stands: name a pure capitalist. I think we will quickly find either this creature does not exist and has never existed, or you're going to shift your standards further.

Any marketer who does not take into account the needs of society in decisions about what to sell, how to sell it, and whom to sell it to, is acting as a pure capitalist.

Like universities?

And what are 'the needs of society' anyway? Who determines that? Because it sure as hell isn't obvious to all parties (or if it is, people do a damn good job of pretending otherwise.)

If anyone DOES 'determine that', well... we're right back to the ruling class, now aren't we?

B. Prokop said...

I don't have any standard here. I'm typing off the cuff while listening to Mahler's Sixth Symphony (and I think I'm paying more attention to that).

But I'm more interested in your knee-jerk aversion to anything less than total approval of capitalism. Very touchy there, aren't we? It's just a system, man. No better and no worse than feudalism or hunter-gathering. It's a product of its times, and will someday look as antiquated as the two I just mentioned.

Crude said...

Bob,

But I'm more interested in your knee-jerk aversion to anything less than total approval of capitalism. Very touchy there, aren't we?

Man oh man, you have no idea just where I stand on these issues.

My criticisms of capitalism are deep. That doesn't mean I accept bad criticisms.

Syllabus said...

Bob:

I have to agree with Crude on this one. He's certainly not a capitalist fundie (like He Who Must Not Be Named).

And Mahler? Eh, alright, but I perfer Franck or Sibelius.

B. Prokop said...

Fair enough. Hard to tell from the typed word. But Crude's quick and sharp reaction made him appear so.

Mahler's 6th isn't my favorite of his (much prefer either the 2nd or the 7th), but I like all Mahler. See my profile for my musical tastes.

Crude said...

Bob,

I 'came out swinging' because I do that about just about everything. I thought I was restrained, if a bit uptight. Hey, it's how I am with discussions like these.

The point is that the 'pure capitalist' does not exist, or is a damn rare creature, if 'pursues profit above all else' is the standard. If the standard is 'not taking into account the needs of society', you've wandered off into the land of vagueness where, again, producing the pure capitalist is going to be next to impossible because it will come down to perspective about the needs of society.

Now, you can make serious criticisms of capitalism from a Christian perspective. From the links, here's mine: abortion, pornography, prostitution, gluttony, avarice, and more are all things that, considering the free market in and of itself, are either goods, commodities or things that it may be economically wise to promote.

Of course, for some political liberals, I just pointed out one of the upsides of capitalism.

And just to mention the OP for a moment: I love how the atheist lobbying group's agenda is a collection of nothing but petty, "first world tragedy" concerns. Also the whole hilarity of "non-stamp collectors" lobbying for non-stamp collecting.

Syllabus said...

"Now, you can make serious criticisms of capitalism from a Christian perspective."

And, in the United States, you can make the case that capitalistic idolatry is considered an integral part of much of conservative Christianity. On the Protestant side, at any rate. I don't know how the Catholics deal with that.

Crude said...

And, in the United States, you can make the case that capitalistic idolatry is considered an integral part of much of conservative Christianity. On the Protestant side, at any rate. I don't know how the Catholics deal with that.

Where's the capitalistic idolatry? I ask that seriously. Conservative Christians in the US really dislike socialism and heavy state reliance, but for very good reasons in my view. I actually see very little direct promotion of capitalism among conservative Christians. In fact, I see little thought about it at all beyond 'it's better than socialism' and general talk of freedom.

Crude said...

Let me add: and I mean that both in positive and negative terms. I don't see much talking, so I don't see this idolatry. And I also don't see much pondering the problems of capitalism, or what the cultural effects of capitalism are.

Syllabus said...

"Where's the capitalistic idolatry? I ask that seriously."

Fair enough. Maybe saying "capitalistic" is a bit of an overstatement. I mean it more by extension, in that a lot of conservative Prots basically equate political conservatism (read, the Republican party) with "the" Christian position. Therefore, if you're not voting in a certain way, then you're not a "real" Christian (whatever the heck that means).

Now, what your question may be due to is the fact that I suspect we may just operate in very different circles. I say what I say on the basis of a whole lot of Facebook conversations, a lot of face-to-face conversations, and many things that I've read. You'll hear Huckabee, Bachmann and the other Talking Heads speaking about how we need to get back to the "Christian" roots of our nation and the "Christian" ideals of our Founding Fathers. And when you read what they think those values are, they look remarkably like the values of the conservative Right. I once even heard Chuck Coulson say something to the effect of "capitalism is the most Christian economic system", which I found a rather odd thing to say.

While the equating of capitalism with the Gospel may not happen in explicitly that way, it happens more by proxy - that is, of equating "conservative" with "Christian", and thus equating "conservative" positions with "Christian" positions. I may be alone in this, but I dislike the over-politicization of the church that I see in some sectors.

But hey, I could be misreading it. I certainly hope I am, because it really gives me cause for concern.

Syllabus said...

And I'm not knocking politically conservative positions. I have some - indeed, more than some - myself. But I just don't like this mindless devotion to x or y political party, especially when it mixes with politics. And the Left does it quite a bit too. It's just more obvious when they do it, for the most part.

Crude said...

I mean it more by extension, in that a lot of conservative Prots basically equate political conservatism (read, the Republican party) with "the" Christian position. Therefore, if you're not voting in a certain way, then you're not a "real" Christian (whatever the heck that means).

As I see it, the problem is that there's way too much of a spread with 'liberal Christian'. It can mean, like Victor and Bob, sincere Christians who would describe themselves as politically liberal over economic and similar concerns.

It can also mean, frankly, 'people who aren't even Christian in any sincere sense, but see social and political value in using Christianity to attack sincere Christians or advance their causes, or attack conservative institutions'. I think it's damn telling that you can see Richard Dawkins and other pretty fierce atheists describing 'liberal' religious believers as, basically, once-allies who are only no longer allies because some atheists think it's no longer a net benefit to them to be so.

That's not justifying the casting of liberal Christians in as anti-Christians. But I think it goes a long way towards explaining why that association gets made.

Syllabus said...

"That's not justifying the casting of liberal Christians in as anti-Christians. But I think it goes a long way towards explaining why that association gets made."

I agree, to a point. Of course, it's certainly true that you have people like Oprah who call themselves Christians and don't seem to hold to anything resembling Christian teaching. And then you've got someone like Jim Wallis, say, who is pretty orthodox as far as his theology goes, and yet is pretty politically liberal, and vocally so. And yet these two get painted with the same brush, and people don't really see it as important to do their research and homework in order to make the judgement on a case by case basis. I think the problem may be that many people conflate political liberalism with theological liberalism, and think that the two are co-morbid.

This is a bit of a hobby horse of mine, so I can tend to rant a little.

B. Prokop said...

I see a great deal of idolatry in modern society, specifically in the USA. For instance, I think the excessive respect given to the flag has crossed the line into idolatry. I also (and no, I'm not kidding here) see the endless near worship of Disneyland and the Mickey Mouse symbol as, at the very least, paleo-idolatry.

On a slightly different subject, I regard the so-called Christian Right as having fallen to Screwtape's temptation, and as holding to a "Christianity And..." position that the devil wanted so much for all believers to embrace.

Crude said...

Syllabus,

And yet these two get painted with the same brush, and people don't really see it as important to do their research and homework in order to make the judgement on a case by case basis. I think the problem may be that many people conflate political liberalism with theological liberalism, and think that the two are co-morbid.

Well, I think the problem is also on the 'liberal' side of things. Not to mention that political liberalism, like it or not, is where far and away most religion-hostile people end up, and many *liberals* see liberalism as completely incompatible with anything resembling religious, particularly Christian, orthodoxy.

And here's where the real problem gets compounded. Let's say you have a guy who's religiously orthodox but politically liberal. And let's say a candidate who is politically liberal and religiously unorthodox is campaigning. His religious unorthodoxy is going to be a liability. And a liability means he may lose. So the temptation is there, right away, for the orthodox liberal to go to bat for him and say 'No, no, he's okay, his beliefs are fine' or at least keep his mouth shut. Which only makes things worse.

In fact, I think this comes up in a lot of conversations.

Mike Darus said...

It is surprisingly difficult for many people (Christians) that I know to separate conservative theology from conservative politics. Some ask, "What part of conservative do you not understand?" It gets confusing when one party is better on social issues and the other is better at reflecting community.

The primary popular theologically conservatvie Christian defense of conservative politics (laissez faire capitalism)is, "It better reflects the doctrine of the depravity of man." I find this defense thin. It better applies to the checks and balances of the Consitution.

Too often, professing Christian allow their political stance to inform their theology when it should be the other way around. I appreciate that Crude is thinking in that other direction.

Crude said...

Bob,

For instance, I think the excessive respect given to the flag has crossed the line into idolatry.

Because...?

On a slightly different subject, I regard the so-called Christian Right as having fallen to Screwtape's temptation, and as holding to a "Christianity And..." position that the devil wanted so much for all believers to embrace.

So, what are the problems with the Christian Left?

Syllabus said...

"Well, I think the problem is also on the 'liberal' side of things. Not to mention that political liberalism, like it or not, is where far and away most religion-hostile people end up, and many *liberals* see liberalism as completely incompatible with anything resembling religious, particularly Christian, orthodoxy."

Agreed, and agreed. But African Americans, for instance, are pretty far and away farther along to the political left. And yet a substantial number of them are also at the very least professing Christians. I suspect that the correlation between political liberalism and religious orthodoxy will largely depend upon your sample group. But on the whole, I would tend to agree.

"And here's where the real problem gets compounded. Let's say you have a guy who's religiously orthodox but politically liberal. And let's say a candidate who is politically liberal and religiously unorthodox is campaigning. His religious unorthodoxy is going to be a liability. And a liability means he may lose. So the temptation is there, right away, for the orthodox liberal to go to bat for him and say 'No, no, he's okay, his beliefs are fine' or at least keep his mouth shut. Which only makes things worse."

Which is why it's important to do one's homework before going to bat for someone.

"So, what are the problems with the Christian Left?"

For starters, a pronounced tendency towards antinomianism.

Crude said...

Agreed, and agreed. But African Americans, for instance, are pretty far and away farther along to the political left. And yet a substantial number of them are also at the very least professing Christians.

Black culture and the relation of it to politics is a whole other kettle of fish.

Which is why it's important to do one's homework before going to bat for someone.

I'm not sure it's a homework issue. I think it's a pragmatism issue. I think when someone argues that, say, Nancy Pelosi is an entirely orthodox Catholic, there's rarely enough self-deception that can be justifiably inferred to explain it. Someone's just bullshitting.

That's an off the wall hypothetical example, I'm not sure any Christian liberal has done this, but it illustrates the problem.

For starters, a pronounced tendency towards antinomianism.

This was more directed at Bob, but sure.

I had to look this up. Are you sure this would be the front and center, most obvious failing of the Christian Left? I mean, could you expand on this?

Syllabus said...

"I'm not sure it's a homework issue. I think it's a pragmatism issue. I think when someone argues that, say, Nancy Pelosi is an entirely orthodox Catholic, there's rarely enough self-deception that can be justifiably inferred to explain it. Someone's just bullshitting."

Well, yeah, at that point it's just subsuming one's conscience to the good of "the party".

"I had to look this up. Are you sure this would be the front and center, most obvious failing of the Christian Left? I mean, could you expand on this?"

I didn't know you were asking for the MOST pronounced failing of the Christian left, but sure.

Since I see the Christian left as the "Christian" left rather than the Christian "left", if that makes sense, I will tend to go after them on theological rather than political grounds - though I think there are valid criticisms to be made there as well.

Take the gay marriage issue, for instance. I personally am more or less for gay civil unions, but against gay marriage, on the grounds that it's not actually marriage. I would agree to the civil union thing because I think that, the government being by nature non-sectarian, shouldn't necessarily put a ban on it. However, I don't morally endorse it, since I think it fails at God's best for human sexuality, and is sinful. However, when I hear Christians on the left advocating for gay marriage, they're not advocating for it on the grounds that the government shouldn't be involved in deciding the moral issues involved in human sexuality, they're full-on endorsing homosexual unions as possibly moral options. Their hermeneutical basis for making this assessment is shaky at best, in that they usually lump the declarations about homosexuality into the "purity codes" of the Old Testament, for no other reason than that to do otherwise would be "unloving".

Now, I can appreciate the sentiment behind this move, since a lot of them have guilt trips about how the church has treated LGBT people in the past, and I agree with them on that score. However, I think that they're letting their hearts run away with their heads on this one, since they're essentially reducing sin to outdated purity codes. This causes me a bit of concern, since that way of thinking, taken to its logical conclusions, looks like it ends one up in, like I said previously, antinomianism. I have to be careful here, since this sounds very "slippery-slope"ish, but I think that it's a bit of a worrisome trend.

That's primarily on the "Christian" side of things, as I said previously. Political criticisms can be made, most likely, by others better than they can be made by me, since politics aren't my strongest point.

Crude said...

Syllabus,

Personally, I think the problem runs deeper than even that. I agree with your general estimation of what's going on with the Christian Left and Gay Marriage, but I think A) they've hit the point where they are incapable of conceiving of any consensual sexual activity as ever being even potentially wrong/immoral/sinful, and B) though this has been forgotten, it wasn't 'the church' which has viewed same-sex sexual activity as immoral or disordered, it was (for a long time) secular society as well.

But fair enough, valid criticism. I agree the Christian Right has problems of its own. But I admit, I think the Christian Left problems are more dire. With the Christian Right, I have to worry about them not giving appropriately thorough thought to what a capitalist society means, and what the Christian duty should be in one. With the Christian Left, I have to worry about their throwing their lot in with idiots atheist militants, or wondering what thought crime will be outlawed next for the purposes of making them feel as if they're being 'loving' enough.

B. Prokop said...

"So, what are the problems with the Christian Left?"

I know of no one (personally) on the Christian left who denies the legitimacy of the faith of anyone on the right - not one. They may disagree politically, but they they're not out to "excommunicate" those they disagree with.

In contrast, I know several right wing persons (and know by reputation many more) who deny vehemently that a liberal or a left winger can legitimately call themselves a Catholic.

There's no balance here. The "problem" is objectively only one one side.

Crude said...

In contrast, I know several right wing persons (and know by reputation many more) who deny vehemently that a liberal or a left winger can legitimately call themselves a Catholic.

Supporting and/or seeing nothing morally wrong with abortion or same-sex sexual activity?

There's no balance here. The "problem" is objectively only one one side.

Bob Prokop, ladies and gentlemen!

B. Prokop said...

So was James guilty of antinomianism when he wrote, "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."

And that's in The Bible.

There is no way the left is guilty of antinomianism.

B. Prokop said...

Sometimes people try to create a faux "balance" when none exists. There's no sin in avoiding that fallacy.

Crude said...

Sometimes people try to create a faux "balance" when none exists. There's no sin in avoiding that fallacy.

So, on gay marriage, abortion, religious rights (remember that legal event this year? the one that got every bishop in the US united?), the 'liberals' are right and the 'conservatives' are wrong?

Crude said...

I'm going to see if the 'those are such small issues they don't matter! The REAL issues are these over here, and on that liberals are just totally one hundred percent right' card is played.

Syllabus said...

"So was James guilty of antinomianism when he wrote, "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."So was James guilty of antinomianism when he wrote, "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.""

Bob:

Read my response to Crude. That's not at all what I was saying.

B. Prokop said...

"I'm going to see if the 'those are such small issues they don't matter! The REAL issues are these over here, and on that liberals are just totally one hundred percent right' card is played."

Play it all you want as far as I'm concerned. Most of the so-called "social issues" bore the crap out of me, and I wouldn't lift a finger one way or the other concerning gay marriage and some of the other issues.

My uber-left brother was horrified to learn that I was not pro gay marriage, and I was treated to a three-hour harangue on the subject when he learned this. I tried (unsuccessfully) to make it clear that I didn't care.

I have strong feelings against legalized gambling - in fact, I come close to actively hating it. Yet it is not so critical with me that I would make it a single issue in deciding who I would vote for or against. (And I would never consider voting for no one. It's one of my weird traits that I consider voting a duty, and not just a right.)

B. Prokop said...

Syllabus,

I re-read you post, and I must be missing something. It still sounds to me like that's exactly what you're saying.

I'm not saying you are, but somehow I'm not understanding you then.

Syllabus said...

"I re-read you post, and I must be missing something. It still sounds to me like that's exactly what you're saying."

I'm NOT saying that the left's propensity towards social justice is antinomian. It's one project of theirs that I applaud. What I AM saying is potentially antinomian is the endorsement - moral endorsement, mind you - of same-sex unions by many on the Christian left. More specifically, the methodology that they use to do so is a little troubling. It's more a theological criticism than it is a political or social one. Is that clearer?

B. Prokop said...

Whoa! Clear as can be, now. I must have suffered from a bit of dyslexia there. I read your comment (twice) entirely backwards. To quote a former presidential candidate, "Oops".

Crude said...

Play it all you want as far as I'm concerned.

Reread that, Bob. You're the one playing it.

Most of the so-called "social issues" bore the crap out of me, and I wouldn't lift a finger one way or the other concerning gay marriage and some of the other issues.

Or abortion? So, whether abortion is legal or not, in any case, is just a complete non-issue to you? Aborted babies - *yawn*?

Yet it is not so critical with me that I would make it a single issue in deciding who I would vote for or against.

No one talked about single issue voting, or voting at all. It was asked whether the Christian Left had any problems. To you, none, nope, nyet. You don't care about social issues at all!

Of course, the Christian Left, does. Demonstrably. Hence Syllabus rightly bringing up gay marriage. One would think, from your vantage point of 'it doesn't matter', that at the very least would be considered a flaw or mistake on the Christian Left's part.

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

It's not that abortion is a "yawn" issue for me, but rather that I don't believe it should be a political issue at all. Whenever it becomes one, it sucks all the oxygen out of the room and no one can discuss anything else. If you attempt to contrast two candidates' positions on, say, the environment, the single-issue person concerned with abortion says, "but candidate B is pro-choice" so I can't possibly vote for him.

Actual case (not making this up):

I challenged a fellow member of my astronomy club to do this thought experiment. You have two candidates for an office, as follows,

Candidate A: is pro-life, but disagrees 180 degrees with you on every single other issue

Candidate B: is pro-choice, but is in complete agreement with you on every other issue.

I asked him, whom would you vote for? He answered, "No hesitation, Candidate A".

Now that's just crazy!

Crude said...

Bob,

It's not that abortion is a "yawn" issue for me, but rather that I don't believe it should be a political issue at all.

Too late! It is. In fact it's right in the planks of the DNC and the RNC platforms.

So I take it you think the Christian Left, insofar as said Left is pro-abortion and in favor of passing various pro-abortion laws, is wrong on this issue?

Crude said...

Also, regarding this:

If you attempt to contrast two candidates' positions on, say, the environment, the single-issue person concerned with abortion says, "but candidate B is pro-choice" so I can't possibly vote for him.

Actual case (not making this up):

I challenged a fellow member of my astronomy club to do this thought experiment. You have two candidates for an office, as follows,

Candidate A: is pro-life, but disagrees 180 degrees with you on every single other issue

Candidate B: is pro-choice, but is in complete agreement with you on every other issue.

I asked him, whom would you vote for? He answered, "No hesitation, Candidate A".


Great. I haven't endorsed, or even brought up, single-issue voting at all.

On the other hand, guess what? If you think a candidate is right on 99 of 100 issues, and utterly wrong on 1 of 100 issues, at the end of the day, you think he's wrong on 1 of 100 issues. He doesn't magically become right on the 1 issue just because you're otherwise in agreement, or intend to vote for him anyway, or because if he's wrong on that 1 issue it means some people won't vote for him.

Crude said...

Actually, Bob, let's ante this up.

Can you name any major failings of the Democratic Party in terms of their positions, issues, and politics?

(Note: "They don't attack the GOP hard enough!" and the like isn't really a failing. It's like those people who describe Obama's biggest failing as 'He's so damn inspiring and smart, he makes us all look bad.')

B. Prokop said...

"Can you name any major failings of the Democratic Party in terms of their positions, issues, and politics?"

Actually, I haven't read either platform (and have no interest in doing so). I don't know what's in them.

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

You didn't explicitly bring up single issue voting, but you revealed your hand in bringing up the abortion issue in the first place.

And if it is indeed "too late" in that it is already a political issue for some, I am not in any way required to consider it one for myself. That is exactly what I told my own brother (over and over again) when he persisted in saying that I was somehow obligated to take a stand on gay marriage.

I do not decide which way I am going to vote on the basis of the so-called "social issues". I know you persist on labeling me a partisan for some reason, yet I rarely vote a straight ticket. As I posted quite some time ago, I am proud to be able to say that I voted for both Goldwater and McGovern!

Crude said...

Actually, I haven't read either platform (and have no interest in doing so). I don't know what's in them.

Oh, this is priceless.

You didn't explicitly bring up single issue voting, but you revealed your hand in bringing up the abortion issue in the first place.

No, I actually didn't. I picked a serious topic, and asked if the Christian Left is even -wrong- about it.

But you're going to jump through any hoop you can to avoid even making a single criticism of the Left or the Democratic party. And that, my friend, is sad.

Do not say 'Well you won't criticize the right' because I have a pretty sizable trail of writing and comments that shows I damn well do. I certainly criticize the GOP. Because unlike you, I'm not beholden to a party.

I know you persist on labeling me a partisan for some reason, yet I rarely vote a straight ticket.

Yeah, don't play this game. Last time you tried it, I pulled the quotes of you cheering on the fact that you live in the 'bluest of the blue states' and other past statements by you, back when you wore your party and political loyalty as a point of pride. Your excuses didn't wash.

I will say that when you know and I know you consider yourself to be a 'loyal democrat' and a proud liberal, but you have to play 'Oh geez no I'm not partisan at all' in conversation, you should really ask yourself what in the hell you're doing that you have to blow so much smoke. Look at your conversation in this very thread: I ask some simple, bland questions, and you become a circus contortionist trying to twist statements and claims so you can go as long as possible without criticizing the Left, even broadly.

That's pretty freaking nuts of you.

B. Prokop said...

"cheering on the fact that you live in the 'bluest of the blue states'"

And I still do so. That doesn't make one partisan, just lucky.

Crude said...

And I still do so. That doesn't make one partisan, just lucky.

No, see Bob - it DOES make one partisan. When you regard 'just how deep the loyalty to a particular political party is in your state' as a thing to celebrate, you are quite explicitly showing yourself as a partisan.

Crude said...

Well, Bob's out in political la-la land where the Left and the Party do no wrong so long as he looks the other way intently enough. But something else came up in this thread that I'd like any other self-described liberal (or at least liberal-sympathetic) Christian to educate me on.

Social justice. Define this thing. Because I went to the wikipedia and got, by and large, complete mush.

B. Prokop said...

It would take too long for one blog posting. Might I recommend The Universe Bends Towards Justice by Obery Hendricks. Or even better, The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador by Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J. (You can buy that one used for 26 cents on Amazon).

Crude said...

I find it hard to believe that 'social justice' can't be given some kind of coherent, shorter summary, even if it's not comprehensive.

Person X engages in act Y. How do I tell they are or are not pursuing 'social justice'?

B. Prokop said...

I'm sure it could be. But it would take someone with more compositional and rhetorical skills than me. I myself have never come across a one-liner that's satisfied me, other than in the New Testament (and I don't think that's what you're looking for).