Posts tagged ‘Religion’

August 26, 2011

Faith Questions for the GOP Candidates

by Vince

Bill Keller asks some good questions. Unfortunately, candidates such as Michele Bachmann may just not answer with a yes or no.

June 20, 2011

Delusional Depictions of Barack

by Vince

I am starting to wonder where people get the idea that Obama is anti-fatherhood (or parenting) as well as a non-Christian. Let’s start with the first one.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Obama circulated a message via email, radio address, and in People magazine. It doesn’t deviate from what he has talked about before (being raised fatherless) or how he lives his life today (a married father of two). Yet some on the right are surprised?

I know. So many of his policies do so much harm. I wish he would see the full picture. We need a president who does. We need leaders who do. But count me among those who are grateful Barack Obama is talking about the importance of fatherhood.

This beginning paragraph is somewhat of a ramble that I cannot find connecting to what Barack says about Father’s Day. By the way, good luck finding that president who sees the full picture. I find it funny and ironic that the GOP can hold the mantle of responsible, moral families when it is lead by Karl Rove (who has a gay dad) and Sarah Palin (who has a daughter who had a child out of wedlock). What about the Democratic president with the picturesque family?

This is not Bill Bennett or James Dobson. This is not National Review or the Knights of Columbus. This is Barack Obama in People.

Again, is there an expectation that Barack is to be advocating an extreme opposite of father’s being present in the lives of their children and family?

Now on to Barack and his faith. He obviously has been smeared by the right (the meme wasn’t helped by Hilary Clinton’s own mud slinging) as a Muslim, unwilling to commit to a church, and is a Democrat so he can’t be a real, true Christian (the party of God, the GOP, cannot answer without rationalizing why God would side with a pro-war, pro-rich, and mostly white party). I showed the following speeches to a friend:

My friend was blown away when he saw these videos:

Wow i got to say i’m impressed with Obama’s speech!  … maybe being President is changing his views on God and faith.

Changed from what?

June 12, 2011

Our Subjective God, Ctd

by Vince

Tom Rees mulls over a study and continues this discussion:

What they found was consistent with a set up where religion makes people conservative, and that in turn makes them support torture. In other words, religion has a direct and an indirect effect. Basic religion (in their model) opposes torture, but it also religion increases support for conservative politics. As a result, it indirectly increases support for torture.

What’s more, this indirect effect was much stronger in in educated people. In educated people, religion is more likely to be linked to conservative views, and conservative views are more likely to be linked to support for torture.

In my view, the real interest in these results is that they underscore once again just how complex religion is. I think that the motives for educated people to embrace religion differ from the motives of the less educated.As a result, the kind of religion they have, and the purposes they put it too, are different.

They make religion in their own image.

June 12, 2011

Our Subjective God

by Vince

Paula Kirby went from being a devout Christian to an Atheist. She makes some interesting conclusions on God and how the masses have viewed the divine over the ages.

One of the things that had struck me during my Christian years was just how many different Christianities there are.  Not just the vast number of different sects and denominations (over 38,000 by one reckoning), but the huge amount of difference between individual Christians of the same sect or denomination, too.  The beliefs and attitudes of an evangelical, biblical, literalist Christian compared with a liberal Christian are so wildly different that we might almost be dealing with two completely different religions.

No matter what religion you believe in, you have to view God in a subjective lens:

Like every other Christian I have ever known, I had clear ideas about the kind of God I believed in and, on the basis of those ideas, I accepted certain bits of Christian dogma while utterly rejecting others.  Again, let me stress: this is par for the course.  In practice faith is always a pick-and-mix affair: believers emphasise those bits that sit comfortably with them, whilst mostly ignoring those bits that do not, or concocting elaborate interpretations to allow them to pretend they do not mean what they actually say.  So this was the question I faced up to in 2003: What was there to suggest that the version of Christianity I believed in was actually real? Was there any better evidence for the version I accepted than there was for the versions I did not?

The Bible could not help me. Both kinds of Christian – the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal – find abundant support for their views in the Bible provided they cherry-pick enough (and, of course, they do just that, filing the bits that don’t suit their case under the convenient headings of “Metaphor” or “Mystery”).

I myself tend to stray away from overemphasizing sin, heaven, and the like when I talk about God, my religious beliefs, and even when I am reading the Bible. Sure, the daily lectionary has me reading portions of the Bible that mention sin and heaven. I try to read up on the Greek and Hebrew, which usually have their original translation as vastness instead of heaven.

This has fostered some inner-thoughts as I have had several discussions with friends lately on the topic of same-sex marriage / homosexuality and how those two are seen or should be treated by the Bible and government. Plethora of verses are mentioned to denounce the two and I have up to this point said that they talk about pederastery, not what we know today as homosexuality. Re-reading these texts has me constantly asking questions. I try to focus on the context of the letters and laws in the Bible and keep them under the umbrellas of love, compassion, and justice. One other important topic that has played into that discussion is defining the role of marriage. Is it meant for pro-creation (child bearing) or as a covenant between two individuals? Attending a wedding can answer that question very clearly. Weddings usually mention nothing about sex or bearing children but forming a lasting relationship with your partner. If these marriage ceremonies are merely man-made, why then are they not changing in form and substance towards emphasizing “what the Bible says” about marriage?

I finish my reflection with this quote from Kirby:

This is why subjective experience cannot tell us anything about God.  Knowing what kind of god someone believes in tells us a great deal about that person – but nothing whatsoever about the truth or otherwise of the existence of any god at all.

Kirby is partially correct. Our experiences of God can tell some but not all of who God is. Looking back over time, we can see the many views of God and the roles the divine has played in people’s lives. They, just like ours, are merely reflections from a mirror, not the full picture.

April 15, 2011

Are Universities Liberal Breeding Grounds?

by Vince

Conor Friedersdorf says no:

To me, there are better explanations for the fact that “the more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views.” One is that people who attend college leave home. That is to say, they leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful eye of parents who get angry or make them feel guilty when they don’t go to services or stray in their faith. Suddenly they’re surrounded by dorm mates of different faiths or no faith at all. For many of these students, it turns out that their religious behavior was driven more by desire for community, or social and parental pressure, than by deeply held beliefs. Another reason education correlates with secularism is that secularists are more likely to seek advanced degrees, partly because they’re more focused than their religious counterparts on career.

He then takes the attention off of whipping universities as being breeding grounds for the liberal intelligentsia and looking at our religious institutions:

But if four years of college undo 18 years of parenting and religious affiliation, perhaps the faith community’s tenuous hold is the problem, not the particular place outside its bubble where that hold evaporates.

February 26, 2011

Mark Twain on Political Morality

by cpmy3rs

Over the past few days I have been working my way through Mark Twain’s brick of an autobiography. His thoughts on political morality (January 23, 1906) seemed worth reprinting here:

Without a blush he will vote for an unclean boss if that boss is his party’s Moses, without compunction he will vote against the best man in the whole land if he is on the other ticket. Every year, in a number of cities and States, he helps to put corrupt men in office, every year he helps to extend the corruption wider and wider; year after year he goes on gradually rotting the country’s political life, whereas if he would but throw away his Christian public morals and carry his Christian private morals to the polls he could promptly purify the public service and make the possession of office a high and honorable distinction and one to be coveted by the very best men the country could furnish. But now–well, now he contemplates his unpatriotic work and sighs and grieves and blames every man but the right one–which is himself.

November 29, 2010

Marriage for Procreation’s Sake

by Vince

Here is a long essay mulling over North America’s shifts within the same-sex marriage fight. Although I don’t fully agree with it all, it is a good read and makes me think / form questions.

Should the Catholic church be forced to evolve or rethink its stances via laws against its stances on adoption and same-sex parents?

I appreciate the honesty of the author and his lamentations over fanatics with signs hijacking the evangelical/Christian movement. Here’s a big statement worth quoting:

Worst of all, we have failed to deal honestly with the major threat to marriage and the family: heterosexual adultery and divorce. Evangelicals divorce at the same rate as the rest of the population. Many evangelical leaders have failed to speak against cheap divorce because they and their people were getting divorced just like everyone else. And yet we have had the gall to use the tiny (5 percent or less) gay community as a whipping boy that we labeled as the great threat to marriage.

Here are some other worthy quotes:

The former vice president of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Ed Dobson, got it right. After he left Liberty to become pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he regularly visited a former parishioner’s hospitalized son who turned out to have AIDS. Slowly, he sensed a call to serve other people with AIDS.

He decided to visit the local AIDS resource center run by the gay community. The director was shocked that the pastor of the largest evangelical church in town would visit. Dobson’s church was soon deeply engaged with the gay community. Calvary placed a church member on the board of the AIDS resource center, bought Christmas gifts for families affected by AIDS, paid for funeral expenses for impoverished people who died of AIDS, and welcomed the gay community to attend the church.

Of course, it was controversial. One church member warned that the church would be “overrun by homosexuals.” Dobson responded in his next Sunday sermon: “If the church gets overrun with homosexuals, that will be terrific. They can take their place in the pews right next to the liars, gossips, and materialists.”

At one point in this essay, I reflected on the topic of “witnessing”. I first knew the phrase as an approach to sharing one’s faith with non-believers (or who we thought were non-believers). I have heard quite a bit before from evangelical circles or individuals that being a good “witness” is important. They were referring to one’s lifestyle and how it may be interpreted by others and especially those outside the church. Christianity is seen by non-church goers as anti-gay (held by 91%) as well within its own pews (held by 80%). That is a witness that is buttressed by the Westboro Baptist Church, wing nut evangelicals, and various other pundits. In the end, the church at large has been branded, as Dobson has noted, as “better at hating than loving”, better at focusing on the differences between other children of God than the similarities, and most notably better at not communicating, listening, or learning others stories (the grey areas – everything is not black and white).

Finally to the procreation point:

But everything depends on the definition. If marriage is not about bringing up children, but about how adults solemnize their emotional commitment to each other, gay marriage becomes plausible.

Is emotional commitment between two adults what the state should care about in marriage? What should a state that does not establish any religion understand marriage to be? I think the answer is clear. The state must promote the best setting in which to nurture the next generation of wholesome citizens.

Evangelical wing nuts, such as Bryan Fischer, see marriage as meant for birthing a minimum of 3 kids and should be ready for our youth by the time they are 16. I don’t know why marriage has been hijacked and held up with a  “procreate or your marriage is not a true marriage’ mantle. Many couples, I bet, have contemplated not having kids after being married and spending time with friends and their children. It is extremely ignorant and hurtful to imply that couples who get married and don’t have kids are not fulfilling an unwritten duty.

In the end, this comes down to what we each define as Truth, what black and white stereotypes we hold up as molds everyone truly fits into, discerning how our houses of worship and communities have turned from communal (seen as evil socialism!!!!) into a narcissistic individualism (free capitalism! America!), and asking the questions or taking down the guards to see these situations/battles/ideological wars in a softer, more pragmatic frame of being.

October 29, 2010

Question of the Week

by Vince

Describe your spiritual journey in 6 words or less. Email them to me at vgiordano at gmail dot com. I will work on putting together one for myself, too.

This was inspired by the CNN Religion blog.

October 25, 2010

Glenn Beck, Jesus and Mormonism

by Vince

I am always confused when I listen/watch Glenn Beck. However, over the last few weeks, I have been wondering something. This may be a silly theological detail that I missed out on, but why does Glenn Beck go on and on about Jesus Christ and the God of Christianity? He rambles on and on about this political influence on the “spiritual” lives of Americans and went into deeper detail over liberation theology not too long ago. Doesn’t he not believe the same God but the one revealed through Joseph Smith?

Update: This website helped me out, duh. This post was good for me though because I have been struggling with writers block a bit.

October 18, 2010

Essential theology books of the past 25 years

by Vince

The Christian Century posed this question to eight theologians:

Suppose someone who hasn’t been keeping up with theology for the past 25 years now wants to read the most important books written during that time. What five titles would you suggest?

Their picks are here.

September 29, 2010

New Decade; Different View on Church

by Vince

Lovett H. Weems Jr. has some ideas why church attendance over the past few decades has dropped:

Worshipers attend less frequently. In addition to tracking weekly attendance numbers, some churches are tracking who actually worships during a month. Many pastors sense that the same individuals are worshiping throughout the year, but that they worship less often.

This impression gets some confirmation from the General Social Survey 2008 conducted by the National Opinion Center. It traced according to frequency the percentage of the adult population who attend worship. While the percentage of people who report attending church more than once a week has stayed steady over the years, the percentage saying they attend once a week has steadily gone down. Some pastors have observed that many members of their congregation identify themselves as regular church goers even though they may attend only twice a month or less. In earlier times, being a regular churchgoer meant coming to worship almost every Sunday.

Aging constituencies. Mainline churches have a disproportionate number of mem bers age 65 and older. This proportion will only grow more pronounced as the first of the baby boomers reach 65 in 2011. While it does not appear that death rates are changing dramatically in the mainline churches from year to year, many older members may not be attending as often—for health or other reasons.

The other side of this dilemma is the failure of churches to reach younger persons. This is particularly true for the smaller churches that constitute a large part of mainline denominations.

This seems to be a new age for church and it could benefit everyone if a multi-generational approach is adopted to revamping church. The retirees and baby boomers could be a possible connecting piece to this generations teens and young adults, for it seems that at one point both in one way or another doubted authority and organized religion.

September 21, 2010

What About The Children? Malignancy Rooted in the Marriage Debate

by Vince

Updated; added a link to DADT below (as of 9/21/10 at 8:49pm)
Andrew Sullivan continues on with the sulfuric same-sex marriage debate by reading the cover story by the National Review. He and I agree that this issue, along with DADT, are absolutely a theological issue first and a political issue second. The NRO stance echoes the Vatican doctrine of marriage: primarily for procreative purposes.

The article is a mass of non sequiturs. It assumes that if marriage is “for” something—regulating procreative sex—then using it for anything else must be “against” marriage, which is like saying that if mouths are “for” eating, we mustn’t use them for talking or breathing. It claims (conjecturally) that marriage would not have arisen if not for the fact that men and women make babies, from which it concludes that society has no stake in childless marriages.

Since this is primarily a theological issue, this all can’t be solved in political terms. Even court rulings dictate what is legal or illegal but cannot override the popular consensus amongst the church pertaining to same sex marriage. The key verses that are always thought of in mind, sometimes even recited verbatim on call, are Genesis 19 (make sure to read Ezekiel 16:49-50), Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:9-11. See chapter 7 in Love is an Orientation for a better effort than I can ever muster at unpacking those “Big 5”.

The material to dig through related to this topic is literally endless. The material I have read, in short listing, has been enlightening but in my eyes (and the eyes of a graduate from a feminist woman’s college) has fallen short of fully encompassing the subject.

I could pontificate about the annals of political movements dabbering with this subject, but that is all downstream from the ultimate priorities and beliefs that make up the foundation of the same-sex marriage polemic. A spiritual mentor of mine in college, who is happy with being a neophyte when it comes to politics, always said that politics are downstream from our hearts, our faith, and our religious beings.

September 19, 2010

Religious Search Engines

by Vince

Here are three for three different religions. NPR reports:

Some Jews, Muslims and Christians are abandoning Yahoo and Google and turning to search engines with results that meet their religious standards.

Shea Houdmann runs SeekFind, a Colorado Springs-based Christian search engine that only returns results from websites that are consistent with the Bible. He says SeekFind is designed “to promote what we believe to be biblical truth” and excludes sites that don’t meet that standard.

Houdmann says a search on his site would not turn up pornography. If you search “gay marriage,” you would get results that argue against gay marriage. And if you type in “Democratic Party,” your first search result is a site on Marxism.

This sounds good, in some ways, for kids. But unless you want to be a fundamentalist, I wouldn’t suggest the Christian one.

September 13, 2010

The Brain: To Heed or Not to Heed a Differing Viewpoint

by Vince

The brain is an interesting part of our being. Two articles that I came upon last night explained what it does when it is confronted with differing viewpoints than which we are accustomed (or conditioned) to. Both of them are worth the read in full, especially so that you can understand the ins and outs of the study within the article.

First, the politically related one:

But the political brain also did something we didn’t predict.  Once partisans had found a way to reason to false conclusions, not only did neural circuits involved in negative emotions turn off, but circuits involved in positive emotions turned on. The partisan brain didn’t seem satisfied in just feelingbetter. It worked overtime to feel good, activating reward circuits that give partisans a jolt of positive reinforcement for their biased reasoning. These reward circuits overlap substantially with those activated when drug addicts get their “fix,” giving new meaning to the term political junkie.

In a nutshell:  Arguing the facts with people who staunchly oppose you will tighten their grip on their on what they think, not loosen it.  Giving them information — information that refutes their beliefs — will actually make them even more convinced they’re correct.

Then the storybook study:

Twenty-six participants were given Aesop’s advert for hard work and another 26 were given Kafka’s more pessimistic tale. As predicted participants who read Kafka’s story perceived it as a threat to the way they viewed the world. They reacted to this threat by affirming their cultural identities more strongly than those who had read Aesop’s fable, which didn’t challenge their world-view.

In other words the participants in this study were pushing back against Kafka’s story by reaffirming their cultural identity.

I can feel myself react in similar ways when it comes to religion and politics. The first study makes me think of those times we want to sit down with someone we know and talk about our differences in politics. I’d be curious to find out what makes someone have a brain, heart, soul, or outlook that is open to change or differing viewpoints as well as one that tends towards an unbending allegiance and hardens up under “threats”. The study concludes that “we can’t change the structure of the political brain,which reflects millions of years evolution. But we can change the way we appeal to it.”

A final quote that sums things up:

What this research underlines is that we push back against threats to our world-views by reasserting structures of meaning with which we are comfortable.

The researchers measured cultural identities, ideas of justice and a generalized yearning for meaning, but they probably would have found the same results in many other areas, such as politics, religion or any other strongly held set of beliefs.

When there’s a challenge to our established world-view, whether from the absurd, the unexpected, the unpalatable, the confusing or the unknown, we experience a psychological force pushing back, trying to re-assert the things we feel are safe, comfortable and familiar. That’s a shame because stories like Kafka’s contain truths we’d do well to heed.

I was given a nice comment yesterday that I play things here pretty fairly when it comes to covering both sides. I refuse to be an agent strictly for the left or right and both sides deserve the benefit of the doubt and a chance to speak beyond pernicious snippets their enemies crop out. Here’s to reading books, blogs, and articles that are beyond our comfort level.

September 8, 2010

Do Not Attempt to “Run the World”

by Vince

Nick Gillespie from ReasonTV interviewed an ecumenical crew of Honor Rally attenders.

The attenders t-shirts and posters/banners were priceless. The inarticulateness of the attenders (and most Tea Partiers) grievances and complaints continues to be legion, unfortunately. Emotion alone cannot forge a revolution without a legitimate plan.

In the end, everyone will have their say as to what religious standing the founding fathers stood on. Some say that they all were Christians and founded this country strictly under Judeo-Christian ideals while others may say they ranged from deists (Thomas Jefferson – see his view of the Gospels) to devout Christians.

Cropped version of Thomas Jefferson, painted b...

Image via Wikipedia

This directs us into religion in the public square. If our founding fathers were such staunch Christians, then we should we able to pray anywhere we want or put crosses on soldiers graves (regardless if they are Christians or not). Opposite of that, if all of the founders were not Bible thumpers, if they founded our country on religious freedom explicitly to not be a Christian nation, then we may need to send this in a different (non-Christianist) direction. Two quotes sum up my thoughts on this.

In some ways, they are proto-libertarian: they want the government to spend less money and they seemed wary of interventions into basic economic exchange (nobody seemed to dig ObamaCare or the auto bailouts or the bank bailouts). But they also want the government to be super-effective in securing the borders, they worry about an undocumented fall in morals, and they are emphatic that genuine religiosity should be a feature of the public square. Which is to say, like most American voters, they may well want from government precisely the things that it really can’t deliver, says Nick Gillepsie in regards to the Honor Rally.

We are in a fallen world that dominates government and culture in ways that are not of our Father. It is not a Christian community’s repsonbility to govern a world that we do not belong to; fight in wars that are in direct opposition to Jesus’ peaceful, nonviolent approach; or reign over a government we are not part of.
For Jesus and his followers, the central question was, How do we live faithfully to God? The central question was not How do we run the world as Christians? How do I run this profit-driven corporation as a Christian? How can we make culture more Christian? How would a responsible Christian run this war? But Jesus taught that his followers – or even the Son of God! – should not attempt to “run the world”. [p.167 Jesus for President, p.89 Love is an Orientation].

September 6, 2010

“God has no Grandchildren”

by Vince

So goes the old evangelical fundamentalist saying (see John the Baptist). Insert Franklin Graham (son of Billy) and his pernicious remarks against Barack Obama. Randall Balmer has some words:

One of the mottos of evangelical Christianity (the faith that Graham espouses) is that “God has no grandchildren.” I heard that refrain many, many times as I was growing up within evangelicalism in the 1950s and 1960s. The purpose of that statement was to impress upon young people in particular, but everyone in general, that a person’s religious identity derived from claiming the faith for himself and was not ascribed by birth.

Preachers hammered this message home, even to the point of ridiculing those who believed otherwise; those who believed that having been born into a Christian household made you a Christian. “God has no grandchildren,” the preacher would thunder, hoping thereby to encourage impressionable young people to make their own professions of faith. Very often the preacher would add a corollary to this rhetorical strategy, meant to underscore the ridiculousness of the claim that religious faith was somehow hereditary. “Just because you live in a garage,” the preacher would taunt, “doesn’t make you an automobile.”

This came back to bite him big time.

August 30, 2010

Obama and Islam

by Vince

Angie Drobnic Holan and Brendan Nyhan wonder why 1 in 5 Americans believe Barack Obama is a Muslim:

Americans with the strongest dislike of the Democratic president and his policies are much more likely to say Obama is a Muslim. Pollsters say people’s beliefs about his religion may actually be an effort to equate him with a faith they dislike.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, has found that when people are fiercely partisan, they are less likely to change their minds when presented with factually correct evidence that contradicts their views.

The article continued on defending Barack Obama’s faith by saying even though he hasn’t consistently attended one church, he has been attending several. Also, Obama consults with spiritual guides each week and carried his Bible around when he campaigned in 2004 for the Illinois Senate.

I am left wondering why he has to even defend himself? It seems pretty clear that there is a fear of him being a Muslim because other Muslims fly planes into buildings. Do these “christians” know that some Christians treat their wives as second rate citizens because the apostle Paul told he readers to emulate him? Whether Obama is a Muslim or a Christian, can’t he be valued as our President and respected regardless of his religious affiliation? I see this as secretly airing out fears of Obama not being a Christian and seeing anyone, especially a Muslim, as a dangerous person to run our country.

I am just left wondering why this all has come up now. This was a big topic during his 2008 campaign for presidency. Could it be rearing its head again as midterms are upon us?

August 28, 2010

The Commonplaceness of Prejudice and Hyperbole

by Vince

For the important part of Newt Gingrich’s interview, tune to the 3:00 mark.

Newt makes a few comments that have been replayed and analyzed countless times. Newt calls the group that wants to build this mosque radical Islamists (no proof to back that up), they have no interest in reaching out to the community (no proof to back that up, and the essence of the mosque being a community center contradicts Newt outright), they are trying to make a case about supremacy over America (no proof to back that up), and he finishes up with the unintelligent hyperbole comparing how we would never let the Nazi’s put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum, therefore these “radicals” shouldn’t build their mosque. MJ doesn’t know half of the nitty gritty details about this and when I told her that comparison, she knew right away that Newt was talking about two different things.

I gave this a lot of thought while I was on vacation. Beyond Newt’s unfounded demagogic assertions, I see at the core of this the utilization of hyperbole and prejudice. In Newt’s comparison, the victims are the Jews and Americans while the persecutors were radical Islamists and the Nazis. The problem with this comparison is that Newt twists the facts and blurs the lines between radicals and moderates.

I am not very knowledgeable on contemporary Nazism but I would guess there are not many moderates within that party. Within Islam, there seem to be many moderates and the mosque push is headed up by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who was utilized under the George W. Bush presidency. Rauf is seen as a radical because he sees America as partly to blame for 9/11. Do you become a radical terrorist sympathizer when you point out a blatant flaw in America?

I wrap this up with the inner workings of prejudice. In one way or another, many citizens of America have been hurt by 9/11. Some who have been hurt by what radical Islamists committed on 9/11 still hold that hurt today. That isn’t what I am addressing. I see that when we are hurt by a certain person, we respond by placing them within a larger homogeneous grouping. Take Muslims for example. They are only a few thousand around the globe that will turn their religion into jihad. There are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world (23% of the total global population). Look at the damage a few bad apples have done. As we place this certain person into its homogeneous group, we not only lie to ourselves about who they are but insert hate into the equation. I feel we react this way only out of self-protection. We are afraid of this person/group because they hurt us and in a way to take away our feeling of vulnerability, we make ourselves think that they are simpler than they are. This gives us the one up on them and ends any conversation and ultimately any chance of redemption. An dated version of this that I am currently reading is the view of African Americans in Atlanta during the beginning of the 20th century.

This all is right up Joe’s alley when he said how powerful our minds truly are.

August 24, 2010

Insensitivities and Religious Discourse

by Vince

Stephen M. Walt at ForeignPolicy brings up an ironic note within the “discourse” over erecting the Mosque (community center with multiple different facilities included in it) near Ground Zero:

Critics of the proposal are aware that their views contradict the principle of religious tolerance on which the United States was founded, so they have fallen back on the idea that building the community center here is “insensitive” to the families who lost loved ones back in 2001. (Presumably it’s not “insensitive” that the same neighborhood contains strip clubs, bars, and all sorts of less-than sacred institutions). And notice the sleight-of-hand here: first, demogogues raise an uproar about a “Mosque at Ground Zero,” thereby generating a lot of public outcry, and then defend this bigotry by saying that they’re just trying to be “sensitive” to the objections they have helped to stir up.

You throw this together with the straw man group known ambiguously as the families related to 9/11 victims and you have some fallible arguments. Look for a longer essay from me soon on the psychology behind our exaggerations within prejudicial views. It will surely tie in to demagogic comments related to this.

August 22, 2010

Polling the Views on Mosque Building

by Vince

The Economist has some charts:

Does this look like a double standard? The next chart depicts an average of 11.6% of pollsters know a “great deal” about Islam. That doesn’t seem like enough “knowledge” to hedge out a religion in the form of a double standard. I feel for moderate Muslims who for many years will be demonized for the irrational behavior done by the fringe sect.

Jon Stewart describes the deadly “guilt by association” game.