Barack Obama

Onward Christian Voters

|

Over at Reason.tv I've linked Max Blumenthal's report from the Value Voters summit. It doesn't seem to be embedding, but the link is here.

Being at the conference myself, and watching Blumenthal in action, I noticed that his interview with Ron Paul didn't make the cut. Only some of his Mike Huckabee questions made it in: Blumenthal didn't include the moment he offered Huckabee a made-in-China lapel flag pin and Huckabee declined to put it on, pointing out he'd actually defended Barack Obama during pingate.

The stuff that Blumenthal used, though: That's pretty good. He caught Frank Gaffney excoriating Bush for being too tolerant of Muslims (which led him to go soft on Islamofascists), conservative circuit celeb Star Parker dreaming of interred* homosexuals, and assorted Mormon-bashing.

*Fixed.

NEXT: Revisiting the Fate of the West Memphis 3

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Does Star Parkerwant to see them interned or interred?

  2. Dave:

    That’s old news. I beat you to it here. May be I should get a job at reason.

  3. When are we going to cast these whack-a-loons back into the pit of political irrelevancy occupied by the likes of white supremacists and communists.

  4. Great video! It should be shown on national TV, where BabyMax’s smearing, sneering treatment of people of faith can drive even more people to become Republicans. It can be shown along with this recruitment video.

    Weigel mischaracterizes Gaffney’s remarks: his issue was that Bush met with people he shouldn’t have met with because (presumably groups like CAIR) would try to present him in a bad light if he did otherwise.

    And, Schlafly’s remarks underscore how much of a lightweight smearer BabyMax is: what he didn’t disclose to his viewers is how many or most mosques in the U.S. have a funding or other link to SaudiArabia and thus reflect that country’s fundamentalist views.

    Countering those kind of fundamentalists is not something that a childish smearer like BabyMax is capable of or willing to do.

  5. Warren,

    Only when we can officially declare religion a mental illness. (i.e. not in our lifetimes)

  6. Great video! It should be shown on national TV, where BabyMax’s smearing, sneering treatment of people of faith can drive even more people to become Republicans. It can be shown along with this recruitment video.

    Weigel mischaracterizes Gaffney’s remarks: his issue was that Bush met with people he shouldn’t have met with because (presumably groups like CAIR) would try to present him in a bad light if he did otherwise.

    And, Schlafly’s remarks underscore how much of a lightweight smearer BabyMax is: what he didn’t disclose to his viewers is how many or most mosques in the U.S. have a funding or other link to SaudiArabia and thus reflect that country’s fundamentalist views.

    Countering those kind of fundamentalists is not something that a childish smearer like BabyMax is capable of or willing to do.

    Kill yourself already.

  7. And I guess TLB has no problem with interning gays. Like I said, he should kill himself.

  8. what he didn’t disclose to his viewers is how many or most mosques in the U.S. have a funding or other link to Saudi Arabia and thus reflect that country’s fundamentalist views.

    How many? Most? Got some numbers? Also, how many Roman Catholic Churches receive funding from the Vatican, and therefore reflect that country’s fundamentalist views? How about Anglican churches? Are they reflecting England’s current Socialist/Fascist views?

  9. TLB,

    …what he didn’t disclose to his viewers is how many or most mosques in the U.S. have a funding or other link to SaudiArabia and thus reflect that country’s fundamentalist views.

    So, where is the evidence of this exactly? Also, what exactly do you mean by “other link?”

  10. You raise an interesting point Asharak. How many Mexicans have to enter the US before lonewacko can no longer live in this world? Are we close?

  11. BabyMax’s smearing, sneering treatment of people of faith can drive even more people to become Republicans.

    Nice try, but no changing the subject. The target here is not “people of faith”, but the morals-obsessed single-issue voters and speakers who demand that Republican candidates pay homage to them every election cycle. The only shred of respect I have for Giuliani – the only candidate who could be worse than Bush – is his refusal to suck their dicks as thoroughly as Romney and Thompson have, even if he’s pretending to be not as gay-friendly as he was in the past. (As a matter of simple political expediency, it’s no worse than what the Democrats do on many issues.)

    The “people of faith” you’re thinking about are already Republicans. Deeply religious Christians as a whole are Democrats, Republicans, independents, libertarians, even Greens, for a variety of reasons. Andrew Napolitano, for instance, is clearly a theologically conservative Catholic, but this motivates and informs his libertarianism and makes him out of step with the modern GOP. Blumenthal is mocking the tiny minority of hysterical theocrats who think gay equality means the end of Western civilization. I think most evangelicals are intelligent enough to realize how unhinged these so-called Values Voters are and don’t need Tony Perkins to tell them how to vote.

  12. hey TLB guess what?

    the catholic church is one of the largest landholders in new york city.

    i.e. the vatican owns a huge portion of the financial center of the united states.

    GET CRACKING MY LITTLE BURRITO FUCKER

  13. Asharak – perhaps he’s afraid of the LavenderMenace IllegallyImmigrating to HisAnus.

  14. Warren | October 30, 2007, 12:07pm | #

    When are we going to cast these whack-a-loons back into the pit of political irrelevancy occupied by the likes of white supremacists and communists…

    …and, like, big L Libertarians… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    jurst kiddin

    what he didn’t disclose to his viewers is how many or most mosques in the U.S. have a funding or other link to SaudiArabia and thus reflect that country’s fundamentalist views.

    dude. You’re not even funny to make fun of anymore. You’re just fucking bonehead stupid.

    Pew Research on American Muslims =
    “Feel the Seething Fundementalism!”

    http://pewresearch.org/assets/pdf/muslim-americans.pdf

    Or…wait… why is the subtitle, “Middle Class, Moderate, Mainstream”?

    Apparently they are way more normal than the fucking evangelical loonytoons. Surpise?

  15. what he didn’t disclose to his viewers is how many or most mosques in the U.S. have a funding or other link to SaudiArabia and thus reflect that country’s fundamentalist views.

    There you go again, with your sneering, smearing treatment of people of faith.

  16. Nat: BabyMax’s target is indeed people of faith, or at least those who aren’t Dems as well.

    Syloson of Samos: the “other link” refers to, for instance, clerics trained in SaudiArabia.

    And, thanks to google, here are links with more information for young minds:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1506-2005Feb5.html

    Islamic experts point out that Saudi Arabia and its leading government clerics, who embrace Wahhabism, were for many decades the main source of funds, training and printed materials for the growing American Muslim community. Some U.S. mosques agree with the unforgiving Saudi brand of Islam, but even those that do not often have textbooks or other publications reflecting the Saudis’ Wahhabi line, they said.

    worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=27327

    Of the more than 1,200 mosques in America, more than 80 percent have been built within the last 20 years – thanks in large part to Saudi money, according to Reza F. Safa, author of “Inside Islam.”

    More:
    boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/01/10/the_boston_mosques_saudi_connection/
    littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=14501_Saudi_Hate_Ideology_Fills_US_Mosques
    wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42603

  17. There are Christians. And there are moralists. Where the two overlap you get the religous social conservatives. But not all Christians are statist moralists, and not all moralists are Christians. You can see the same sort of calls for morals regulation among Indian Hindus, Japanese Shintoists, etc. Heck, at the risk of being cast into the outer darkness, I would submit that moralism is a key pillar of atheist Objectivism.

    The danger of the Value Voters is not that they are religious, but that they would use the power of the state to legislate their values.

  18. so TLB is in rome’s pocket…no wonder he’s shying away from the RealScandal of the VacticanMenace.

  19. TLB:

    The three mosques I went to for congregation (one in MI, one in IL, and one in MA, not to mention a couple in Canada) were all staunchly against any KSA funding, even before 9/11. So, I do not know if your (andothers’) fear of KSA funding of mosques is exaggerated or not, but my own personal experience seems to indicate otherwise.

    Also, in these KSA funded mosques, don’t you believe that if they do something illegal then they should be prosecuted? Then prosecute them already!

  20. The target here is not “people of faith”, but the morals-obsessed single-issue voters and speakers who demand that Republican candidates pay homage to them every election cycle.

    I agree. I know a lot of people of faith (Muslims, Christian, Jewish, etc) who would view the fundamental practices of their co-religionists abhorring. That does not make them any less “people of faith”.

  21. Oh, I see, you get most of your information from WND and LGF. I see.

  22. Last time I checked, Saudi Arabia was an ally.

    Forgive me, but isn’t raising the spectre of the horrible threat posed by the combination of one of our allies, on the one hand, and the free exercise of religion on the part of US citizens, on the other, a bit absurd?

    Like, “Lyndon Larouche thinks the Queen of our ally England is coming to get him” type absurd?

  23. David Weigel,

    Whoa! You may have been too quick with your fix. I was trying to make a small joke about interned (detained) vs. interred (buried as in dead and buried).

  24. Over at HuffPost, they title the video article “Theocracy Now!” I think Amy Goodman will like that.

  25. Like, “Lyndon Larouche thinks the Queen of our ally England is coming to get him” type absurd?

    it would be less absurd, however, if the queen of england had flown some planes into his house.

  26. TLB, is there anyone in our government without NefariousForeignLinks?

  27. LoneDoucheBag’s point is *clear* people =

    We must be ever-vigilant against creeping potential foreign theocratic fundamentalism…..from ever competing with our home-grown actual Christian Theocratic Fundamentalism!

    BUY AMERICAN! if anyone takes away the rights of Women in the US, Let it be Christian Americans! If anyone makes homosexuality a crime, let it be Christian Americans! If our country decides to cut itself off from the outside world in a fit of xenophobia, dont let it happen because we wanted to be like the Saudis!! If we let these muslims run things, they’ll do everything we were already aiming to do, only THEY will take credit!

  28. a childish smearer like BabyMax

    Are you like irony-deficient or something?

  29. horsewithnonick | October 30, 2007, 1:20pm | #
    a childish smearer like BabyMax

    Are you like irony-deficient or something?

    More like severe aplastic anemia

    Its sad.

  30. GILMORE: that was really funny (and true?) ๐Ÿ™‚

    If anyone is interested in finding out about one way to resist wahabism (ideologically and without resorting to counter extremism), then visit my newly created blog (click my “name”) and give me fedback, especially on content.

  31. People of color = colored people
    People of faith = faithful people?

    No. People of faith = functioning retards.

  32. Oh one more thing, historical wahabis are the equivalent of the historical American Puritans, except that the former was saught after by Saud in order to strengthen his power in reigning in as much of the remainder of Arabia as he can, whereas, wisely, the new American Republic distanced itself from the Puritans and put constraints against their influence on government. My comparison may be too simplistic, but there is some truth to it I think.

  33. “These Islamofascists want to force us to practice Islam, we need to force everyone to be Christians before this happens. Oh, and jail the fags, too! I guess the Muslims got that part right!”

    I wonder what it is about the human psyche that causes the need to force one’s views on everyone else.

  34. People of faith = functioning retards.

    tst tst. If you cant say something nice (or visciously insulting to TLB), then dont say it at all.

  35. Fundamentalist Jews, Muslims, and Christians hate each other so much because their religions are so similar.

    I.e., they’re in competition over the same sociopathic personality type that would be drawn to fundamentalism in the first place.

  36. I wonder what it is about the human psyche that causes the need to force one’s views on everyone else.

    It’s easier to believe something if other people believe it, too. Much of the meddling by Christian fundamentalists in American politics, however, is due to the fear that their children or grandchildren will lose the faith when faced with an increasingly secular society.

  37. Cesar | October 30, 2007, 1:35pm | #
    Fundamentalist Jews, Muslims, and Christians hate each other so much because their religions are so similar.

    Re: Freud – Civilization and its Discontents – “Narcissism of Minor Differences”

    Yeah.

    Eric Hoffer’s ‘True Believer’ is also good stuff as regards the personality types that are attracted to fundamentalist ideas

  38. Atheists and theists, if they truly believe that their view/belief system(or lack thereof) is the right one, then it (the (dis)belief system) should be powerful enough to speak for itself (may be through you) to convince others (if you really feel obliged to tell others of it) because otherwise (through application of force or shoving laws down peoples’ throats) it only shows the weakness of your (dis)belief system.

  39. their religions are so similar because they are based upon the same God. Judaism had phrophesy of a messiah. Christians believe jesus to be that messiah. and God gave mohammed the koran to re-establish the rules that the jews and christians allegedly screwed up.
    People of faith should feel the need to influence others out of a deep concern for their eternal soul. I think most of them (us)just want to be superior to others.
    Extreme fanatical fundamentalism is the logical destination of any morals based belief system….(or maybe my alternative mental orientation is showing)

    That being said, being hateful to others in the name of God is very bad form.

  40. iih,

    I’m an atheist BECAUSE I don’t care.

  41. Tacos mmm…

    That is why I added “if you really feel obliged to tell others of it” in my comment.

    I would have probably not cared much either (as a theist), except that my faith is under a lot of scrutiny and is often misrepresented (certainly by the extremists). I find that dangerous, and when others find out my religion they tend to ask and I tend to answer.

  42. What denomination would it make me to want to follow Jesus or Mohammad as brilliant men, but men none the less? Or more specifically, the base teachings of loving thy neighbor and crap, but none of the supernatural bullshit?

    Gnostic?
    Atheist? (which I currently call myself)

    I’d like to know, because most religions have good ideas, but you have to buy into so much crap to count yourself amongst their numbers…

  43. … but if no one asks, I usually don’t say much either.

  44. Isn’t that an apatheist?

  45. If a christian is repentant and believes on Jesus for salvation, the next step is being filled with the Holy Spirit of God. With this infilling they should be able to share the love and wisdom of God with others and help them see the moral errors in their lives. If christians were doing there jobs spiritually, it wouldn’t be necessary to try to legislate their moral beliefs on others. That type of bullying tends to just piss people off.
    I have never met anyone who was converted to any religion because of any govt enforced laws.
    That’s just pissin in the wind.

  46. @Taxtix:

    Or more specifically, the base teachings of loving thy neighbor and crap, but none of the supernatural bullshit?

    The Jefferson Bible.

  47. Taktix –
    I frequently have this same problem. Many of the fully faithful tend to assume that one must believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins in order to be able to have any sense of morals. You don’t believe that Jesus Christ was the son of god, holy trinity, etc? Therefore you must not believe in his sense of morals.

  48. brotherben,

    That was basically Locke’s argument.

  49. If christians were doing there jobs spiritually, it wouldn’t be necessary to try to legislate their moral beliefs on others. That type of bullying tends to just piss people off.
    I have never met anyone who was converted to any religion because of any govt enforced laws.
    That’s just pissin in the wind.

    Ditto (if by “was converted” you mean in modern times). The propagation of any philosophy or belief system has no choice but through consent and argumentation.

  50. With regard to the question of competition among fundamentalisms:

    I don’t truck with meme theory, but when reading The Thought Contagion one part of it that seemed pretty astute to me was that there are other factors besides truth value that contribute to the efficiency with which an idea will spread and will be persistent once spread.

    So when iih says that the right idea should spread itself, that’s not really accurate. A belief system that includes demands for proselytization, and punishment for apostasy, has a huge competitive advantage against competing ideas that don’t have these features. Regardless of the relative strength of theism and atheism as ideas or as arguments, the fact that many of the various theisms command their followers to spread the word, and in some instances to kill backsliders, puts those theisms in the driver’s seat relative to a “Meh, live and let live” atheism. So it may be that when you see atheism becoming more assertive and “dickish”, it’s a function of the competitive landscape for ideas about religion.

  51. Anonymo the Anonymous,

    You’ve made my decade twice in 24 hours! First THIS last night, then the Jefferson Bible thing.

    Now I have even more reason to dream sweet Jeffersonian dreams!

  52. Fluffy:

    I think I agree with you on atheism becoming assertive. Just look at how far Hitchens has gone.

    Regarding:

    A belief system that includes demands for proselytization, and punishment for apostasy, has a huge competitive advantage against competing ideas that don’t have these features

    Not if you believe that proselytizing is a form of an advertisement (which I think is okay, but do not personally feel comfortable engaging in myself), or that punishment is only applied in modes of self-defense (which many of my co-religionists believe it is except that OBL and his violent followers have interpreted as carte blanche to punish everyone who does not follow their views).

  53. I have never met anyone who was converted to any religion because of any govt enforced laws.
    That’s just pissin in the wind.

    The name of the game isn’t to win converts by teaching Intelligent Design in schools, shutting down the porn shack off the highway, or calling Halloween “Fall Festival.” It’s to prevent adherents, specifically children and teenagers, from encountering things that might cause them to sin or reconsider their faith. The name of the game is making society less dangerous to religious belief.

  54. From that wiki link regarding Jefferson:

    Thomas Jefferson did not believe in Jesus’ divinity, the Trinity, the resurrection, miracles, or any [much of] other supernatural aspect described in the Bible

    Jefferson was Muslim?

  55. A third book worth reading on these various topics…

    “The Battle For God – Karen Armstrong”

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/a/armstrong-battle.html

    Its an excellent analysis of the history of ‘fundamentalism’ in all of the Abrahamic traditions, focusing in particular detail on Evangelicals in the US, Haradim in Israel, and Qtubists/Takfiri in the Middle East…

    Its a remarkable book for a number of reasons – a) a joy to read, b) manages to cover vast scope and high level of detail c) extremely relevant to current domestic and international politics.

    Anyway, this plus the Hoffer book are both essential reading for the Coming End Times… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Speaking of End Times…why is it these creeps who are constantly predicting the imminent arrival of Jeebus and the Epoxyclipse never seem to be dismayed when the oceans DONT boil and the sky doesnt rain fire and the 4 horsemen etc etc. I mean, how many strikes do you get as a Millenialist? 3 guesses, then they stop subscribing to your newsletter? I dont get it.

  56. Armstrong’s books on Islam and commentary in PBS’s Empire of Faith was the best in a see of biased literature, publications, books, and views after 9/11. John Esposito is another good source. Here is a review of one of his books.

  57. “Anyway, this plus the Hoffer book are both essential reading for the Coming End Times… :)”

    Another book that you might be interested is “Paperback Apocalypse:How the Religious Right Was Left Behind” by Robert Price. It will be coming out in early December.

  58. You’ve made my decade twice in 24 hours!

    Glad to help! Sounds like I’ve met my quota of contributions to society for the next year or so; bring on the coke and whores!

  59. Hm.

    I read the first book in the “Left Behind” series, but it was so godawful that I couldnt even enjoy it as pure shlock. not sure i’d want to read an ‘explication’ of the text.

    Most books analysing American millenialists tend to be by more secular scholar types, who i feel rarely do as fair a job as people like Armstrong, who was a nun for like 20yrs or something… anyway, out of curiosity, how do you come to recommend a book that hasnt been released yet?

    Divine Foreknowledge? ๐Ÿ™‚ Angel Gabriel’s Book of the Month Club?

  60. Jefferson was Muslim?

    He did own a Koran, which I note solely because every time you repeat that, a wingnut’s head explodes.

    Actually, on the subject, iih, what’s your preferred way to transliterate the name of the aforementioned scripture in English, and do you ascribe any significance to one’s choice?

  61. Now everyone knows the founders intended this to be a Christian Na-(insert sound of head exploding)

  62. Anonymo

    I was of course joking regarding Jefferson. And, yeah, how could I have missed the Keith Ellison episode. I did admire his resilience a lot (and in fact the way the democrats stood behind him).

    Actually, on the subject, iih, what’s your preferred way to transliterate the name of the aforementioned scripture in English, and do you ascribe any significance to one’s choice?

    I am not sure I follow.

  63. “how do you come to recommend a book that hasnt been released yet?”

    From the Amazon review and because I’m familiar with other works by the author.

  64. Anonymo,

    bring on the coke and whores!

    Want to shoot for three?

  65. Speaking of End Times…why is it these creeps who are constantly predicting the imminent arrival of Jeebus and the Epoxyclipse never seem to be dismayed when the oceans DONT boil and the sky doesnt rain fire and the 4 horsemen etc etc. I mean, how many strikes do you get as a Millenialist?

    They don’t have to be correct, they just have to be marketable. As Penn and Teller pointed out on Bullshit!, they simply release a “new edition” with a few “editorial changes” once the predictions prove false…

  66. Rattlesnake Jake | October 30, 2007, 3:52pm | #
    “how do you come to recommend a book that hasnt been released yet?”

    From the Amazon review and because I’m familiar with other works by the author

    Ahh. That does make sense.

    Still, I was hoping for a mystical vision, sponsored by Amazon.com ๐Ÿ™‚

    Funny… dispite all the press they get here, I havent heard many people talk about Dawkins or Hitchens’ recent books as being particularly ‘good reads’, whether or not one is militant athiest. I like hitchens quite a bit for his prose, but i think a whole book of his might cure me of the affection. Once a month in the Atlantic is enough for me at the moment.

  67. TLB – You don’t need to worry about the Saudis. Not when TUGATDLWAFH&RBAMN is after you.

    daDUNT, daDUNT, daDUNT…TUGATDLWAFH&RBAMN!

  68. tacos,mmmmm,,
    I think some believers feel some things should be illegal, such as slavery, and pursue legislation or certain candidates accordingly. It seems to me that true religious belief should be self protective, not requiring the muting of societal influences through laws.

    Taktix,
    it is my opinion that the editorial changes are done so that the folks too farkin lazy to pray and meditate are given a kiddie level version they can understand. I will say that most of what i see preached on the tv in the name of jesus is pure, self serving, money grubbing bullshit.

  69. iih,

    I meant “Koran” vs. “Quran” and variations thereof (I’ve seen apostrophes in various places, as Wikipedia has it in the article I linked); you seem to be our resident go-to Muslim so just curious if there’s any difference in your mind.

  70. you seem to be our resident go-to Muslim so just curious if there’s any difference in your mind

    Hahaaaa!

    Ok, I see. So, wiki has it right. Here is the deal. There is a separate Arabic letter for “k” and another that best sounds like the “Q” (except a bit coarser). The latter is the first letter that appears in the word Quran. The apostrophe comes from a letter that does not exist in English. But you can still say something in English that would get it right. You say: Qur -pause- Ann (as you would say Ann [then name]). If you do that, they you’ve got it 99% right.

  71. It seems to me that true religious belief should be self protective, not requiring the muting of societal influences through laws.

    Amen Brother Ben!

  72. OK, here is the sales pitch:

    If you are interested in a spiritual, literary (really heartwarming) exposition of Islam, check out these books (see list below picture). They also have quite long excerpts in pdf form. It is sad that one does not hear much in the Western public discourse on this side of Islam.

    As far as Islam and Liberty are concerned, there is this beautiful text from Rose Wilder Lane’s Islam and the Discovery of Freedom that you can buy from Amazon. It has a certain pure and unadulterated exposition to Islam by a non-Muslim and makes a case for why Islam can emrace liberty.

  73. Mr. Weigel,

    Thank you for pointing out that some Christians are goofy. I had no idea! You are an important source of yet unknown information.

    Maybe next, you could write about republicans that are goofy. I’m sure there must be some and by gum, your just the person to find them.

  74. Skip | October 30, 2007, 5:55pm | #
    Mr. Weigel,

    Thank you for pointing out that some Christians are goofy.

    Actually, it was some guy named Max, and the Xtians seemed to be doing most of the work themselves, so credit where credit is due

  75. Goofy Christians are always funny. They’re like farts in that respect. Or sports bloopers when guys get hit in the nuts or run into walls and such. There can never be enough articles about goofy Christians.

  76. iih, thanks — that’s what I was looking for.

  77. Anonymo: My pleasure!

  78. It seems to me that true religious belief should be self protective, not requiring the muting of societal influences through laws.

    It should be, but this is the self-declared purpose of much of the religious right. There is very little reason otherwise to oppose the teaching of evolutionary theory in schools.

  79. Tacos mmm…,
    I guess that leaves us with doubting the depth of their faith. I would hazard a guess that they have the same doubts and need a backup plan. Self protection and all, you know.

    sylos of samos,
    Charles G. Finney, one of the greatest christian preachers in history, was a huge huge fan of John Locke. He went as far as spending a huge sum of money on Locke first editions.

  80. TLB – You don’t need to worry about the Saudis. Not when TUGATDLWAFH&RBAMN is after you.

    daDUNT, daDUNT, daDUNT…TUGATDLWAFH&RBAMN!

    J sub D: You have to explain here.

  81. I think my friend J sub D is just perpetuating a joke I made in another thread. specifically, it’s =

    “The United Gilmore Alliance to Drive LoneWacko Away From Hit&Run By Any Means Necessary”

    aka

    TUGATDLWAFH&RBAMN

  82. Excerpt


    One of the most startling developments of the late twentieth century has been the emergence within every major religious tradition of a militant piety popularly known as “fundamentalism.” Its manifestations are sometimes shocking. Fundamentalists have gunned down worshippers in a mosque, have killed doctors and nurses who work in abortion clinics, have shot their presidents, and have even toppled a powerful government. It is only a small minority of fundamentalists who commit such acts of terror, but even the most peaceful and law-abiding are perplexing, because they seem so adamantly opposed to many of the most positive values of modern society. Fundamentalists have no time for democracy, pluralism, religious toleration, peacekeeping, free speech, or the separation of church and state. Christian fundamentalists reject the discoveries of biology and physics about the origins of life and insist that the Book of Genesis is scientifically sound

    in every detail. At a time when many are throwing off the shackles of the past, Jewish fundamentalists observe their revealed Law more stringently than ever before, and Muslim women, repudiating the freedoms of Western women, shroud themselves in veils and chadors. Muslim and Jewish fundamentalists both interpret the Arab-Israeli conflict, which began as defiantly secularist, in an exclusively religious way. Fundamentalism, moreover, is not confined to the great monotheisms. There are Buddhist, Hindu, and even Confucian fundamentalisms, which also cast aside many of the painfully acquired insights of liberal culture, which fight and kill in the name of religion and strive to bring the sacred into the realm of politics and national struggle.

    This religious resurgence has taken many observers by surprise. In the middle years of the twentieth century, it was generally taken for granted that secularism was an irreversible trend and that faith would never again play a major part in world events. It was assumed that as human beings became more rational, they either would have no further need for religion or would be content to confine it to the immediately personal and private areas of their lives. But in the late 1970s, fundamentalists began to rebel against this secularist hegemony and started to wrest religion out of its marginal position and back to center stage. In this, at least, they have enjoyed remarkable success. Religion has once again become a force that no government can safely ignore. Fundamentalism has suffered defeats, but it is by no means quiescent. It is now an essential part of the modern scene and will certainly play an important role in the domestic and international affairs of the future. It is crucial, therefore, that we try to understand what this type of religiosity means, how and for what reasons it has developed, what it can tell us about our culture, and how best we should deal with it.

    But before we proceed, we must look briefly at the term “fundamentalism” itself, which has been much criticized. American Protestants were the first to use it. In the early decades of the twentieth century, some of them started to call themselves “fundamentalists” to distinguish themselves from the more “liberal” Protestants, who were, in their opinion, entirely distorting the Christian faith. The fundamentalists wanted to go back to basics and reemphasize the “fundamentals” of the Christian tradition, which they identified with a literal interpretation of Scripture and the acceptance of certain core doctrines. The term “fundamentalism” has since been applied to reforming movements in other world faiths in a way that is far from satisfactory. It seems to suggest that fundamentalism is monolithic in all its manifestations. This is not the case. Each “fundamentalism” is a law unto itself and has its own dynamic. The term also gives the impression that fundamentalists are inherently conservative and wedded to the past, whereas their ideas are essentially modern and highly innovative. The American Protestants may have intended to go back to the “fundamentals,” but they did so in a peculiarly modern way. It has also been argued that this Christian term cannot be accurately applied to movements that have entirely different priorities. Muslim and Jewish fundamentalisms, for example, are not much concerned with doctrine, which is an essentially Christian preoccupation. A literal translation of “fundamentalism” into Arabic gives us usuliyyah, a word that refers to the study of the sources of the various rules and principles of Islamic law. Most of the activists who are dubbed “fundamentalists” in the West are not engaged in this Islamic science, but have quite different concerns. The use of the term “fundamentalism” is, therefore, misleading.

    Others, however, argue simply that, like it or not, the word “fundamentalism” is here to stay. And I have come to agree: the term is not perfect, but it is a useful label for movements that, despite their differences, bear a strong family resemblance. At the outset of their monumental six-volume Fundamentalist Project, Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby argue that the “fundamentalisms” all follow a certain pattern. They are embattled forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived crisis. They are engaged in a conflict with enemies whose secularist policies and beliefs seem inimical to religion itself. Fundamentalists do not regard this battle as a conventional political struggle, but experience it as a cosmic war between the forces of good and evil. They fear annihilation, and try to fortify their beleaguered identity by means of a selective retrieval of certain doctrines and practices of the past. To avoid contamination, they often withdraw from mainstream society to create a counterculture; yet fundamentalists are not impractical dreamers. They have absorbed the pragmatic rationalism of modernity, and, under the guidance of their charismatic leaders, they refine these “fundamentals” so as to create an ideology that provides the faithful with a plan of action. Eventually they fight back and attempt to resacralize an increasingly skeptical world.

    To explore the implications of this global response to modern culture, I want to concentrate on just a few of the fundamentalist movements that have surfaced in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the three monotheistic faiths. Instead of studying them in isolation from one another, I intend to trace their development chronologically, side by side, so that we can see how deeply similar they are. By looking at selected fundamentalisms, I hope to examine the phenomenon in greater depth than would be possible in a more general, comprehensive survey. The movements I have chosen are American Protestant fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, and Muslim fundamentalism in Egypt, which is a Sunni country, and Iran, which is Shii. I do not claim that my discoveries necessarily apply to other forms of fundamentalism, but hope to show how these particular movements, which have been among the most prominent and influential, have all been motivated by common fears, anxieties, and desires that seem to be a not unusual response to some of the peculiar difficulties of life in the modern secular world.

    There have always been people, in every age and in each tradition, who have fought the modernity of their day. But the fundamentalism that we shall be considering is an essentially twentieth-century movement. It is a reaction against the scientific and secular culture that first appeared in the West, but which has since taken root in other parts of the world. The West has developed an entirely unprecedented and wholly different type of civilization, so the religious response to it has been unique. The fundamentalist movements that have evolved in our own day have a symbiotic relationship with modernity. They may reject the scientific rationalism of the West, but they cannot escape it. Western civilization has changed the world. Nothing – including religion – can ever be the same again. All over the globe, people have been struggling with these new conditions and have been forced to reassess their religious traditions, which were designed for an entirely different type of society.

    There was a similar transitional period in the ancient world, lasting roughly from 700 to 200 BCE, which historians have called the Axial Age because it was pivotal to the spiritual development of humanity. This age was itself the product and fruition of thousands of years of economic, and therefore social and cultural, evolution, beginning in Sumer in what is now Iraq, and in ancient Egypt. People in the fourth and third millennia BCE, instead of simply growing enough crops to satisfy their immediate needs, became capable of producing an agricultural surplus with which they could trade and thereby acquire additional income. This enabled them to build the first civilizations, develop the arts, and create increasingly powerful polities: cities, city-states, and, eventually, empires. In agrarian society, power no longer lay exclusively with the local king or priest; its locus shifted at least partly to the marketplace, the source of each culture’s wealth. In these altered circumstances, people ultimately began to find that the old paganism, which had served their ancestors well, no longer spoke fully to their condition.

    In the cities and empires of the Axial Age, citizens were acquiring a wider perspective and broader horizons, which made the old local cults seem limited and parochial. Instead of seeing the divine as embodied in a number of different deities, people increasingly began to worship a single, universal transcendence and source of sacredness. They had more leisure and were thus able to develop a richer interior life; accordingly, they came to desire a spirituality which did not depend entirely upon external forms. The most sensitive were troubled by the social injustice that seemed built into this agrarian society, depending as it did on the labor of peasants who never had the chance to benefit from the high culture. Consequently, prophets and reformers arose who insisted that the virtue of compassion was crucial to the spiritual life: an ability to see sacredness in every single human being, and a willingness to take practical care of the more vulnerable members of society, became the test of authentic piety. In this way, during the Axial Age, the great confessional faiths that have continued to guide human beings sprang up in the civilized world: Buddhism and Hinduism in India, Confucianism and Taoism in the Far East; monotheism in the Middle East; and rationalism in Europe. Despite their major differences, these Axial Age religions had much in common: they all built on the old traditions to evolve the idea of a single, universal transcendence; they cultivated an internalized spirituality, and stressed the importance of practical compassion.

    Today, as noted, we are undergoing a similar period of transition. Its roots lie in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of the modern era, when the people of Western Europe began to evolve a different type of society, one based not on an agricultural surplus but on a technology that enabled them to reproduce their resources indefinitely. The economic changes over the last four hundred years have been accompanied by immense social, political, and intellectual revolutions, with the development of an entirely different, scientific and rational, concept of the nature of truth; and, once again, a radical religious change has become necessary. All over the world, people are finding that in their dramatically transformed circumstances, the old forms of faith no longer work for them: they cannot provide the enlightenment and consolation that human beings seem to need. As a result, men and women are trying to find new ways of being religious; like the reformers and prophets of the Axial Age, they are attempting to build upon the insights of the past in a way that will take human beings forward into the new world they have created for themselves. One of these modern experiments – however paradoxical it may superficially seem to say so – is fundamentalism.

    We tend to assume that the people of the past were (more or less) like us, but in fact their spiritual lives were rather different. In particular, they evolved two ways of thinking, speaking, and acquiring knowledge, which scholars have called mythos and logos. Both were essential; they were regarded as complementary ways of arriving at truth, and each had its special area of competence. Myth was regarded as primary; it was concerned with what was thought to be timeless and constant in our existence. Myth looked back to the origins of life, to the foundations of culture, and to the deepest levels of the human mind. Myth was not concerned with practical matters, but with meaning. Unless we find some significance in our lives, we mortal men and women fall very easily into despair. The mythos of a society provided people with a context that made sense of their day-to-day lives; it directed their attention to the eternal and the universal. It was also rooted in what we would call the unconscious mind. The various mythological stories, which were not intended to be taken literally, were an ancient form of psychology. When people told stories about heroes who descended into the underworld, struggled through labyrinths, or fought with monsters, they were bringing to light the obscure regions of the subconscious realm, which is not accessible to purely rational investigation, but which has a profound effect upon our experience and behavior. Because of the dearth of myth in our modern society, we have had to evolve the science of psychoanalysis to help us to deal with our inner world.

    Myth could not be demonstrated by rational proof; its insights were more intuitive, similar to those of art, music, poetry, or sculpture. Myth only became a reality when it was embodied in cult, rituals, and ceremonies which worked aesthetically upon worshippers, evoking within them a sense of sacred significance and enabling them to apprehend the deeper currents of existence. Myth and cult were so inseparable that it is a matter of scholarly debate which came first: the mythical narrative or the rituals attached to it. Myth was also associated with mysticism, the descent into the psyche by means of structured disciplines of focus and concentration which have been evolved in all cultures as a means of acquiring intuitive insight. Without a cult or mystical practice, the myths of religion would make no sense. They would remain abstract and seem incredible, in rather the same way as a musical score remains opaque to most of us and needs to be interpreted instrumentally before we can appreciate its beauty.

    In the premodern world, people had a different view of history. They were less interested than we are in what actually happened, but more concerned with the meaning of an event. Historical incidents were not seen as unique occurrences, set in a far-off time, but were thought to be external manifestations of constant, timeless realities. Hence history would tend to repeat itself, because there was nothing new under the sun. Historical narratives tried to bring out this eternal dimension. Thus, we do not know what really occurred when the ancient Israelites escaped from Egypt and passed through the Sea of Reeds. The story has been deliberately written as a myth, and linked with other stories about rites of passage, immersion in the deep, and gods splitting a sea in two to create a new reality. Jews experience this myth every year in the rituals of the Passover Seder, which brings this strange story into their own lives and helps them to make it their own. One could say that unless an historical event is mythologized in this way, and liberated from the past in an inspiring cult, it cannot be religious. To ask whether the Exodus from Egypt took place exactly as recounted in the Bible or to demand historical and scientific evidence to prove that it is factually true is to mistake the nature and purpose of this story. It is to confuse mythos with logos.

    Logos was equally important. Logos was the rational, pragmatic, and scientific thought that enabled men and women to function well in the world. We may have lost the sense of mythos in the West today, but we are very familiar with logos, which is the basis of our society. Unlike myth, logos must relate exactly to facts and correspond to external realities if it is to be effective. It must work efficiently in the mundane world. We use this logical, discursive reasoning when we have to make things happen, get something done, or persuade other people to adopt a particular course of action. Logos is practical. Unlike myth, which looks back to the beginnings and to the foundations, logos forges ahead and tries to find something new: to elaborate on old insights, achieve a greater control over our environment, discover something fresh, and invent something novel.

    In the premodern world, both mythos and logos were regarded as indispensable. Each would be impoverished without the other. Yet the two were essentially distinct, and it was held to be dangerous to confuse mythical and rational discourse. They had separate jobs to do. Myth was not reasonable; its narratives were not supposed to be demonstrated empirically. It provided the context of meaning that made our practical activities worthwhile. You were not supposed to make mythos the basis of a pragmatic policy. If you did so, the results could be disastrous, because what worked well in the inner world of the psyche was not readily applicable to the affairs of the external world. When, for example, Pope Urban II summoned the First Crusade in 1095, his plan belonged to the realm of logos. He wanted the knights of Europe to stop fighting one another and tearing the fabric of Western Christendom apart, and to expend their energies instead in a war in the Middle East and so extend the power of his church. But when this military expedition became entangled with folk mythology, biblical lore, and apocalyptic fantasies, the result was catastrophic, practically, militarily, and morally. Throughout the long crusading project, it remained true that whenever logos was ascendant, the Crusaders prospered. They performed well on the battlefield, created viable colonies in the Middle East, and learned to relate more positively with the local population. When, however, Crusaders started making a mythical or mystical vision the basis of their policies, they were usually defeated and committed terrible atrocities.

    Logos had its limitations too. It could not assuage human pain or sorrow. Rational arguments could make no sense of tragedy. Logos could not answer questions about the ultimate value of human life. A scientist could make things work more efficiently and discover wonderful new facts about the physical universe, but he could not explain the meaning of life.9 That was the preserve of myth and cult.

    By the eighteenth century, however, the people of Europe and America had achieved such astonishing success in science and technology that they began to think that logos was the only means to truth and began to discount mythos as false and superstitious. It is also true that the new world they were creating contradicted the dynamic of the old mythical spirituality. Our religious experience in the modern world has changed, and because an increasing number of people regard scientific rationalism alone as true, they have often tried to turn the mythos of their faith into logos. Fundamentalists have also made this attempt. This confusion has led to more problems.

    We need to understand how our world has changed. The first part of this book will, therefore, go back to the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when the people of Western Europe had begun to develop their new science. We will also examine the mythical piety of the premodern agrarian civilization, so that we can see how the old forms of faith worked. It is becoming very difficult to be conventionally religious in the brave new world. Modernization has always been a painful process. People feel alienated and lost when fundamental changes in their society make the world strange and unrecognizable. We will trace the impact of modernity upon the Christians of Europe and America, upon the Jewish people, and upon the Muslims of Egypt and Iran. We shall then be in a position to see what the fundamentalists were trying to do when they started to create this new form of faith toward the end of the nineteenth century.

    Fundamentalists feel that they are battling against forces that threaten their most sacred values. During a war it is very difficult for combatants to appreciate one another’s position. We shall find that modernization has led to a polarization of society, but sometimes, to prevent an escalation of the conflict, we must try to understand the pain and perceptions of the other side. Those of us – myself included – who relish the freedoms and achievements of modernity find it hard to comprehend the distress these cause religious fundamentalists. Yet modernization is often experienced not as a liberation but as an aggressive assault. Few have suffered more in the modern world than the Jewish people, so it is fitting to begin with their bruising encounter with the modernizing society of Western Christendom in the late fifteenth century, which led some Jews to anticipate many of the stratagems, postures, and principles that would later become common in the new world.

  83. Gilmore: Ah, I see. Thanks.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.