The horrible tragedy of the shooting in Colorado is barely twelve hours old and yet a disgusting excuse for a human being exploits them for his own agenda. Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas rushed to stand on top of the dead and wounded in Colorado and proclaim that the true victims in all of this are himself and the religious extremists of the Right Wing:

“You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place.”

“Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important. Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters … We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.

“People say … where was God in all of this? We’ve threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/20/congressman-gohmert-says-colorado-shooting-linked-to-attacks-on-christianity

Not one iota of compassion for those whose lives were so terribly taken, not one crumb of empathy for the wounded or the families of those who were attacked. The deaths of innocent people are only deserving of being exploited to further their own extremist agenda. Welcome to the Dominionist Christianity of the Religious Right. It is a travesty of Christianity and the message of peace, love and compassion that was central to the teachings of Jesus.

This cult version of Christianity instead obsesses about dominance, hatred and the triviality of the lives of any who aren’t directly supporting or promoting their goals. It is a form of Christianity that packages up all of the traits of their alleged adversary, The Devil, and coats them with a sweet veneer of victimhood, self-righteousness and superiority that makes it easy for them to swallow all that nastiness and keep it inside of them in the name of “faith”.

Consider the image of God that Gohmert portrays. Either God is Tinkerbell, who needs our constant applause to have the power to save us from all natural and man-made disasters or he is a petty, selfish teenager who lets people die as a way of getting even with their society for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

So the Dominionist Christian God is in essence, an insecure, vindictive asshole. In their case, they have apparently created God in their own image.

According to Gohmert’s way of thinking, God intentionally allowed innocent people to be killed because He was pissed off that he isn’t being praised enough at high school graduations. That’ll teach us! And the flip side of what Gohmert is saying is that if we praised his twisted version of God at graduations and let cities put Nativity scenes on government property at Christmas, God will become a superhero who will swoop down and protect everyone from everything bad. Aside from these religious zealots, what human being above the age of three would believe such a ridiculous scenario?

If insanity was a religion, the Dominionists would be out of business…or be taken over in a merger.

It’s not hard to recognize how this religion of hate seems so intertwined with the GOP, they share a hunger for power at any cost. The Dominionist Christians, the Republicans and their standard bearer Romney display “Christian values” that are instead most of The Seven Deadly Sins. In The Book of Proverbs, King Solomon describes the Seven Deadly Sins as:

  1. A proud look.
  2. A lying tongue.
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood.
  4. A heart that devises wicked plots.
  5. Feet that are swift to run into mischief.
  6. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies.
  7. Him that soweth discord among brethren.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins

How can any reasonable person not see all of these traits in the GOP, Romney and the Religious Right, as part of the core of who they are and what they do?

A poignant question would be, do any of them truly believe in God? Aren’t they perhaps more atheistic than Christian? If one truly believed in God and The Bible, would one commit so many terrible acts knowing that they could keep them from going to Heaven? Or…wouldn’t doing such immoral things reflect that one has no concern of ever having to pay a price for them in an afterlife?

It is impressive that those on the far right have been able to act so immorally while simultaneously being able to hide behind a facade of Christianity. This dichotomy seems so obvious that one would think there would be a greater outpouring from true Christians against the exploitation of their religion by those who demean it through their actions and representations, all in the pursuit of those very Jesus-like traits, grabbing as much wealth and power as possible.

A great example of this is how a group of Catholic nuns have come under attack by The Catholic Church for focusing on the poor and the welfare of human beings instead of attacking American society on abortion and gay rights…because this is what Jesus would have wanted.

Religion and politics have always been entwined to one degree or another. Theocracies were the original governments (and what Gohmert and his ilk are determined to bring back). Democracy has existed along the way but is always in the cross hairs of the power hungry, including the wealthy and the rabid religious fanatics…which is one key reason why they make such a solid coalition in the GOP.

I think atheists and religious people would both appreciate a revival of basic principles in our society, the same ones that are the basis for most religions. Love, compassion, helping those who are in need, treating each other as we would like to be treated, those with more sharing with those who have less and respect for all human life.

When a tragedy like this horrible shooting in Colorado occurs, we should be able to come together as one people, one society and offer our hearts to our neighbors and their families who have been so terribly harmed. Faith should be a path towards being a better person and bringing about a more compassionate and just society. Those who use “their” God and religion to inspire division and hatred, in their single-minded pursuit of power are undeserving of being validated as people who have any connection to spirituality. These are all traits of greed and there is nothing divine about that destructive trait.

For these types, the old Gordon Gekko phrase just needs a little tweak, “Greed is God.”

For the rest of us, those with religious beliefs and atheists alike, such obscene human beings as Louis Gohmert and others like him who use religion only as leverage to pursue their own selfish goals, should bring us together to publicly condemn them as the frauds and hypocrites they are and affirm that we can and need to share values that represent what is best in us as human beings.

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Olderandwiser55
Member
Olderandwiser55

Well said Adlib. I’m here in Colorado and a couple things come to mind…Columbine, after which so many prayer vigils/crosses etc. didn’t change anything…and the (largely evangelical) Colorado Springs fire (why didn’t god stop that?)

jjgravitas
Member
jjgravitas

I predict there will come a day when the three major religions of today (you know who you are) will be thought of as archaic and ridiculous as the ancient Greek and Roman gods (no offence to Greece or Rome). If you strip all the bull*** out of the Bible, the Word of Jesus Christ – the only part of it that has any real value – could easily fit into a ten page pamphlet. Freedom of religion? I say we need freedom FROM religion.

Khirad
Member

I know I shouldn’t give attention to Pat Robertson or Cenk Uygur alike, but…

Pat Robertson To Christian: Leave Your Muslim Girlfriend

AlphaBitch
Member
AlphaBitch

And in retaliation to the stupidity of these yokels, I have decided to re-engage with exchange students and am currently considering representing a young woman (MUSLIM! COVERED!!!) from Lebanon.

The only way I know to strike back is to get off my ample butt and do something positive. If I can find a HF for this young girl, if I can get her in a school, if she is as wonderful and powerful as I suspect, she will change the hearts and minds of dozens she will encounter. And, to quote Charlie Sheen (who sounds more intelligent than Mr. Robertson), that is “winning”.

kesmarn
Admin

YAY, Frennie! A variation on the old saying: “Living well is the best revenge.”

“Doing good — empowering a woman, in this case — is the best revenge.”

foodchain
Member
foodchain

Well the GOP have 1-7 locked down; Gomert is so skewed in his thinking or really completely evil. The GOd talk is a diversion. Children, when confronted with something of their doing always divert and if that doesn’t work, they blame someone else and if that doesn’t work, they yell.

Grover Norquist runs a good part of the GOP and the NRA may we run the other part of it. We do not have a govn’t representing it’s electorate. That is what all this is about. God is a shiny mirror, at least that’s what Suzanne said

foodchain
Member
foodchain

Ad, I hope not to do a disservice to you and to everyone contributing. I will read the comments–I’ve peeked already– but I have been roiling with this as have we all. My few comments are:

Where are my inalienable rights? Those of LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS?

How does the 2nd amendment trump my rights?

2nd: I’m really tired of teddy bears; I’ve seen them with Timothy McVeigh, Colombine, VA Tech, Ft Hood, more, more and now this. GET ANGRY. Dammit, teddy bears make us victims too. We should grieve but to show no more than this means we are victims, powerless to fight the killers. How did that happen to this great country? We can just be shot down and say Oh, OK, think I’ll be sad for a few days. How did we arrive at this state of powerlessness?

So many great comments that I want to get to but they would shift me (into a fuller position) but we each want/need to say something in response to this horror–this absurd abuse of power by the NRA. I can search a sink on google and immediately get sink ads and yet no one could put together that this kid was buying mass amounts of weaponry and protective gear. Create that software to track these purchases.

My son went to one of these midnight movie openings a few years back. Every parent should be screaming at every legislator in the country. Teddy bears are a small answer for the loss of life: we should be fighting for our children and we should never be afraid to take on anyone when it comes to saving them. Period

Then for a closing is John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” back when CO was cool

KQµårk 死神
Member

AdLib spot on as usual.

I’ll never get the cognitive dissonance between today’s GOP and Christian values. Jesus was a straight up peace and love hippie who time and time again said greed is not good in his teachings. Yet the Republican Jesus says greed is good, in fact now they are teaching that money is a blessing.

For example do you really think Jesus would take the earned income tax credit away from low income working families and give it to the rich? or be against everyone getting access to affordable healthcare?

Ironically it’s just not the doctrines of Jesus the GOP perverts. They even twist around what their true patron saint Adam Smith was all about. Adam Smith believed in high wages for a prosperous society and that businesses have as much a fiduciary responsibility to society as they have a responsibility to their stake holders. I’m sure he’s spinning like a top in his grave watch the GOP call what we have today capitalism. It’s nothing but a a collection of oligarchies in every captive market segment. Adam Smith thought you regulated your way to a free market by restricting plutocracy.

If you are a Republican today you simply have no core values. Even things like being fiscally conservative is a big lie for the GOP. Watch as they try to EXPAND an already bloated military budget and increase tax cuts for the rich. Their whole ideology is not so much failed as bastardized.

Andrew Sullivan points out true conservatism and it includes many aspects the GOP has abandoned and actually the Dems of today stand for like pay go, increased revenue to balance the budget, no expansive wars, defense cuts and even personal responsibility in a universal healthcare system. The GOP on the other hand is radical, expansive militarily, does not pay for two wars and drug benefits, etc. This is not close to being conservative.

choicelady
Member

KQ – one of the most bizarre spill overs from this version of Christianity propagated by Gohmert et al. is the degree to which the anti-religious Left buys into it. I have had way too many Left secular progressives tell me what I HAVE to believe if I purport to be a Christian. How nuts is that?

The denial by Harris and other atheists that anyone can engage with faith concerns and still be rational, accept science, and be complex about theology and ethics rather than rule bound is partly political. Admitting there are majorities among Abrahamic faiths who are intelligent, rational, and spiritual all at once simply annoys the hell out of fundamentalist atheists. (And yes – that is NOT a mistake – there are evangelical atheists, too.)

This absolutism from the Left has contributed its share to the bifurcation of ideas, to binary thinking, to segregation of people who, under most other circumstances would be able to have lively and impassioned conversations and use them to grow. Everwhere we are forced to take hard core stands on issues instead of using thoughtful judgment.

Those who are central to the operation of my organization refuse to be put in a box. That is infuriating for all sides, but it is important to continue to affirm the complexities of issues rather than accept Louie’s or Sam’s reductionism. Life is not black and white. It is always complicated. “Situational ethics” is the hallmark of compassion and the capacity to evaluate each person’s condition fairly. Was Jean Valjean not vastly different from Bernie Madoff?

We here at the Planet and on several other blogs are working very hard to regain nuance, retain compassion for even those with whom we disagree, affirm intellectual complexity, and promulgate human kindness. These are attributes and qualities desperately needed. It’s a struggle well worth having everywhere we go.

kesmarn
Admin

I’ve totally lost track of how many times I’ve said this to you, c’lady, but that is just one heckuva fabulous comment. Every word of it.

bito
Member

Worth Watching!

Video Essay: Living Under the Gun

In a web-exclusive video essay, Bill Moyers says Friday’s deadly shooting in Colorado is yet another tragic indication that our society — and too many of our politicians — covet guns more than common sense or life itself. The National Rifle Association in particular, Bill says, “has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel and deadly hoax.”

http://billmoyers.com/segment/bill-moyers-essay-living-under-the-gun/

This in part is what I was feebly attempting to say yesterday, that the whole Second Amendment/Gun Rights/NRA is but a multimillion dollar scam put into place to retain reelection, greed and power for a few.

kesmarn
Admin

Bill Moyers is beautifully eloquent as always and makes perfect sense. And I love the way he fearlessly goes after the NRA.

Still, I’m haunted by the fact that there are more guns per person in Canada, b’ito, and somehow they don’t have this persistently high level of gun violence.

There’s something in our culture that breeds these mass murderers, and I’m not entirely sure what it is. I’m not saying gun control is wrong. Not at all.

But we have to get to the root of what produces this particular type of madness as well, don’t you think?

kesmarn
Admin

I’m so grateful for the collective thought that went into all these answers. What a gift the Planet is! Each person’s contribution is so valuable and gives me (well, all of us) so much more to think about. This is better than the best salon in history.

I’ve been thinking about this problem over the last couple of days and I remembered a book I’d encountered a long time ago: Richard Slotkin’s “Regeneration Through Violence.” In it he explores the idea of “the frontier” and it’s effect on the national psyche.

He feels that Americans in earlier times viewed the founders as men who “tore a nation from an opulent and implacable wilderness.” And he explored the myth of the hunter as “one of self renewal or self-creation through acts of violence.”

I did a bit of research on Slotkin and discovered that “Regeneration” was really the first of a trilogy on the notion of the American frontier. One of the other two volumes is called “Gunfighter Nation.” I haven’t read it, but I’d be interested in seeing how he examines popular culture like the wild west myth, dime novels, and Hollywood images/themes and their effect on peoples’ views on violence.

I’m not saying — and I don’t think he’s saying — that the prevalent culture creates killers, but maybe it can give us some insight into how violence can morph from being a horror to being acceptable to being a chosen option for some people.

C’lady, your comments on the awful legacy of slavery really resonate. I think that history of oppression did allow people to rationalize violence as somehow “necessary” to “keep order” and — weirdly — still felt compatible with being able to think of oneself as being a “decent person.” It developed a sort of sanctioned schizophrenia that seems capable of opening the floodgates to all sorts of inhuman actions and attitudes.

And, b’ito, that was a terrific article on the cognitive breakdown that seems to happen with these killers. The bottom line seems to be that sometimes a real connection with even one other human being can be enough to head off disaster.

Maybe we should all do a little more connecting whenever there’s a random opportunity… It might make more of a difference than any of us realizes.

choicelady
Member

Kes – you’d probably like “Rebirth of a Nation”, an excellent discussion of the many ways in which “upheaval and renewal” were the essential parts of spiritual and material regeneration in Protestantism. (Well – it used to be. We’re getting over it. We left a pretty ugly trail behind.) It’s by historican Jackson Lears, and it’s pretty readable.

kesmarn
Admin

Thanks so much for the recommendation, c’lady! I hadn’t heard of that one.

foodchain
Member
foodchain

I agree Kes, we need a way to be in community together, not divided, block by block

kesmarn
Admin

Exactly, fc!

KillgoreTrout
Member

Hey kes! An essential question, for sure. I think there are a number of reasons for our infatuation for guns. I think there is still a great deal of romanticism behind this infatuation.

There is the revolutionary war, were, without guns we would never have been able to free ourselves from British rule. A whole lot of romanticizing over that. Then we had the civil war, again, a whole lot of romanticizing over that war. Then the less popular, intermediate wars and then WWI and WWII, then Korea and Vietnam, then Irag and Afghanistan. America is a very war like nation and by extension, so are many of it’s citizens. We seem to be at war, constantly, in one part of the world or another.

Then there is the romanticizing the Wild West and it’s gunslingers and heroes. The war against Native Americans, or the Indian Wars and Manifest Destiny. The legends of the 7th Cavalry and all that. Gun development was a natural by product of all these wars. Always new innovations in gun technology.

Then, there is gang violence, more home invasions…etc.

And finally, there is this pervasive spiritual sickness that has afflicted our nation. I have no doubt I missed several other reasons for our gun culture, but those I have listed are huge reasons this paranoid, romantic and criminal culture.

bito
Member

KT. all good thoughts, my problem is that in Europe both before and after the revolutionary war they practically were charter members of the war of the week club.
Perhaps at some point after WWII they had complete change on the taking of lives because it was so up close and personal. The killings happened in their town and cities, something the US has not seen since the civil war.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I think that’s a very good point Bito. Almost all of Europe was totally devastated at the end of WWII. I think that ended any romanticizing of war and killing.

I don’t believe there is any country on Earth that has been involved in as many armed conflicts as the US. And as you say, those conflicts, save for the revolutionary war and the civil war, were always on the soil of other lands.

The Indian Wars should be mentioned, but even those battles were not fought in the majority of the US.

I also believe, and I don’t mean to keep harping on this subject, that we really do have a serious spiritual problem in the US. I don’t mean religious problems (which do exist), but just a common spirit, a joining together to make this a better country. There are so many divisions in this country that it is just absurd. Racial divisions, political divisions, economic divisions, religious divisions and cultural divisions. These divisions are not new to America, but I think they are proportionately much larger than ever before.

foodchain
Member
foodchain

I think the dommon denominator for division in the US is the blow back from the Civil War. It is the states’ rights argument against the federal government. It is the welfare argument is some blind sighted way. It is the rural vs the metro. It is still the same fight.

As measure for this I would ask us all to look at the revenge so many countries still hold against each other over thousands of years. Why would we presume to be different? The South was occupied, they were devastated–needlessly– and they were “helped” by the enemy.

A great line is: no one ever forgets where the hatchet is buried and I think that’s true.

bito
Member

k’es, great question and it has been bugging me since I read it. C’Lady (below) certainty has some good thoughts.

I will be the first to admit my anti-NRA reaction does seem like a knee-jerk and it doesn’t get to your basic question at all. I am just so damn tired that every 18.25 days we have a rerun of another mass murder, Mylar balloons, flowers, candles and stuffed teddy bears and the picture in my own mind of Gabby and the young child that was murdered within moments from my house. Wash. Rinse Repeat. Meanwhile the NRA and the gun industry collect their blood money, spread their campaign money spread fear and blackmail congress. (and collect their untraceable money)
You’re right, there is more to it.
Could it be America’s “rugged individualism” our we can make it on our own personality that we don’t share with others or even notice others problems? We’re just too busy and “they can work it out on their own,” I don’t want to pry” attitude even with people we see and work with every day?
Are we an isolationist people? We don’t notice the warning signs, “it’s none of our business”?

I did read an interesting article on individuals but how can it be used for society as a whole?
Colorado “Batman” Shootings Eerily Similar to Others Involving a Lack of Cognitive Control
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/07/20/colorado-batman-shootings-eerily-similar-to-others-involving-a-lack-of-cognitive-control/

The cognitive control capacities of the subject get somewhat redirected—we don’t quite understand how—toward goals and activities that are violent in a very specific way. Not the violent outburst of somebody who has “lost it” in a bar, punching people right and left. The violence is channeled in a very specific plan, with a very specific target—generally fed by the media through some sort of rhetoric, political or otherwise—with very specific tools, in the Giffords case, a 9-millimeter Glock.

Does it come down to education, we both have to learn the warning signs and take the time to help others, compassion?

Great question and topic, k’es. looks like a post that you can handle in your future. Sad to say, there will be an occasion to write it in 18.25 days.

choicelady
Member

bito – I SO agree, as I agree with you and foodchain – no more candlelight vigils, no more teddy bears and mylar balloons!

Somehow, somewhere we need to intervene BEFORE things happen.

If you wish to creep yourself out, take a look at the photo of Jared Loughner after he shot all the people in Tucson, and compare it to the photo of Holmes. And then remember today is the one-year anniversary of Breivik’s horror. And then ask – are these all REALLY unrelated?

The common denominator of extremism in Loughner’s motivation was picked up by Southern Poverty Law Center – and instantly dismissed. Breivik’s self-proclaimed white Christian supremacism was hushed right up. Will we be allowed to know about Holmes’ sources of information?

I have no answers. Every move to intercept someone prior to acting violently opens the possibility of harassment and supression of others who are truly innocent.But it’s past time we find a legal and constitutional way to at least slow them down. No more teddy bears. No more mylar balloons. No more candlelight gatherings. Enough.

KillgoreTrout
Member

One thing we need is much more access to quality, professional mental health professionals. What this country spends, or should I say, does not spend on mental health is deplorable. There are not huge profits to be made by treating those with serious mental illness. I’m not talking about people who have personal Freudian type therapists because they have a lousy love life or aren’t happ with the car they drive, but serious mental illness such as major depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar illness….etc. This would not solve all of our societal and cultural problems, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

bito
Member

The problem with the types of mental illnesses you mention, KT, are they are all a type of psychosis that both noticeable and usually treatable. The people that are responsible for mass killings are usually psychopathic and their symptoms are less noticeable, almost subtle to the average person who isn’t close to them.

choicelady
Member

kes – historians and sociologists and probably geologists and soothsayers have been asking why there is such a radical disconnect between the US and Canada culturally, politically, and socially.

The two key differences – the presence of a large and powerful minority culture of the French making the nation bi-lingual and therefore less likely to be SO xenophobic. More to the point there is no legacy of slavery that still divides, creates huge guilt, and around which fantasies have had to grow. There also was not a “Great Awakening” driving both the religious conservatism of the 18th and 19th centuries and the slavery justifications that grew from too much of that movement.

IMHO – I think slavery and all it bred and all that impelled it is the key issue in America that keeps us from reaching our full potential as an inclusive democracy. Canada shares a common history of abuse toward First Nations people, but because they don’t have to live the lie of the Confederacy, they have been able to apologize and begin making amends. We have nothing but defensiveness and self justification toward First Nations people and toward slaves. That baggage is huge for the US. Canada has no such chain around its collective history and heart.

bito
Member

C’Lady, you may like to read this, it does have some similarities to what you are saying. Interesting.

The Psychogeography of Gun Violence

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-psychogeography-of-gun-violence/69353/

After considering possible explanations having to do with poverty, slavery, and even the region’s hotter climate, he found a different answer in a cultural vestige of pastoralism: a deep “culture of honor” in which residents place an extraordinary value on personal reputation, family, and property. Threats to these things provoke aggressive reactions, leading to higher rates of murder and domestic violence

choicelady
Member

Fascinating! I will read more and see if the culture of honor rising from pastoralism is linked to they mythic Southern ethos. I’d be interested in how it’s also tied as a reaction to rapacious capitalism and whether it’s specific in origins to the 19th century and it’s massive upheavals against the common man.

Thanks for the link – this is all new to me!

AlphaBitch
Member
AlphaBitch

And just to weigh in, after finishing the trip and having my computer crash:

For Pashtuns, the concept of Pashtun-wali is paramount. The three most important things in their society: hospitality, honor and revenge. The last two tag team, which makes for a heck of a bloody society. Live your life honorably and leave the rest alone is my motto. But I would agree that the “culture of honor” is deadly and vicious. Certainly nothing that is truly honorable. Pride is what it is, not honor. And that’s one of those deadly sins…..

choicelady
Member

Wow – the idea that Pashtun-wali is not distant from the Hatfields and McCoys is pretty eye opening!

Yup – that pride thing. Gets you every time. And think how it spills over to gang violence and being “dissed”. This is hardly old fashioned then!

Whooo. Heavy issues here!

choicelady
Member

Christians are not persecuted in America. Dominionists are limited in how much they can persecute the rest of us, so, of course, they see that as persecution. It’s like the criminal who is stopped from committing crimes – and says his rights are violated. Uh huh.

Louie – if God is more magnificent and amazing than anything we can imagine, why do you set him up as a figure who more or less resembles the drunk with a gun living next door in the nearby trailer? If God is all powerful, all knowing, all present, and all wonderful, why does He need YOU to shoot off your mouth?

Louie, Louie, Louie – no one is stopping God. No one is stopping YOU. You are not a victim. Grow up.

MurphTheSurf3
Editor

Gohmert-“Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important,” he said. “Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters. We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.”
=========================
Never miss a chance to drive home your own favorite agenda items. I happen to agree with the idea that a life grounded in a sense of faithfulness, community, commitment to each other, and motivated by love is a better life.

I am a Christian Humanist but I have been positively influenced by Buddhism as well. Gohmert’s narrow view of American faith having to be equated with the Judaeo-Christian tradition is not one I accept. For Gohmert and his fellow travelers, it’s always going to be about their own self righteousness and desire to limit the choices of others.

KQµårk 死神
Member

I’m not Christian because I don’t believe in most of the biographical stories of Jesus but I believe in Jesus’ philosophies a hell of allot more than your average GOP bible beater.

I wholehearted believe in things like tolerance, charity, not worshiping money, doing good works, being a good example etc…

I also know Jesus was just one person who espouses these altruistic values. Most cultures have a ‘profit’ for lack of a better term that espoused teachings very similar to Jesus’.

Adam’s was 100% wrong if he did not mean and/or in that statement. You don’t need to be religious to be a moral person. In fact the intolerance of some religions is counter to being a good person IMO.

bito
Member

‘Looie’ saying that John Adams said something makes me highly suspicious that Mr. Adams said any such thing, same goes for ole’ Ben.
He didn’t quote either one of them, he interpreted and paraphrased something.

(edit: oops, looks like KT already made this point below. http://planetpov.com/2012/07/20/the-right-wings-psychotic-version-of-god/comment-page-1/#comment-187064

MurphTheSurf3
Editor

I agree with much of this.

A word about Jesus. That he existed I have no doubt. That his message was counter-cultural, emphasized a series of values including mercy, compassion, tolerance, openness, acceptance, care for others, our duty to the poor/the persecuted/the ignorant/the imprisoned, and peace. The Beatitudes and Greatest Commandments capture the heart of his message…apparently one he was willing to die for.

His followers “mystified” and eventually “churched” the message losing its edge.

While there have been many great prophetic figures, the Jesus Message remains the most integrated and consistent of them as witnessed in the first 300 years of the Christian Community which called itself “The Way”…as in how to live life.

That is what sticks for me.

foodchain
Member
foodchain

It also remain, as other prophts from the time, the most misu derstood, the most abused and the most manipulatednfor power. It is this essence that creates relion as a problem throughout. the ages

KQµårk 死神
Member

Oh I should have specified. I did believe Jesus existed as a person. I just don’t believe in the biographical creed that he was the son of God and that he resurrected. I don’t even believe he was born in December. That is just an old myth that ancients used to time the Winter Solstice like his ressurrection was used as the time to describe when crops should be planted.

In fact many religions before and after Jesus used this biographical info like the Egyptians and Druids which is based on the movements of the Sol. For example Horus the Egyptian had a biography very close to Jesus including the time of birth, having 12 disciples, being resurrected, Horus was aka the light etc… I think the church just attributed these old myths to Jesus’ life. Even the idea of Ages (the period the earth wobbles around it’s axis is approximately 26,000 years broken up into 12 Ages) is built into the story of Jesus because when Jesus was born we went from the Age of the Bull into the Age of Pisces (now we entered the Age of Aquarius).

So basically the timing of biological Jesus has a hell-of-allot more to do with astrological movements than a person’s biography. But I think it shows how the ancients were more brilliant than modern man ever thought about the stars.

choicelady
Member

I think contemporary theologians agree that he existed and that what made him profound in our history was a wholly new message that gave massive distance from the rules of the past and opened the door for equality toward spirituality for all in the future.

That, as in AB and my fave book, “Lamb” he might have been influenced by other religions makes this all the more interesting to me. I don’t need miraculous births, resurrection, etc., to be directed by the wholeness of his teachings and the message of what he challenged us to do and be. I think most Protestants would agree – the stories are just stories, but the teachings which arise within those stories are amazing and complex and profound.

choicelady
Member

KT – yes, the Western world. That’s the premise in “Lamb” that Jesus traveled to several lands and incorporated the insights and spirituality he found there into his own understanding. “Lamb” is a bawdy and very funny but powerful book that was based on work done by some quite reviled scholars who followed the tracks of “Issa” (Muslims later name Jesus “Isa”) who went to India, Tibet, etc.

It’s Western culture and faith that may have been impacted by Jesus’ learning if all this is true. Why it would be heretical is beyond me, but this is THE cultural war being fought now by those who could not tolerate the notion that Jesus might have been influenced by Buddha, the Tao, and other ideas. How sad – it actually energizes the entire idea of faith if this proves to be true. I suppose if your faith rests on the notion of a “one and only God’s chosen” then admitting Jesus was insightful enough to value other faiths would put a damper on your absolutism indeed.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I don’t agree that Jesus’s teachings and living examples were new. Maybe to the western world. Is that what you meant by “our history?”

KillgoreTrout
Member

Lao Tsu, the likely author of the Tao Te Ching wrote that wonderful collection of ideograms 500 years before the birth of Christ. The Tao is very spiritual and there are many Christian concepts that mirror what was written in the Tao Te Ching. Loosely translated, Tao Te Ching means “the way.”

I don’t really doubt that there was a man called Jesus who did travel around preaching and teaching, I just don’t think he was the literal son of god.

There are 18 years missing from the life of Christ. Some speculate that during those missing years, he was in the far east and India, learning and contemplating. That’s pretty easy for me to believe, well, easier than the virgin birth and the supernatural qualities attributed to Christ.

choicelady
Member

There are records of a man named Issa (Muslims name him Isa) in China, Tibet, etc. The man who pursued those records was – as you can imagine – scorned and dismissed, but…

To me this makes Jesus MORE important, not less so. What he taught is, if it derives from Tao, from Buddhism, from other ideas, is singular in its outcome, and it is designed for a Western audience and our cultural heritage. But for the narrow of belief and mind, such things are threats and scary, and so even if they are true, we have to kill the ideas and the messengers who bring them.

Sigh.

AlphaBitch
Member
AlphaBitch

Oh, CL- you are so right. I fell in love with Jesus and his teachings MORE after reading Lamb, which gave me insight to where and how he came up with these theories. I am fascinated that some seminaries are using this magnificent book. When I ordered it from Amazon, it never came; so I called to report. The guy who helped got SO excited – he said it was his dad’s favorite book in the world, and that he himself had purchased 10 copies as gifts. It’s a movement.

Now read Shane Claiborne’s the Irresistible Revolution. I promise, you will get it. I’ll send you one, and the Blov’s tome on Paul, if you want to get me your address via AdLib/Kalima. They have my email. – AB

KillgoreTrout
Member

Bito, who knows, could be. He did like his wine and hung out with fast women! 😉

KillgoreTrout
Member

Oh, without a doubt. I agree completely. I didn’t mean that Jesus was less important than those that taught before him, I was just implying that he was not the first one. There were many before him.

KQµårk 死神
Member

Like I alluded to above I think the prophet Jesus did indeed exist and taught those teachings.

AlphaBitch
Member
AlphaBitch

To Bito: They were The Missing Years, as John Prine wrote!! (and for which we named our sailboat).

John will be here in my hometown on September 24th. I’m going. Jesus! The Missing Years!

KillgoreTrout
Member

We are in agreement then. It would be very interesting to learn what Jesus did and where he was in that 18 year gap in his personal history.

bito
Member

Those were his drinking and partying years

choicelady
Member

It’s all Paul’s fault that the message got “churchified” and distorted.

KQ and Murph – the anthropological and historical evidence shows Jesus – a human being – did exist and, different from the prophets of his time – had this new message of inclusion, of prophetic vision on compassion toward all, and of making “rules” vastly less important than care for those needing both charity and justice.

Today’s Dominionists are not Christians because they have gone so far as to say the Beatitudes and other revolutionary teachings are “suspended” or “abolished” now that “End Times” are upon us. They follow Old Testament rules that Jesus said were NOT the point – that you can follow them (e.g. circumcision) but if you adhere to Old Testament rules but continue to ignore the drive toward compassion and inclusion, you have utterly betrayed the message.

Well Paul – who never knew Jesus – did a lot of that – he was obsessed with the place of sex in human lives, with the role of women, with the real message. His was a drive to make Christ the new King – a drive it was pretty clear Jesus himself never wanted. And so the fossilization of religion began with Paul. It took hundreds of years to accomplish, but insitutionalization did triumph.

It’s been a massive fight to get free of that rule-bound, purse-lipped form of religiosity to find the way to the light which is always a quest, never a destiny. That’s where the contemporary fight lies – imposing the old rules vs. pursuing the message and enlightenment.

AlphaBitch
Member
AlphaBitch

YEA Choice! The Blov once wrote a 33 page essay for our Sunday School class (VERY liberal Methodists) about “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, contrasting what Jesus taught and what Paul spewed. So very different! But you already know that. KQ should read Lamb, no?

choicelady
Member

Indeed, AB – KQ, KT, anyone who wants both great insight into this 18-year gap (there are real scholars pursuing the issue) and how Jesus fits into the world’s great spiritual inquiries really ought to read “Lamb” by Christopher Moore. It IS being used in a handful of seminaries and is based on real, if not at all widely accepted, scholarship.

Hats off to the Blov for all his work! Would love to read it someday!

KillgoreTrout
Member

Murph, thhis guy also plays fast and loose with the truth. I think he took John Adams statement out of context or he left a good bit out.
The founders themselves were very adamant about freedom of religion. They saw first hand, in Europe, what harm theocracies could bring about. They knew the dangerous consequences that could arise in a theocracy.

This part really gets me: “Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters.” Gohmert wants people to believe that virtue is the same a religion. Not true at all. He himself is living proof of this. I doubt that Franklin mistook virtue for religion, or vice versa. As far as “masters go, isn’t, god their supposed master? Is he implying that one must be good because some higher being will punish that person, severely? Genuine goodness, spirituality, does not require threats and punishments in order to exist. People who are genuinely spiritual need no arm twisting and condemnation to be virtuous. True virtue is self evident.

MurphTheSurf3
Editor

Your reading of the Founding Generation is accurate. It is more true to say that the Founders and Framers were most interested in freedom from the oppression of an institutionalized, state religion. The colonists had experienced this with the Anglicans in most of the colonies and with the Puritans in the upper colonies. Religion as an oppressive force was very much understood by them. They were also concerned about the power that corporate, that is, centralized, religious bodies were capable of wielding.

As to Franklin….the man was as sectarian as they get and along with Jefferson one of those who most certainly a deist. For him virtue is the equivalent of the Roman Word, virtus, meaning to have the courage of one’s convictions and to do ones best to uphold them.

choicelady
Member

Louie and his ilk forget that the reason the Constitution specifies that government will neither make nor unduly support any one religion is that Louie’s forebears, early Roger Williams Baptists, were prohibited from supporting their own views. Later, they were “tolerated” but still had to pay money to the government of the town to support the Congregational Church. Right before the revolution got going in earnest, King George decided to send all the colonies Anglican ministers to set up shop and mandate what you could believe and where you could worship. Not a move designed to let Louie’s rather convoluted version of Roger Williams’ “divine light” flourish.

See, Louie – this was all for you. Much as I loathe what y’all have turned your religion into, I’m happy my forebears – Congregational Imperialists – were not permitted to crush your forebears. I think American Exceptionalism is all about the right to be just as stupid and blind about anything you believe as you absolutely want to be. Maybe it was a mistake to give sanctuary to idiocy, but wow – if you can’t be free to worship outer space mechanical monsters, then this isn’t America! If you want to believe the highest good is being yanked out of your body and wrenched up to heaven, then – god bless ya, Louie -you go right on ahead and believe that.

But don’t you EVER tell me I have to believe that absurd rot as well.

Because that’s the other side of American Exceptionalism, Louie. You have no more authority over my faith than I do over yours. So STFU, Louie. Nobody is taking anything from you. Just be damned sure you don’t try to take it from us.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Well said CL. I really don’t think we are exceptional in the first place. Most democratic countries have freedom of religion. People like Gohmert keep saying we, the US, are exceptional. Maybe at one time we were, but no longer. I really have trouble wondering, in what way, is America exceptional?

choicelady
Member

KT – that came more out of the 19th century than is remotely reasonable today. We might have been exceptional at our openness to immigrants (though people forget the hostility to so many groups) to religious diversity and to, at times, cultural inclusion. When we’re not banning people and imposing restrictive covenants on our property, we’re pretty darned inclusive. Waxes and wanes a LOT however.

Hardly any developed nation I can think of requires fealty to a national church any longer. I would say there is blowback against Muslims etc. in FRance through the banning of hijabs etc., but Muslims no longer are required (as the French mandated in Algeria) to give up their entire way of life.

So that myth when you hear it is now a code: American Exceptionalism stands for Dominionist adherence. YOU and I are NOT part of that – only the “Christians” are. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, follower of the Tao or anyone else – we are not considered fulfillment of the AE experience. So what started as a statement of realistic pride in our Constitution now is code for “better be born again or look out”.

Bah!

MurphTheSurf3
Editor

Let me add to your most excellent exhortation just this:

The Anglican ministers were part of a state religion, an institutionalized, established church which was headed by the monarch.

As such the Anglican Church represented the church and state, both temporal and religious power and is that which those like Gohmert want to reestablish. They want to undo the American Revolution. This is consistent with the right which claims to be the Part of Small Government but wants to build the military even more, wants control over reproductive choices, wants to pass judgment on life style. In each and every case, priorities that run counter to the spirit of American Independence. Hypocrites, yes. Ignorant hypocrites, even worse.

choicelady
Member

Murph – they do want a theocracy, but they for sure don’t want it to be even conservative Anglican. They want it to be Dominionist End Times Born Again Literalists in charge of church AND state.

If you don’t read anything else, read the chapter on revisionist history by the Dominionists in Jeff Sharlet’s “The Family”. The chapter is “Through the Glass Darkly”, and it’s horrifying. It was also a stand alone article in Harper’s in (I think this is right) either Dec. 2005 or 2006. It’s the scariest thing EVER, and it scared the crap out of me that I knew every single person named in that meeting on religious rewrites of US history and had tangled with them over various issues. That means this movement rests in very few but very powerful hands.

They must be stopped!

bito
Member
bito
Member

We received an interesting tweet on your piece AdLib.
(I’ll leave out the name of the sender)

@PlanetPOV I just excoriated ThinkProgress for the same thing. No politics on the #theatershooting. Stop.

No mention whether he excoriated Louie.

(In his profile he describes himself as a “Republican, Patriot..”, I’ve often wonder about what that “patriot” actually means.)

choicelady
Member

bito – seriously, it means he has a gun and intends to use it. I’m not making that up.

bito
Member

Oh, I believe you, C’lady, you have the experiences to know. Luckily, I am not a public person and would have a difficult time tracking me down.

choicelady
Member

Yes, bito – you ARE hard to find. Even I don’t know where you are, and I LIKE you! Well done, my friend. Well done!

KillgoreTrout
Member

“Patriotism is the last vestage of a scoundrel.” I forget who said that, but it rings true with so many on the right.

bito
Member

KT, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), British author, lexicographer.

You might like this one:

Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill and calling for larger spurs and brighter beaks.[….]
Richard Aldington

choicelady
Member

Oh I LIKE that, bito, thank you!

KillgoreTrout
Member

Very, very good. I see the word patriotism as an action word. A concept that requires practical application in order to be meaningful. There are actions that could apply to being patriotic. Paying a fair share of taxes, especially without whining about it, like so many on the right do.

Thanks for giving me the author of both quotes. I often mistakenly give credit to Mark Twain for the scoundrel quote.

kesmarn
Admin

AdLib, this is one of the most eloquent and perceptive pieces you’ve ever written. One paragraph in particular really stood out for me:

This cult version of Christianity instead obsesses about dominance, hatred and the triviality of the lives of any who aren’t directly supporting or promoting their goals. It is a form of Christianity that packages up all of the traits of their alleged adversary, The Devil, and coats them with a sweet veneer of victimhood, self-righteousness and superiority that makes it easy for them to swallow all that nastiness and keep it inside of them in the name of “faith”.

Perfectly said.

I wonder if Gohmert and his ilk ever stop to consider another source for all the free-floating angst, anger and misery out there. (Besides not being able to mention Jesus at public high school graduations.) How about taking a look at Hate Radio and Hate TV? You know, Mr. Gohmert, your pal Limbaugh and his many national and local clones? And FUX “News”? Think they might have something to do with ratcheting up the paranoia and hysteria level? With fear and hate-mongering for profit? With the grab-your-gun-and-build-your-bunker-because-the-brown-people-are-coming-to-take-your-stuff mentality?

I guess I can answer my own question. I’m sure the answer is no.

🙁

KQµårk 死神
Member

Ditto excellent summary of the way the right uses religion as a cudgel to control weak minded Americans. This is a big way they indoctrinate middle America to vote against their personal interests. I’m drastically less eloquent than AdLib I call it pushing bullshyte values for political purposes.

Nirek
Member

Why do some people pervert the bible? It was written by man, interpreted and rewritten by other men several times. Some of the verses are contradicting of others. The extremists of any religion choose to take the worst parts of the Bible or Koran or whatever Holy Book they are reading.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Religion doesn’t corrupt men, men corrupt religion.