Wednesday, November 22, 2006

God and Oil: Why Religion Matters to the Peak Oil Movement

Among overeducated leftist types, I'm something an anomaly - a religious person. A majority of the people I know who are involved in the peak oil and environmentalist movements are secular people who are either not religious or consider themselves spiritual, rather than religious. Most of them perceive themselves as dissenting from a mass culture that presses people towards cultural conservativism, unethical social practices, lack of concern for social justice and adherence to conservative Christianity. They tend to perceive religion as manipulative, often very negative in its effects, and anti-intellectual.

I also spend time working with and talking to fellow homesteaders, people who for various reasons have gone back to the land to subsistence agriculture, or small farming. And a large percentage of people in the homesteading movement are religious - the majority of whom are devout Christians. Overwhelmingly, these are people who perceive themselves as engaged in the practice of self-sufficiency, thrift and agriculture as part of a religious obligation. They see themselves as dissenting from a mass culture that encourages sexual immorality, lack of concern for community and traditional values, and adherence to a secular culture. They tend to perceive secular culture and its adherents as manipulative, negative in its effects and elitist.

I find the symmetry of distress between those secular folks who feel themselves oppressed by a religious majority that believes them naive and without principle; and those religious folk who seem themselves as minority in a largely secular world, assumed to be unthinking idiots by those who "think for themselves" both amusing and disturbing, because it represents a failure of natural allies to recognize one another. After all, adherence to any sort of moral philosophy is sufficiently rare in this day and age that I would imagine that instead of assuming the worst ofone another, secular and religious adherents of principle might make some useful alliances. Indeed, I believe strongly that the peak oil and environmentalist movements can only succeed if they work through synagogues, churches, mosques and temples across the world.

While there are some brands of faith and faithlessness that will probably never reconcile themselves to one another, the human majority, as always, probably stands closer to the middle ground than any of us think. All religions have their fundamentalists, but to judge a faith on its most extreme believers is kind of like judging all of capitalism's good and ill on the ground of one reading of Ayn Rand's collected works. And dismissing humanism, or Neitzcheism or socialism or any other philosophical grounding because it is not centered upon G-d is equally shortsighted.

The simple fact is that in a statistical sense, more people are subject to religious arguments than not, and there are compelling theological arguments in every faith for taking peak oil and global warming seriously. We also need to engage humanists and secularists as well - the grounds for ethical action inthe future can never be primarily or solely theological grounds - that way lies factionalism and represssion. We need to recognize that there is a philosophical category of both religious and non-religious anti-modernists out there, people whose overriding common interest is in exploring the ways that modern industrial capitalism has failed us - morally, personally, economically. I do not pretend that issues like abortion or gay marriage don't matter - they do. But they are secondary to the shared bond of the leftist environmentalist and the conservative Christian who both knwo with a queasy horror that something about our society is fundamentally, utterly wrong, bereft of integrity and truth. That common ground is powerful, and potentially transformative.

It is a mistake, and a foolish one, for secular thinkers denythat a tremendous amount of power lies in religion. While evidence for both the positive and disastrous power of religion abound, there is no question that religious communities of all sorts represent a power that can bedirected to changing the world for the better. If we are to soften our landing at all, and prevent total disaster, we need the grace ofG-d (if such exists) and the works of man brought together - we need the grounds of reason and the grounds of deferral to whatever higher power or principle you prefer. Both religious people and activists represent a kind of resistance against a populace that often seems to adhere to no principles at all, that exercises no discipline upon desire, and often seems to care for nothing greater than the next thing. Both are people who willingly subjugate their desires to a greater good, although their assessment of what is the greater good often differs. And all of them are adept at conversations about how we should begin to live better.

People who believe are not morons - I cannot persuade anyone who doesnot believe of this, but a sense of immanence is just a thing, a sort of awareness, a kind of meta-kinesthesia. My own experience of the divine is that I know G-d is there in the same way I am aware of having a tongue, in a totally inexplicable and preconscious manner. That others do not share this has always, since early childhood, been a bit of a surprise to me. I am aware that this makes me a lunatic by secular standards. But it does not make me unreasoning or dumb. If you are going to accuse believers of anything, make it madness, not stupidity. After all, the debt of secular thinking of theology is profound and essential, and cannot be erased. Science, mathematics, philosophy, literature, art...they were all to a large degree formed by people who believed profoundly in G-d and weren't fools. I can think of nothing more likely to undermine any movement to engage the whole populace than it being led by people who (covertly or not) believe that all religious people are imbeciles, or that they are all of a piece, incapable of making individual decisions.

At the same time, it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge that choosing to work outside of a theological framework for morality is often an act of courage, one that requires you to locate or draw on a less accessible template of ethical action. Those who do not believe in G-d are not amoral, and I am certain that there are those who know that G-d is unreal down to their bones, in the same way I believe that G-d is real. Denying the truth of that is an insult to others, and unworthy of us. Ultimately, Jews believe that our actions, not our interior thoughts, or beliefs are what we are held responsible for, and what matters most is that we are engaged in Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world. Those who do that work, no matter what their beliefs or their reasons are the righteous of the world, and I propose that may be a useful way for us to think about this - of righteousness as engagement in transformation. The righteous are the righteous, no matter on what grounds they act, and they deserve honor.

Right now, conservative Christians are engaged in a dialogue on global warming and environmentalism. They are struggling to find their place, and to determine what faith calls them to do. Members of other faiths are also newly engaged, recognizing that whether G-d created the world or it came to being some other way, we have an obligation to mend what we have broken. Peak oil will break on the public consciousness soon enough, and members of religious communities and secular ones will have to decide whether and how they want to talk to one another. Now is the time to look to one another as natural allies. Will it be difficult? Of course. But the stakes are these - if we cannot make both secular and religous moral arguments that convince one another to work together, we're doomed. So let us begin.

Shalom,

Sharon

11 comments:

farmgirl said...

Hi Sharon,

I think the reason so many so-called "secular" people think "religious" people are morons (in this country anyway) is because of the Christian fundamentalists' wide-reaching attempts to control the lives and bodies of others here. People are not reacting to their religion, or even their religosity - they are reacting instead to all the condemnation, the hate-filled rhetoric, and the santimonious damnation of those of us who do not believe exactly as these conservative Christians do. It is not about their religion at all really - it is about their nasty attitude. It is about their willingness to cause pain to others, and then to deny that pain. I believe secular so-called "rejection of religion" to simply be a normal reaction to conservative fundamentalism in all societies.

In addition, I do not believe that there are all that many purely secular people to begin with - just because a person is not called religious because they do not follow an organized religion does not mean they do not hold their spirituality just as faithfully and intensely as any "true believer." The line I draw is not in faith - "this person believes in God, that person doesn't" - the lines I draw are in the various faiths' delivery and implementation. In other words, conservative Christians have a lot of work to do on themselves before they will make useful partners for those of us who feel our connection to God in alternate ways. It is a bit difficult to talk about global warming and over-population with someone who believes they have the right to force me to have babies.

I have never met a "secular" person who wished to impose their personal spiritual views upon other people, especially not in the comprehensive way that "religious" people do this. More secular folks view conservative Christians as attempting to insert themselves into other people's lives because that is actually what these fundamentalists have been doing. On the flip side, Christians who believe that secular society is imposing its own secularity upon them are simply mistaken - because no one is actually forcing them to do, or to believe, anything. No one is passing laws against them; no one stands between them and their "personal relationship with God."

I believe that at the heart of the "difference" between many religious folks, and those who have their own ideas about God, is fear. There are many, many (highly vocal) conservative religious people whose fear of change, fear of losing control (of themselves, of others, of life), fear of the natural world (including sexuality), fear of the "other," and fear of ambiguity leads them further and further into a self-imposed isolation. These are deeply insecure people, and while you can make the case that not all religous people are into controlling others, in fact these dominionists have been representing religion in this country. When this is the face they show the world, it should come as no surprise that those less fearfully insecure might refer to them as hateful and stupid and controlling. These folks need to get past their fears before they will be able to hold dialogue that is useful to all people. At the very least many of us shake our heads at it all in exasperation and begin to recognize that this is why we have become "secular."

But for me to be called secular says more about a person's lack of understanding of this dynamic than it does about my own faith. I don't go to any church at all, and I swear by no Bible. I do not subscribe to any one religious doctrine, and I reject attempts to strictly define who or what God is. Hence, I am told I am "secular." But - I will argue until the cows come home that my understanding of faith and God and Love is every bit as profound, every bit as faithful, every bit as holy, as yours, or as the fundamentalist's next door.

This is why the conservative Christians' overreaching power-grab has been so pernicious and damaging to any kind of inclusive dialogue: faith is deeply personal and cannot be pigeon-holed into such large, sweeping generalizations as "religous" and "secular," or even "Christian," "Jewish", or "fundamentalist." We use these words in an attempt to describe, but it always ends up falling apart in semantics.

But in the end I am at once as disgusted by the Jerry Falwells of the world as I am inspired by the Jim Wallises. We could be natural allies indeed, so long as each respects the other. I respect the rights of religious fundamentalists to feel and believe whatever they choose - most "secularists" do - but so far there is a sizable majority of religious conservatives who do not in turn respect the rights of us so-called "secular" folks in the least.

jewishfarmer said...

Well, there's a lot here to comment on. I guess I don't think the term "secular" is in any way derogatory. I agree with you that many people who are spiritual hold to that spirituality with a strong intensity - but since the word "secular" means something that is enacted as a primarily human, rather than theological pursuit, I think most people in the world *are* secular people. It is perfectly possible to be spiritual and secular, and it is in no way demeaning to call them that. Since "secular" means making your choices in the public realm based on public, human concerns, I guess I would ask you to clarify how that is inaccurate.

And I disagree with the premise that most people aren't secular in their focus - I think mostly they are, which doesn't say anything about you in particular. The dominant religion in the US is capitalism. In fact, I'd argue some religious people are more secular than religious, to the extend that they have allowed our particular form of fundamentalist capitalism to override any theological focus. Which is why I think that those who have not - who include a subset of conservative Christians - are potentially natural allies.

I agree with you that some strains of evangelical protestantism seek to impose certain viewpoints upon others - but others do not. I know many Christian fundamentalists, and Christian fundamentalist groups that don't seek public political power. We tend to tar them all with the same brush, and vice versa. This does not lend itself to useful dialogue.
It is true that those that seek power are more in evidence than those that don't, but that would be true of the left, too.

The conventional narrative of the left (of which I am part) is that we believe in tolerance, live and let live, and that they are hate-filled intolerant bigots who want to hurt others. Implicitly, they are that way because they are dumb, ignorant hicks (hmm, what is percolating under that...). (I am not saying *you* said these things, but describing how I perceive the public account of Christian fundamentalism on the left).

I think that narrative makes us feel good about ourselves, but it also denies a lot of realities to make us feel good. For example, the left has also often sought to impose its values, in ways that are equally painful to people who believe differently. For example, I am a strong believer in choice. On the other hand, I recognize that if I believed that an 8 week old fetus was a human being, I would be willing to do just about anything in order to keep it from being killed, just as I would an 8 week old infant. One person's "attempt to control the lives and bodies of others" is another person's vote for justice, and our inability to see that is part of the problem (and again, vice versa).

Your post is full of a lot of name calling - their rhetoric is "hate-filled," "sanctimonious," they are willing to "cause pain to others and then to deny that pain." They are fearful, and cruel, and every imaginable mean thing anyone could say about them. We are too reacting to their religion, and religiosity, in the sense that we are absolutely outraged that our own worldview, which we believe is right and true and more just than theirs, could be rejected.

Well, all those things may be true at times, as they are also true of those of us on the left. For example, the American urban left has been willing to colonize, demean and strip the knowledge and wealth of farmers for the last few generations, most of them devout Christian farmers, while dismissing what they know is valueless. Those acts were hateful, cruel, vicious, done sanctimoniously and ultimately probably far more destructive than anything anyone has ever come up with about gay marriage or posting the 10 commandments.

If we're to talk to them - I mean really talk - we're going to have look at the motes in our own eyes. We're going to have to talk about our failures - including lack of respect, and acknowledge that it comes from both sides. I'm afraid your post is a really good example - clearly, you don't have any respect for them. You portray them as horrible people, call them names and attack them in every conceivable way. Maybe they started it - but someone has to stop first.

You say they are fearful. But so are we. We're afraid that if we actually spoke to them, we might have to acknowledge that we aren't always better off when we've shrugged off certain conventions of honor and discipline, and certain cultural values. We might have to admit that while we on the left had moments of great heroism, we also had failures that reverbated harmfully, and that those on the right might legitimately focus on those failures, just as we do on theirs.

And we might ultimately be able to admit that our differences in worldview don't extend to every issue. I care very passionately, for example (as I've posted about here before) that gay people be allowed to marry. My mothers are lesbians, married in Massachusetts, and I was furious and heartbroken when the NY State Supreme Court decided against gay marriage. But I can save the planet with someone who believes homosexuality is one of the fundamental evils in the world - heck, my mothers can work with them and save the planet with them. We do not have to draw straight lines with everyone who believes one whole set of things on one side and everyone who believes another whole set on the other. In fact, we *CAN'T* - because doing so would be a disaster. If we demand, as you suggest, that conservative Christians stop believing what they believe, or acting in the political sphere based on what they believe, they will dismiss peak oil and climate change, and working with us. And we will fail - we simply can't afford to throw away that much of the populace. And our failure will be a disaster.

The first and foremost project on every side of this issue is to get the hell over ourselves, and stop trying to make other people be different. We can play nice with the other kids, and save the world. That doesn't mean giving up *our* principles - it means finding common ground and using it. Anything else is, IMHO, self-serving, and I don't want it to be said of me that I was so self-serving I let the planet fall to rot.

Sharon

farmgirl said...

You wrote in the original post:

"They [secularists] tend to perceive religion as manipulative, often very negative in its effects, and anti-intellectual."

and,

"It is a mistake, and a foolish one, for secular thinkers denythat a tremendous amount of power lies in religion. While evidence for both the positive and disastrous power of religion abound, there is no question that religious communities of all sorts represent a power that can bedirected to changing the world for the better. If we are to soften our landing at all, and prevent total disaster, we need the grace ofG-d (if such exists) and the works of man brought together - we need the grounds of reason and the grounds of deferral to whatever higher power or principle you prefer."

This is what I meant when things degenerate into semantics. In your original post, you seemed to assume that "secular" people simply are those who do not believe in God in a "religious" sense, or who foolishly dismiss religion. This is why I wrote that being secular does not preclude intense faith, and that being "spiritual" and being religious are essentially the same thing - what us "secular" people are reacting to is not religiosity, it is the damning attitudes of others who call themselves religious. We are reacting to exactly those conservative religious folks' unwillingness to cooperate with their fellow citizens. In other words, you set this up as two sides needing to cooperate and recognize each other, and I see it as quite one-sided. You are buying into the argument that secular society is overwhelming folks' religious freedom when it is not; when they are causing, and are responsible for, their own isolation. It is the right-wing religious folks themselves, who are attempting to restrict religious freedom for all. The rest of us can only wait for them to overcome their irrational fears.

Then (in your original post) you go on to describe your faith, as though to educate us "secular" people:

"My own experience of the divine is that I know G-d is there in the same way I am aware of having a tongue, in a totally inexplicable and preconscious manner. That others do not share this has always, since early childhood, been a bit of a surprise to me. I am aware that this makes me a lunatic by secular standards."

You wrote as though a secular person might not understand your experience of the divine. You framed your argument in stark "believes in God," "does not believe in God" terms that simply do not apply to most of us. If anything, to me your post seemed to be an attempt to champion the point of view of the traditional conservative religious, which I have no problem with as long as you do not misrepresent the problem between these right-wing zealots and the rest of us. The problem is not their religion or anyone's religosity or lack of it. The problem is one of attitude and attempts at control. The problem is that many (and there are very, very many if you have ever lived in the South) of these people blindly supporting a fascistic re-organization of society. This stands in direct conflict with the rest of the citizenry, whether secular or not: allowing religious freedom for everyone. I am all for dialogue for everyone, but when one person at the table is attempting to gag everyone else, that problem must be dealt with first.

"Right now, conservative Christians are engaged in a dialogue on global warming and environmentalism."

I am glad they are, however late to the party. Leftists and "secularists" have been engaged in that dialogue for decades.

"I know many Christian fundamentalists, and Christian fundamentalist groups that don't seek public political power. We tend to tar them all with the same brush, and vice versa."

Then we must be careful not to tar the rest of us with that "secular" brush either.

"The conventional narrative of the left (of which I am part) is that we believe in tolerance, live and let live, and that they are hate-filled intolerant bigots who want to hurt others."

Unfortunately the truth is that as a group they are in fact and in action, intolerant and bigoted: they directly subscribe to beliefs about people that do not allow for differences, and instead fear them. They directly support, finance, and pass laws to restrict the freedom of others: to marry, to plan their families, to pray to their own Gods. They do not live and let live. They each personally may not think they hurt others, but by their actions and words and tithing they in fact do, and I believe they should take responsibility for this willful ignorance. For me this goes back to an old excuse: "well, I didn't mean to do it." Their intentions matter little – action is what counts. Their religion is Christianity, overwhelmingly. But I don't see Christianity itself as the problem - rather it is their interpretation of it: in other words, their behavior and actions. What these folks have done and are doing, is to attempt to constrict and control the rest of us and to force us to their own view. Secularists simply do not do this. There is a world of difference between arguing a point of persuasion and imposing a law against specific people.

"One person's "attempt to control the lives and bodies of others" is another person's vote for justice."

This is patently untrue. I have no problem seeing that they believe differently. That part is crystal clear. But these people plain and simple have exactly zero right to force me or any other woman to have a baby, to use or not use birth control, or have or not have, an abortion. You call yourself a strong believer in choice. Well, this conflict of belief is not about murder or even about human life. If they cared about murder and human life, they wouldn't send their children off to war, vote for pro-war presidents, or cheer on public executions. If this were about human life, they would be en masse in demonstration down at the White House right now. But they are not, and this is not about human life, it is about who gets to choose the outcome of personal decisions, in particular sexual ones. I am sorry for them, that these folks have chosen to believe that only human life within a woman's womb should be sanctified, but that is their choice (!) isn't it. No one is forcing them to believe this, and no one should force me to believe it either. On top of this, you are entirely ignoring the past several thousand years' worth of Christian-enforced domination and control of women and their bodies as doctrine, as though it has no bearing on the matter. It does.

"We are too reacting to their religion, and religiosity, in the sense that we are absolutely outraged that our own worldview, which we believe is right and true and more just than theirs, could be rejected."

I am not outraged that my world view is being rejected. I am outraged that these people are literally, physically, and legally attempting to legislate my personal behavior and beliefs. Big difference.

"For example, the American urban left has been willing to colonize, demean and strip the knowledge and wealth of farmers for the last few generations, most of them devout Christian farmers, while dismissing what they know is valueless."

This is an outrageous statement! Since when has the "American urban left" been at fault for all of this? I don't know where you got this one, but it seems you pulled it out of thin air. I grew up on a farm, and last time I checked it was right-leaning corporate interests (there's that fascism again) that have overwhelmingly dominated the demise of small farmers everywhere, and for the last several decades. You should back up that statement of yours, because that was totally b.s. as far as I am concerned.

"You portray them as horrible people, call them names and attack them in every conceivable way."

This is an exaggeration. I am not attacking them, and certainly not in every conceivable way. I am making a very specific point here: that they have dug their own hole, and for you to argue that all we need to do is listen to each other is simplistic. We listen to them, plenty. All we do is hear from them. A good example is last year's hysteria over a War on Christmas. Our society is literally dominated by Christmas every year, and it is simply ridiculous that this segment of society can commandeer the airwaves over such an invented persecution, going on and on and on about it. This is not dialogue, this is a one-way pathology. Their perceived persecutions are invented out of whole cloth, just like your incredible leftists-are-killing-the-farms fabrication. As I said previously, no one is stepping on their rights to believe whatever they wish. But their rights end where mine begin, and it's high time for a little honesty.

"You say they are fearful. But so are we. We're afraid that if we actually spoke to them, we might have to acknowledge that we aren't always better off when we've shrugged off certain conventions of honor and discipline, and certain cultural values."

Half my family is fundamentalist Christian. I have "actually spoken" with them for my whole life. I have followed the antics of the James Dobson-Jerry Falwell crowd for a long time, and it appears to me that you are engaged in wishful thinking. There is a big problem with fear out there, and it is coming loud and clear from their quarter. While I am sure there may be secular folks out there who are “afraid” to hear from these fundamentalists, the truth is we all hear from them all the time and cannot escape it. Our entire country lives with it daily. And I do not see anyone, secular or “spiritual,” or "leftist," who is forcing them to believe any differently than they do. No one is persecuting Christians here, no matter how many monsters under the bed they see. When a segment of society (conservative Christians) goes after another (gay people, women, illegal aliens), it should be called what it is: bad behavior, and it should not be “tolerated.” As I said before, this is not about religion really, it is about a nasty attitude. For me, your post epitomizes a loss of understanding in our country right now of our Constitution, and of what religious freedom means. Of course dialogue is not served by homogenizing everyone’s views, but it is shut down completely when one side attempts to conscribe the others’. That conscription attempt is only coming from one side.

"We do not have to draw straight lines with everyone who believes one whole set of things on one side and everyone who believes another whole set on the other."

Again, I am not in the least suggesting such a thing. What I am saying is, it is impossible to work towards a common goal if your goals are separate! You seem to be unaware that there is a huge population of fundamentalist Christian folks who fervently believe in the Rapture, and quite literally make poor partners in saving the planet because of this. As I said earlier, we can only wait until they move beyond their irrational fears.

"If we demand, as you suggest, that conservative Christians stop believing what they believe, or acting in the political sphere based on what they believe, they will dismiss peak oil and climate change, and working with us."

Again, I demanded no such thing. I am asking them to stop imposing their beliefs on me, and I have been quite clear about this. You are inventing my argument to suit your own. The fact is, most of the conservative Christians have roundly rejected global warming and climate change from the very beginning. There are some wonderful evangelicals (such as Jim Wallis) who are beginning to bring this new consciousness to the Christian community now, but as I said previously, they are very late to the party. No one is "throwing them away," and certainly I am not. But you behave as though they were uninvited, when they themselves have refused clear invitation for a very long time.

No one is forcing fundamentalist Christians to change their beliefs. The fact is, their beliefs are changing anyway, on their own, and it scares the hell out of them. This is why they flail and grasp and attempt to clamp down on society. But just because I can see this, just because I can recognize their growing pains doesn't mean I should look the other way when their process hurts others.

Cindy Wineburgh said...

Sharon, this is an old thread so I'm not sure you will read my comment. Enjoy the blog - I live in Yellow springs, love your e-mail - my husband George would compete for it, however. Organic gardener, nonreligious but cultural ties. Have you read Crunchy Cons? It refers to some of this. However, I lean more to Jewish Renewal or what Gershon Winkler teaches as mystical Jewish land religion - and I was raised Protestant and was a yogi for years. I am grateful to Elizabeth Bauchner of the Ithaca Community News for publicizing Sustainable Tompkins- my husband and I feel some ties to Ithaca though we no longer can make it back - so I live a vicarious, virtual existence in Tompkins County. A pieceworker leftist medical transcriptionist (former grad student in urban environmental planning myself) but husband tops me - a former radiologist who never fit into medicine-as-business. I think parts of Ithaca could deal with us, but I find Yellow Springs much more money- and status-focused than you seem to have been made aware of during the conferences you attended here - too bad. I like to sew also.

jewishfarmer said...

Farmgirl, I guess all I can say is that I think your post is a really good example of the barriers that exist. There's so much anger on your part against the religious right - and it isn't even anger that is unjustified. But I don't think we have the luxury of hanging on to it.

I won't debate you point by point, except to say that I think we on the left are going to have to grant people on the right good faith, which you haven't done. You say they don't really believe in life because they aren't expressing their concern about life in the way you would. But, realistically, they might make the counter argument that if we truly cared about life, we wouldn't just be marching against war, we'd be preventing abortion. I honestly believe most people on the right are sincere, although like you I think their alliegence to the abortion issue, rather than focusing on the needs of actual people who are here is misguided. That said, however, the same critique could be levelled at us - we are not consistent either.

You say that they can act politically any way they want, as long as they don't impose themselves on you. Well, realistically, political action generally results in imposing other people's ideas on you, for both left and right. For example, social welfare programs supported by the left require the economic support (however minimal) of the right as well. Wars caused by liberal presidents and conservative ones kill both liberal and conservative people's children. The eminent domain attacks on private property created by liberal judges on the Supreme Court affect liberals and conservative property rights equally.

Well, the reality is that the political process doesn't work in a live-and-let-live methodology, so saying so is specious. We create political policies that affect both those who like them and those who don't. So when you say they can work for what they believe, but they can't impose their right to have a baby on you, that's silly. Of course they can, if they manage to persuade enough people in the US to agree with them - just like if you and I manage to persuade enough people to agree with us, we can make sure that their kids can have abortions no matter how badly the parents want to prevent it. We've repeatedly rejected the live-and-let-live model - when we said seperate but equal was unconstitutional, for example. And since we've picked majority rules democracy, they can outnumber us. Actually, if you look at the birthrate, they probably will.

I understand how angry you are at them, I just think that your anger is not more productive than theirs.

Now I agree with you that the Christian narrative of persecution is pretty ridiculous (and actually pretty funny). But it is a manufactured narrative, offered up by some public figures and bought by some people. Rather like a lot of us on the left pretend that there's a reasonable choice between our nice, tolerant system that doesn't impose on anyone and their bigoted system that forces other people into doing things that are hateful and terrible. Let us indeed be honest - we're each fighting politically for the right to impose what we believe is a more just system upon the other. And no one is fully free of the political system we impose.

Regardless, I think it is also important to note that it is you, not me, who thinks you fall in the "secular" category. You are clearly outraged that I would set up this division - but I didn't define you or anyone else that way. I described my experience of faith not to educate you, but to describe my experience of faith. But there are plenty of people in the world who have no such experience, and demean the heck out of anyone who has one. Maybe you've not encountered that, but I have, quite often. I don't claim that people who have private religious or spiritual experiences are secular at all. But I also am a bit mystified as to why you think the category of secular doesn't exist - have you never met an athiest, or someone who dismissed religion?

Ultimately, I don't think we're going to agree here.

Sharon

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

福~
「朵
語‧,最一件事,就。好,你西.............................................................................................................
..................

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