Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Sniping Continues

I've been cranky lately, hence, the preponderance of politics and cheap shots in my recent posts. The trend continues in my Smile Politely column this week: A Touch of Crazy, where I make snide remarks about Michael Gerson, Cal Thomas, and the News Gazette Commentary page.

Maybe I'm just gearing up for my upcoming family reunions...

29 comments:

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Maybe you've been writing about politics lately, but they haven't sounded cranky and there really aren't any cheap shots. Some of those shots come at the cost of a multi-trillion dollar deficit!
You want cranky, read my last two posts or the 4th of July crank fest.

lls said...

The person who wrote the "global warming is a hoax" letter to the editor in the Mennonite Weekly Review that came today is my uncle, and my ex-Amish, slightly-out-of-it grandpa has previously stated that all Palestinians are terrorists. On the other side, I've got cousins who don't think women should be pastors, while I'm working on my M.Div. I welcome all tips for surviving family reunions.

Dan S said...

Hey Big Bear, thanks for commenting. I really enoyed your posts on Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. I visited them right after college, but didn't consider what a slap in the face it must be to the Lakota (for Mt Rushmore especially). Yea, you may sound crankier, but you have better reason to be cranky.

Lora, I don't have great advice for family reunions, other than avoiding politics all together. I'm often the one doing the baiting though but have lived to regret it, so my new policy is only to fight back. :)

lls said...

I've tried avoidance but it doesn't always work; my newest tactic is to refuse to get into it even when the subject comes up. Somehow with family I become far more cranky and less able to reason intelligently than with friends or even strangers...

Robert Sievers said...

Tell me how a religion that teaches its adherents that it is appropriate to kill me should be tolerated.

Dan, you taught me something. Remember our conversation about tolerating intolerance? You taught me that such paradoxes are not really there, but rather such are required exceptions to the rule. Freedom means you can do anything you want as long is it doesn't result in the abolishment of freedom.

How someone like yourself who champions human rights could even compare the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad, even obliquely, is astonishing.

Fingtree said...

Jesus' middle name was 'Hussein'.
Both Muhammad and Jesus H Christ subsisted in the Middle East, that's comparable. Both followers of the many spin off religions of each, have slaughtered thousands/millions through the years and continue today. I really don't see any difference at all.

PG said...

I just wanted to write something here so I can get notifications when someone adds a comment.

My first cousin lived in Wyoming, her husband was a state senator, and they were friends with Dick and Lyn Cheney and had them over for dinner.

I don't even want to go to their funerals, let alone a family reunion.

lls said...

How someone like yourself who champions human rights could even compare the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad, even obliquely, is astonishing.

I'm not Dan but I'm going to take a stab at this anyway because I'm sympathetic to the question. I'm really curious, first of all, who is defining what Islam is (i.e. a religion that teaches its adherents that it is appropriate to kill you). Is it American media, Saudi Muslims, Indonesian Muslims, your next door neighbor? Source is really important, for two reasons. One, because every religion should be allowed the dignity of defining itself -- and Muslims have some of the same arguments as Christianity in terms of seeing their religion as instructing peaceful living vs. advocating violence. And two, because people of various religions have imposed their own understandings and emphases on other religions, and then have used it to denounce the other religion and all its adherents. Simone Weil is a perfect example--a French mystic born in the early 1900s who understood the Old Testament as so violent that she completely dismissed Judaism. Her writings, while there is a brilliance in them, are tainted to this day by her antisemitic opinions -- ones that came, I might add, at a painfully pertinent time in history.

To put all adherents of a religion into the same boat is no more fair than to say that all American Christians are right-wing fundamentalists who can't think for themselves. You may identify with a more conservative strand of faith (and politics) but you are obviously quite capable of thinking for yourself.

PG said...

Comparing all Muslims to the extremists is like comparing all Christians to the polygamist sects in the Western United States.

Dan S said...

I would put it much more crassly than lls: Bob, I don't trust you or Cal Thomas to teach me about Islam any more than I would trust a partisan Muslim to teach me about Christianity. Your goal in sharing information about Islam is to discredit it, not to find bits of truth in it.

And you know I don't believe any religion should advocate murder. But they all do, according to some of their adherents. If you don't want to tolerate books that say we should kill adulterers, then you are advocating that the Bible not be tolerated. See Lev 20:10. Should the government shut down Christian schools because they are brainwashing their kids to kill adulterers? Isn't that what Cal Thomas would say if he were a Muslim?

I don't know much about Islam, but I do know that it can't be reduced to what its radicals believe. If we did that, we'd have to reduce Christianity to what its radicals believe, and then I couldn't call myself Christian anymore.

Hundreds of millions of Muslims believe their religion is one of peace, and manage not to murder people for apostasy and adultery, despite so many opportunities to do so. Of course, there are hundreds of millions of Christians who believe their religion is one of peace, and yet how many supported the invasion of Iraq? There's plenty of shortcomings to go around.

Robert Sievers said...

Let's all be clear. Nobody wants to set up straw man arguments here.

Dan, while I am glad you quoted the Bible, surely you understand the reason for the Mosaic law. Are there really ANY Christians who believe we should live by its consequences? Of thousands of sects, I doubt that you could find one that believes that, so quoting that verse in such a way is really irrelevent.

As for whose brand of Islam we are talking about, of course there are many types of Muslims. There were originally 300,000 Hadith, of which about 10,000 were finally deemed reliable as sunnah. So which of the 10,000 Hadith any particular Muslim practices will have quite an influence on their brand of Islam. Obviously. Yes, yes, all generalizations are wrong. (Wait, wasn't that a generalization)

However, the vast majority of Muslims believe in al-taqiyya, and its application to far more reaching situations than avoiding persecutation. (Qur'an 3:28, 5:51, 16:106) They also follow Muhammad's example of the treaty of Hudaibiya, which instructs them to conceal true intentions until a majority can be achieved.

Shaikh Al-Faisal said it best regarding jihad in the West when he noted that the time is not right; there aren't enough Muslims yet.

PG said...

Robert, if you want to pursue your relationship with the Muslims of the world in this fashion, it is your right. It is unChristian and unethical, but it is your right. As for Christians obeying the letter of the law, let me just say that gay people continue to suffer, be bashed, and condemned from the pulpit based upon some jots and tittles of the "Law" that have no bearing on reality. Nevertheless, gayness remains one of the top two motivating issues in (Republican) American politics today.

brownie the peaceful said...

"Love your neighbor as yourself."
-the big J.

That pretty much sums it up for me. If I want to support war, then I should support my family and friends being vaporized, burnt, or maimed along with me.

Sound like much fun?

PG said...

I blame football. The "We're Number One" mentality. Party spirit. The "us vs. them" mindset. I don't think Jesus recognized a "them."

Robert Sievers said...

pg,

You are confusing obediance to the law with consequences for disobediance.

brownie,

Indeed. If whites and blacks in our contry were having a civil war, killing each other mercilessly, and our nation was lead by a racist participating in the slaughter, and Iraq came in to sort it out, I would welcome them. Good job quoting the golden rule, You can never go wrong with that.

Robert Sievers said...

Finally,

Let us make no mistake. Islam is an assault on the gospel of Christ, but a Muslim is soul for whom Christ died.

It is possible to love someone even though you know their religion is destructive. Can anyone hear love someone who sins? Yes, of course, but that doesn't mean we don't them to stop.

Robert Sievers said...

Oh, and while we are at it, will anyone here prove me wrong. Please find a Christian parallel to this from ANY country.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uPEF7pdRD0

PG said...

Robert, I am not confusing anything regarding the law and consequences. Religious dogmatists like yourself selectively choose Bible verses (regarding homosexuality in particular) to oppress people, create enemies, and wield power. That said, I recognize that talking to you is impossible and YEARS ago I gave up engaging in conversations such as these. They only encourage hardliners like yourself. I generally don't do it. Sometimes I try to be funny, though. If you are trying to convince us that your ideas are valid and best and our opinions are for shit, well, you might try something humorous sometime. So far, I'm not laughing. Sighing a little Al Gore sigh perhaps, but not laughing.

PG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PG said...

I watched that YouTube video. Almost as disgusting as Fox News.

The sin of U.S. television is more subtle. It makes our children worship consumerism.

Speaking of consumerism, I saw Wall*E last night. I understand some don't like it for its depiction of our consumer society and the CONSEQUENCES. Brilliant movie.

Dan S said...

"Other people are worse" isn't much of a defense.

But here's a good video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=309MCU8TonE&feature=related

Robert Sievers said...

Dan,

"Other people are worse" is not my arugment. "Other people are the same" was yours. I was just pointing out the differences to show your argument did not hold up under the facts.

pg,

Yes, you and I will never agree. I view all unrepentant sin as bad, whether homosexuality or adultery. At least since you don't condemn any of it, you are being consistent.

PG said...

Did I say I approve of adultery? Actually, I find it hard to approve of divorce. The church I grew up in taught me that if you got divorced, you shouldn't remarry, as that would be adultery. Then, when it started happening in such numbers as to be unwieldy, suddenly, well, it became, if not OK, then at least tolerated. You make a lot of assumptions, Robert. And you know nothing about what it means to be gay.

Fingtree said...

Robert Seivers; you are the authority of nothing, yet you come off so ostentatiously overweening.

Robert Sievers said...

pg,

You are right. I know nothing about being gay. The sins I struggle with are indeed different. However, I make no excuses for them. I certainly don't complain that "God made me this way", so I should just do what I want, when I want, and how I want.

PG said...

I'd say right now your biggest and most obvious sin is insisting on judging gay people as sinners. It's not your call, Robert.

As I said before, you haven't the remotest clue of what it means to be faced with the realization -- usually as a teenager -- that you are gay. You have no idea how that feels and what kind of terror and vertigo can set in (particularly when you've been raised to think of it as an abomination). And then to be confronted by righteous people who persist in condemning you -- for something you had nothing to do with -- is unbelievably daunting.

Think about it, Robert. Really.

Robert Sievers said...

pg,

You are right. Its not my call to judge whether homosexual behavior is a sin. It's God's pervue.

Either you accept what He says, or you don't. If you don't, then by all means, don't judge me for judging people, because hey, who are YOU to tell me what I can and can't do. You have long ago judged me, for nothing other than opinion.

And while I cannot know what it is like to face that reality, I have had my own challenges realizing which of my natural inclinations go against God's ordained order. If you are arguing that being gay is somehow a tougher struggle then say, having desire for multiple woman at once, by all means, make the arguemnt.

PG said...

I am sure you have faced struggles, Robert. We all have. I'm sure yours are as difficult as anyone's. But you keep smuggling in the notion that gay realities are going against God's will. I'll pull a Stanley Hauerwas here and say flat-out, you are wrong. Gayness is a gift from God, in my opinion, based on my reading and study of the Bible and 40 years of serious contemplation of the issue from all sides. Same-sex love and relationships are not the same as multiple partner relationships, or man/dog relationships, or anything other than what they are -- the strong romantic attraction of someone for someone else of the same sex. Many non-gay people experience gay feelings at some point in their lives, but it doesn't work out for them for one reason or another, which may be why they cannot understand why gay people have not been given the same options they have, to be straight. Anyway, I'm not asking you to change your mind. But I am asking you to consider, for one day, just go with the possibility, just imagine, that gayness is not wrong, that for some people it is what God ordained, that gay people cannot be lumped into a category, that they are as individual and flawed and blessed as everyone else. Just for one day. It won't kill you. Incidentally, for what it is worth, I have been married to a woman for 28 years and have three grown sons, none of whom it seems are gay. If any of them were, I'd be glad for him.

PG said...

Sorry to have turned your blog into a soapbox, Dan.

Robert, I think you might find today's Samuel Freedman's On Religion column interesting today, about the experiences of being a Muslim teenager in the U.S. It's at http://tinyurl.com/6fwdmz

Back on gay soapbox, I was thinking how the country has a history of keeping black people unemployed and then calling them "lazy." Similarly, we deny gay people the right to marry and then call them "promiscuous."

I'm done now.