Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shut Up and Salute

I’ve never heard of Mike Gallagher before, but he sounds like a low-rent Rush, if that is even possible. (Thanks to urbanmenno for the link on this.)

Gallagher has spent a few sessions of his radio show lambasting Goshen College for not playing the national anthem before their sporting events. Goshen, being a Mennonite college, doesn’t play the anthem because of their historical stance on the separation of church and state. Gallagher is angry that Goshen hates their country so much. He thinks they should lose any government funding they receive if they don’t play the anthem.

While Goshen isn’t terribly interested in conforming to Mike Gallagher's version of patriotism, they are very interested in the Constitution, especially what it says, and how it is used. Unlike most colleges, they take Constitution Day very seriously, by reading the Constitution and creating groups to discuss it. Surprisingly, you can love your country because of the values it upholds, rather than the flag it bears or the song about war set to the old English drinking tune it chooses as its sacred song.

Demanding that the flag and the anthem be part of your expression of gratitude for your country is silly. It borders on idol worship, which, you know, is kind of sacrilegious.

And yet, some conservative responses are so depressingly predictable: Wave your damn flag and play the damn anthem and shut up about that whole separation of church and state thing.

File under: Sure you have freedom of speech, as long as you don’t use it.

64 comments: said...

I am a non-menno, “conservative” evangelical Christian that tends to vote Republican. I work at Goshen College which is often labeled by my peers as a “liberal” Mennonite school that tends to be Democratic. The campus community did overwhelming supported Obama. I, on the other hand, voted for McCain.

If I did not work here and know and love these people as I do I might be guilty of the same kind of diatribe that is coming from Gallagher. But, this situation is not what he thinks or says it is. Goshen’s decision not to play the national anthem is not informed by the same kind of leftist ideology that causes Bill Ayers to disrespectfully stand on the flag out of contempt for America.

Goshen College is not a community of flag burning America haters. From living and working with them I am convinced that they have great love and affection for this country but they are coming from an Anabaptist tradition and therefore have a greater allegiance to God, the lord of all nations. This is not a strange or heretical concept. It is a stance held by Christians of many different traditions.

Historically, Mennonites have considered themselves to be neither liberal nor conservative but a group that represents a Third Way of thinking. This is a large part of what drew me to this community. The whole liberal-conservative spectrum just does not apply here.

It seems, however, that the Mennonite church is giving up much of its unique stance to embrace a political worldview shaped not by scripture or historical theology but by partisan politics. This is a shame.

Some Mennonite churches embrace the Democratic Party to express their Christian views while others the Republican Party. And just like the rest of the nation, the lines tend to be drawn more by sociological forces like urban and rural, white and blue collar, or ethnicity and race, rather than doctrine or church history. This is a dangerous trend that I pray the Mennonites will overcome.

I have seen my own evangelical tradition get caught up in Republican politics as their hope for advancing their Christian convictions only to be disappointed, disenfranchised, and disgraced in the end.

We have got to get above this kind of partisan thinking. Until we truly embrace a Third Way, we will continue to “fall short of the glory of God.”

Dan S said...

Thanks for the inside scoop Robert. Despite my partisan-ness, I share the same concerns about the Mennonite Church losing its identity and getting drawn into the mass culture wars.

PG said...

I am left to the point of pink, Menno, liberal... And I am trying my hardest to bridge the Grand Canyon sized gap between the "sides" that have evolved over the last decade. I'm going out of my way to end the "party spirit" that has corroded life in America. For the first time ever, I think people are actually trying. It's great.

Nate said...

Good post Dan.

To whoever wrote the first comment. Nice job, very informative.

Hi Pg. I've been pretty busy. Just noticed you got back. Hope you had a great time in Mexico.

brownie said...

"He thinks they should lose any government funding they receive if they don’t play the anthem"

As a Mennonite college, I think they wouldn't receive these dollars. My question is: do they?

Who started this tradition anyway? Why do we play the national at sporting events in the first place? Shouldn't we then also play it at the start of movies, or maybe even meals? How about at the start of a bowel movement? It's about as relevant. I mean, if I am a red-blooded patriot shouldn't I salute my country before I stink up the hopper? How about the pledge of alligance before I burp?

The world may never know.

Dan S said...

You don't sing the national anthem before doing your business? I thought everyone did that.

Great points though brownie. We are talking about an arbitrary custom here.

I wonder how long it would last if we read the entire bill of rights before each sporting event?

Fingtree said...

Good stuff Brownie!! I salute you...BURP~ Oh, I had it backwards, sorry :)

Robert J. Day said...

"As a Mennonite college, I think they wouldn't receive these dollars. My question is: do they?"

Yes, this funding comes in the form of student aid. Other than that, there is no federal dollars going to Goshen College.

To PG - As we ever increasingly become a post-racial society the next great challenge is for us to overcome our ideological bigotries. Prejudice is ever with us in one form or another. As we are eradicating an age old discrimination we seem to be drawing new lines of demarcation: Urban folks versus Rural folks, Conservatives versus Liberals, Socialism versus Capitalism. Ideological and worldview diversity is a much more difficult thing to accomplish. Most wars are fought over ideology not skin color. But, we can overcome this kind of prejudice as well. It starts with the kind of decision you have made. Thank you for making the effort to span the divide.

PG said...

Don't forget gay/non-gay, too.

PG said...

I do think it is interesting, though, that since Obama's election, the local newspaper has had a flurry of letters trying to make the claim that race no longer matters, that we shouldn't call people African-American (white writers), that we are a post-racial society.

It is almost as though the white people are genuinely afraid, seeing that perhaps they are losing their privilege, and feeling the need to deny race at any cost.

One writer even claimed that George Washington was our first African-American president, because all humanity has evolved from Africa. Although he didn't use the word evolved.

mikejones said...


I hate the way your burp

Robert J. Day said...

PG wrote: “Don't forget gay/non-gay, too.”

There you go PG – you caught me in one of my prejudices. Yes, by all means add gay/non-gay to the list of prejudices that we must conquer as a society – starting with me.

By post-racial I think it means something similar to being post-modern. Skin color is no longer a dominate social concern as it once was during the days of segregation and Jim Crow. That is not to say there is no longer any racism. Certainly there is, but not on an institutional or societal level.

In my opinion, it is cultural differences that create tension between the races today. We have generally accepted what the biologist started telling us forty years ago that we are all 99.9% biologically alike. The small things were we differ, like melanin content, facial features, hair texture, we have decided is not socially significant enough to discriminate. However, some difficulty still remains between people groups because culturally these groups may be 99.9% different from each other.

I share more in common with a black conservative, for example, than I do a white liberal. Ideological tolerance is much harder to achieve than racial tolerance.


Robert Sievers said...

Besides gay/non-gay, let us not forget other potential differences that divide us.


We need to be willing to embrace everyone, becuase after all, who are you to judge them?

PG said...

You know what, Robert? You are an unregenerate bigot. And as much as I love Dan and enjoy the intellectual environment of his blog, I'm withdrawing my presence, so as not to be in your presence. I do not need to repeat and rehash and re-argue basic human rights with the likes of your uncharitable, unchristian attitude.


Fingtree said...

Christians/pseudo Christians

Who are we to judge you?

Robert Sievers said...

pg, it is time for unity, not division.

I'm just trying to be like you guys, and be accepting of everyone. What am I missing? Why is homosexuality any different than aduldury, bigomy, lieing, cheating or stealing?

What makes one moral, and the other immoral? By all means, enlighten me.

Dan S said...

Bob, your question is as relevant as someon asking how being a fundamentalist Christian is different from being a nazi or a child molestor. It's designed to be inflammatory. It's designed to be a bomb that goes off when other people are trying to move towards each other and seek common ground.

It reminds me of a terrorist who fears that there might be some progress on reconciliation and has to blow up something to ensure both sides harden. It's decidedly unchristian and unChrist-like.

Robert Sievers said...

I just want to know how you decide what is moral and acceptable and what is not.

I asked the question very nicely here many times, and got no response.

You ask a good quesion, how do we determine which is more ethical, a radical Christian or a Nazi. By what criterion do we judge. Or even more basic, do you agree we can judge?

Dan S said...

Bob, comparing homosexuals to rapists is not honestly asking how to differentiate right from wrong. It is you being an ass.

Fingtree said...

"I'm just trying to be like you guys, and be accepting of everyone. What am I missing"?

By saying: "I'm just trying to be like you guys",is the point of disunity. You have established with such a statement, that you are different than "we" are. The question at the root of your; "being an ass", is what class are you? or what would YOUR Jesus do? I doubt Jesus would have been an; "unregenerate bigot".

Robert Sievers said...

ok, so asking nicely how do you judge right from wrong gets no answer.

Throwing in a controversial statement trying to elicit a response gets no answer either.

fingtree never has anything of value to offer other than snide remarks, and pg decided to take a hiatus when I asked him intimiate questions about Jesus.

I am called a bigot, because I view certain behavior as wrong, just as you view certain behavior as wrong. Are you bigoted against Nazis? This blog reeks of my high school, where certain kids are not in the "cool clique", and just like then, nobody can rationally explain why they are the cool ones.

So far nobody here will answer how anyone can tell right from wrong. That's a shame really, becuase we are called to be light in a dark world. If we can't distinguish light from dark, or can't explain how you distinguish, we are of no value.

My question stands. What makes homosexuality moral, and adultuary or bigomy immoral?

PG said...

Still not taking your poison bait, I will say this:

You write: What makes homosexuality moral, and adultuary or bigomy immoral?

Adultuary is a religion where adulthood is worshiped.

Bigomy is a religion for the worship of large penises.

Homosexuality has the good sense and good taste to be spelled correctly, at least.

And gayness, like left-handedness, has nothing to do with morality at all.

You might as well be speaking about niggers being shifty and lazy and criminal.

You might as well be saying interracial marriage is condemned by God.

You equate gayness with murder. You promote the kind of thinking that leads to gay-bashing by "moral" crusaders who hear this shit from pulpits across the country.

I won't tolerate it. It's not even a discussion. I'd no sooner engage in conversation or hang out with you than I would with Ku Klux Klansmen.

Get behind me.

Pastor Mike said...

man...a rough crowd

PG said...

Were things this rough in the marines, PM? I crossed over into black panther territory a while back, sans guns. I decided to take the gloves off, but still won't use physical force. It's all words.

Fingtree said...

Aphoristically, homosexuality is not a moral issue. There are many theories affixed with it. That it could be a regression from an early stage of development or that it's from a hormonal disruption during a mother's pregnancy. A genetic predisposition regarding X chromosome's, etc.. Same sex history has been around long before recorded history began.
Bigamy and adultery are voluntary infidelities, these are choices that affect covenant's between people. If a homosexual couple were married by law, it would be considered adultery, just as it would between a heterosexual couple, for one of the partners to commit an infidelity. To view homosexuality as immoral is always based from a dogma or a religiously pedagogic background, not unlike racism being a learned affectation.
As far as religion is concerned regarding homosexuality, it should be left to God to ask the questions of judgment, not someone who interprets the regurgitated dogma of man.
Sorry if I came off snide.....Snidely Whiplash=+

PG said...

Milk is coming. Maybe you don't remember that event. I do.

Robert J. Day said...


My last post was is agreement with your earlier post. I was offer an olive branch by confessing my prejudice. I then simply attempted to define the term post-racial and offer a commentary on society's challenge of overing a number of other old and emerging prejudices. I did not mean to offend.

Robert Sievers said...


I appreciate you giving a straight answer. Best I can gleen from it, your assertion is that bahaviors that have been around for a while, or that are built into our genetic code are exempt from morals. Similarly, actions which require a choice are not.

By your definition, adultery is ok, since it has been around since the beginning of time, and men are predisposed to sexual activiity with whatever moves, whereas homosexulaity is immoral because having relations with people is a choice one makes. Note I am talking about the act, not the disposition.

pg, it is your choice to shun me, but you should know that I love God dearly. I believe you would say you do too. Why would we not want to discuss Him and His work in our world, and his expectations for us?

PG said...

In my flaming fury, I may have misspoken or misread one of the messages. I understood you and took no offense whatsoever. The Robert I addressed was the other Robert, the one who equated gayness with murder. I must say thought that that Robert is probably speaking what very many people believe but don't dare say aloud. I'll give him that.

My confession:

PG said...

That Robert continues to bait and feign meekness and profess a love of God. I'm not buying it for a minute.

There is no "cause" or explanation determinable for gayness. There may be hundreds of "reasons" a person is gay.

It is simply one of God's gifts. And it is a sin to persecute people for their gayness.

Fingtree said...

No, you have it all backwards. Adultery is not ok and homosexuality is not immoral. Believing that homesexual behavior is immoral is a learned belief, no different than learning to be racist. An act of adultery is a personal decision with consequences.

Robert Sievers said...


I appreiciate your effort, but you still do not explain why

It reminds me of high school where in in-crowd expains why football is cooler than math, and the answer is becuase "it just is", and anybody who doesn't realize that is stupid for even asking.

Well, brand me a moron, because I really want to know what makes you think homosexual intercourse is moral, and sex outside of marriage, multiple marriages, or other types of activiity imooral.

pg, I really don't mind you judging me. We all need to hold each other accountable. It would be nice to know though, exactly what I have done. I never equated gayness to murder. I simply asked, albeait in a confrontational way, what makes one right and the other wrong, and gave several other exampels to help frame the question. It is true, that I did not ask the question with Col 4:6 in mind, becuase I was frustrated that nobody here will answer. For that I apologize.

PG said...


No one can answer your questions because they begin with offensive and inaccurate presumptions.

Did you stop beating your wife? Answer yes or no.

Gay people are just people, like everyone else. That's it.

And, believe me, I couldn't care less about what you do in your bedroom.

brownie said...

Robert S:

May I try to answer? Let's see...

We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. This is a sound piece of dogma that illustrates that it DOESN'T MATTER what sin occupies the dark recesses of one's mind, we're all messed up and we all mess up and we all choose to go against even our own moral codes; often willfully.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Another sound moral axiom. What difference does it make whether one murders or theives or is a nazi racist or has straight sex for lust's sake (even with thier own spouse) or thinks their brother is an empty headed fool or has an abortion or votes for McCain, or Obama, or brushes his teeth across the grain instead of up/down?

All we have to answer for before God is ourselves. Not the actions of others. To crusade against the sin of others without first pulling the log out of our own eye is an exercise in futility. So I guess the answer to your question, in my estimation, would be, there is no difference that matters. Just mind your own P's and Q's and if this or that done by him or her or they is against your moral code, just remember: You don't have to worry about it, God has it all in hand.

Just trying to answer the question...

Fingtree said...

"Well, brand me a moron"
I brand you; religiously crippled and hopelessly sophomoric belligerent, just like high school, "it just is" that way.

Fingtree said...

Just a smirch of smudged jizzum jelly on a bed spread of intimacy, could reveal carnal knowledge so valuable that history may repeat itself. Should repetition occur, two pigs in a blanket playing monkeyshine pranks to the beat of: "Shock the Monkey", would dispel all affliction associated with Pentecostal penitence.

Robert Sievers said...


I agree with you, a lot. Sin s sin, and we all have it. It isn't our job to judge which sin is worse, or better. That is exactly my point. So why is homosexuality treated differently here? Why does pg make a point to exclude gay activity from moral codes, yet hold other choices to account.

PG said...


Robert Sievers' questions are rhetorical. He already knows the answers. Don't encourage him.


Fingtree said...

Silly silly Robert, moral codes are for kids..

PG said...

Moral codes are for kids?

I'll say one thing. This whole Robert Siever inspired hate-fest is DE-moralizing.

Look, I can't tell you how many gay people I've known who feel natural revulsion at the very notion of heterosexual coupling. And Robert S. may feel revulsion at gay people (and his overactive imagination about gay behavior), and thus he may KNOW that they are sinful, but other than this gut "knowledge" (about as accurate as GWB's gut knowledge about, well, anything) there is no basis to declare that gay people are any more sinners than ANYONE else. Soldiers, say. Or presidential candidates.

Gayness is. And the more you call it sin, the more you oppress and persecute and cause violence to be justified.

Moral codes are important. I live by moral codes that have been nurtured in a Biblical upbringing. In recent years, I have seen the damage done by gossip and idle talk, for example.

And don't start quoting Bible verses. I believe in the validity of the Bible, but not the way Robert Siever reads it.

I hope that in my lifetime I will see gay marriage become legal in the same way I was around when interracial marriage became legal. You may or may not remember that the Bible was invoked in making interracial marriage illegal, too, by people who KNEW they were right and had very pronounced "moral" codes.

PG said...


Maybe I'm too impatient with others at this point. I'm at the "why we can't wait" moment that black rights hit in the mid-sixties.

I have spent forty years contemplating, studying, praying, confronting the question of gayness.

I have looked at it from every conceivable perspective. I haven't deceived myself. I've been willing to consider it all.

At some point, I recognized that there were only two options available to a gay person in order to face up to the expectations of the "moral" religious people. One was to accept one's self and defy those expectations. The other was to commit suicide.

The next time you condemn gay people or call them sinful, be sure you have some option for them to live.

Exodus and other "change" organizations have no validity or basis in reality.

Robert, what do you propose gay people do in order to meet your moral standards? Whatever you choose to answer, I hope you would make a similar commitment in solidarity and sacrifice. You love God only as much as you love gay people. If you insist they be celibate, for example, then you should accept that for yourself as well. It would be hypocritical to demand of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

PG said...

This is the 42nd comment on this post. I'm going for the record.

brownie said...

I'll encourage everyone, including Robert S, to live a moral life and love everyone, as JC said.

I can't speak for anyone but myself as far as why people view things as they do. For myself, I just try to love everyone and live by my own moral code. It may sound a little heartless, but frankly, I don't think it's my problem if people sin, it's their's; and it's certainly none of my business how they conduct their sex lives. So I say live and let live. And as long as they're not hurting me or my kin or my friends. Well, so be it. Things will eventually work themselves out. For good or ill.

Peace to all on this blog. (And behave yourselves you crazy kids!!)

PG said...

Bob Jones University recently released an apology for their stand on racial issues (including not admitting black students and banning interracial dating).

These things take a long time when, in retrospect, it seems obvious that the things done in the name of Christ were wrong.

PG said...

A notable Menno, Ron Sider, recently wrote something in the Mennonite about expanding the reach of Christian Peacemaker Teams by bringing in notable names in Mennodom. He thoughtlessly said that any emphasis on gay rights would have to be chucked in order to do that. I've always liked Sider's activism, but someone I also respect called him a "noted homophobe." So, my heart remains heavy at the work that needs to be done.

I very much appreciated Robert Rodriguez' recent interview in Salon on "Why Churches Fear Gay Marriage." I've reposted it at

Robert Sievers said...


I have thought long and hard about how to answer you. You are convinced that I hate gays because I don't support gay marriage. I doubt I can convince you otherwise, so I will not try.

Ultimately, the question is does God sanctify and restore? If so, why would you willingly deny God's power to a certain segment of the population? All of us are selfish, greedy, and deviants. You completely neglect a 3rd option for people. The question is why.

PG said...

Hey, Robert,

Hope you have a festive and gay Thanksgiving.

You wrote: I have thought long and hard about how to answer you.

I appreciate that you have given the issue some consideration. Try pondering it daily for years.

You wrote: You are convinced that I hate gays because I don't support gay marriage.

No, I think you will never love gay people as they are.

You wrote: Ultimately, the question is does God sanctify and restore?

Of course, but that has nothing to do with gayness. You are casting aspersions, subtly, and assuming again that gayness is wrong. It is not.

You wrote: If so, why would you willingly deny God's power to a certain segment of the population?

I presume you mean that God can change gay people. Gay people can learn to behave like non-gay people. They can go through the motions of heterosexual behavior, usually to the agony and frustration and unhappiness of wives, families, and themselves. They cannot change being gay. Even the so-called change programs like Exodus show such statistics. All that can be changed is behavior, and there is no good reason to change natural love and affection in those of same-sex orientation.

You wrote: All of us are selfish, greedy, and deviants.

That's a rather blanket statement, especially the deviant part. Deviant from what? Otherwise, it's largely true. And since it does relate to everyone (you say), why bring it up in regard to gay people specifically?

You wrote: You completely neglect a 3rd option for people. The question is why?

I neglected nothing. I distilled the essence of the facts. By a third option I presume you mean to change them to heterosexuality? This does not happen.

So, let me ask you, what would you do with gay people?

Ban them from the church?
Ban them from marriage?
Close your eyes, click you heels, and wish they would go away?
Exterminate them?

Seriously, what is your "final solution" for the issue (a non-issue in my book) of gayness?

Robert Sievers said...

I will answer your question if you answer one for me. All of us are born selfish. If you disagree, show me a child that learns how to say "yours" beofre "mine", learns to share before learns to take, and must be taught to interrupt instead of waiting to speak.

What is your "final solution" for selfishness? I presume you think that God can change selfish people. Selfish people can learn to behave altruistically. They can go through the motions of being kind to others, usually to eventual agony and frustration and unhappiness of those around them. They cannot change being selfish. All that can be changed is behavior. Is there and good reason to change natural instnct?

What is your "final solution" for them, which is of course, us?

PG said...

Everyone equally has to work on selfishness. That's my answer. (It is kind of as I said before, if you are calling for gays to be celibate, you better take that cross upon yourself as well, if you consider that a "solution.")

Yes, God can work miracles. But I don't believe in a God who performs magic tricks.

You can pray all you want to restore the amputated limbs from soldiers in Iraq and I'll bet anything, none are going to grow back. You can pray and believe and take electric shock treatments and decades of therapy and spit wooden nickels to try change your sexuality... But you are better off accepting and loving the way God made you and celebrating the gift of sexuality.

Your final solution?

Robert Sievers said...

pg said "if you are calling for gays to be celibate, you better take that cross upon yourself as well, if you consider that a "solution.")"

pg, I have taken that cross upon myself at various times in my life where such activity was outside God's wishes. You said God works miracles, but not magic tricks. Let me tell you about the God we serve. During one extended time, rather than embracing my sexual desire, I asked God to remove it from me. He did. I cannot explain how He did it. It was both pyschological and physical. God is big enough not to torture us. His love for us will change our hearts. I am not saying He will make homosexuals heterosexual. He might choose to do that in some rare cases. However, what I do know is that He gives the grace to follow Him. If you believe the Holy Spirit is telling you that God wants people to act on their same sex desires, than there isn't anywhere for our conversation to go from here.

And yes, I had quite the gay thanksgiving.

PG said...

Thanks for telling us about your own experiences, but I do not see how they relate to gay people. It sounds (vaguely) like you are talking about adultery or some other sexual transgression that is not comparable to the trials of a same-sex orientation and that you were temporarily able to overcome.

Robert wrote: If you believe the Holy Spirit is telling you that God wants people to act on their same sex desires, than there isn't anywhere for our conversation to go from here.

Good. Then we are in agreement. Some people are gay, just the way God made them. And you are OK with that then? Good.

Otherwise, I don't think you have provided a real answer as you had promised at all. And so you call for an end to the conversation, but you will likely continue to oppress and condemn gay people, while providing no recourse at the same time.

PG said...

I have taken over this blog. It is hereafter to be called PG'S PERDICKAMINT PLACE.

I had a homosexual dream last night. My family was trapped at Wal-Mart while I was with the car at the mechanics, which was teeming with customers and service men. I couldn't get to my car to go pick up the family. One of the workers, in a suit, gave me a ride but began to seduce me. Then I woke up.

I learned something new at poker last night. It is called Poe's Law, stated this way:

"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing"

The link to the full explanation is at

Robert Sievers said...

On the Poe's law wiki, I tried three, just to see. It was quite obvious to me which were genuine nutjobs, and which were paradoy. This brings up an three interesting questions.

Does Poe's law exist for whacky leftists?

If not, why not.

If so, could a whacky leftist spot them as easily as I could fundamentalist parady?

My answers: Yes, fundamentalists don't bother making paradies of whacky leftists, and yes.

PG said...

hmmm. maybe you're right. fundamentalists have no sense of humor.

i saw "milk" yesterday in chicago. you should see it, robert.

i'm writing review for paper.

PG said...

Actually, Robert, I didn't find the fake ones amusing. I found them all disturbing.

I knew this one was real:

because I used to have a lot of those tracts.

And, truly, do you adhere to a world view like this one? If so, it is no surprise that we cannot communicate.

Although you offered no solution for the situation of gay people, I believe the intolerance you propose demands a "third way" solution anyway. That solution is: the closet. You want gay people to keep silent. Really, you offer nothing else, no hope whatsoever.

That is one of the most important lines in "Milk," when Harvey Milk is heard counseling a boy who simply wants to commit suicide. Without hope, life is not worth living.

You may still call for celibacy and claim that a lot of people remain single in their lives and, thus, should remain celibate.

But to tell a gay teenager that he or she -- unlike straight single people -- has no hope of even entertaining the notion of having a relationship: no dating, no romance, no lover, no partner, for their entire lives... Well, that is a different story. It is cruel and needless and stops them in their tracks at the very age they should be discovering relationships. Countless young people have chosen to take their lives as a result of this ultimatum from fundamentalists.

And because people believe mythologies like the one in that fundamentalist comic book at the link above. Tell me you don't believe that way, please.

Robert Sievers said...


I am not sure how to answer your question. I do know that God created the universe, that Jesus is the only way, and that times are going to get bad before the rapture. So in that sense, the author is correct.

However, chick tracks have always been over the top and simplistic.

If you believe in God, just what difference does that make to you? What hope does your God offer me. What good news to you bring about Him?

PG said...

I think your literalism is legalistic (like the Pharisees), unbiblical (which is poetic throughout) and faithless. It does not allow for understanding of the mystery or the spirit of God. It is also intolerant and exclusive, divisive and uncharitable. That's what I think.

I should tell you that you think much like my father and I have some serious issues with my father, still, at my age. A therapist, learning about my background, once cautioned my wife: "Oh, you didn't tell me he had religious issues."

I think your fundamentalism is fundamentally destructive.

PG said...

Letter in today's NYTimes:

To the Editor:

Re “California’s Legal Tangle” (editorial, Nov. 25):

You rightly urge the California Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8, not just to uphold the freedom to marry for committed gay couples, but because “the justices’ job is to protect minority rights and the State Constitution — even when, for the moment at least, it may not be the popular thing to do.”

This same court in 1948 became the first to strike down race restrictions on the freedom to marry. Polls at that time showed that 90 percent of Americans opposed marriage equality. In the best-named case ever, Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court in 1967 upheld marriage equality nationwide, despite polls showing 70 percent opposed.

Imagine what our country would look like today had the opponents of equality been able to cement into the Constitution the prejudices of the majority and the passions of the moment. Our president-elect — the son of a couple who would have been barred from marriage because of “tradition,” religious opposition and the majority’s discomfort — might have had a very different life.

If fundamental rights can be stripped from a minority on a mere show of hands, why bother having courts and constitutions?

Evan Wolfson
New York, Nov. 25, 2008

PG said...


I am sorry I overlooked something you wrote earlier. You wrote "If you believe in God, just what difference does that make to you? What hope does your God offer me. What good news to you bring about Him?

I appreciate this. I think they are very good questions. I thought about it while driving this morning in the snow and the dark as I delivered newspapers.

Let me take it one question at a time. Whenever anyone asks me if I believe in God, I'm always tempted to say no, because it seems to be a set-up. It seems to be forcing me to acknowledge that I believe in a concept that has become defined by a evangelical religious tradition that I don't accept. I can't help but believe in God. I believe Jesus and God are one and the same. I also believe Jesus was a human being, just like you or me. I can't go very much further than that in trying to describe God. I just really don't like the God people expect me to accept when they ask if I "believe" in God. And I can no longer believe in a literal rapture than I believe in the elephant-headed Ganesh of Hinduism. There is a purpose in pondering such stories as stories, perhaps. But they are used as tools for control, fear, and blame.

That said, let me address the idea of what hope my God offers you and what good news my God delivers. All of it is entirely based upon living life on earth. I take no stock in living in order to get to heaven or in order to avoid hell. Those are no longer motivational tools that have anything to do with my behavior. Maybe those tools still work for some people -- based in fear as much as hope -- but I find them selfish and counterproductive; they don't bring out the best in people. They bring out blame and judgment and self-righteousness. They bring out a calculated, tax-deductible charity, at best.

There is plenty of Biblical reference that would speak of Heaven being a place within each of us, or of finding heaven in living this life.

I think what one can expect in following Christ is joy, acceptance, transcendence, sacrifice, mystery, awe, and love. No one can explain it.

A perhaps apocryphal story about Mother Teresa goes that someone told her he wouldn't do what she did for a million dollars and she replied, "Neither would I." That's corny, but there's a good idea in it. Sacrifice is truly sacrifice. No one is promising you a rose garden in the sky.

When one gives up desire or sacrifices one's self for others, you aren't automatically happy. There's no reward. We all suffer and die. That's part of the richness of life.

But I'm pretty sure that when one devotes one's self to one's self (including securing "salvation" or "Heaven" for personal satisfaction), it can be a pretty bumpy ride.

So, no promises, Robert. I guess I'm not much of a salesman for my belief system, even in this deeply abbreviated version.

Robert Sievers said...

Thank you for finally answering my question. We would both agree there are many Christians who embrace Christ simply out of desire for fire insurance, and that is entirely the wrong reason to follow Him.

However, a life of self-sacrifice cannot come from inside us. It must come from God. Choosing to follow Him means He will give us the tools and the direct inspiration to live as He did. That is where you and I ultimately disagree.

Also, your logic that since the church made an error in judgement before, it must be doing so again holds no water. Darwin believed in sponteous generation, but I don't see you abandoning your views of evolution because he was so blatently wrong. I do wish you would be consistent in your logical approach.

PG said...

"Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

brownie said...

Why is it that conservatives find pardodies of liberals hilarious, and liberals find parodies of conservatives hilarious?

Are you kidding me?

The answer is so plain, I won't dignify my own question with a response. I hate me. Or as Smeagol might say "We hatess uss!"

(Afterthought)...Love one another...

J. P. McCarty said...

Actually, Emerson said "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin..."

PG said...

There are a lot of famous people in this video, Prop 8: The Musical, from Jack Black to John C. Reilly.