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9:25 pm - 10.04.2008
Religion & Politics (Saving \"Money\" For The NEXT Entry)

Religion & Politics (Saving "Money" For The Next Entry)

Sat 10/4/08 (5:54 p.m.)

So many things to write about, from the ridiculous to the...not quite as ridiculous.

Still thinking about the vice-presidential debate Thursday.

I’m not the brightest guy in the world (And suspect some days I’m getting dumber by the minute), but I’m bright enough to have seen this coming a long way off - The bar was set so absurdly low for Palin going into the debate (In part because of her interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric) that as long as she didn’t take a header off the stage or start speaking in tongues, she was going to get a passing grade from the MSM, no matter what she actually said (Or failed to say).

And so it came to pass - During the course of the debate, she ducked questions, answered others incoherently (Clearly not having actual answers), and substituted winks and smiles and folksy phrases like “you betcha!” for logic & reasoned argument (All for the benefit of the mythical “Joe Sixpack”, who apparently doesn’t like to think too hard).

And she made me want to lobby to have the word “maverick” banned from the English language.

But, in her favor, she didn’t belch or fart or burst into tears and run off the stage, so you had media outlets afterwards going on about her “poise” and how she’d “erased any doubts voters might have had about her” and had “helped her ticket” (One headline the next day referred to the debate as a “Win-Win” for both candidates, I guess since, while Biden came off as a guy who knew his stuff and was ready to lead the country if need be, Palin at least was able to speak in complete sentences most of the time).

One can only hope “Joe Sixpack” is not as dumb as Sarah Palin and the Republicans think he is.

And one can only hope the rest of us, who aren’t “Joe Sixpack” (I’m more like “Jim 2-Liter Bottle Of Diet Coke”), will vote in force this time out...just in case he is.

(I wish I could ask John McCain, cause it’s just killing me - “Sarah Palin, John? Really? In all of Republican-land, she was the absolute best female vice-presidential candidate you could come up with? I’m not an expert on women in the Republican party, but I find it hard to believe Sarah Palin is the party’s “best and brightest”. Cause John? If she is...well, the mind boggles. And if she’s not, and you knew she wasn’t, and your pick was exactly as cynical as it seems to be? Well once again - the mind boggles”.)

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Saw a matinee of Religulous yesterday, Bill Maher’s comic take on Western religion.

I found it very funny, informative, thought-provoking (Maher asks at one point exactly why “faith” - believing in something that can’t be proven - is a good thing, particularly when it comes to people in power making decisions affecting the rest of us), and in the end, kind of terrifying.

What more can you ask for from a movie...?

In one respect, it reminded me of reading anti-religious books like God Is Not Great or, more recently, The End Of Faith - You can read those books, or see movies like Religulous, till the cows come home, but in one sense, it’ll just end up depressing you, if you’re of the agnostic/atheist persuasion, because religion’s not going anywhere anytime soon (Particularly not hardcore religious fundamentalism that’s impervious to reason or logic).

(One reasonable point Maher makes in the movie - 16% of people polled in America think of themselves as “non-religious”. It’s a minority of the population, to be sure, but a larger minority than at least a half-dozen minorities who have a voice in our political system; where is the Atheist/Agnostic lobby?)

This is tough stuff for me to write about, because I was raised a Christian, and I know a number of very lovely people who are Christians (Who, by the way, I suspect would still be very lovely people even if they weren’t Christians); I don’t wish to offend, or denigrate people’s beliefs. And I don’t see any need to try to argue people out of their beliefs, especially when all I have to offer them in return, as reasonable a stance as it may be, is the fact that “I don’t know” (How we got here, why we’re here, what - if anything - happens after we die, etc and so forth).

But by the same token, while I don’t feel the need to tell my religious friends “you’re stupid to believe what you believe” (For this, that, or the other reason), I’m starting to think you can take religious tolerance too far - while people get to believe what they believe - Welcome to America - reasonable, rational people can not continue to sit by while our society is hijacked by the Religous Right (Or any religious faction, for that matter).

The more I think about it, the more I honestly believe that religious belief has gone from something that was useful and helpful at one point in human history, to something that, by and large, is now actively in the way of human progress and understanding.

And to paraphrase the point made in both The End Of Faith and Religulous, we’ve now reached a point where religious belief is more dangerous than it’s ever been, when a group of people who believe that God speaks to them and them only, who believe that the “non-believer” must be converted or die, who actually look forward to “Armageddon” because then they’ll be with God...have the power to actually make Armageddon happen.

It’s not #1 on my list of “Things I’m Afraid Of” - I’m more concerned about my personal demise than the demise of my country or my planet - but I would say it’s in the top ten.

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Well, I’d intended this entry to be a hodgepodge of things on my mind lately, but I think I’ve gone on long enough for one entry...


 

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