Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fear and Hate, Disgust and Distrust

We often hate what we fear. Most of the time fear and hate are irrational and arise out of simple ignorance. I claim no exception from both of these emotions but I do marvel at the general knee jerk nature of those among us for whom ignorance is a badge of honor when it comes to understanding those they both fear and hate.

We almost always distrust those we fear. We often hate those that disgust us. Sometimes these feelings have a basis in reality and sometimes once again they are a result of ignorance. Sorting this out and assigning rational fear and distrust to those who can actually harm us or our society is the function of study and an open mind.

Take religious folk and secular folk in the good 'ol United States for instance. Those who make a boogieman out of Christians and more particularly the Christian Right assign way too much distrust and disgust in my opinion. What is mainly a backlash against what they see as a societal breakdown of decency and manners and a hateful degradation of benign Christian traditions by the secularization of America, Christians are regarded as an enemy of the constitution. The popular notion has become that Christianity is irrelevant to all that has made this a great country.

In truth the secular and religious traditions and institutions have combined to make this country a great success story. It is balancing act that teeters back and forth self correcting as we go along. I fear that with the real and rightful corrections to laws that were blatant religious constructs (such as the Blue Laws) we are ready to throw the baby out with the bath water.

In my opinion all the so-called "crimes" of the religious right pale in comparison to the rhetoric spewed by a hateful secular left. It is unbalanced and the country now teeters on the verge of tearing itself apart. A good friend of mine and I were discussing this very topic recently. I told him I thought that the constant horn blowing against religion in this country was very detrimental because such fear mongering was way out of proportion. He sort of agreed - but said he didn't think the Christian Right should have so much influence on elections and public life. I looked at him quizzically and said "don't you think the secular mainstream media has too much influence on elections and public life." What could he say to that?

Does the public display of religious content pose anywhere near the threat to our country that an "anything goes" popular culture does? Does promoting abstinence, adoption and pro-life messages pose anywhere near the harm that unplanned pregnancies, abortion and "free love" does? You can say that a ten thousand year tradition in nearly every society on earth of marriage between one man and one woman is obsolete but the vast majority of our society doesn't agree based on the result of dozens of state-wide referendums and constitutional amendments that have passed.

Finally, I guess what bothers me most is that Christians and Christian belief systems are constantly ridiculed (sometimes rightly and oftentimes wrongly), feared and compared to ideologies that are truly dangerous and horrendous. Islam is just such an ideology/religion and does not even come close to Christianity for the scorn, distrust and outright hatred it engenders in the world of the secular left. This bothers me. Islam has a stated goal of ruling the world and now has the wealth and is soon to have the weapons to accomplish this goal - if we let it. The worst part of this is that we are handing them the wealth and the weapons with which they will conquer and actually impose their beliefs on the rest of us - Christian and secular alike. Oil is obviously the wealth creator but their biggest weapon against us is not going to be nuclear weapons but our own self-hatred and apathy. We are systematically dismantling the blend of secular and Christian values that have helped create our power and our wealth, a power and wealth that has saved the world from Nazism, imperialism and Soviet communism.

Whatever you choose to believe I can say confidently it is not Christian fundamentalism that threatens America and the west.

Author David Aikman speaking to a Chinese official when researching for his book "Jesus in Beijing" got this quote which I think we should all take to heart before we dismantle our society:

"At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity."