Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The Rights and Wrongs of Reverend Wright
"There is a purely civil profession of faith of which the sovereign should fix the articles, not exactly as religious dogmas, but as social sentiments without which a man cannot be a good citizen or a faithful subject. While it can compel no one to believe them, it can banish from the state whoever does not believe them — it can banish him, not for impiety, but as an anti-social being, incapable of truly loving the laws and justice, and of sacrificing, at need, his life to his duty. If any one, after publicly recognizing these dogmas, behaves as if he does not believe them, let him be punished to death: he has committed the worst of all crimes, that of lying before the law.”
The loathsome Jean-Jacques Rousseau, explaining his totalitarian concept of the "Civil Religion" in his tract The Social Contract.
The "Weeping Prophet," as envisioned by Michelangelo: The Renaissance master's rendering of the Prophet Jeremiah, as found on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Jeremiah was a defeatist.
No, I'm not referring to Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, the much-execrated former Pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. I'm referring to the Hebrew prophet for whom Rev. Wright was named.
For about a quarter-century, Jeremiah made himself notorious in Jerusalem for loudly and unapologetically denouncing its religious and civic corruption: "... from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely." (Jer. 6:13, NKJV).
The City's inhabitants had come to trust entirely "in lying words that cannot profit." Those were seductive deceptions, all the more alluring because they were clothed in diaphanous robes of piety, giving them license to "steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely," commit idolatry of various kinds, and then take comfort in the conceit that they were God's Chosen People in His Chosen City. Yet Jeremiah's prophetic message was one of irrepressible divine judgment, with the Lord repeatedly posing the rhetorical question, "Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" (See 5:9, 5:29, 9:9).
Not content merely to speak the message he had been given, Jeremiah chose to act it out as well, walking through the streets of Jerusalem wearing a yoke to symbolize the impending conquest of the City by Babylon and subsequent captivity.
This did nothing to enhance Jeremiah's social standing, of course. (See 20:7-10.) He suffered relentless ridicule, arrest, and mistreatment of various kinds, such as being imprisoned in a miry pit.
But this is only to be expected: Shouldn't Jeremiah have knelt in abject gratitude every day for the singular blessing of being born in the greatest community in the world? Why couldn't he find something positive to say about the Holy City and its inspired rulers? How dare he undermine civic morale, thereby emboldening Jerusalem's implacable enemies!
Tangible evidence of Jeremiah's historicity: This clay tablet, dated to around 595 B.C., makes reference to an obscure Babylonian official mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3.
After the first Babylonian assault on the City, Jeremiah was thrown in prison as punishment for his "defeatist" talk -- specifically, his prophecy that the Babylonians would come back and finish the job.
He was still imprisoned when that prophesy was fulfilled. The Babylonians freed him, and some traditions claim that Jeremiah wound up in Egypt, where he was murdered in his dotage by former fellow citizens of Jerusalem who had never forgiven him for bearing prophetic witness against the City's evils.
What got Jeremiah killed -- if the tradition adverted to above is true -- was his disdain for Jerusalem's Civil Religion. His anti-social insistence on telling the truth, as God inspired him to understand it, about the evil of the government that ruled him, and the people who sustained that government and permitted it to lead them to destruction, was what provoked people to kill him.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright has on occasion displayed a gift for anti-social truth-telling. His notorious and much-misrepresented post-9/11 sermon did not minimize the horror inflicted on our nation that day, or the blood guilt of those responsible for the atrocities.
Speaking with commendable courage and mesmerizing passion, Wright described the long train of abuses and outrages committed by the government that rules us -- from the Trail of Tears through Hiroshima and Nagasaki, from Wounded Knee to the first Gulf War -- and asserted that the criminal violence of our rulers did much to sow and nourish what we harvested on that terrible Tuesday morning.
These were unwelcome but indispensable truths spoken in a timely fashion. That having been said, it must not be thought that Rev. Wright is a prophetic figure.
Wright's creed, to the extent I can understand it on the basis of broad but not particularly deep research, is an Afro-centric variation of the socialist heresy called Liberation Theology. Wright's chief theological influence is James Cone of the Union Theological Seminary.
A sense of Dr. Cone's doctrine can be found in the following widely quoted statement:
"Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community ... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love."
Cone's theology is actually a form of idolatry: He insists on creating a "God" to suit his personal specifications, which in this case would be a variant of the Golem myth -- a monster summoned to smite and destroy an enemy. It is a photographic negative of the neo-Nazi "Aryan Christ" heresy.
More importantly, Cone's version of idolatry is unmistakably akin to every other version of the Civil Religion -- that is, a theology that supports concentration of power in a political state and the punishment, through ostracism, banishment, or liquidation, of those who refuse to make the State the cynosure of their existence.
Wright's denomination, the United Church of Christ, is unmistakably a hyper-liberal outgrowth of the late-19th Century "social gospel" movement, which was inspired in large measure by Hegel's appropriation of Rousseau's Civil Religion concept. What is not widely understood is that the contemporary "Christian Right" shares the same pedigree, a fact amply documented in Richard M. Gamble's compulsively readable -- and entirely indispensable -- book The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation.
Both strands of "progressive" Christianity, whether they admit it or not, view the State as an instrument through which divine ends can be achieved through the skillful and pious use of lethal force. "Left" progressives extol the supposed virtues of wealth redistribution and various policies intended to cure people of prejudice through state terror. "Right" progressives condemn wealth redistribution, preferring to promote punitive policies regarding various forms of personal immorality and the holy wholesale slaughter of non-Israeli foreigners.
The strands can be traced back to the reign of Woodrow Wilson, during which the State was unleashed, with the clergy's enthusiastic approval, on both the foreign and domestic fronts.
As I've noted before, the gospel of the Total State, as translated into the idiom of American Christianity, has rarely if ever been stated as bluntly as it was by William P. Merrill in this couplet published in the April 26, 1917 issue of Christian Century (just weeks after war was declared on Germany):
The strength of the State we'll lavish on more, Than making of wealth and making of war; We are learning at last, though the lesson comes late, That the making of man is the task of the State.
Difficult though it might be for some to understand, there was a time when doctrinally orthodox and socially conservative American Christian clergymen wanted nothing to do with statist sentiments of that variety, even -- no, especially -- when they took on a nationalist tenor.
One very suitable example was offered by Rev. Clarence Waldron of the First Baptist Church in Windsor, Vermont. Mildly Pentecostal in his worship style, Waldron was entirely conservative in his theology and moral views. He was also insurmountably opposed to American involvement in World War I.
In October 1917, Wilson, acting as Pontifex Maximus of the American Civil Religion, urged churches across the nation to decorate their sanctuaries in Red, White and Blue on the twenty-first and lead their congregations in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Then a collection was to be taken up as part of "Liberty Loan Sunday," with the mulcted proceeds to be sent as war tribute to Washington.
Waldron refused to play along. When the twenty-first arrived, he preached a gospel message in a chapel blessedly bereft of jingoistic adornments. As Vermont historian Mark Bushnell recalls,
after the service a mob descended on Waldron in front of the church and forced the pastor to wrap himself in the flag and sing the National Anthem.
Shortly thereafter, Waldron was removed as pastor, in large measure because of suspicions about his "loyalty" -- not his loyalty to Christ, or his fidelity to Christian precepts, mind you, but his loyalty to the "god" revered by adherents of the Social Gospel -- the American State.
In December 1917, Waldron was indicted by a federal grand jury indicted for violating the Espionage Act. Passed the previous June, that measure imposed prison terms of up to 20 years for any act or statement perceived as willfully obstructing "the recruiting or enlistment service of the U.S."
The specification against Waldron was that "he had once been heard to say 'to hell with patriotism.'" To his undying credit, Waldron admitted on the stand that he had said those words -- in condemnation of the cultish "Gott mitt uns" nationalism promoted by Kaiser Wilhelm's regime in Germany.
"If this is patriotism," a disgusted Waldron had told his acquaintances, "to hell with patriotism."
Apparently, it was a crime and a sin in Wilson's America to impugn nationalism of any variety:
Waldron was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, eventually serving a little more than a year. Of the roughly 1,000 Americans convicted under the World War I Espionage and Sedition Acts, Waldron was the first to be imprisoned exclusively for his religious beliefs.
The Divine State, as Hobbes saw it: The original frontispiece of Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes's theodicy for the omnipotent unitary state, depicted it as combining the civil (sword) and religious (crozier) powers in a sovereign figure composed of countless subjects. Rousseau commended Hobbes for embracing tyrannical absolutism, and built upon his work.
Rev. Waldron's "crime" was essentially the same as Rev. Wright's offense, and I suppose the fact that Wright has not yet been forced to undergo prolonged public humiliation and imprisonment means that our nation hasn't sunk into the abyss of collective dementia that claimed the liberty of so many during World War I.
What I find most interesting about the manufactured controversy about Wright is this: Nearly all of the commentary generated about Wright's sermons focuses on the racial aspect of his theology, rather than examining the merits of his critique of the warfare state. Even Obama's widely praised speech about his decades-long relationship with Wright focused chiefly on issues of race relations, while either ignoring or condemning Wright's principled critique of Washington's wars and foreign policy.
Clearly, there are people who seek to exploit, for consummately cynical reasons, lingering inter-ethnic tensions (Michelle Obama, an attorney who specializes in "diversity consulting," could be considered a profiteer of sorts in this respect). Republican herd-poisoners are already preparing to depict Obama and Wright as closer than Damon and Pythias, and on previous experience I don't think many of the GOP's campaign flacks care whether or not that characterization is true.
Amid all of this, it's important to remember one vital fact: What prompted the ritual denunciation of Wright (including an artfully parsed one by Sen. Obama) was not his congregation's aberrant race-centered theology or even his own intemperate remarks on that subject. Rather, it was his blasphemy against the Civil Religion and the endless good works done in its name -- bombings, invasions, official liaisons with dictators, all of that good and righteous stuff. That kind of "sin," as Rousseau warned centuries ago, simply can't be forgiven.
Dum spiro, pugno!
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"Waldron was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, eventually serving a little more than a year."
Under current federal law which requires at least 85% of a sentence to be served, Waldron would have spent nearly 13 years in prison.
Members of Congress receive parliamentary immunity for statements made in the legislative chambers. Centuries ago, when the church was a competing source of power, a similar immunity may have extended to statements made from the pulpit.
The case of Waldron, and dozens of other war opponents outrageously imprisoned by federal courts under so-called "liberal Democrat" Wilson, serve to remind us that our birthright to liberty actually was sold out long before most of us were born.
The U.S. analogue to Rome's transition from republic to empire occurred in 1913, with the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment (income tax), the Seventeenth Amendment (direct election of Senators), and the Federal Reserve Act. Taken together, these acts provided the mechanism for war finance, while enacting a political coup d'etat by ending state legislatures' participation in the U.S. Senate. Though it is still called "federal," the federal structure ended when the states were excluded, and became a central government.
R.I.P. United States republic, 1776-1913.
A private banking cartel handling our economic policy is lovely isn't it, at least for the banksters.
R.I.P. United States republic, 1776-1913.
Actually, make that 1776-1865. The federal "victory" in the War to Prevent Southern Independence was the first successful battle in the war to defeat federalism. The events of 1913 were "Phase II", setting the mechanisms in place that, by 2013, will probably ensure the destruction of the very last vestiges of the nation of the founders.
liberranter, as much as I earnestly hate to say so, your timeline makes perfect sense to me.
liberranter's 1776-1865 timeline is a plausible alternative to mine ending in 1913.
HOWEVER, the first appearances of the federal income tax and "greenback" paper money were cancelled after the war. The U.S. decided to return to the gold standard in 1871. The federal structure of the Senate remained intact, despite abuses such as the unconstitutional creation of the rump state of West Virginia in 1863.
The War Between the States constituted an early warning of what was to come, but most of the damage (other than the decisive nullification of the right to secede) was repaired. Since 1913, by contrast, it's been a straight downhill bobsled run of ever-escalating usurpations. No bad law is EVER repealed anymore.
Either way, the critical sellouts of our birthright to liberty occurred before we were born. I did not get a clue about this during my public school education. Those iconic "civics lessons" of our youth, I later learned, were mostly treasured myths. They're probably still taught today. Man, did that mess with my mind. If I hadn't learned all that obsolete nonsense about natural and constitutional rights, I'd probably be a happy camper.
Well, I guess it should be somewhat clear by now why this country, the vestige of the constitutional republic it once supposed was anyway, is dying off rapidly. The fact is that most Amis don't know what, or whom, to believe concerning history, the State, the church, and religion in general. I guess I'm an atypical renegade, perhaps even more extreme than you are, Will. I simply reject the nonsense of both the Wrights and Hagees of the world, the "Left" and the "Right," the "Religious Right" and the "Pagan Left," and the "Ecclesio-Leninists" and "Ecclesio-Racists," ad nauseam, of whatever variety. Most people cannot distill and consume the truth nuggets from the utterances of these kind of folk without swallowing the entire course. One of the reasons I enjoy reading your pieces is because you seem to also have a keen knack for distilling truth nuggets from their otherwise maniacal, statist, and egoistic utterances or writings.
That said, I still say, as I always have said here, that in a constitutional system the government is a reflection of the people, in essence their spiritual condition. How the people think and act is naturally how the government eventually thinks and acts since it's made up of these same people. We're becoming a police state in essence by choice as there's certainly been no sudden coups d'état and one hasn't been required. This is why I view Huxley's Brave New World as more closely encapsulating what we're becoming societally speaking than Orwell's 1984. But that's just me.
When you mention the parishioners in Waldron's church in Vermont, it's clear that many of the people had decided anew for themselves who their "god" was and it wasn't Jehovah. As it happens, I agree with those who would say it was the churches who first blazed the trail toward idolatry (worship of State specifically) especially during Wilson's reign. A new "god" was calling and the churches answered and being that "the Church" aggregately represented the rudder for the populace at large, the rest of the populace naturally followed along.
I concur that it was 1865 specifically, but the entire era generally, that was most likely the germination of the Total State we know as such today. Like France (King Louis XVI -> Napoleon), Germany (Kaiser Wilhelm II -> WWI -> war reparations -> social upheaval -> Hitler), Cuba (Baptista -> Castro), and other nation-states, the people, following a period of one form of authoritarian ills, turn right around and reflexively support and embrace an even more enrapturing totalitarian demogague (or oligarchy of totalitarians) to rule them that turns out, in the long run, to be even more painful and more destructive. Speaking of truth nuggets as mentioned above, Hegel uttered a few as well: "What history teaches us is that men have never learned anything from it."
Will Durant had a perfect description (IMO) concerning Americans specifically: "We Americans are the best informed people on earth as to the events of the last twenty-four hours; we are not the best informed as to the events of the last sixty centuries."
Wonderful article. In all areas, this nation looks more and more like the nation Jeremiah prophesied to.
Another good piece Will and even though as an atheist, I enjoyed listening to wright's sermon in a more complete context. I personally find little in it to criticize.
In some ways I suppose I have personally sought to reconcile my own discomfort with both religion and government over the course of a lifetime. Abandoned religion at a very young age because of the blatant hypocrisy that permeated those religions I was exposed too. Abandoned government in mid-life because of the obvious logical disconnects - one cannot find reason, justice or truth at any level in the law.
Over time I have come to identify both religion and government as structures which rely on mass ideology - "group think" if one wishes to use the contemporary colloquialism. And, anthropologically speaking, I suppose it makes sense on some primitive level. Based on what I've read I believe religion emerged in tribal societies as a way to explain the "unexplainable" in the world. And as poly-theistic societies coalesced into mono-theistic societies religious power became concentrated and it became necessary for religious entities to spawn a separate entity to do the "dirty work" if you will. So monarchies were formed (pharaohs and kings) to present the sword arm of the mass ideology while leaving the facade of purity with the theological arm though the latter surely controlled the former - at least initially.
So, in a way I find religion is responsible for its evil creation, as it was the proto-government which created an entity that has simply evolved to eclipse it's progenitor. Both still retain the hierarchical structure placing increasing power and influence at the top. Both require 'belief' in vacuous, untenable and unprovable premises. What better tools could one ask for when one wishes to control mass ideological thinking?
Don't misunderstand there are many good lessons to be learned from religion's rich history, but unfortunately they tend to be nuggets buried in significant layers of effluent. Just as there are some good laws and legislative acts which are also buried under mountains of effluent. But I cannot dismiss the fact that both have common origins and both have served the other at one time or another throughout history - which is why very at close to five decades on this earth (ouch) I reject both as neither is true to their stated premises and both are the creation of flawed human intellect.
Do I have the answer? No - and I don't know if there is one. But I do know that a man cannot let other men command or demand obedience from him and remain a man (man in the generic usage of course). I do think if religion stuck to spiritual aspects of life and eschewed gov't it could be useful in a way though harmless to those who wish to be separate from it. Gov't on the other hand forces itself mercilessly on us all.
Just my badly depreciated $0.02
The local weekly left leaning "alternative" newspaper had an editorial last week saying the rev was right and this week no hate mail!? I thought the nazi trolls and race baiters of every stripe would be all over over it. Maybe shauna vanity, man coulter and crusty limberger didn't give marching/thinking orders yet.
Thank you, finally, for a truly conservative voice defending Wright. I too, thought his opinions we're treated only as soundbytes taken completely out of context.
If you've ever traveled to Mr Wright's neighborhood in Chicago you can easily understand why he's a bit "Afro-centric". It's a booze shop, or a porn store, or some other spot where human beings can stop the disease of thought for a moment. A crack-hit and you're in Paris, coming down to reality, you're not.
I can see how the drug could become addictive.
"And as poly-theistic societies coalesced into mono-theistic societies religious power became concentrated and it became necessary for religious entities to spawn a separate entity to do the "dirty work" if you will." Anonymous @ 8:23 PM
Anon hints at a fascinating corollary: the religious analogue to democracy, and to the U.S. system of "checks and balances" in particular, is polytheism; different gods, each with their own sphere of influence, and not always in harmony with each other.
How is it that the [mono]Theist Founders designed a multi-branched government, rather than elevating a benevolent Unitary Presidency as the supreme authority, to mirror their revered Governor of the universe? Perhaps their three-legged stool of executive- legislature- judiciary unconsciously emulates the Holy Trinity.
Or perhaps -- Lord forgive me! -- George W. Bush is the image of God. Satan starts to look like an enlightened alternative here.
I didn't take Will's essay exactly as a defense of Rev. Wright.
In spite of the nuggets of truth in Rev. Wright's tirades, the racism is piercing and serves to divide rather than unite, and promotes groupthink as opposed to individuals thinking for themselves.
America didn't cease being a free country in the 1860s. It was never a free country. It was a slave society, for crying out loud, and an aggressive nation that fought two major expansionist wars between the revolution and Lincoln's war. Then it became a consolidated, nationalist, corporatist dictatorship for the war. Then it became a social democracy/international empire. There was conscription for much of the 20th century. Now we have no mass conscription or chattel slavery, but soldiers can't quit their jobs, there's no habeas corpus or fourth amendment, the president claims dictatorial power over the planet and we have the largest prison population in the world.
America has always been half-slave, and half-free – just in different ways.
Another layer of my unthinking loyalty to Der Schtaat perishes under your beltsander of reality, Will...
While this might have shocked and angered me had I seen it right after 9/11, I almost jumped for joy seeing some of Rev. Wright's sermons on TV. Even hearing him say God damn America was not shocking - what else can He do to a nation of idolaters who worship a warmongering, blasphemous president? (I speak of "Christian" idolaters.)
This is an excerpt from The Faith of George W. Bush by Bush worshipper Stephen Mansfield, explaining why Bush and other presidents "still spoke religiously of the nation as a nod to a Christian memory and as an attempt to baptize the American culture of their day":
"Scholars like Robert Bellah and Sidney Mead have called this 'civil religion,' a kind of American Shinto, an attempt to weave American ideals into a secular religion of the state. It is religious language torn from its original context and applied to the American experience. To some it is idolatrous; to others it is a necessary body of unifying sentiments."
Rev. Wright broke the rules when he mentioned Hiroshima and Nagasaki and countless other incidents which shows the U.S. in its proper light: savage aggressors who have committed more atrocities than almost any other nation.
Americans dismiss Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a careless wave of the hand, saying it brought the war to an end and "saved millions of American lives." The only country who has used atomic bombs on civilian populations thinks it has the moral authority to decide who can and cannot develop nuclear weapons.
Read Truman's press release only 16 hours after dropping the first bomb. There is no mention of any American lives saved or Japanese civilians murdered. No, little Truman did nothing but brag: "The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet." "It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe." "We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city."
Truman also said the Germans were working feverishly to develop atomic energy "with which they hoped to enslave the world." But Gen. Paul Tibbets ,the pilot of the Enola Gay, said that in June, 1942, the Germans had decided they couldn't afford the investment needed to build a bomb, but the U.S. and Britain were unaware of their decision. I don't believe that for a second, but it didn't matter -- Tibbets, as much a braggart as Truman, said if they had been able to construct a bomb, there was no doubt they would have used it against the Allies. Sounds like the Bush Doctrine, which is "attack a country and kill civilians just in case." Oh, and here are photos of Tibbets, at a BOOK SIGNING, which he enjoyed doing until his death in 2007. Not only are we not troubled by murdering thousands of civilians, we actually want the pilot's autograph.
(This is a beautiful song by Boney M, Rivers of Babylon, based on Psalm 137, the one from which Rev. Wright was reading.)
Thanks for drawing the parallels that also first struck me when the smear of Rev. Wright got started. Thanks too for the extra insight into the false gods of the social contract.
I am still undecided as to why neocon MSM would raise up a new Jeremiah so biblical in name and aspect by their smear tactics. Could it be just for the sound-bite of a "New Babylonian Captivity" fearmongering campaign? Could be. They must know both the symbolic value of a deep cultural reference and the relative unwillingness of the average voter to actually read an old testament prophet.
Your Waldron citation is absolutely fascinating! Keep up the great work.
Good article, Mr. Griggs, Sir.
The anonymous atheist "Abandoned religion at a very young age because of the blatant hypocrisy that permeated those religions [he] was exposed too."
To recognize "hypocrisy" one must also recognize a standard of righteousness to which the hypocrite has fallen short.
If this standard, recognized by this anonymous atheist, is the standard of a holy and righteous Triune Christian God, then the hypocrites are not following this God. Also, the atheists have deliberately chosen not to follow this God. Therefore, the atheists and hypocrites, in some way, are on the same side.
Also, doesn't atheism "require 'belief' in vacuous, untenable and unprovable premises."?
Great post, Mr. Grigg! I appropriated big chunks for my own nefarious purposes -- with attribution, of course. Thank you for your insights. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that there might be a parallel or two between Rev. Wright and his Biblical namesake.
Please forgive me for picking a tiny little nit: "prophesy" (with a penultimate S) is a verb ... "prophecy" (with a C instead of the S) is a noun. Nit picked.
Keep up the excellent work!
William N. Grigg for President anyone?
Anonymous, you're exceptionally kind -- but I'd prefer to earn an honest living!
Mr. Wetzel, thanks for the kind comments and also for catching the keyboard slip. I'll correct it right away. (And isn't it great to be able to do that kind of thing? I love blogging!)
"f this standard, recognized by this anonymous atheist, is the standard of a holy and righteous Triune Christian God..."
That's a big assumption, that there is a "standard" at all. What I've found is that so-called believers will manipulate the bar up and down to suit their own tickled ears. It doesn't require much to see that "hypocrisy" is simply saying one thing and doing another. Nothing more or less.
"...atheists have deliberately chosen not to follow this God. Therefore, the atheists and hypocrites, in some way, are on the same side."
Agnostic or atheist? You can be passive or aggressive in varying degrees within either camp. The passive could care less. The evangelical atheist is on a mission. They hate the idea and by extension anyone who harbors it.
"Also, doesn't atheism "require 'belief' in vacuous, untenable and unprovable premises."? "
Like all religions. I'd say their faith, for the angry atheist, is in their "unfaith". A true atheist on the other hand wouldn't even bother with arguing the merits or demerits of his being an atheist. The whole issue would be considered absurd, and rightly so, therefore they'd view all the dust being kicked up between proselytizing atheists and foam flecked "believers" as a sort of school yard brawl. They'd keep out of it and let the children figure it out.
I for one sympathize.
Great post... It's a shame that all of the Rev's words are suddenly "anti-American"...
As a Catholic, i can see parallels between this story, America's Christians, and today's first reading (Acts 2:42-47), about how the early Christians lived -- sharing everything, eating and working together, constantly in exultations.
I've heard so many arguments "teaching" why we shouldn't be living like that.
That terrible idol: Practical Christianity...
It seems, if there is one passage that could re-form America, it's that one.
Good comment about lining up for the autograph.
We can only pray he made atonement under the laws of Just War...
"He was still imprisoned when that prophesy was fulfilled. The Babylonians freed him, and some traditions claim that Jeremiah wound up in Egypt, where he was murdered in his dotage by former fellow citizens of Jerusalem who had never forgiven him for bearing prophetic witness against the City's evils."
Actually, it is written in Jeremiah's book, ch 43:
4 So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah. 5 But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah; 6 Even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters, and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, >>>and Jeremiah<<< the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah. 7 So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes. (Emphasis added)
I do not recall a record of Jeremiah's death. But considering his prophecies against Egypt it is possible that Pharaoh may have wanted him dead. In chapter 42, Jeremiah gives the following:
15 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; 16 Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.
So it may also be that Jeremiah fell victim to the Babylonian sword.
Thank's 'mot', you summed things up well as I'm one of the 'could care less' crowd.
I was just noting that the mass ideology of both the 'religious' and the 'political' have common roots.
As for what I believe - on the scale of the universe we are insignificant carbon based blobs on a rather non-descript planet orbiting a rather plain star in the far corner of a pretty average galaxy. In four billion years, the sun will expand and turn our little rock into a cinder. So I live for the day and my life is defined by how I interact with others through the course of my life - nothing more and nothing less. No heaven, no hell and no do-overs - so be the best you can be today to all you meet.
If there is no Heaven, no Hell or no do-overs, why be the best you can be? Why not just 'be' and do whatever thou wilt? And what is the best one can be? If everything, including the universe, will reach in due time non-existence, how can any of our actions or lives mean anything? The memory of Stalin's and Hitler's "atrocities" will have long been incinerated in the furnace of nothingness along with them when everything runs its course.
Who would be here to remember mankind's "good" (whatever good is) achievements and "evil" (however evil is defined) deeds when the universe dies a second law of thermodynamics' heat death becoming cold and lifeless with no useable energy? So if you can get away with microwaving babies and you enjoy those kind of activities, how would that be wrong if that activity empowers you to believe that you are being the best you can be? If you're right, let's follow the Nike commercial and 'just do it'
-whatever it is- for tomorrow we die. Dostoyevsky was right. No Heaven, no Hell and no God means everything is permissible. Everything!
Anon - if you are so lacking in moral integrity that you cannot see the benefit of doing the right thing without the promise of heaven or the threat of hell - then you are beyond hope. Certainly beyond anything I care to engage.
Very sad indeed . . .
What benefit and for whom? What is the right thing with all things being equal and when everything will die? Forget the 'carrot and stick' analogy of Heaven and Hell for a moment and focus on the prospect of a universe without God. My views on morality would be just as valid as yours and vice versa or any other individual for that matter, whether that individual was Mother Theresa or Ted Bundy, in a universe without God. Reread the comment and try to think really, really hard about it.
Again, Dostoyevsky was right. No God and everything is permissible. Nietzsche was also right when he told his fellow atheists to stop picking the pockets of God's corpse Whom they just killed. One of those atheist pickpocketers grabbed 'absolute morality' from the corpse of God. Nietzsche says throw it back; we create our own subjective morals now. Up can be down, black can be white and anything goes in a universe without God. Be a consistent atheist, that's all I ask....and stop borrowing moral capital from Christianity.
Anon - the one who demands a god for his morality - you really deserve to be ruled by both religion and govenment as you apparently are an empty vessel without them.
May your chains set lightly on you . . .
The "no-standard" bearers continue to assume no standard while they argue vehemently for their position against the hypocrites, religious zealots, racists, etc. They are like those who say;
"There is no truth." (and that's the truth).
"There is no absolute knowledge." (and I know this absolutely).
"Don't tell me what to do." (telling you what to do).
"Everything I say is a lie." (if it's true, it's false).
"There is nothing more certain in modern society than the principle that there are no absolutes."
They are like a man who argues against the existence of air, using it all the while he makes his case against it.
There is no logical basis for absolute morality without God. If man is left alone in the universe, he is free to determine his own individual morality. The existential atheist philosopher Paul Sartre accepted and understood this point. Without God, we would all be empty vessels, existing in a pointless and meaningless universe where eventually everything will cease to exist. What message of hope can the atheist ever offer, and from whence does his standard of morality derive?
I do not worship the state, nor do I worship religion; I worship God. In his quest for a god substitute, It is the secularist who is prone to government worship, not the Christian. As a Christian, I have a logical basis from which to call the actions of others either good or evil. The logical, consistent atheist can only say: "Well, Ted Bundy was doing what he felt was right, and since I believe in moral relativism, I have no objective standard by which to call his actions wrong. Sure, I want to say his actions were wrong, but I can't. If I did I would be imposing my views of morality upon him since I would then be appealing to an absolute standard of righteousness above both him and myself, which would be wrong...and logically inconsistent with my atheism's groundless view of morality."
You have yet to disclose what you mean by "lacking moral integrity". Whose moral integrity? You have no objective basis of morality to offer me, but don't worry I already have one. You see, from my Judeo-Christian view of absolute morality, I have a logical basis from which to call the actions of the atheist mass-murderer Joseph Stalin and the sociopathic mass-murderer George W. Bush evil.
You do not.
"If men will not be ruled by God, they will then be ruled by tyrants."
No, may your chains rest lightly upon you!
Ah yes, and 'dr' exposes the very root of all atrocities that Will writes about regularly - the explicit demand for a 'standard bearer' and the implicit demand that it be 'his' standard bearer.
Sorry dr, but the only standard is that of the fundamental principle of self-ownership. Where we can agree, we agree; where we don't, we don't. No more - no less.
Well, anon - if you believe that morality cannot exist without god - produce your god . Otherwise you have nothing but vacuous arguments.
We can clearly see when we have hurt another or trespassed another's right to self ownership without a god myth. That is all that is necessary. If you wish to prostrate yourself to myth and you enjoy it then so be it, it does me no harm and I don't begrudge you in the least. Just show the same respect for others if you are not too shallow to do so.
If there is no absolute standard of morality, there are no atrocities.
......speaking of shallowness.
Man, are you ever thick-headed. Atheist philosophers would never use your arguments. They would consider it philosophical baby-talk.(Well, except perhaps Dan Barker) This is why they deny absolute morality, because it points to a standard above mankind, i.e. God.
Without God, all men are free to determine their own individual relativistic morality, which means there wouldn't exist an absolute moral standard above men through which anyone could point to as binding upon all people for all time. Even if secularists arbitrarily and collectively agreed upon a binding definition of what is right and wrong, that standard could still change when others succeed them with different views, or if their consensus on the moral standard changes. Only God's unchanging, absolute standard of morality affirms that racism and murdering innocent people are always wrong, in every society, and in every age.
If you wish to arbitrarily resurrect Judeo-Christian absolute morality, be my guest, but don't tell me you're being a logically consistent atheist when doing so.
BTW, there are sound arguments for God's existence, but this isn't the forum for that discussion. But here are a few:
1)Sufficient Reason Cosmological
3)Kalaam Cosmological argument
BTW, Will Grigg is an Evangelical Christian, so when he writes about those despicable atrocities, he has a God-based, unchanging, absolute moral standard by which he can objectively judge the actions of others as being evil; evil actions which are not rooted in God's absolute moral standard, but rooted in the hearts of evildoers who disregard that absolute standard by transgressing it.
To the anonymous atheist standard bearers;
Oh, it must be made more explicit;
"There is no standard." (that's my standard and I'm sticking with it, because I am god. I made myself, therefore I own myself, and my standard is better than anyone else's. Where we agree, we agree, where we do not, we do not. That's all there is, now and forever, Amen, because I said so, that's why. So there).
"They utter speech, and speak insolent things..."
Psalm 94:4a (part b is appropriate too).
There is no morality without God (or god). If you make or determine your own morality, then you are god, a legend in your own mind (as has been said). The Almighty God does not impose His standard on you (except He requires you to breathe air). He lets you have your way, as inconsistent, irrational, willful, and arbitrary as it is.
My efforts are not to impose His standard on you either, rather to ask you to reconsider your willfulness against Him. Why are you so angry at Him?
My efforts are for you, not against you, (an attempt at love and concern). They are also for Him, desiring to bring every thought captive to His standard.
Thanks for the lively discussion. Do with it as you wish. After all, it's your standard that counts, right?
First off, this will be my last post on the topic so if the other anon and 'dr' wish to continue it (which I'm sure they will) so be it.
For both of you let me state this - it is quite obvious that you are both more committed to your ideology than to your humanity. You are the very type of ideologues I initially referred to. You drank the 'koolaid' and now you expect the rest to follow suit. Sorry, that isn't happening.
Also, I'd like to point out that I am well aware of Will's personal leanings and I admire him quite a lot having read him for some time and having been fortunate enough to hear him speak. It is 'my impression' that Will, unlike yourselves, respects his humanity and has chosen a path which augments it rather than defines it. You on the other hand, are more like his 'one note nelly' debate opponent who thumped his ideology repeatedly without offering anything of substance to his position.
A final note to anon, I think I could pretty well 'mop the floor' with you from a philosophical perspective as your posts are riddled with logical fallacies. However, this forum does not lend itself well to such nor do I have the desire or inclination to pursue it. My goal is not to change your myopic way of thinking only to find individuals who share common goals regardless of their personal inclinations.
Peace be with you two - you're going to need it . . .
If, by chance, you change your mind and wish to pursue it, you can explain my logical fallacies to me at:
Institute of Biblical Defense
Thanks for the lively exchange and peace be with you.
During Rev. Wright's message, he makes several references to America's "chickens coming home to roost." As his evidence he sites items from the Apaches to Hiroshima and beyond. If we pursue his logic, it follows that each of those he mentions must have had their "chickens come home to roost" also. If we pursue his logic further, is the black suffering he refers to because their "chickens have come home to roost?"....or would that be an exception to his rule?
i agree with a lot of what rev. wright said. but i am not running for president.
however, his comment about aids is extreme and not based on anything credible.
I am a Roman Catholic White Citizen. I find no fault in this man's speech, on You-Tube. Now, it is still out of context, with the rest of his speech, so I cannot render a judgment on the whole speech. It is not Liberation Theology, if it is stating the Truth of Our American Sinfulness to the Least of Our Brothers and Sisters, in Christ. Our Lord said, "Whatsoever you do to the Least of My Brothers, that you do unto Me." (Someplace in the Gospels). Rev. Wright cannot be faulted for taking his example obviously from Catholic Television Shows like Mother Angelica, and using Catholic Truths of Examination of Conscience to first repent of his own sinfulness. That which Rev. Wright said on this particular day, cannot be untrue. It is righteous, and must be seen as such. To diatribe, with false intellectualism, this man's true statements, is to oppose Christ, Who is Truth. Now, that said, if Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, is unrepentant of racism for white people and has an unforgiving heart, I am sure, if he is a Godly Man, and open to Christ's Admonisions, he will listen. If not, then, his example would be considered flip flopping, and untrue. History, bear this out. I do have a problem, with the diatribes of those who wrote, that they thought the statements of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah were wrong here. I cannot agree with your statements. I do, as a Roman Catholic White Woman, agree, with what Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright said here. God has allowed America to suffer, just like the Isrealites suffered, for turning their back as a whole on God. But, I do not see Rev. Dr. Wright denouncing Abortion, and I have a great concern, that since he left out the greatest Haulocaust in America, the Abortion of 58,000 Million Unborn Babies, since 1973, I sence, then, that he left it out for many speculative reasons. He has to come out against abortion, embroyonic stem cell usury/and disgarding (killing them when their done), euthanasia, capital punishment, and contraceptives, before I admired him 100%. But, Jesus didn't ask me to follow Rev. Dr. Jeremian Wright. Jesus says to all of us, "Follow Me." And, I take that to heart. No other man has ever bled and died for me but, Jesus, and no other human beings deserve my total adulations, but Jesus. Obeying rightful civil authority, in every thing but sin. Obama is for: Abortion, Contraceptives, Homosexual Unions, Embryonic Stem Cell Usuries & Abortions, and I won't follow such a lousey lead. It would be a sin for me to follow President Elect Barack Obama's bad examples already. I will oppose abortion, even with the shedding of my blood, if need be. I won't continue to allow pro-abortion idiots to torture and kill the unborn. I will fight with all my prayers, and all my pro-life effort, doing legally and religiously what I can to stop Abortion, Contraceptives, Porn, Euthanasia, Homosexual Unions, and any other mayham the Devil can cook up in the hearts and minds of people, who abuse power, to trample on the Littlest Ones, and Most Vulnerable Ones of America. We must stand up even to our Family Members, who want to bring home for Thanksgiving their Live in Girlfriends, who have selfishly done this Evil in front of my Granddaughter, Lauren. I will not invite those w/o a Wedding Garment into my house on Thanksgiving and act like it is okay. As for me and my house, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.
I think you're trying to find a complicated answer to a simple question.
Rev. Wright is, simply, a racist.
I don't dispute that he's a racist. That doesn't mean that everything he says is wrong, however.
How's that for a simple answer? :-)
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