Friday, September 22, 2006

A waning shame of Americans' spirituality is not theocracy

"Your government suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price," the ad says.

Suppress? No. Decline to advocate and support? Yes. I will presume that the use of "suppression" is hyperbolic.

There is an understandable but misguided movement to take religion out of the public sphere, to ban religious factors from the political calculus. There is, after all, wisdom in the First Amendment, that secular authority and sectarian authority work best when they work independently.

However, people don't have to be high-ranking clerics or lay religious professionals to have a serious and natural investment in spiritual matters. For most folks, thinking of a transcendent reality is important.

Some folks don't feel such a need. So be it. Some of them think that the ones who do recognize that need are societal dead weight and their indulgence in this vice should be curtailed or at least hidden (which makes me wonder why there aren't more aggressive eugenics advocacy groups in this country, pushing not only to euthanize the chronically and terminally ill but also the severely handicapped). Some look around at a few zealous noisemakers, lump the few thoughtful people who follow a higher wisdom than man's in with the choleric wingnuts on Sunday morning television, and the suddenly hesitant typical religious Americans appear invisible or indifferent at best to religion; and so religion seems a fad finally abandoned by society, or at least successfully marginalized by the choleric moonbats who define themselves as the center of culture.

Well, it's bunk. You don't have to be a scholar of Constitutional law to see that prohibiting the government's entanglement with organized religion has nothing to do with people with a sense of religion participating in government. No, I don't think bishops and priests have a proper place in Congress, or in the president's Cabinet, but it's folly to say that the people at large must also look at religion--the sphere of morality, amongst other things--and politics--the sphere of governing the world--as completely, mutually insoluble things. 'Congress shall not respect or prohibit' doesn't impinge on citizens just because we're a democracy

You don't have to be religious to be moral, but most people go that route, and by and large it's worked as well as any alternative (by which I mean, if you say "Crusades and Inquisition," I reply "Pol Pot and Mao"). No one argues with the basic principles honoring life and property, security in one's person; yet somehow the ones who rely on millennia of teaching inspired by revelation--sorry, superstition--are so dangerous and irrational that only people who claim to derive their morals from pure science (or at least refer vaguely to someone who may have done so, or are willing to subordinate their faith to such self-styled philosophers), whether or not it's a robust or tenable moral system at all. (Hopefully soon I'll have something adequately composed that addresses false triumphalism and psychosis derived from a compelling faith in intentions and premises devoid of effort and reason; remind me to hurry up and you'll see that it makes more sense than it sounds like here.)

What's that? The sound of disenfranchisement? Wasn't I just saying we're in a democracy? We're only not allowed to prevent women and minorities from voting, huh?

(Never mind the bipartisan voting fraud blather. If you didn't like the electoral college, you should've pushed for an amendment before it would have gotten you a different president on the backs of disenfranchised voters from the sparsely populated majority of the country; otherwise you just come off as bitter and ignorant.)

Come on. Is it only science that these folks are upset about being affected by the national leadership's "religious, political and economic agenda?" They look down on Bush because his decision was, to them, primarily religious. If we take religion out of the equation, am I supposed to believe that the president or any of the policymakers under him who tend to perform their duties also shouldn't rely on their political or economic sense, even when politics and economics, not having been barred by the Constitution, are the name of the game?

What else is there? Get elected and then only make policy decisions based on polls in New York City and Hollywood? Are the Flyover States really that Stalinesque, that their will should be thwarted at every turn--wait, if they were Stalinesque, you would be the one unable to choose a leader or express regret over someone else's choice, wouldn't you? Is it the fascists who are holding you down, or the regular folks just living their lives who are so unenlightened they don't even know what you're speaking out against?

Don't say "both" just because some people and the president agree. Consensus is not conspiracy. If you don't like an idea, tell us why you think it's bad. If you don't think someone with a bad idea should get to tell us why he thinks it's good, then the most pressing problem probably isn't his bad idea.

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