Tuesday, October 24, 2006

America at War With Itself: Secularism vs. Judeo-Christianity UPDATED, Scroll Down

A belated welcome to Siggy and Mama readers! Please take a look around--were talking about impolite topics these days: sex, politics and religion. Oh, and racism, too. Why not? I'm quite sure, there's enough to offend everyone.


Maxed Out Mama goes off today on a righteous rant. Her post is excellent and deserves a careful, thoughtful reading.

Before I reference my favorite passages from her post, I would like to note something. Within America, we face a question whose answer determines our future. We know what the future looks like should we continue on our current path--we have had the benefit of watching Europe morph into a multi-cultural morass. Their society is defined by conflict, nihilism, and a pervasive sense of helplessness. Meanwhile, an undercurrent of intolerance, hate and revenge brews.

The question: Are we a God-fearing country or are we a Secular country?

Which is it? The first dictates certain actions. The second does, as well. You see, for those who are areligious or anti-religious, their moral compass is quite lax (not all, mind you, but the minorities matter as much as the majorities according to their dogma). Their religion is their personal comfort. This belief leads to certain conclusions.

While our Judeo-Christian society tolerates those who fall outside the Judeo-Christian belief system--sinners who have yet to reform is the hopeful ideal, the Secular system is quite intolerant of those who do not tolerate everything they believe is tolerable. And what's tolerable is quite dependent on the individual. So we end up in inane places where bestiality is hotly debated as an individual right.

And why shouldn't bestiality or euthanasia or necrophilia or pedophilia or polygamy or abortion or adultery or thievery or extortion be allowed? The fittest will survive. The rest will shrink and die. If a Jeff Skilling can manage to snooker thousands of people, shame on them for being stupid.

Nearly every law on America's books ties back to the Magna Carta and ultimately, the Bible. One could argue that the rational results of these laws is a society filled with knowledge, reason, abundance and every good thing imaginable. Perhaps that's why so many Americans dig their heels in when it comes to changing to allow every perverted (who gets to define that word?) thing become not just tolerated but endorsed legally.

Mama says it better:

Why? SC&A answers the question:
Non believers would argue that belief in God is a kind of crutch- and it is in that argument that we can see that they do not understand the meaning of ‘faith in God.’ In fact, real faith is assuming a burden, obligations that would otherwise be ignored. The Jewish notion is particularly illustrative- it is one of assuming ‘the yoke of Heaven.’

With real faith there is no respite from those obligations. In fact, the obligations and ‘ascent’ are unrelenting. There is a never ending field that must be plowed so that who follow the believer will find spiritual nourishment and meaning. There are no vacations from the obligations believers assume.

Exactly. This is the philosophy, the essential stance, that the NY Times finds so dangerous. It concentrates on destroying this idea, which their philosophy finds terrifying. They do not fear the bombers and the destroyers - they fear us. They fear those who believe that there is an absolute, external reality which has the right to make individual claims upon us which will mandate self-sacrifice. Traditional atheism in the American culture has denied the existence of a God, but not has not denied the existence of an external reality or the concept that recognizing an external reality imposes obligations on us individually.

The new philosophy of "secularism" has come to adopt the idea that reality, if it is uncomfortable, can be changed. Of course, it cannot. And of course, reality will often be very, very uncomfortable. Yet it will continue to exist, and the sum of our individual inabilities or abilities to recognize reality and to respond to it well ultimately governs the life and success of all cultures. This new secularism is also at war with traditional American atheism.

SC&A's post merits reading and rereading, but for now I want to cite a comment in response to the post from one Ryotto:
Life is not meaningless to the secular tribe. In fact, life on this earth is what matters most.

Unlike the religious tribe, who will mindlessly vote for anyone who wears his religion on his sleeve, no matter how disastrous his policies are, the members of the secular tribe are concerned about what kind of place we will leave to future generations. Will we leave them an overpopulated, polluted Earth which is dominated by the greed of big business and has little regard for the individual, or will we leave them an Earth which is better than the one we were given?

For some secularists, Ryotto's point is true. These are the traditional atheists who do recognize duty toward others. But it is obvious that Ryotto doesn't recognize this duty, because the first duty of all those who do believe in external reality is to recognize that reality as well as they can. When Ryotto must continue on to describe the "religious tribe" this way...

To the religious tribe, it really doesn’t matter, as long as they can spend eternity floating around in some kind of imagined paradise.

... it becomes obvious that Ryotto has a problem with reality. It takes a stunning amount of willful blindness not to realize that the commands of faith are almost purely directed toward our obligations toward other human beings, and not to recognize the historical role that these commands have played in the life of our nation. Abolition, emancipation of women, child-labor laws, the progressive era fighting for just compensation for working-class men and women - all of these movements were initiated by religious people. The churches and synagogues spawned the hospitals, nursing homes and charities then, and they still do now.

When you must resort to lies to make your point, you have no point. Just as every atheist is not trying to avoid reality, it is fact that most religious people are responding to the reality that they see and experience, and that the Ten Commandments still have place in the life of this country because they still accurately tell us something about the results of our actions over time.

Does lying, stealing or cheating work? Does abusing or ignoring your parents work? Properly understood, "sin" in the Judeo-Christian tradition means denying reality with your actions, a.k.a. doing things that seem wonderful right now, but do not work out over the long term. Isn't "...punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me" an apt description of what we are seeing in our society from those who have romped off on the path of self-fulfillment while ignoring their responsibilities to others? Change "God" to "the real world", and can any atheist not at war with reality deny that these rules are still basic requirements for a workable society?

It is also a fact that the US press is dominated by an elite that has little contact with reality and wishes to preserve that circumstance, and that it represents the true life of the American people not at all. It is a froth destined to be swept away by the currents of history and reality. I will not mourn its passing.

Shrinkwrapped wrote in a puzzled fashion last year that he could not understand why he found many religiously-oriented bloggers more thoughtful and reality-oriented than the secularists. In "Talking 'bout My Generation" he takes another look at what the denial of personal responsibility has wrought:
Children who are raised to believe the sun rises and sets for them are loathe to risk their own comfort for anything that does not directly threaten them. After all, since the ascendancy of the left among the Western elites, the idea that there could exist anything more important than the attainment of one's personal happiness (usually confused with the pursuit of pleasure and material accumulation) has been accepted as the only sine qua non for a just society. The heightened Narcissism of my generation is the substrate upon which so many of our troubles rest, which is why I write about it so often.
Secularism is really state-sponsored Narcissim. It is a religion. It is a belief system. There is dogma. And it is being foisted on Americans. The hope is that America will trade their Judeo-Christian roots for the fleeting feel-good forbidden fruit of Secular selfishness.

America will choose and her choice will determine her survival.

Update: My, my, my. This topic is not only on my mind today. Everyone is talking about God--even Psychiatrists. Please go read this post by Sigmund, Carl and Alfred. I'd like to note that he is in my Blog Roll and if you haven't been hitting the links recently, you're missing out. This is just one example.


MaxedOutMama said...

Dr. M, I never rant. I might (ahem) become a little earnestly prolix while trying to make a point, but (ahem) it's not a rant.

Anyway, I wanted to add a comment left on Shrinkwrapped's post about his generation to your fine post. It's by "Ed the Lefty", and it ends:
"Thinking about it some more, it seems like most of the 20 something’s I know that are dysfunctional have one thing in common. They dominate their parents; they are the alphas in the house and abuse their power. Many lay around the house with impunity, openly mocking their parents; or at the very least ignoring them completely. This leads them into thinking they can treat the rest of the world that way, and get away with it. Sadly many of them do."

Honor thy father and thy mother....

I remain convinced that the real division in our culture is not political or religious, but philosophical. I was once an agnostic, but it sure didn't make me believe that I could get away with remaking the world in my own image or mistreating other people.

The comments on SW's post are very interesting, because they discuss the despair, hopelessness and rage that individuals experience when an individual tries to live a life not respectful of that greater life that surrounds us all.

Dr. Melissa said...


Sorry about the rant comment. From my perspective, I meant it positively.

I'm thinking about this....this philosophical versues political or religious divide. That would imply that there are lots of Democrats and Republicans who hold a "respectful" philosophy and lots of Democrats and Republicans who hold a "disrespectful, self-centered" philosophy on life.

"Honor thy father and mother" is a religious tenet. If a person is Christian and fails to do this, they are a hypocrite and sinner. If a secular person does this (they are still a sinner :), they can challenge the notion that elder respect is a worthy ideal.

In fact, I do believe some Christians I know let this slide. They allow their children to be disrespectful because 1) they don't believe they are worthy of respect 2) their children's behavior is a projection of their own rebellion (I don't want anyone to tell me "no" either, so I won't tell her "no") 3) they are completely apathetic.

But if I had to say where the divide lay, it seems to be along secular/Christian lines. I have liberal friends who believe it is abusive to tell a child no and won't say poop stinks because it might harm the child's self-esteem.

Do you not see a trend between Secularists and Christians? Or do you see Christians getting all soft-headed and some Secularists are hard-headed, and I'm overgeneralizing.

Am I understanding your perspective, because I feel that I'm missing something?

MaxedOutMama said...

Well, look at the Episcopalians, for example. What has that denomination become? I think this is also SC&A's point - when religion is interpreted as a belief system that justifies oneself and not a belief system that mandates certain behaviors on moral grounds, it can become a narcissistic exercise in itself.

So no, the argument is not really between the believers and the non-believers, but between those who do acknowledge other people (outside reality) as being just as important as themselves and between those who are living self-serving lives. It may well be that faith helps us to acknowledge that outer reality. My experience tells me that's true. But I have known many who seem to be passionate believers yet seem unable to acknowledge that their faith should place certain requirements upon themselves, or even feel free to dismiss those requirements.

I'm not saying that anyone can live a life of absolute integrity, but there is a huge difference between those who try and those who do not. I think it is impossible to lead a life of integrity without acknowledging the reality of other people, and the claim that reality has upon the self. The Ten Commandments are still important because they require us to put belief into action. I think we as human beings are so constructed that it is necessary for belief to direct action for us to become full believers. Otherwise, we are segmenting our own minds and hearts.

MaxedOutMama said...

The creator of the Dilbert cartoons wrote of his recovery of his voice, and asked readers what was their best day. One of the responses was this:
"It's hard to choose, but my happiest day of all was the day I found God. I'd been an atheist for 24 years and had become a hopeless drug addict living in a rescue mission when, on a 12 step retreat at Big Sur, I had an experience that knocked my socks off. I had gone to five meetings that day, and stayed up 'til 3am talking about others' experiences with God. That night I said what's called the Third Step Prayer, where we offer ourselves to God, only I added that I would do anything if God would just show me what His (or Her) Will was, even if it was to die by torture trying to carry God's message of hope and redemption (definitely easier said than done, but I felt like I meant it at the time). I had come to believe. I went to sleep that night and woke up a few hours later with the sun streaming down through the Redwood canopy and filled with the greatest loving feeling I had ever experienced. Then, to top it off, I heard a voice from within that said, "This is all the love you've ever needed. Don't seek love and approval from others but take this love and give it away." I quit cigarettes that day, and had quit drugs and alcohol about a week earlier. I also cried for hours that day. I was permanently changed. I starting enjoying helping people, pretty much for the first time in my life. Since then my life has come together and now, nine years later, I'm a teacher. That was a very difficult time, as you can imagine, but that day has to go down as the most amazing and beautiful I have ever experienced."

Putting an end to one's own place as center of the universe, as this commenter describes, seems to be the prequisite to being able to accept God's help. Well, this can be done in a moment of desperation, that's true.

For most people, without the union of faith and action, we find ourselves back as our own tyrants, and we are awful, arbitrary and vicious tyrants to ourselves as well as to others.

I hope this helps to explain what I am trying to convey.

Dr. Melissa said...

I see!

You are right about "Christians" who don't put their faith in action. In fact, I'm amazed how many people who hold the belief that today is the only moment of salvation (I don't believe this) and do nothing to evangelize the world through mission work or at least example.

Conversely, I know many secular people devoted to helping others. Some seem to be desperate--the world depends on me.

Narcisisstic unawareness is the enemy of everyone. An alcoholic who is aware (and, I'd add humble), ensures his sobriety. Those blind-spots can be our undoing and society's undoing as well.n

Anonymous said...

We know what the future looks like should we continue on our current path--we have had the benefit of watching Europe morph into a multi-cultural morass.

By "Europe", do you mean the future Islamic Republic of Eurostan?

Anonymous said...

The fittest will survive. The rest will shrink and die.

Typical Islamic birth rates in Eurostan: Around 5 per couple, the figure commanded by some "Conquer Europe! Our weapons are Our Wombs!" imams. (Revival of the harem system might throw off the definition of "couple".)

Typical "infidel" birth rates in Europe: Less than 2 per couple. (Some countries are even under the "irreversible death spiral" level of 1.3 per couple.)

MaxedOutMama said...

I have seen myself the desperation which the neo-leftists show. They do seem to feel personally responsible for it all, but isn't that just as big a failure to deal with reality as not feeling any responsibility at all? "The peace of God that passeth understanding" is not in them.

Thanks for your patience. I have a terribly hard time expressing myself.

I'm confused. How can this moment be the only moment of salvation? I'm really confused.

MaxedOutMama said...

Anon, I think Europe's problem is a philosophical problem as well. 20% of the population cannot control the whole population unless the rest of the population are very cowardly.

And isn't moral cowardice the defining characteristic of the intelligentsia of today's Europe?

Dr. Melissa said...

A number of Christians believe that if you don't accept Christ before you die, your chance of knowing God is over and you burn in hell.