Sara Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Rebecca Kleefisch, etc. and Seperation of Church and State

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"Christianity is the most perverted system that every shone on man"

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and an influential founder of the United States

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trail. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

James Madison, fourth (1809– 1817) President of the United States. Known as the "Father of the Constitution,"

"Lighthouses are more useful than churches"

Benjamin Franklin, Diplomat of the American Revolution, and 6Th President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania

"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, and legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?"

John Adams, first Vice President of the United States (1789–1797), and the second President of the United States (1797–1801).

It is fact that Adolf Hitler was a Christian who invoked the name of God when he addressed the German people - yet he was NEVER excommunicated from the Christian church for the holocaust. You need only read the inscription on the face of Nazi soldiers belts to put this debate to rest.

"Of 43 studies carried out since 1927 on the relationship between religious belief and one's intelligence and/or educational level, all but 4 found an inverse connection. That is, the higher one's intelligence or education level, the less one is likely to be religious or hold "beliefs" of any kind."

Paul Bell, Mensa Magazine, 2002

"Several research studies have been published on the statistical relationship between religiousity and educational level, or religiousity and IQ. Michael Shermer, in "How We Believe" The Search for God in an Age of Science," describes a large survey of randomly chosen Americans that he and his colleague Frank Sullaway carried out. Among their many interesting results was the discovery that religiosity is indeed negatively correlated with education (more highly educated people are less likely to be religious)."

Richard Dawkins, Oxford University

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telliottmbamsc
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They're wrong as government was intended to be secular so that people could have religious freedom, including freedom from religion. In particular to O'Donnell, because Intelligent Design is a religious doctrine it has no place in schools and no state has the authority to add it to the curriculum.

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jeffbiss
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The fact that a candidate for US Senate doesn't even know what's in the first amendment is evidence of the charade that politics is.

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Choco
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That people of this level of lack of comprehension about the Constitution can successfully garner support as a potential representative for a constituency is not a good omen for this nation, in my estimation:

Christine O'Donnell Questions Separation Of Church & State (VIDEO)

WILMINGTON, Del. — Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him.

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

Christine O'Donnell: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution.

"It raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution"...

Well, what does that have to do with citizenship and the right to represent your constituency in Congress, or in the White House?

George W. Bush:

"I don't give a goddamn. I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way. ... Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"
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.ren
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Quote Choco:

The fact that a candidate for US Senate doesn't even know what's in the first amendment is evidence of the charade that politics is.

That's an understatement.

Sorry to jump over your post with an edit, Choco. I forgot to put in a reference.

Amazing, though, that you can run for office and get in front of the nation and be able to speak your mind with complete candor. That is, if you are in the right Party.

They do arrest you here in the U.S. if you try to join a debate and you aren't a Republican or Democrat.

CA Gubernatorial Candidate Arrested at Debate: So Much for Open, Free and Fair Elections

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When you look at many already elected Congresscritters, it is hard to get too depressed about the Tea Party Vaudeville act. And, if you think Christine is just ignorant, you have it wrong.

She spouts a lot of conservative Christian nationalist ideology, and "separation of church and state" not being in literal words in the Constitution is one of their faves. At a certain level, were they arguing that America was culturally dominated by WASP myths and values into the early 20th Century, they would be correct. What they totally misunderstand is how religious freedom works in a diverse population.

I always love the assertion that us "secularists" have banned God from the public square. As an ordained Presbyterian clergyman, I see the "secular civil community" as a gift of God where the brands of religious organizations are equally neutral to public policy and civil life. No dogma or doctrine can be imposed on the conscience of another citizen if we respect religious freedom. But the idea that anyone could ban the all powerful, all wise, ruler of the universe from the public square is hilarious.

The genesis of not having an established American Church was differences about forms of government and a few doctrines among the WASP denominations. Not having an official "State" religion or "church" was a new idea in America, and we got there by default rather than by deep theoretical imagination. Nobody wanted others to be the official one, so they decided that nobody would be. And they did not decide to drop any of their differences to blend their minor ethnic and parochial differences.

The Southern, cultic version of the American Century Myth stresses religion and the old idea that America is a chosen nation with a manifest destiny. What made liberals fail as stewards of this mission was secularism. So, they see branding America as Christian as the way to regain the Covenant and bring America back. It is also part of what White means in the story of American 'exceptionalism.'

For contrast, "The Rent's Too Damn High Party" and the most excellent Mountain Man in West Virginia show some creative use of third party tactics to get a message out there. We know that the Tea Party is brought to you by Koch et al, and we know that FAUX will keep it on the agenda. Car crashes and geeks get spectator attention, and those renting our eyeballs have no interest in bringing us truly helpful information unless it comes in high entertainment or some spectacle.

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That people of this level of lack of comprehension about the Constitution can successfully garner support as a potential representative for a constituency is not a good omen for this nation, in my estimation:

I don't think that it's necessarily a lack of comprehension but a different world view that creates a different perception of the constitution. As I see it, it is due to their world view based on Calvinism/objectivism and their ability to ignore inconvenient facts. In their eyes, the righteous/ambitious must be left unencumbered by the unrighteous/unambitious as it is only through their righteousness/ambition can a better society result. Therefore, the founding fathers wrote the constitution with the intent to promote those qualities that would result in a better society and that was to minimize government to maximize the power of righteousness/ambition.

O'Donnell isn't stupid to her suppoters, but forceful in promoting the "correct" interpretation.

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Interesting narrative, DRC, one I don't disagree with, though I don't come to my version of it with a seminary background. That's why I find Chris Hedges' work so appealing, he fills in some of the missing parts for me, while pretty much talking the narrative I am used to making for myself.

No, Christine isn't just ignorant. It's much more than that.

First of all, I notice that Christine is not running on a Tea Party ticket, she's running Republican. So the "Tea Party Vaudeville Act" is more than a sideshow in my scenario, it's to me a kind of Frankenstein monster taking its own road, still in Republican County, and very much in the territory of conservatism as it has evolved in this particular nation. And as a monster, it came out of the Southern Strategy invoked by the Nixon era Republicans when the Democrats finally pushed Civil Rights too far for the Southern sense of ethics and values.

When the Republicans desperately brought Sarah Palin in to bolster McCain flagging run for the Presidency, there were some good reasons, given the stakes at the time, one of which was they did so at a time in the campaign when it did not have the open and automatic support of the extremist Christian Coalition wing of the party, which provided a kind of automatic and statistically significant base of Republican voters each election. With her appointment as VP, Palin brought that support out finally. To me, that illustrates how the VP is used as a kind of chess piece for the two major parties, since the person who runs for that office is appointed by the party, not voted into candidacy by the people in the party through the primary process. This indicates to me the degree of deterioration of democratic principles that have evolved in more than two hundred years of political evolution with this antiquated form of a Constitutional Republic.

Christian Dominionism has been an underlying theme in the Republican Party for awhile now, especially the southern version of it, once they figured out that the South has only been Democrat to spite the faces of the Lincoln version of Republicans. The southern Democrats were not all that happy with the New Deal, nor Roosevelt and his version of the party, but they held their noses and the New Deal prevailed. In current terms, the Bushes, especially Gee Dubya, have been linked to the Dominionists. Lots of rumors, lots of links, many conspiracy theories. Gee Dubya is not a Texan by birth. He is not any form of a southerner by Bush. He's a blue blooded North Easterner, preppie graduate of Yale and Harvard. His links to Texas have more to do with oil. His links to Christian Dominionism are open to interpretation.

Those Lincoln Republicans who ended the Southern attempt at States Rights (which included the horrendous institution of slavery they encompassed) have morphed through the process power politics of enjoying the power the Christian Coalition organization helps to provide, and the link it now has to their maintaining economic power through managing democracy, inverted totalitarian style. They are always worried about losing that power, so the Dominionists will have a voice to be heard when the going gets rough, and it's gotten very rough, obviously, and they are playing nasty as ever as a result.

There are lots of works on the theory behind the Chrstian Dominionist movement. I found Sara Diamond's work to be about as objective and insightful as I can hope for; she steers clear of the conspiracy theory style and examines the structure of power and message in the movement.

Roads To Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States

Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right

Not By Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right

Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times

And of course, here we can segue to Chris Hedges,

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

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Quote jeffbiss:
That people of this level of lack of comprehension about the Constitution can successfully garner support as a potential representative for a constituency is not a good omen for this nation, in my estimation:

I don't think that it's necessarily a lack of comprehension but a different world view that creates a different perception of the constitution. As I see it, it is due to their world view based on Calvinism/objectivism and their ability to ignore inconvenient facts. In their eyes, the righteous/ambitious must be left unencumbered by the unrighteous/unambitious as it is only through their righteousness/ambition can a better society result. Therefore, the founding fathers wrote the constitution with the intent to promote those qualities that would result in a better society and that was to minimize government to maximize the power of righteousness/ambition.

O'Donnell isn't stupid to her suppoters, but forceful in promoting the "correct" interpretation.

Jeff, that's basically what DRC and I are saying, but you should also include the rest of my post which explains what I said in what you cherry picked and commented on, or simply comment on your own and leave me out of your opinons, because now I feel your cherry picking missed the point and I have to repeat myself. Here's part of the exchange I provided:

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

Did Christine follow up with a citing of the First Amendment?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And did she then provide a scholarly interpretation of the words to contradict Coons?

I can find no evidence of that. I can find no evidence she even knows the wording of the First Amendment, which only exacerbates what underlies her question and the subsequent gasps of those present:

"You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

From that point on we are just speculating about whether she is naive, ignorant, or cleverly doing something to promote her version of politics, whatever.

What I would say is she has all the appearance of a relatively uneducated result of Christian Dominionists theology that produces a fairly identifiable way of thinking, some of which includes your theory of the Calvinist influence you've put forth from time to time,

For the past several decades the political Left has focused attention on the Christian Right’s political activism in America. Particularly, the Left has been highly critical of a select group of dominionists called Reconstructionists, whose aggressive verbiage, extreme Calvinist theologies, and religious political agendas have made it an ideal target for outrage. But, as Leftist researcher Sara Diamond has astutely observed, “the Reconstructionists’ religion of Calvinism. . . makes them unlikely to appeal to most evangelicals.”4 Indeed, few Reconstructionists would consider themselves to be evangelicals. Nevertheless, their influence has been considerable over the much larger group of patriotic evangelicals.

(from Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism)

which she has incorporated into her politics, as have many others, some of whom are probably her supporters.

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.ren
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Jeff, that's basically what DRC and I are saying, but you should also include the rest of my post which explains what I said in what you cherry picked and commented on, or simply comment on your own and leave me out of your opinons, because now I feel your cherry picking missed the point and I have to repeat myself.

Don't get your undies in a bunch all the time. My post was in response specifically to your choice of "lack of comprehension". I guess I should have just let DRC's "And, if you think Christine is just ignorant, you have it wrong." stand without anything from me. My bad. Sorry.

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Quote jeffbiss:Don't get your undies in a bunch all the time. My post was in response specifically to your choice of "lack of comprehension". I guess I should have just let DRC's "And, if you think Christine is just ignorant, you have it wrong." stand without anything from me. My bad. Sorry.

You've argued with Loganthor so much you now appear to be taking on his reactionary tactics with your first line. Frame: "my undies are in a bunch."

You won't have to get your "undies in a bunch" if you don't quote simply a part of what I've said, jeff, and then make your comments look like we are saying something different. Quoting me seems unnecessary in this instance. Just leave me out of it. DRC does a good job of that. I think quotes have a particular use in an interchange, but they also require specificity, which I look for when I am quoted. I go through some effort to make myself clear and I merely attempt to maintain that clarity through my discussions.

For clarity, this was the more important part of that sentence starting with "lack of comprehension about the Constitution" (not just "lack of comprehension" which you appeared to believe implied stupidity or something, as did DRC):

"is not a good omen for this nation."

And my follow up to DRC's post is my further attempt to explain precisely why I thought it's not a good omen.

My response to DRC, by the way, was above yours quoting me, until I edited it, thanks to this crummy software, which as I say, all the more clarified what I think of this particular incident, as well as the politics of the others mentioned in the lead post.

I think, too, that the Objectivist (a.k.a. Ayn Rand?) element of your formula is not necessarily correlated directly with Calvinism and the Christian Right Dominionists. That you see them as correlated with your "Calvinism/Objectivsm" would be worth your effort to explain, I feel. I personally see the Ayn Rand form of Objectivism as a bizarre variant of a philosophical theology derived out of 19th and early 20th Century logical positivism, and it's in the fundamentalism of logical positivism and in the fundamentalism of Christian Dominionism, with its tendency towards a kind of freakish form authoritarianism (Chris Hedges identifies it as "fascism") that the two become connected.

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.ren
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what do you expect from one of disciples of that moron Palin? You really expect someone running for political office, an office that is to uphold the constitution should actually know the document? You people shock me!

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Ren,

Looked through your list on dominionists. Did you know about Yurica Report, right here in Bellingham? She's been on this subject for a long time.

http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/DirectoryRiseOfDominionismInAmerica.html

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You've argued with Loganthor so much you now appear to be taking on his reactionary tactics with your first line. Frame: "my undies are in a bunch."

To be honest, I wasn't reactionary. I can't see your face so I read:

"Jeff, that's basically what DRC and I are saying, but you should also include the rest of my post which explains what I said in what you cherry picked and commented on, or simply comment on your own and leave me out of your opinons, because now I feel your cherry picking missed the point and I have to repeat myself."

as you accusing me of "cherry picking" and that my "cherry picking missed the point" thus requiring you to repeat yourself. So, I thought that you were upbraiding me, had your "undies in a bunch". To be honest, I didn't see my point as a point in your post, as indicated by the "cherry picked" quote I chose from your post #3. You appeared to be discussing her absolute ignorance of the constitution whereas I was merely positing that her ignorance, from an objective reading of the constitution and history, was in her supporter's eyes a deeper understanding, from a subjective religious world view. I see nothing in post #3 that alludes to that point.

As for DRC's post #5, I see it as a discussion about the reasons for separating church and state and the ramifications of state power in relation to relgious freedom and the fact that people like O'Donnell see the U.S. as a Christian nation.

"is not a good omen for this nation."

I have little hope for the U.S. If the Republicans win, all hope is gone. If Democrats win, then there's a little. Either way though, the American people are virtually a lost cause as far as I'm concerned. They're more worried about jobs and the economy than fixing the problems that need fixing, such as implementing proper regulation, reducing human population growth, mandating efficiencies of all products sold, etc.

That you see them as correlated with your "Calvinism/Objectivsm" would be worth your effort to explain, I feel.

I make this correlation because as I see it, objectivism is a secular analog to Calvinism, in which the ambitious/industrious will succeed when unencumbered by those that are not and their success will be the water that will float all boats. I see Dominionism as derived from Calvinism and Calvinism as the root of our culture, which provides the basic tenets for conservative ideologies.

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Quote Choco:

Ren,

Looked through your list on dominionists. Did you know about Yurica Report, right here in Bellingham? She's been on this subject for a long time.

http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/DirectoryRiseOfDominionismInAmerica.html

No I did not, thanks for the connection. Looks good.

When did you move to Bellingham? I haven't lived there since '91, but I still have a few friends there.

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.ren
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Quote jeffbiss:as you accusing me of "cherry picking" and that my "cherry picking missed the point" thus requiring you to repeat yourself. So, I thought that you were upbraiding me, had your "undies in a bunch". To

"Accuse" of "cherry picking" leading to me "upbraiding" you is your take, and I can only assume how you frame it in your mind. For me it was merely a description. When quotes are taken without the rest of the comments, they are out of context, thus "cherry picked."

I think, or at least hope, I've cleared up what I meant, I meant those who fail to comprehend the wording of the Constitution and run for public office, and cannot even discuss that the wording is there, imply something ominous. I included a particularly disturbing quote by George W. Bush when he was in office to imply the ominous direction I had in mind. I could not care any less about any individual's particular form of ignorance. And note that the root of ignorance is to ignore. It has nothing to do with the innate intelligence of a given individual.

Your reasons for concern are of course the more imminent ones at the moment. But the Christian Dominionists are of concern at another political level I think worth distinguishing. Naturally its effects on any needed change in policy to deal with those currently imminent threats are going to be related in one way or another.

I put "Ayn Rand?" in parenthesis with relation to objectivism. Though you haven't clarified, I'm still suspecting that's the objectivism you are referring to. For anyone not familiar with a more generic definition of objectivism, I'll offer the following links:

objectivism

Objectivism - especially objectivism vs. constructivism

And for a window into Ayn Rand's objectivism:

The Atlas Society: Objectivism in life and thought

With their definition:

Objectivism

Anyone arguing with a libertarian would do well to familiarize themselves with the Ayn Rand version of objectivism.

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.ren
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It's interesting that the President has three times now misquoted the Declaration of Independence by dropping out the " endowed by their creator" that are "non religious" founding fathers saw fit to include and that does not seem to garner the same attention that the joke of a senate candidate receives.

I would point out the source of that Bush quote is a "reporter" for a left wing advocacy site and he cites unnamed "aides" as his source.

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Quote "DRC": I always love the assertion that us "secularists" have banned God from the public square.

The funny thing about this frequent assertion is that no two who claim this are talking about the same god.

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.ren,

"Accuse" of "cherry picking" leading to me "upbraiding" you is your take, and I can only assume how you frame it in your mind. For me it was merely a description. When quotes are taken without the rest of the comments, they are out of context, thus "cherry picked."

Yep, that was my take. From my perspective, it was your decision to use "cherry pick", implying that I had some agenda in not quoting more of your post. However, what you took as "cherry picking" was me merely selecting the specific part of your post that I wanted to address. This type of forum becomes incredibly unwieldy when people quote entire post that can be referenced by its number or specific sentence.

I included a particularly disturbing quote by George W. Bush when he was in office to imply the ominous direction I had in mind. I could not care any less about any individual's particular form of ignorance.

From my perspective the concern should be with the form of ignorance. As I see it, with Bush and O'Donnell that ignorance is allowing enlightenment from god to interpret the meaning that then informs their supporters. In this case it is their Calvinism that informs them on the Constitution, so regardless of what the actual wording is, the Constitution fully supports Calvinism.

I put "Ayn Rand?" in parenthesis with relation to objectivism. Though you haven't clarified, I'm still suspecting that's the objectivism you are referring to.

Yes. I should use Ayn Rand's ojectivism instead of simply objectivism.

gotitdone,

It's interesting that the President has three times now misquoted the Declaration of Independence by dropping out the " endowed by their creator" that are "non religious" founding fathers saw fit to include and that does not seem to garner the same attention that the joke of a senate candidate receives.

Why would you find it interesting? Also, "misquoting", if in fact it happened, is far different than not knowing what one is talking about, as was the case with O'Donnell. But it doesn't surprise me that the ignorance or stupidity of a right-wing/conservative candidate doesn't surprise a right-winger/conservative.

I would point out the source of that Bush quote is a "reporter" for a left wing advocacy site and he cites unnamed "aides" as his source.

So? It's accurate and that's all that matters.

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jeffbiss
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Quote jeffbiss:

Why would you find it interesting? Also, "misquoting", if in fact it happened, is far different than not knowing what one is talking about, as was the case with O'Donnell.

It was multiple times actually, and in prepared speeches no less.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/obama-again-omits-endowed-their-creator

Quote jeffbiss:

But it doesn't surprise me that the ignorance or stupidity of a right-wing/conservative candidate doesn't surprise a right-winger/conservative.

Do you want me to start going down the list of stupid things Democrats have said?

I can start with 57 states. The point being that people sometimes say bone headed things, not that I think she is an adequate candidate.

I would point out the source of that Bush quote is a "reporter" for a left wing advocacy site and he cites unnamed "aides" as his source.
Quote jeffbiss:

So? It's accurate and that's all that matters.

I am questioning the accuracy of it. Would you take at face value an Obama "quote" from a right wing propagandist?

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Gotitdone
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Quote jeffbiss:From my perspective the concern should be with the form of ignorance.

That is my concern as well, the form of ignorance. Form can become formula, and I think that when we can see a formula from a group, then we have something to deal with. While it's "fun" to make an issue of one individual's odd social behavior, when we see that it has become formulaic across a group, a repeating pattern, we have something more interesting to make sense of. Which is what I see you attempting to do with the rest of your paragraph:

Quote jeffbiss:As I see it, with Bush and O'Donnell that ignorance is allowing enlightenment from god to interpret the meaning that then informs their supporters. In this case it is their Calvinism that informs them on the Constitution, so regardless of what the actual wording is, the Constitution fully supports Calvinism.

As a side note, I want to simply point out that I'm just responding here as a form of acknowledgement of what I see you saying. I'm not trying to be didactic. I'm looking into how I think about things, trying to show that, and then attempting to see how it relates to what you are doing with your thoughts.

I think you have a reasonably good theory to work with. My own concern is with the underlying structures I see, in this case of appealing to an authority, rather than using their own engaged intelligence to make sense of situations. So my theory would attempt to look into why a group (the Dominionists, for instance) would even want to appeal to the features in Calvinism, rather than the thoughts they've developed with their own mind, for which (as a side note) I notice they would have to take responsibility.

With that in mind, I had an opportunity to watch the entire episode reported on in those articles I linked. Of course it's on YouTube:

Christine O'Donnell ignorant of the Constitution (go to 7:03, 2:37, 3:35) fameappeal.com

and what strikes me isn't so much her personal level of ignorance, but how she reacts to the audience's reaction to her blunders. It's ultimately disarming, she's almost childlike in her grinning as she looks around at the attention she gets, seemingly unaware that she's making an utter fool of herself. The formula that comes to mind on that form of behavior for me is that, without personal responsibility for what one knows, there can be no shame. Without shame... well, with adults you can get some very abherrent behavior when there is no social guide in their minds to decipher appropriate behavior. Words like "sociopath" and "psychopath" come to mind.

At this point I think we have an entry into some of the reasons for the hewn cry from our intellectuals that we have an uneducated, illiterate public on our hands, and I think of some of the reasons behind that concern.

In his book, The Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges addresses this particular issue in his first chapter, The Illusion of Literacy. He begins the chapter by talking about the stylized ritual we call "Big Time Wrestling" and how these kinds of spectacles have come to replace literature as a form of story telling. Referring to Plato's Cave, he explains how we are "chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, to the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staple of news, celebrity, gossip, New Age mysticism, and pop psychology." And he says: "We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so "realistic" that they can live in them. We are the most illusioned people on earth. Yet we dare not become disillusioned, because our illusions are the very house in which we live; they are our news, our heroes, our adventure, our forms of art, our very experience."

And so we have heroes like the big mama grizzly Palin, and her anointed mama grizzly pal, Christine O'Donnel. They will fight for their "cubs" (their constituents?) in a mythic spectacle called politics. Is this where Virginia Wolf and the feminist movement was going? Maybe so when Eddie Bernays sold women on the idea that cigarettes were "torches of freedom" back in the Thirties, and the cigarette companies suddenly had the other half of the population to sell to.

The issue of ignorance isn't so much about the person, as about the social relationship of that person to a group. Otherwise, why be concerned? It implies a lack of self conscious awareness, which we intuitively seem to be concerned about with each other. I could list the many ways in which anthropologists have noticed that groups work to keep each other aware. Ignorance, on an individual level is not a problem; a person can live in their own little life in complete social ignorance.

But, I ask myself, do we want our elected representatives to be childlike? Irresponsible? Socially unrelated to the whole, as in: not conscious of the relationship between the document that sets the rules (the Constitution) and their job as representatives? And when whole groups of people see that person as accurately representing them and they want that unawareness to represent them, what then? And so, I conclude, it doesn't bode well.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Interesting that the founder and publisher of a respected bi-partisan fixture on the internet, Doug Thompson, is now implied to be a left wing propagandist.

An Apology to Doug and Capitol Hill Blue from Journalisn't (which apparently went out of business as a result of it's many attacks on various attacks of scurrilous nature from discredited sources:

Journalisn't apologizes to Doug Thompson & Capitol Hill Blue

In which it's said:

Captiol Hill Blue has been a fixture on the Internet for nearly 15 years. Because of its tough, bi-partisan stance on exposing the hypocrisies of politics, Capitol Hill Blue, in our opionion, is much more credible than the anonymous attack articles published here.

"Goddamn Piece of Paper"

Washington, DC. Dec 14th, 2005 ---- There are multiple reports flying round DC that if true need to be addressed by both Houses of Congress in an Impeachment hearing. President Bush, who many believe is becoming more unstable every day is reported to have had the following exchanges during a meeting with Congressional leaders according to Doug Thompson, reporting in Capitol Hill Blue:

"GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Doug Thompson wrote that he had talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper."

For more about the broader implications and the results of those implications we continue to reap, read "Just a Goddamn Piece of Paper" 2 Years On. Consider this while reading anyone's concerns who continues to respond with doubt:

Nothing before, or since has caused so much anger, and demands for it to be removed. The extreme right wing ridicule anyone who reported that outburst, and slur the messenger.

In terms of my own concerns about the "illusion of literacy" that Chris Hedges talks about in his book, Empire of Illusion, we have someone who's concerned saying the following kinds of things about what had been going on at the pinnacle of power in our nation, POTUS:

Since that statement was reported back in 2005 there has been time and time again when the White House team have shown their contempt of Constitutional Rights of people who disagree with their way of establishing a New World Order, based on PetroDollars. Their interpretation of the Constitution, and Executive Privilege will be reversed once they lose power, for if the Democrats were the same abuse of interpretation of the Constitution demanded by Bush/Cheney the right wingers would be screaming "Foul". It is blatant one sided abuse. No wonder Bush/Cheney is compared by many to the Third Reich.

Well, was their interpretation of the Constitution reversed?

There is of course the possibility that if Hilary is elected she may embrace the erosion of Constitutional Rights, and explosion of Executive Power and rule her Kingdom like Queen Bodicea, slaying all Republicans that have challenged, or irritated her in her exile from the White House. Then the Rush Limbaugh's will put down their pills and suddenly find the things they embraced under Bush are reprehensible under a Democrat. A whole surge in born-again right winger's will rise to champion free speech, right to bear arms, right to open government, and no secret contracts to friends and business associates.

Well, it wasn't Hillary, it was Obama who got into the White House. While it's difficult to say that he followed the Queen Bee prescription, the response from the right has been much as if he did. And the right wing didacts who still manage to filter their way onto this site do, not surprisingly, tend to follow that hypothesized formula predicted back in 2007 -- the Limbaugh prescription -- as does Limbaugh himself, Hannity, Beck, et al. And on cue, everyone gets all upset about what is really merely obvious.

As jeff points out, it's the form of ignorance that is of some concern.

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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

You just need to look at his articles to see that he comes from a clear left wing perspective and then you cite a bunch of other leftists who cite back to him as if this proves anything,

It may be true, I just take it with a grain of salt considering the source.

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Quote Gotitdone:

You just need to look at his articles to see that he comes from a clear left wing perspective and then you cite a bunch of other leftists who cite back to him as if this proves anything,

It may be true, I just take it with a grain of salt considering the source.

Why this focus on nit picking minutia? Why this obvious and very characteristic attempt to attack the messenger (not the source) and label and categorize that messenger to create a combative atmosphere of attack and defend the straw man, instead of discussing the meaning behind these things as we are attempting to, and the topic itself? Why is this still happening on this site?

The issues here are much broader than whether three different people in that meeting (the actual sources, not the messenger, Doug Thompson) accurately and honestly told Doug Thompson that Bush said what Doug reported to have been said, and which apparently everyone on the Hill knows he said, just as he's supposedly said many other things of that nature in similar angry outbursts, just as his Administration did many things of the very nature that quote implies. Things, I might add, which have set this nation on a course that now has spectacle oriented, cacophonous right wingers are upset, and in their blind and desperate anger, we watch as they follow their media spokespersons in attacking the current President for what? Basically somewhat following their own script just as predicted.

These are the dangers of electing ignorance into office. That's the subject. Not nit picking minutia and attacking the messenger.

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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Something I find interesting about the National Cult ideologues is how much they use the Bible and the Constitution as symbols of "objective" authority while they are remarkably ignorant about the content and developed theories of hermeneutics which are part of both documents becoming "official" in any manner. They love the idea of the Constitution, but not what it actually says. They love to argue for their revisions of the Constitution without any real sense of the history of the present version.

The parts they like usually involve leaving out some important phrases that change the meaning to the text they quote. Very few "Originalists" want to abolish the standing army. Picking and choosing conveniently is their style.

I continue to nit-pick with Jeff about which came first, the Calvinism or the economic order. I think the Industrial Revolution allowed some crappy theologians to cherry-pick Calvin to support Enlightenment Rationalism and industrial 'virtues.' The best of the Scottish Common Sense thinking did extend the principle of conscience to the Enlightenment liberation of the mind from theocratic and monarchical control. The idea that moral intuition could discern the moral laws of God and nature without direction from priests was what the Calvinists were pushing.

The rights of conscience parallel the "freedom of thought" as assertions of human freedom from controlling authorities. "This world asceticism" did make secular work a matter of piety instead of a lesser area of life. This does not make "success" into proof of salvation, and Calvin would have insisted that there could be no proof. Allowing the secular success to be seen as God's blessing was supposed to induce gratitude and humility rather than the arrogance of the Gospel of Wealth.

I think it matters that we pay attention to what actually made the Protestant Work Ethic attractive and powerful, and there is nothing in Calvin's theology that can get you there unless it is taken out of context and against specific refutations of this conclusion. Calvin is always about grace and never about earning one's salvation in this world. He is about giving back in gratitude for the blessings of this world, and he took life in this world with theological seriousness not found in medieval theology.

It is important not to create false enemies in history. Scholars are rescuing the wrongly damned all the time. Liberals have a litany of superficial criticisms of religion, and it makes a lot of what we have to say ineffective. We need to avoid the old polarities and debates because they came from a different time. Science and religion are no longer in Newtonian opposition. But a lot of bad thinking remains.

Some of my most effective debating and argumentation has come from looking into the traditions quoted by my opponents. They think they own that turf and that I would find it hostile territory. It is so much fun to sneak up from behind and get them with the tradition they do not know as purported conservatives. It is why I suggest to today's conservatives that they look into the program proposed by David Korten. I think they will be surprised to see their perspective shifted from their fear of socialism.

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Why this focus on nit picking minutia?

It's a comment on the media. A candidate who has a snowballs chance of hell being elected is the most talked about race in the national media as if we do not have more pressing issues.

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My own concern is with the underlying structures I see, in this case of appealing to an authority, rather than using their own engaged intelligence to make sense of situations. So my theory would attempt to look into why a group (the Dominionists, for instance) would even want to appeal to the features in Calvinism, rather than the thoughts they've developed with their own mind, for which (as a side note) I notice they would have to take responsibility.

I think that it is as simple as the lesson in the "Doubting Thomas" story. As religious people overall, they simply succumb unquestioningly to god's will as expressed through the elect. Engaged intelligence is fundamentally anthema to fundamentalists of all stripes because faith is everything.

It's ultimately disarming, she's almost childlike in her grinning as she looks around at the attention she gets, seemingly unaware that she's making an utter fool of herself. The formula that comes to mind on that form of behavior for me is that, without personal responsibility for what one knows, there can be no shame.

I think that for her, her belief that she is doing god's work means everything. From her perspective, she isn't making a fool of herself it is those who laugh at her who are the fools as they will suffer for eternity for not following god's law and the leadership of god's elect on earth. In her mind, there is no shame as being a Christian may require her to suffer persecution and her ignorance is in not knowing what unbelievers think. As an Christian, she's above those who disagree with her and fight the leadership of god's elect.

Referring to Plato's Cave, he explains how we are "chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, to the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staple of news, celebrity, gossip, New Age mysticism, and pop psychology."

As for Chris Hedges, I agree overall, but you are far better read than me. My take is that our culture is basically the result of a very selfish Christianity, Calvinism, that has so celebrated those who achieve wealth and renown, as only god's elect could, that it has become absolute narcissism in the greater American culture.

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Interesting and informative post, DRC.

Quote DRC:Something I find interesting about the National Cult ideologues is how much they use the Bible and the Constitution as symbols of "objective" authority while they are remarkably ignorant about the content and developed theories of hermeneutics which are part of both documents becoming "official" in any manner. They love the idea of the Constitution, but not what it actually says. They love to argue for their revisions of the Constitution without any real sense of the history of the present version.

Well, I'm way out of my depths when it comes to the developed theories of hermaneutics within most of the branches of Christianity. But I have a reasonable grasp of the legal theory that lies behind formalist interpretation of the Constitution, and I understand theories that relate it to logical positivism, and the more generic version of objectivism, which is not the Ayn Rand objectivism jeff has been referring to, but not entirely unrelated, either.

I think, though, more than anything, the contradictions you voice in that paragraph are also reminiscent of the triumph of spectacle and the end of literacy. Literacy is, if anything, the art of hermaneutics in play in our narrative story telling form. But when we find a culture that dismisses the intellect and engages imagery and illusion instead, denying at the same time the humanity in ourselves that it takes to unravel a symbol and the metaphorical forms in our daily onslaught of images, we have discovered a culture that can talk about a religious doctrine, or the Constitution, on a superficial level at which innate contradiction in language usage that should raise alarm bells has no deep effect on what is said. At that point, the basics of logic fly out of the room to escape the chaos that results. A logical fallacy ceases to even exist. Illusion and reality intertwine.

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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

I don't have any more points to expand on what you've said, jeff.

I don't really know what it means to someone who would say that faith is everything. I just can't get to that. That's as much an anathema to me as you suggest that "engaged intellect" would be to them.

Am I implicitly denying them their rights to "faith is everything" by demanding an engaged intellect be involved with anything to do with designing and approving legislation in my name?

If I see "faith is everything" as a code for authoritarian control, does that get negated by their right to impose their "faith is everything" on me (just as Christine said her opponent was imposing something that requires engaged intellect -- that is, understanding the wording in the First Amendment, and using accepted science in the class room and leaving the private Christian schools to teach "Intelligent Design" -- on her)?

I don't see a way of connecting any of that.

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I have some other thoughts about this paragraph in your post, DRC:

Quote DRC:Something I find interesting about the National Cult ideologues is how much they use the Bible and the Constitution as symbols of "objective" authority while they are remarkably ignorant about the content and developed theories of hermeneutics which are part of both documents becoming "official" in any manner. They love the idea of the Constitution, but not what it actually says. They love to argue for their revisions of the Constitution without any real sense of the history of the present version.

Where this cult thinking has come to bear, I perceive, is in the legal "clique" that has become a strong force through the legal profession, represented by the Federalist Society. That society came out of an urge to find in the wording of the Constitution an argument for making the Office of the Presidency more vertically integrated and and therefore much stronger. It was begun in earnest by some young legal scholars who were concerned about the demise of the Presidency after the Nixon debacle, which of course deeply effected both the Ford and Carter Presidencies, because they were working under its cloud.

As you may recall, FISA, in 1978, was one of the results of that cloud on the Presidency, and in the Bush Administration, we saw the culmination of twenty years of legal work designed to overcome its restrictions, we saw it with the growth of the surveillance state, the dismissal of the human restrictions against torture, the attack on a sovereign nation that bore no threat, the increasing secrecy of the decision making process, how the Presidency finally, using the arguments of the Unitary Executive Theory, which was the genesis idea that actually correlates with the beginning of the Federalist Society, to squash the attempts by Congress to reign in an out of control Executive office.

All these things were behind the arguments for making a legal case and impeaching both Bush and Cheney. All of them were looked upon as a dire threat because they laid the ground work for a continuing growth in the strength of the Presidency. The rule, we were told by those who have studied the history of the Office, is once a President has gained an advantage over the other branches, it does not give it up. As we have seen, a beleaguered Obama has not rescinded much of that power grabbed by the Bush Administration.

So while the National Cult Ideologues have little or no problem with the contradicting the wording of the Constitution using their version of the "idea" of the constitution, often backed by the mumbo jumbo of a positivist legal theory, otherwise known as "Legal Formalism", they at the same time support a subversive end around attack on the Constitution as a liberal document, with its inherent sense of balancing power, and support what amounts to a buttressing of the power of the Presidency with it's potential, in times of stress, like perpetual war, to over balance the tripartite balance of powers that are supposed to be in the "goddamn piece of paper" to begin with.

I think these are based on deeply authoritarian instincts that run through the conservative mode of thinking, which are there even when they talk about things like personal responsibility. In that sense, the authoritarian seems to make sense to me when you talk about Calvin and his notion of grace. An external source, call it "God" if you will, is the source of power that gives this "grace."

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Am I implicitly denying them their rights to "faith is everything" by demanding an engaged intellect be involved with anything to do with designing and approving legislation in my name?

I understand what you're saying, but you really need to try to understand these people to see that you don't matter, nor does an objective reality. You show that O'Donnell doesn't know what's in the constitution. Well, she more than likely doesn't know what's in the bible she "reads" and accepts as revealed truth. I've had extensive discussions with these people and know all too well that what matters to them is what they believe and not what actually is. For example, fundamentalist Christians of her ilk claim that salvation comes from merely accepting Jesus as one's lord and savior. But Jesus isn't quoted as saying this, Paul created this doctrine. Jesus says that doing god's will brings salvation, such as that found in Matthew 7:21:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

So, how do they reconcile what Jesus is quoted as saying with what Paul says and they believe? They totally ignore the inconvenient and twist it to align with their belief. This was seen in action during Bush's administration as discussed in "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush" by Ron Suskind, October 17, 2004:

"The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'' "

So, whether religious or secular, these people operate at a very different level from objective reality and are compelled to do whatever they want for the benefit of all as they have a line on something that we just don't, nor probably never will, get. It is their obligation to force their reality down our throats, even to the point of the Inquisition, for our good. They ignore the science behind global warming. They ignore the reality behind the failure of laissez-faire capitalism. They have faith in their world view and nothing will get in its way, including you (us) and your (our) convictions and world view. As you find in their authoritarian nature, they will control us for our good.

There is no other conclusion that I can come to.

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Quote .ren:
Quote Choco:

Ren,

Looked through your list on dominionists. Did you know about Yurica Report, right here in Bellingham? She's been on this subject for a long time.

http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/DirectoryRiseOfDominionismInAmerica.html

No I did not, thanks for the connection. Looks good.

When did you move to Bellingham? I haven't lived there since '91, but I still have a few friends there.

I live in Duvall, about 25 miles due east of Seattle, I was speaking about Washington St. in general.

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I do understand, jeff. The question was rhetorical in intent. Your response is pretty much my own, in that the logic of authoritarians comes to that conclusion about itself and its correctness, because it begins with an authority outside itself that is unquestionable.

The whole purpose that I've derived from my study of liberalism was that it was a movement of thought by many individuals to bring question to the authority of this structured way of thinking. One element of that is to give credence to our individual humanity, and our independent ability to think for ourselves. However poorly that is done with the form of the Constitution, however antiquated it may be in light of all that has evolved with regards to our understanding of the importance of individualism, and individual thinking, I believe that was there in the spirit of creating that document, even though there were obviously forces at hand in its creation that wanted to formulate a place for authoritarianism in it as well. Hence my rhetorical question about insisting on reason and wondering whether that at the same time tramples some sort of fantasy about rights to be authoritarian in nature.

When authoritarianism trumps the individual, all the logic of your post comes to bear. When individualism is held as a right in society, by virtue of the reason of its codes (its "laws") and an equal weight is given to the individual with independent thinking, authoritarianism simply fails. It fails because its nature is to achieve its goal of dominating the individual for a "greater" purpose, and unless the thinking, self actuated individual lets it, it cannot dominate when all things are equal. Now, is that some sort of clash of rights? Who is the one who's rights are being trampled upon in that instance? It really isn't a who, it's a trade off between group and individual. An individual does not meet the very basic structure of ideas that make up authoritarianism. By nature it's a set of ideas put in play by a group.

I think the notion that it is a clash of rights would be absurd, yet that's what I see in the position that Christine took, and the position of those she represents. It's also in the position being taken by the courts when they give an institution -- a corporation -- the rights of individuals. A corporation by its very structure is a private tyranny, an authoritarian institution by structure, even if it is often run with the illusion of being somewhat benevolent. When the chips are down the authoritarian structure will come out, or it will cease to exist. Such a thing is not a person. It's a structured organization.

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That's where I thought you lived, Choco. Your reference to Bellingham makes sense now. I'm guessing Katherine Yurica made her debut there with Dominionism after I left. It's a pretty small academic community compared to Berkeley/East Bay, and that's where I encountered Sara Diamond in the early 90's after I left Bellingham, so I'm sure I'd have encounterd Katherine.

Bellingham's WWU has a fairly strong strain of evangelical students who congregate in the education sector. It's kind of interesting, from my talks with others matriculating as teachers, how many of them are striving to get into teaching. There are some strong (to put it mildly) disputes going on as these students prepare themselves for their careers.

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It fails because its nature is to achieve its goal of dominating the individual, and unless the thinking, self actuated individual lets it, it cannot dominate. Now, is that some sort of clash of rights? Who is the one who's rights are being trampled upon in that instance?

I see it as a result of their world view that the righteous/ambitious should be unencumbered by the unrighteous/unambitious. From the religious person's POV, the government must be an agent that promotes righteousness and from the secular person's POV, it must promote ambition. In O'Donnell's mind, government must promote Christian values if America is to succeed and for individuals to be good so society can meet the needs of its members. Christianity must dominate and there is no right to not accept Christian precepts as they are the very reason that we are so great. An open society is of no interest to them, nor the idea of controlling the tyranny of the majority.

I think the notion that it is a clash of rights would be absurd, yet that's what I see in the position that Christine took, and the position of those she represents. It's also in the position being taken by the courts when they give an institution -- a corporation -- the rights of individuals.

I think that this, equating corporations with individual, is a natural consequence of conservative thought that is centered on property rights, for all of Ayn Rand's objectivism and Calvinism's reasons. What the SCOTUS did was to grant each member of the corporation's board more power as each had rights of free speech as individuals with their own resources and now the resources of the corporation for their personal benefit as the wealthy. What the conservatives have done is enshrined the power of wealth in the SCOTUS. This was their goal all the time. Now the only thing left is to enshrine fundamentalist Christianity.

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Bellingham draws from the very evangelical Right Lyndon Dutch "Calvinists" who make the Boers look liberal. Ren, the problem is not Calvin's God as a source for authoritarian control over individuals. Quite the contrary, it is Calvinism that redirected the locus of political power and authority to "the people" and away from the King. The Scottish Common Sense gave Calvin and Enlightenment twist in a good direction when it put "conscience" in the same protected individual sovereignty that the philosophers had given to "the mind."

The problem of "Christ Against Culture" as described by Richard Niebuhr in a pluralistic social analysis of religious types, is that religious images and narratives become the "official truth" for the besieged community. As we see with Fundamentalism anywhere, nobody else can be allowed to be right about anything if it conflicts with the official dogma of the cult. On the other hand, "Liberation Theology" arises out of communities who are victims of the Official National Narrative and theology of power and justice.

Dutch Calvinists resisted the Arminian "free will" twist in Calvinism that came later and did result in the Gospel of Wealth thinking. That made them resist the Liberal synthesis of religion and culture that made the Mainline a very comfortable place for American Protestants. Instead, they raised their children on the Bible and catechisms as did conservative Lutherans who were also not part of the WASP consensus.

As did the Conservative Christians in the South and the southern diaspora, these religious conservative communities demonstrated their patriotism in military service and "family values." They all define themselves against the politically established by better morality, at least the brand of better morals. They love the politics of conscience, anti-abortion and anti-gay. And they have all developed these alternate histories and "sciences" to serve their White Christian exceptionalism. After all, why hold out against culture unless there is some great mission or purpose involved.

It makes sense that teaching would attract these folks. They have turf and story to defend against public education, in their own minds. They have children to "save" and truth to spread. In their own minds. They are not out to do evil, as they see it. They do not understand their critics and see them as resenting them taking "their turn" pushing their beliefs.

I think they really are unable to appreciate the civics of secular neutrality or how pluralism can serve the ultimate truth better than their part of whatever truth they could serve. In that, the Dutch Calvinists join the Southern Baptists, Mormons and tons of Fundamentalist and Pentecostal churches opposed to "secular liberalism." Bringing America back to God is their answer to what has gone wrong for America. "God" is their brand and does not refer to Allah or any other metaphorical attempt to describe the Mystery of Reality. Sociology and ideology make these religions pathological; and the people who escape come to their senses about both. Arguing religion with them is useful only to discredit their authority with others.

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Separate Bellingham post because my wife grew up there, my mother-in-law lives there and my mom grew up in Everson. It is not my mother's Bellingham now, thank God.

"Understated excitement" is the description given to B'ham in a Utube musical tribute. West Coast laid back for sure. Good breweries and even some nice wines out of Mt. Baker vineyards. And local seafood that rocks.

A great tapas spot in Fairhaven called "Flats" is worth the trip. Mallards makes world class ice cream and ices. The basil features young leaves picked early in the morning. Special cream base from Lockmeads.

You can get an unsweetened mocha with Moroccan chocolate at Tony's, or have the sweet versions if you prefer.

Good music town. WW has nice sculptures around the campus as well as Bellingham Bay. They are definitely cleaning up and fixing the old girl, and the summer museum run boat tours of Bellingham Bay and down Chuckanut is delightful. Now there is a lot to do when the rain falls, as it does a lot.

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Quote DRC:Ren, the problem is not Calvin's God as a source for authoritarian control over individuals. Quite the contrary, it is Calvinism that redirected the locus of political power and authority to "the people" and away from the King.

I did not mean to imply authoritarian control, at least not in that way. The key to understanding authoritarianism is in the very nature of giving credence to an authority outside the self. It's in that process that authoritarianism is possible. Authoritarianism takes more than one to be possible. It takes the boss and the willing to be bossed, or some such structure. Envisioning an all powerful, all knowing being outside oneself that has the power of redemption, the power to save the assumed to be "totally depraved" the power to divide humanity into two groups, etc. in the five points of Calvinism, is the act of creating that structure. And it's the nature of that structure that embodies what I mean by authoritarian. Here's what I said that I think you are referring to:

Quote .ren:I think these are based on deeply authoritarian instincts that run through the conservative mode of thinking, which are there even when they talk about things like personal responsibility. In that sense, the authoritarian seems to make sense to me when you talk about Calvin and his notion of grace. An external source, call it "God" if you will, is the source of power that gives this "grace."

I think we have been discussing how at least some philosophers are coming to recognize conscience as a necessary part of the mind on that thread Anti started about neoliberalism. Exactly what conscience is and how it comes to be in the individual is another matter of some puzzlement. However, the notion of mind as the linear, logical rendition sometimes called reason, cannot be all that we value in being human, and therefore not all that we protect. Religion may be one of the harbors for those values.

At the same time, as a community we come upon this problem of legal codification, and the age old problem of codifying our conscience upon others. In liberal thought, we cannot codify it for others, thus we have the wording in the first amendment, which was probably achieved through compromise and reached after much argument. This would be a non authoritarian process, if so, because there is no outside authority with the word that they all together can appeal to. Exactly how that redirection of power you speak of to the people and away from a human authority (though the King was considered authority by divine right, so there's a problem of belief in what the King actually was seen to be, I suppose) gets translated to people through Calvin's theology, his hermeneutics, I don't begin to pretend to understand.

Quote DRC: It makes sense that teaching would attract these folks. They have turf and story to defend against public education, in their own minds. They have children to "save" and truth to spread. In their own minds. They are not out to do evil, as they see it. They do not understand their critics and see them as resenting them taking "their turn" pushing their beliefs.

Yeah, I see that. That's why I move to distinguish the valuing of individuals (and this involves what we define as individual) as a basic right from the valuing of an organization in the same way. It's a dicey problem, and what we see from these people who are part of these various cults, like the evangelicals, or whatever you want to call them, we don't have to call them cults if it seems too pejorative, is a cognitive mistake in thinking that the attempt to codify a system of rights that protects individual rights to mind (including conscience) is the same order as their rights to be a group and think as a group.

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I use the term "cult" to describe ideological communities because the ideology is the bond. Sectarians are not necessarily operating in an ideological dogmatic bonding, but they do have a story that depends on being outside or other than the dominant culture. Sectarian communities affirm the humanity of those who are dissed by the dominant culture, and their story of affirmation tends to be other than directly political, as the ways the Black churches dealt with racism and resistance. It is why we treat a lot of public religion from Black people differently than we do when it expresses a White exceptionality.

My point is not that religious organizations do not become seduced by "establishment" into praising and serving the National Myth. The vision of Mainline Protestantism in America was "the evangelization of the world in this (1890) generation." It bought into a Providential theory of Mission based in eugenics and positivism. It still has not dealt with the strain between Christianity and Americanism. People are left with their grief and a sense of powerlessness instead of civil responsibility.

The collective conscience of the congregation is the authority for political community, but the conscience of the individual is sacrosanct for personal faith. The "leaders" are "lifted up" by the vote of the people to serve them. The leaders authority is in reflecting what is real from the people, not by being saving geniuses to our discipleship. At least this is the theory that ought to be reflected in practice; but the sociology of institutions tends to management rather than unsettling participants.

I understand why people don't just get my point about "faith" being something other than being very religious. It is supposed to be extreme intellectual and moral integrity at work simultaneously. It is the union of Head and Heart epistemologically. This is beyond "reason" as the image for thinking. I update Descartes by talking about "processing information" instead of "thinking." Our thoughts are steeped in our emotions, feelings and prior experience. The vision of rational objectivity as an ideal fades when we see "the mind" as more than the ability to reason.

"Faith," when it is religious, should be the product of metaphysics and myths that lead to awareness and spiritual growth. When "belief" is substituted for "faith," and being a religious person is praised as if it were the same as being a good human, religion becomes a barrier to faith instead of a path to it. What this means is that "faith" is not blind about anything. We may be, but the point to being faithful is to allow new light into our windows and let our beliefs be disturbed by new information.

Religious outlets selling belief in God are not helping.

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DRC
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Quote DRC:I understand why people don't just get my point about "faith" being something other than being very religious. It is supposed to be extreme intellectual and moral integrity at work simultaneously. It is the union of Head and Heart epistemologically. This is beyond "reason" as the image for thinking. I update Descartes by talking about "processing information" instead of "thinking." Our thoughts are steeped in our emotions, feelings and prior experience. The vision of rational objectivity as an ideal fades when we see "the mind" as more than the ability to reason.

Well, I understand what you mean, it's at the heart of many discussions I've had, it's embedded in the discussion we are having on Anti's thread about neoliberalism touching us all, where we've been exploring the very human problem of using our rational mind to attempt to conceptualize that which is by nature for ever beyond the encapsulating tentacles of our conceptualizing. You do not have to label yourself religious to get it, but faith as a concept is perhaps too generic without the language of the hermeneutics taught at a seminary, be it Stanford's, Harvard's or whatever. My friend Chris D. who has his own oblique way of being rebelious and is ever a contrary, was going to the Church Divinity School in Berkeley, CA, when I first met him here at Thom's in 2004. That particular board and it' stored memories are long gone, unfortunately. We have had our share of discussions, and we have reached some sort of understanding and mutual respect, though I couldn't begin to explain how that happened.

Personally I have to keep refusing to be labeled, and I have to explain myself if I use the word faith. There's always a leap involved. I expect not to be understood and am ever suprised when I am.

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.ren
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Hitler was an interesting religious bird. He had the Jewish name of "Solomon" in his heritage but clearly acted in the name of Christianity , specifically Catholicism, when he carried out the holocaust (self loathing much?).

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telliottmbamsc
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Quote telliottmbamsc:

Hitler was an interesting religious bird. He had the Jewish name of "Solomon" in his heritage but clearly acted in the name of Christianity , specifically Catholicism, when he carried out the holocaust (self loathing much?).

Hope this helps with the throwing of dead animal carcasses at my house (and I'm not referring to your aim).

I did appreciate this quote in your first post:

Quote telliottmbamsc: "As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, and legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?"

If I was serious about finding the answer, I think I'd be inclined to look at the ingredients that go into authoritarianism. That is, the psychological make up of leaders and followers. It takes both to make an authoritarian structure work enough to blank out the form of protest that comes from the rebellious, self actuated mind that tends towards anarchism. I can see that's the heart of the story in the Death of the Liberal Class, as well. The liberal class rolled over and became part of Hitler's status quo, just as it has rolled over and become part of the conservative status quo in this nation.

When people are fearful, they may be patterned from childhood to look to a strong parental figure for protection. That can easily translate to looking towards any authority figure. Inadequate nurturing may serve to keep them dependent even into adulthood, rather than help them achieve independence, and so fear will trump the revelation aspects of any given religion. That's where I'd look to find understanding to the question in your quote, if I was interested in looking.

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.ren
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Quote .ren:

When people are fearful, they may be patterned from childhood to look to a strong parental figure for protection. That can easily translate to looking towards any authority figure. Inadequate nurturing may serve to keep them dependent even into adulthood, rather than help them achieve independence, and so fear will trump the revelation aspects of any given religion. That's where I'd look to find understanding to the question in your quote, if I was interested in looking.

I am not sure if it was intentional, but you perfectly stated how conservatives see the left's views of big government, a strong parental figure that will nurture them and protect them from independence. Of course, the religion is collectivism rather than Christianity or others. If you were interested….

Paleo-con
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Quote Paleo-con:I am not sure if it was intentional, but you perfectly stated how conservatives see the left's views of big government, a strong parental figure that will nurture them and protect them from independence. Of course, the religion is collectivism rather than Christianity or others. If you were interested….

Oh, I'm well aware of that fiction. That's how the authorian minded conservatives project their inner views on self actuated people who organize for themselves, when they want to organize. It's how they keep them in place. Those you project that on aren't the left, they are the other part of the corporatocracy that's come to dominate this nation, and the "big government" you fear is the logical a result of that. Looking at history one can see that it was a creation by necessity in an effort to try to put some balance in the powerful forces of the industrial based society and the self aggrandizing collectors of capital, forces that organized people as "workers" and "managers" into the giant, vertically integrated techno industrial mess we have as a society now.

Don't worry, I've studied the conservative cult as well... when I was interested. Ayn Rand -- or some variation, like Frederich Hayek -- right? I know the drill. Conservatives really don't know what "the left" is about. They live in an ideology of mirrored labels. Real leftists are few in number, and haven't the slightest interest in the figment you call "big government." Nor are they interested in libertarian cults, though there is a small strain of virtuous anarchism in libertarian thought; sadly it's been bought off by "objectivism" and the "virtue of selfishness." So conservatism finds itself in this trap, where it idolizes a paranoid schizophrenic who describes the world as a game, called prisoner's dilemma.

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.ren
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Actually, if you read the Book of Acts, Christianity was originally a form of collectivism. Everything was held in common by early Christians..

Monasteries are based on that...the structure remaining pretty much the same for nearly 2,000 years.

Some monks are authoritarian oriented, some aren't. Some monasteries are more authoritarian oriented than others.

Personalities vary just as much within a monastic community as they do outside of it. Some undoubtably join seeking an authoritarian figure, some to avoid dealing with them. Weird as it may seem, it can satisfy either.

Authority comes from a democratic consensus. Deferring to the majoriy re: rules (laws), etc. much as is in the secular world. except the input on what those "laws" will be is more direct...each have a direct vote in just what those "laws" will be.

One's way of "earning a living' is entirely self-directed. No boss.

Christianity has been turned upside down in many respercts. Religions are corrupted by whatever society they find themselves imbedded in... adopting the social structures as their own.

Christianity was "born" in a hierarchal world. Native American religions weren't. Vast difference. The practice of Native American religion was closer to the tenents of Christianity than the practice of Christianity was!

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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They sort of miss the point that a private tyranny, called a "corporation," is today a government backed private collective designed to destroy the autonomy of earning a living, as you put it, poly, "entirely self directed." These corporations are the models of their collective religion and the models themselves are immortal.. Aspiring to the top of these pinnacles of authority is their highest goal, just as the pope is the highest position for a mortal in the Catholic Church.

Humans are at base a collectivising species. We as collectives, whether labeled and identified as such or not, solve the problems of survival as organized groups, seldom as individuals. There are very few completely self sufficient hermit human beings. That's easy enough to discover to be a more or less fact. When humans form collective endeavors, there is always going to be a trade-off for individual self actualization. It's a question of how honest the members want to be about it. The more honest they are, the easier it is to deal with the down side of trading their autonomy for the benefits that come from a collective endeavor, because it can be done openly, with individual human intelligence and input into the process, instead of allowing one with the invested power to make decisions for all. Authoritarians tend to be the least honest and the most self deceiving in order to maintain the fiction they are independent.

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.ren
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Ren wrote: Aspiring to the top of these pinnacles of authority is their highest goal, just as the pope is the highest position for a mortal in the Catholic Church.

poly wrote: Absolutely so. You'll find the same political manuvering within the religious community as outside of it. A striving towards "the top". It's adopted the same structures for itself that it was "born" into.

A difference being, a "hermit" within a religious structure, a self-directed being, is elevated in status within the church....and disdains the elevation. A self-directed individual in the secular world is seen as a threat.

However, if a hermit threatened the power structures, he'd probably be burned at the stake if it were still permissible. I was our monastery's "hermit"...exempt from many of the "laws", and somehow avoided the flames. LOL

In the secular world, it seems the goal is to establish oneself in a dictatorship and strive to become the dictator (CEO) or start one's own dictatorship. It's the primary task, isn't it? For most, democracy has no place when it comes to earning a living.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

What does BIG government even mean? Especially in an American context. Everything the US Federal government does, it does with the consent (and backing) of private corporations. It certainly does NOT operate as an arm of support for the populace of the nation.

I think in a strong, healthy democracy you have a government who operates for the good of ALL its citizens. Not just those with the biggest bank balances. There are quite a few examples of this in the world.

Why does it have to be left or right to want a strong, progressive democratically elected government which supports and represents every citizen of its nation equally?

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meljomur
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Clearly the religion of collectivism also requires ancient anecdotes and faith.

So, if collectivism is a natural basic human state, why do governments that embrace it a) cause such misery in the masses subject to it live in it? b) require an authoritarian and armed entity to be formed to sustain it?

Paleo-con
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Quote Paleo-con:

Clearly the religion of collectivism also requires ancient anecdotes and faith.

So, if collectivism is a natural basic human state, why do governments that embrace it a) cause such misery in the masses subject to it live in it? b) require an authoritarian and armed entity to be formed to sustain it?

You've got it backwards, human beings form into groups (collectives) to develop survival strategies. Once in groups, they begin to codify their relationships, and those codifications are revered, becoming what you call a "religion of collectivism"

"Collectivism" is a word I read in some Ayn Rand material once; "collectivism" as a word is an ideology formulation, like all isms, not a description of the human urge to solve problems of survival cooperatively with others. As an ideology, a self denying Objectivist, who paradoxically claims to revere the self, lies to oneself that one's own selfishness is paramount, and with the idolization of selfishness itself, i.e., the very "virtue of selfishness," one thereby has deemed that one has a right to live in a collective with this ego masturbating perspective, while denying the benefits that come from the whole of the community's endeavors which makes one's very existence in that endeavor possible. In the process, the Objectivist turns the process of working with others into an object, an ism, an ideology, which she can then sneer at in her superiority as an individual.

"Ancient anecdotes" may result in the process of maintaining codifications of the structure of the collective. One of those ancient anecdotes may be "the free market will make things work out for everyone through the selfish interests of each individual doing what's best for themselves."

Faith is another matter. See DRC's version of "the hermeneutics" of various religions for that discussion.

What government is not the result of a collective (for want of a better word) "instinct" in human beings? A government is a collective endeavor to solve the problems of being a collective.

People who are willing to take part in any authoritarian structure legitimize the authoritarian structures they ascribe to by taking part. The people therefore legitimize the governments that do what they do.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am
Clearly the religion of collectivism also requires ancient anecdotes and faith.

I find it interesting that conservatives use collectivism to further their ends, as in war to gain territory or gain access to markets yet deride it when it promotes the well being of all, especially those that aren't valued or considered beneath them. Collectivism is fine when they need the group to protect their interests but it gets in the way of their feeling of entitlement.

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jeffbiss
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