Thursday, March 12, 2009

Git out yer guns! God is under attack in America!

(From, of all places, Fox News... by, of all people, Glenn Beck)

Here's the one thing: We are no longer "one nation under God" because God is under attack in America.
What does that even mean? I wasn't aware that human beings had the capability to actually attack God. Anyway, it gets better:
What made America unique was that it was founded on divine providence.

Remember the term "endowed by their creator" in the Declaration of Independence? That was a revolutionary concept at the time and it means that God actually had a hand in the world's greatest experiment in democracy.
Hmm... you know, Glenn, I just read something about this in the book I've been reading (slowly, because I only read books when I am not near a computer. NERD). I have already recommended this book on this blog, but I'll do it again:

You must all read What Is America? by Ronald Wright.

Moving on, here's what Wright has to say on the subject:
The Five Nations (Iroquois) Confederacy may well have been the oldest and most structured democracy in North America. Certainly, this polity was better understood by white Americans than any other, and its influence on their development was considerable. . . .

At an important conference held at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, between several colonies and native nations in 1744, the Iroquois statesman Canasatego - a tall, brawny man of sixty with a winning smile and crafty wit, a veteran of wrangles with the Quaker State - came face to face with Benjamin Franklin, then thirty-eight, later to become famous as an inventor and founding statesman of the American republic. . . .

Speaking for the Five Nations, Canasatego became exasperated by the bickering among the various colonies. He suggested, a little condescendingly, that the English might do well to emulate his people:

"We heartily recommend Union and a good agreement between you. . . . Our wise forefathers established union and amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable; this has given us great weight and authority with our neighbouring nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and, by your observing the same methods our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire fresh strength and power."

Franklin took Canasatego's remarks to heart and began studying native political culture.
Seriously, guys, read this book. Anyway, it looks like this great creator-endowed democracy was based on an idea that a bunch of heathens had. Even more interesting, however, is the philosophy of the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

(From "Jesus Without the Miracles" by Eric Reece)
(Thomas Jefferson) took a pair of scissors to the King James Bible two hundred years ago. Jefferson cut out the virgin birth, all the miracles—including the most important one, the Resurrection—then pasted together what was left and called it The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth (fifteen years later, in retirement at Monticello, he expanded the text, added French, Latin, and Greek translations, and called it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth). In an 1819 letter to William Short, Jefferson recollected that the cut-and-paste job was the work of two or three nights only, at Washington, after getting through the evening task of reading the letters and papers of the day." Jefferson mentioned The Philosophy of Jesus in a few other personal letters, but for the most part he kept the whole matter private, probably guessing that the established Church would see the compilation as one more example of his "atheism." Nor did Jefferson care to give Federalist newspapers another reason to remind him of alleged sexual relations with his slave Sally Herrings, an entanglement certainly out of keeping with the philosophy of Jesus.

But Jefferson's severe redaction was probably a retaliatory act, as much as anything, against priests and ministers—"soothsayers and necromancers," Jefferson called them—who had unleashed attacks on his character during the acrimonious presidential election of 1800. Jefferson believed that an authentic Christianity had long ago been hijacked by the Christian Church. The teachings of its founder had become so distorted as to make "one half of the world fools, and the other half hypocrites." Jefferson would no doubt have agreed with Tolstoy that the Christian Church had supplanted the Sermon on the Mount with the Nicene Creed to create a system of beliefs that Jesus himself wouldn't have recognized, much less laid claim to. "I abuse the priests, indeed," Jefferson wrote to Charles Clay in 1815, "who have so much abused the pure and holy doctrines of their Master." By stripping away the gospelers' claim that Jesus was the divine son of God, and by strip-ping away the subsequent miracles they invented to prove it, Jefferson boasted that he had extracted the "diamonds from the dunghill" to reveal the true teaching of Jesus for what it was: "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man."
So, Glenn, here again is the salvation vs. good works argument. What is more significant, Jesus Christ Himself or the moral code He provided? I'm sure you would argue for Christ, but Jefferson, who wrote that piece of evidence you're using to support your cause, would disagree. He placed emphasis not on God, but on human morality. I know you find it difficult to understand, but the United States of America was founded not on the principles of religious ideology, but on the principles of humanism.

Back to Glenn's article:
Whether our founders believed in organized religion or not, each of them abided by the laws of morality and nature's God, which is why they put that term in the very first line of the declaration.

If you still doubt the founders' views on religion, then just listen to how Ben Franklin described the religion of America:

"I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this."
Ah, but Glenn, you've taken that quote out of context. See how it continues:
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho' it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.
Corruption in the church? Impossble! Who could think it? How could anybody ever misunderstand the moral code provided by Christ and use it to do fucked-up shit? Oh wait...

Back to Beck:
A new poll says that 15 percent of us now have no religious belief — a number that has nearly doubled since 1990.
Yeah, we've all seen that pole, Glenn. Not believing in God doesn't equal attacking God, but whatever. The most surprising aspect of this stupid article, is it's somewhat redeeming conclusion:
Principle No. 2 says not only that you believe in God, but that he is the center of your life. So prove it not by telling everyone else what principles and values to have, but by living them out yourself.

Only then can our country survive the attack on God.
Yeah, there's no attack on God - Glenn couldn't even identify what, exactly, constitutes an attack on God, other than throwing in some bullshit line about socialism - but this solution Glenn has laid out actually bears some resemblance to the Scripture, a rarity for solutions put forth by people of his caliber. Check out what Matthew 5:14-16 says:
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
So, Glenn, you're crazy and everything, but at least you've actually read the Bible. Do we call Mormons Christian? I don't know what the technical classification there is. Whatever. Way to be an OK Mormon, crazy. God's not under attack, though. Srsly.


Hannah said...

This guy's argument regarding the Declaration of Independence is specious. I'm pretty sure that section refers to "certain unalienable rights" that no government can take away because they were given to us by, or "endowed by", our creator (I'm looking at you, Bush administration). Correct me I'm wrong somebody - that is a reference to human rights, not whether or not God had a hand in the creation of American Democracy. He is absolutely right on one point, a country founded on the philosophy of protecting the human and civil rights of it's citizenry was definitely revolutionary.

Teresa said...

There is no "attack" on God. Are beliefs changing? Possibly. But, if God exists (and I believe that's true, though I think we could use a restructuring in what/who God IS), God exists with or without our help. If you believe, BELIEVE, and let your life and your actions be a beacon to the world. If not, DON'T, and let YOUR life and actions be a beacon to the world. But trying to convince people of something they don't believe at the expense of treating them with respect is just ridiculous, and that's what a lot of conservatives do. They're trying SO hard to get people on their team that they treat them like shit, then wonder why people think they're crazy.

The "attacks on God" are like the "War on Christmas" - fabricated for ratings' sake. Funny that you never hear Jews or Hindus talking about attacks on God. Also funny that Christians can so easily call out Muslims for their fundamentalism, but Christians can blow up abortion clinics, commit hate crimes against gays, and excommunicate 9 year old girls and be TOTALLY fine with that.

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