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Renewal, protests, freedom, religion, etc.

Posted 02-22-2011 at 08:10 PM by Kael

I've been thinking about posting to my little blog here for some time, and like every other project I have simply put it off in favor of spending what little free time I have playing video games and reading, exercising my little escapes from the larger concerns of family, college, money, future plans and career that so often threaten to overwhelm me. Some of the recent events of the wider world, the protests in Egypt and other middle eastern countries, the protests in Wisconsin, the usual panoply of loud and empty commentary from the media, and the more interesting conversations I observed and participated in have finally moved me from complacency.

Those are two very long sentences...

At any rate, I decided to post my thoughts on the matter. As is so often the case these days, I am amazed and disgusted by the general attitude being propagated by our dear friends at FOX, and echoed by so many close to me. Concern over stability in Egypt was given center stage, even to the point of asking if these protests for freedom and self-governance should be taking place at all, or flat-out saying they shouldn't. A disturbing stance from people who owe the existence of their own nation to armed resistance against its ruling government, and a stance that I think in no small part stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding of those very origins.

I think a similar lack of knowledge and understanding lies behind a lot of the vitriol directed at the Wisconsin protesters. Perhaps it is simply a manifestation of my as-yet unshed naivety and hope for humanity, but I like to entertain the idea that if many of these people were more informed about what Unions have done for the working-class and what we might go back to if they are removed from the scene of our discourse about the proper place of government in the free market they wouldn't be quite so vehement about their utter certainty that Unions are Destroying America. One hopes that they might shed some of that certainty in the process.

Likewise, though I don't think this attitude is as prevalent in the area I live as in other strongly conservative/christian areas of the country, I think that there has grown to be a shocking disconnect between the ideals that most will tell you their religion proclaims, and the things that motivate them at the ballot box and the picket line. There is, so to speak, a distinct lack of Christian virtue in the modern US Christian. This is something I find difficult to discuss with some of my religious friends and family members. I often feel like an outsider now that I have set my own religious feelings aside, and there is the perception that any criticism I offer will always carry the weight of my own position and label as an atheist and irreligious person. I don't know if this exists outside my own mind, but it is enough to make me profoundly uncomfortable when offering up theological critiques in discussion, often prefacing my remarks with things like "when I was still religious I thought..." or "this bothered me even before I stopped going to church." It is entirely possible that, if this perception does exist in other heads than my own, it is precisely because I feel compelled to offer up such explanations. Perhaps that's something I should reexamine.

Still, on an intellectual level I cannot see a problem with honest opinion offered without rancor or ulterior motive, and I strive to exorcise those from my discussions at every level. That's not to say I wish to remove all emotive aspects from my discourse, leaving all a bare field of logical syllogism and cited evidence. I don't think this would be possible or even desirable in subjects like politics, and especially not in religion. To summarize an opinion I may elaborate on in the future, I believe one of the primary sources of the contentions surrounding religion in the modern world is that apologists have attempted to thrust the spiritual and mystical ideas of their religion into a realm of logic and evidence that is entirely hostile to their very nature, and attempted to thrust the logical and empirical ideas of that world into the realm of the spiritual and mystical, which is likewise hostile to the nature of these ideas, and this is backfiring severely at both ends.

But, to return to the topic at hand, I stand in amazement at the protests throughout the world, wondering if I would have the fortitude to stand with them were it asked of me. Reading about the calls from around the nation and the world to donate pizza to the Wisconsin protesters was heartening, and made me wish I had the means to help a bit myself. Perhaps I can spare a bit for now. That heartening was greatly welcomed, as I look on the overall situation with dimming hope. I keep hearing of the evils of public assistance and taxation from people who really have no excuse for such dogmatic ignorance, and I see that ignorance perpetuated throughout my country. Anti-intellectualism becomes the norm and even enshrined as a virtue. Hardly a new development in the US, of course, but in my more pessimistic moments I wonder if I'll even be able to express my disgust with this trend in the future.

I'll close this entry simply by saying that I stand with the protesters in Wisconsin, in spirit if not physically, and I hope a significant portion of the country sees what is going on there and wakes up to both the very real peril that the working and middle class of America are being put in and to the propaganda being fed to them that claims the exact opposite, and would have us blame all our troubles on honest workers for daring to demand equality and decency from their government and employers.
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  1. Old Comment
    Gonzo's Avatar
    Great post, Kael.

    As someone who is often times subject to having to argue against opinions fed to family members by FOX, I agree with this entirely. It's hard to bring someone to understand that their trusted news source is deliberately framed in a way to benefit corporations financially and that even the way true information is presented it is often coupled with cramming opinions down the throat of someone already entrenched into right-wing thinking as it is. The shouldn't called it mainstream news, anymore, just political thinking. The major trouble with it is what passes as 'conservatism' is really just 'pro-corporatism' and has nothing to do with defending the rights of the (public or private) workers. You could explain it to a FOX viewer over and over and all it will come down to is: socialism is bad, taxes are bad, government is bad.

    As for religious virtue (being non-judgemental, charitable, non-violent, etc.), that's a hypocrisy impossible to argue with Christians, but perhaps something that should be pointed out more often. We live in an age of Super Churches, so religion is just another commercial product - prepackaged and ready to be sold out.

    So, thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading it and can relate.
    Posted 03-08-2011 at 03:49 PM by Gonzo Gonzo is offline

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