I am often amazed at how little people know of their own religion.
I tend to view the supernatural with serious skepticism,marveling that humans would rather believe the unlikely than accept the obvious. It is like the old movie cliche of the white explorer flicking his lighter and having the savages ascribe the flame to "Magic" as opposed to a simple chemical reaction of fuel, oxygen, and spark.
If religion were truly a matter for all eternity, I would prefer to think for myself rather than sitting quietly in the pew and aquiescing to someone else's predigested message. Give me the information and I'll draw my own conclusions, thankyou. Every sermon, however, is edited for the purposes of making us accept a certain viewpoint.
Ok, fine...it's everyone's choice as to which pew they sit in. You want to believe someone is (a) smarter than you and (b) is truthful, and (c) has your best interests at heart...well go ahead. Except for one little thing...You maybe ought to make sure about a, b, and c before you sit there quietly and soak up what is to become your own viewpoint.
Why we tend to follow other's viewpoints instead of always developingour own has a basis in human phisiology. There is a group of cells in the hippocampus area of the human brain that allows us to conceive of large social groups and interactions. This part of the brain facilitates human functioning in groups greater than eight individuals. Without it we can't conceive of things like extended families, trade unions, religious groups, or political parties. Humans divide the world into essentialy two groups, "US" and "Them." This group of cells in the human brain alow us to make the "Us" part of the world much much larger than it could be otherwise. Communities, States, and Nations, could not exist without it. An interesting observation by neuroscientists is that a human's religion can be sugically removed...So can politics.
I think that we could categorize people's political philosophies based on how they establish their Us's and Them's.
What are our criteria for placing people in one of these groups? And...Are you sure this is based on the truth? Those seem like questions we should ask ourselves, early and often.
In today's world, the majority of the information we are fed seems to be personal attacks as opposed to facts of any sort. The Us-Them nature of our current society seems to have rendered the American electorate incapable of penetrating the political mud and making an informed decision. The evil of politics is hellbent on building the numbers of "Us" at any expense...the truth and the future be damned. Want to build a church really fast? Claim righteousness for "Us" and bombasticly ascibe all sorts of evil to "Them".
This tactic tends to work for a short while no matter what. If you can prevent any contradictory information from reaching your "Us" group, you can keep it going for quite a bit longer.
For example, if you tell children that evolution is godless, and that god wants you to accept creationism, you can get away with this as long as you can keep the overwhelming mountain of evidence supporting Darwinian theory from reaching them. And if you can bombard them with nonsense long enough, they will lose the ability to think for themselves and maybe they will never have that "Aha!" moment, such as the one they should be having right now, as the world trembles in fear while waiting for that moment in human history when the virus that causes avian flu evolves the ability to transmit itself from human to human. As of now, it can't. It must evolve...But there's worse, according to the intelligent designers. The intelligent designer may well choose to redesign the bird virus to transmit from human to human, himself, in his own loving way...thereby killing millions upon millions of humans on a whim.
But that's off topic for this sermon...ahem...
Back to determining Us and Them.
I think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and I ain't no FundXtian Death cult Armageddonist. But I'm am an optimist and I think we can save it. All we have to do is get enough Us's together, sort out the facts, and act collectively in our best interests. (that would be HUMAN best interest, not that of corporations. If Satan walks the earth, he is in corporate form! )
The facts are essential to this process as is critcal thinking. If Fox News won't give them to us, we will dig them out ourselves, but we must be receptive of the facts and not give in to our tendencies to believe in what is nothing more than gossip. We can't let our judgement be swayed by name calling, and more than that, if some tries to use name calling as a tactic to cloud our judgement, they must be condemned! We must condemn people like Representative Jean Schmidt for standing on the floor of Congress and calling Representative John Murtha a coward for presenting an idea. We can not fear ideas. If we are to be saved, it is ideas and knowlege that will be our weapons. We can not wish for salvation... We must create it. Our judgement must be accurate and those who would try to hide the truth from us must be pushed aside.
With that, I leave you with a quote from the King James version of the Judeo Christian bible. I started this piece with how little people know about their own religion and this sums it up. I looked at several versions and translations and they are all virtually identical. from Psalms 82:
"How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked? "
"President Bush is on an 8-day tour of Asia. He's visiting American jobs. He's spending 8 days in the Orient, and as we all know, he's spent the last four years in disorient." --David Letterman
"Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he wants to be president. Well that's good, somebody will have to pardon his brother." --David Letterman
Here's a site I'm checking on regularly. You can tell a good site by the intelligence of the comments, usually. I love the comment from Julie about bumperstickers...Julie made her own that says,
Makes Love...not War!"
Works for me! (figuratively, folks....only figuratively!)
"With all due respect, Mr. Fitzgerald, I believe you are being had."
...John Dean, Whitehouse counsel to richard Nixon.
To right-minded Americans, the idea that Administration officials have betrayed their national security obligations, yet remain in their jobs, is nothing short of appalling. Beyond politics is patriotism: Patriotic Americans want to see you not only prosecute those who compromised and endangered Valerie Plame Wilson, but also force the Administration to clean house with respect to those who did this, which you can accomplish through appropriate civil action.