I read today in the DNT that some folks plan on picketing the the DaVinci Code when it comes to a Duluth theater.Â The “Code” as well as the recent publishing of the Gospel of Judas, has promptedÂ a lot of historical self-examination lately.Â So is “Misquoting Jesus” which I put down halfway through and am eager to get back to.Â Â
While some churchesÂ are warningÂ their parishoners to avoid the flick my wife and I will be joining a jolly bunch of Presbyterians to see it this Sunday. I gather that theÂ movie is not getting rave reviews butÂ since I’m too busy to read the book this will be a painless way for me to see what all the fuss is about, The coffee, pie and good fellowship we’llÂ enjoy afterward at Church are also a powerful draw. I don’tÂ plan on takingÂ Dan Brown’s theological stuff too seriously but I appreciate the fact that his book is prompting Christians to reexamine themselves. We’ve got to watch out for those albino monks.
USA Today reports that 19% of Americans think that the book and movie “Da Vinchi Code” is the work of the devil. I wonder if they think the “LeftÂ Behind” series is too or whether its the work of God?
When IÂ was in high school it didn’t occur to me than anyone really believed in theÂ devil until the movieÂ “The Exorcist” came out. We were talking about it in our home room when I asked Sue Weber, who sat in front of me, if she believed in the Devil. Oh yes, she did. Heck, Sue wasn’t even a Baptist. She was a Lutheran for crying out loud!
My Mother always told me that she didn’t believe in Hell. She said that if there was such a place it was right here on Earth which is a theoryÂ that our newspaper headlines seem to bolster daily. I suppose that fundamentalists would just say that Mom was full of the Devil.
Well if she was she should have gotten over that after I was born.
Moments after posting the previous entry I realized the difference between the two. If you were hiding a Jewish family in your attic, during World War II, and you told the Gestapo you weren’t hiding anybody you would be lying and doing right simultaneously. When I was growing up Biblical literalists had a hard time accepting this. To them the world was black and white. They wouldn’t countenance the heretical notion that you could take any liberties with God’s Ten Commandments, not even the one about never bearing false witness.When even more shocking questions were posed under the guise of “situational ethic” the literalists went into a state of apoplexy. It was bad enough to hear people trying to justify a lie but what about putting yourself in the place of a Jewish family hiding in the attic with a crying infant while the Gestapo was searching for Jews downstairs? Being found would mean certain death for everyone and the baby’s cries would definitely alert the Gestapo. The only way to save the family required smothering the baby. What to do? When I was a kid the literalists wouldn’t touch a question like this with a ten foot pole. Better the unexamined life.
So what do Bush loving, Biblical literalists make of this Administration’s “disingenuities?” I’d say that those of them who have stuck with Bush have crossed the treacherous black and white boundary of the Ten Commandments. In doing so they have followed in the footsteps of the pointy-headed thinkers from my youth who debated what that Jewish family should do. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
This is a post I attempted to send yesterday as it the next. When the battery died on the flight to texas so did the post.I’ve emailed principals, trustees, school board members and PTA leaders. Now while I’m in San Antonio I’ll wait for replies and hopefully some reservation requests. One principal emailed back promising to make substitute teachers available for any of his teachers who want to attend. Cool.
I gave Michele Wallerstein, our President, an option to suggest changes but got nervous and sent my column in to the editor/publisher before she replied. Being a diplomat she changed my dyspeptic references to “greedy” legislators covering their “fiscal mismanagement.” It did her no good as I had already sent it in. I told her our legislators were all Democrats and unlikely to take offense since they’d just blame Republics who controlled 2/3rds of the state government.
A reader took strenuous issue with my post suggesting that the Founding Fathers did not regard the United States as a “Christian Nation.” Pointing to the many Christian references on our public buildings and tributes to God offered up by our Presidents over the years he challenges this idea as though it were a heresy. His eloquence gives Patrick Henry a run for his money:
“Shall we tear down our public buildings? Shall we melt down the Liberty Bell? Shall we deny our heritage, forsake our history, and profane our honored dead who believed in America’s ideals and followed our founding patriots into the cry “Give me liberty or give me death”, who have delivered to us this nation cemented together in the common belief of the unalienable rights of men granted by the Creator and bought those rights with their blood? I say no. We shall not forget, nor shall we abandon those lofty ideals and that firm reliance on God that has raised us to the wonderful nation that we are.”
This is part of my reply:
“This treaty language written and approved by those very founders is excellent and almost irrefutable evidence that they did not see the United States as a specificially Christian nation. Isn’t that what we would want the people of Iraq to know so that they wouldn’t confuse our intervention with the motivations of the Crusaders?
There is no reason to punish America for reflecting its undeniable Christian heritage by tearing down its public buildings for having God’s name engraved on their walls or smelting the Liberty Bell because it sports a quotation from Leviticus.”
I started a post earlier today about how the Roves, Abramofs, Reeds, DeLays etc. have betrayed the earnest Christians who have followed them into the GOP. It wasÂ too a big topic to cover in a bite sized post so I set it aside.Â
I am an agnostic but I’ve attended church regularlyÂ for nearly a quarter century. I just got back from choir practice. Â Socrates, no Christian he, said: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” I agree and attending church has been an important way for me to examine my spiritual life.
It would be a mistake for Democrats to generalize too much about “Christians” simply because they’ve been so ill used by the aformentioned sleaze mongers. Slate has a useful article explaining who the potential allies of the Democrats are on the religious left and how they should be treated.Â
Don’t forgetÂ what Socrates said.
InÂ its April 10th 2006Â story “God and the Founders” Newsweek had this stunningly secularistÂ quote from America’s founding fathers:
In a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli initiated by Washington, completed by John Adams, and ratified by the Senate in 1797, we declared “the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. … “
It is a familiar notion that when the devilÂ makes his appearance he shows up asÂ a handsome, smooth talking, charmer. The liberal magazine “The Nation” uses that image on its front coverÂ to representÂ theÂ influential, and money loving,Â “evangelical” Republican, Ralph Reed.
The story they write is even more damning.Â
Even though I’ve been an agnostic since junior high, the time I spend in church every Sunday is important to me. My wife, who has been my Sunday School teacher for better than a decade, intends to go to seminary when she retires in a few years. That should be an adventure.
Today weÂ began a month-long study of the Old Testament’s books of History. I’ve alwaysÂ been intriguedÂ with the idea God took Israel away from one set of inhabitantsÂ to give it to the Hebrews. After Rome crushed Israel in about 60 AD Hebrews had to wait 1,900 years to reclaim Israel from the Palestinians whoÂ had occupied it during the diaspora.Â
Politicial science has a fancy word for the dreams of a people to return to their ancient homelands. Its called irredentism and Jews are not the only irredentists. Over the weekend a small band of irridentist North Americans joined much larger numbers of Hispanics who were protesting the treatment of immigrants in the United States. This small bandÂ waved placards claiming America for themselves as decendents of the Maya, Aztec and otherÂ native peoples.
It seems to me thatÂ the IndianÂ claims on North America have as much validity as the Hebrew claim on Isreal, or to put it another way, no better claim -Â except for one thing -Â the Jewish people’s have reclaimed Israel through war and treaty.
There is one fly in the ointment for Jewish Israel. Jewish Israelies don’t have as many babies as Palestinian Israelies. This means that at some time in the future they could be out voted by Palestinians who might wish to act on their own irredentism.
Would the United States support the claims of such a democratic majority if it were to exert itself? This strikes me as a good question to ask on the Sabbath.
Here’s a sneak preview (four days early) of my next Not Eudora column.
A short Newsweek review of conservative Garry Wills’s newest book “What Jesus Meant.”
From Andrew Sullivan, a long time blogger aghast at our treatment of prisoners in the Mideast.
I received then lost an email today with aÂ wonderful riposte in it. When I did a google search I found that it had already reached the “urban legends” folks at Snopes.com.Â The story isÂ mostly true.
How should anyone, not just a President, deal with God? A friend sent me this page from Colonial Williamsburg’s website. It lists over a hundred quaint rules of etiquette which were given to our first President when he was a student. Number 108 says in part: “When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously & with Reverence.”