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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-12-27 06:29
Subject: [links] Link salad, Thursday edition
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:awake
Music:house noises
Tags:links, politics, process, religion, writing
suricattus asks why writers count words produced

Red Meat on the spirit of Christmas

F-15 grounding strains U.S. air defenses — Strong on defense, that's our Republican leadership, yup.

A conservative tries out waterboarding to see what all the fuss is about — A fascinating link from lordofallfools.

Benazir Bhutto 'killed in blast' — Please explain to me again how mixing faith and politics improves things.
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lordofallfools
User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-12-27 14:44 (UTC)
Subject: Faith and Politics
Please explain to me again how mixing faith and politics improves things.

I don't know that it improves things; I don't know that you can keep belief out of politics, though.

I'm trying to imagine a system of law based entirely on empirical, objective evidence rather than collective, malleable, cultural beliefs. It must still be the holidays-- I can't manage it.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-27 14:49 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
You are right, of course. That's what leads to crap like the Terror, after the French Revolution. But there's only a difference of degree between Islamic fundamentalism and what the Christian right in this country wants. That's what I see -- people whose belief systems trump logic, reason and any sense of proportion.

Religion doesn't belong in politics because in religion, compromise is a sin, while in politics, compromise is essential. That's not the same thing as saying people of faith don't belong in politics.
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lordofallfools
User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-12-28 12:40 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
Religion doesn't belong in politics because in religion, compromise is a sin, while in politics, compromise is essential.

Vaclav Havel said much the same thing.

It kind of depends on what religion we're discussing as to whether or not compromise is viewed as a sin; and further, the particular activity/belief as viewed by that religion will further inform the argument.

I disagree with this:

But there's only a difference of degree between Islamic fundamentalism and what the Christian right in this country wants. That's what I see -- people whose belief systems trump logic, reason and any sense of proportion.

There's an enormous difference between what the fundamental Islamists who killed Bhutto want, and what the Christian right (whoever they are) want. Talk about a lack of proportion...

It's a mistake to assume that people's belief systems--any belief system-- is not based on logic or reason. There are reasons people believe what they believe; there is logic even in superstition. It's not logic that you might find convincing; it may not be based on empirical evidence. It may be straight up foul. But there's logic and reason to it all the same.

And thank goodness. If it's based on a reason, it can be argued against.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-28 14:53 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
There's an enormous difference between what the fundamental Islamists who killed Bhutto want, and what the Christian right (whoever they are) want. Talk about a lack of proportion...

How many clinics were bombed in the 1980s and 1990s? How many doctors were shot? Those acts were committed by very sincere Christians with the tacit and sometimes active support of congregations all over the United States. Eric Rudolph was a folk hero to evangelicals in the Southeastern United States until a rookie cop who hadn't gotten the memo arrested him dumpster diving.

The Islamists who killed Bhutto want their religious ruleset to control their society. The religious Right in the this country wants their ruleset to control our society. In both cases, it's based on a narrow, exclusionary writ which isn't subject to challenge or negotiation.
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lordofallfools
User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-12-28 17:41 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
You use the phrase "Christian right" to refer to a general group of people in your first response to my comments. Your defense of your comments is then to point out the most egregious fanatics on the right-- as if they were representative of the aggregate.

They simply aren't.

In any case, the volume of Christian terrorists vs. Fundamentalist Islam terrorist acts is not comparable-- Wikipedia (for lack of a better, more available source on a 30 minute lunch break, on a work computer) reports that only 7 people have been killed in abortion clinic violence. (Depending on your point of view-- let us call them post-natal people for the sake of clarity...and a bit of political snarkery on my part. :-) )

That's no where near even the ~3000 people killed inside this country due Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists.

Ideaologically, I don't know who the Christian right is; people keep moaning and groaning about them but I've never met anyone who believed the way everyone says they do. Or who is willing to do what everyone says they're willing to do. I know lots of religious people; I know lots of Republicans. One would think I'd know at least SOMEONE who'd be willing to rumble toward the White House in the Great Big Theocratic Machine of Doom.

The Islamists who killed Bhutto want their religious ruleset to control their society. The religious Right in the this country wants their ruleset to control our society.

There isn't a [sane] person alive who doesn't think their beliefs are the Best Way To Go. The question isn't this belief-- which everyone shares-- but what we're willing to do to get our memes on top of everyone else's.

Hmm...that sounds both dirty AND threatening.

In any case-- I don't think your portrayal of the aggregate Christian right is accurate.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-28 17:48 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
The funny thing is, I can't count the number of conservative friends who've told me there's no such thing as the Christian Right. To name names: James Dobson's Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson's ministry, the former ministry of Ted Haggard. That's millions of people right there.

To put in another way, people who advocate prayer in school, the Ten Commandments in the courtroom, and evolution denial are the Christian right. There are millions of people right there.

And it's precisely that religious prescriptivism of those groups and those advocacies that I'm referring to when I compare our religious fundamentalists to Islamists overseas. These are people who choose their religious beliefs over the world before their eyes, and demand the rest of us follow along or pay the price. Islamists are enforcing their price in this life, Christians tell me I'll pay their price in the next life.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-28 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
I'll tell you a little story about how this affects real people. Many medical schools no longer teach abortion related procedures, either because they themselves are religiously affiliated, or because of pressure from religious groups directly as well as indirectly through lobbying for funding restrictions and so forth. This trend began in the Reagan years, and by the early 1990s a lot of new doctors simply don't know how to do a DNC, for example. DNC (dilation and curretage, I believe, but you probably know that) is a pretty basic abortion procedure.

In 1994 or 1995 (my memory slips right now), Mother of the Child was pregnant. We had a heartbeat at 14 weeks and a clean genetic test (looking for CF, specifically). At 16 weeks, there was no heartbeat. The fetus was nonviable. The OB counseled that we await a spontaneous abortion. She carried for about three more weeks, with continued placental development and other pregnancy markers, but a nonviable fetus within. Or, if you prefer, a dead baby.

Finally, after almost a month of living with this day in and day out, the OB did a DNC as a day surgery procedure at a local hospital. Many of my Christian friends would ban that operation, without exception, because it is an abortion related procedure. That ban would have required my wife to carry a dead baby, possibly for months, until her body arrived at the truth.

How can the Bible, or any other religious precept, make a medical decision for me and my family? I'm not even a Christian, why should I be subject to that.

So this creeping Dominionism, all of it -- Intelligent Design, reproductive rights rollbacks, Covenant marriages -- it all represents a very creepy form of social engineering intended to bring back traditional values that are neither traditional, nor values.

This is one of my emotional underpinnings for my strong secular activism. I don't want people who look to the Bible for their worldview to make decisions about medicine, biology, education, politics or foreign policy for me, my family or my country.

I want people who think for themselves, accept change and find ways to manage it, not people who want to roll back the clock to some imagined past, whether that's the 1950s nevernever land of Reaganite myth or the perfected civilization of 7th century Islam. People of faith are perfectly capable of clear-eyed thinking, but many people of faith substitute their faith for thinking. It's them that I fear.
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lordofallfools
User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-12-29 02:30 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
I don't think that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. But I'm coming at this as a person of faith, who likes to believe himself reasonable.

So my bias is showing, I guess.

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-29 02:39 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
Actually, I agree with you completely. I don't think they're mutually exclusive either. Look at Jimmy Carter, for example, a man of undeniably deep and sincere faith. The problem is that reasonable people of faith are not the power players in the conservative movement.

All you have to do is glance at American politics to see how widely faith and reason can be separated. Evolution denial is a basic example of how faith and reason become mutually exclusive, and it is a tenet of at least two of the leading Republican presidential candidates. Once you can accept anything that basic and important to the exclusion of all evidence of the senses and the empirical world, you are lost to reason, at least in the Enlightenment sense of the term. And we live in an Enlightenment world.
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lordofallfools
User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-12-29 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
Once you can accept anything that basic and important to the exclusion of all evidence of the senses and the empirical world

Important in what sense? Important to whom?

I'm a lot more concerned about the candidates' various positions on immigration and health care reform than I am about their (un)informed opinions on evolution.

I don't know what the executive branch of government would be doing fiddling around with funds for scientific research anyway...
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-29 15:58 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Faith and Politics
I don't know what the executive branch of government would be doing fiddling around with funds for scientific research anyway...

Heh. Nice one.

As for the candidate's positions, I simply don't trust the reasoning of anyone with the kind of mental block that evolution denial requires. That's faith-based reasoning, not reality-based reasoning. What get is pretty much the Bush administration. Where, for example, the deep faith in tax cuts means that tax cuts are considered the ideal policy response to literally any economic situation. Where, for example, PNAC's obsession with Iraq, melded with Bush43's daddy issues, means that invading Iraq was going to happen no matter how they had to twist the evidence of WMDs and the 9-11 rhetoric.

To your specific concerns, would a Millennialist view immigration in a sensible fashion? Bush is a Millennialist, Huckabee is almost certainly one. (I don't know about Romney -- do Mormons have the End Times fixation that Evangelicals have developed?) If you believe the End Times are at hand, and coming in your lifetime, how do you manage the long term population and economic issues that immigration presents?

Likewise healthcare. How does someone who believes in healing through prayer view health insurance? How does someone with a religious mandate manage reproductive health? The Bush administration's handling of teen sexual health through abstinence only programs -- faith based reasoning -- has been a massive waste of Federal money with no substantiation other than the belief of his Evangelical constituency. The stem cell ban -- another faith-based bit of reasoning -- has shifted the focus of key elements of biomedical research to Europe and East Asia, which in turn undermines our technological competitiveness and leadership.

Or go back in time, to James Watt, Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, who told Congress that since Jesus was going to return in our lifetimes, we didn't need to make long term plans for resource conservation. (I think it was a timber or coal hearing, don't recall right now.)

These are the kinds of things that make me think that faith to the exclusion of reason is an important disqualifier. The candidate's positions on immigration and healthcare are directly related to their opinions on evolution, because evolution is a key signifier for that constellation of nonrational thinking which disregards actual data in favor of a cherished belief. That is not the basis of public policy. It can't be, not if the United States wants to continue to prosper in a world where our economic and political competitors are led by (generally) rational, empirical actors.

Faith-based reasoning in politics has real, tragic impact on real life. When you have political leaders who begin from a position of faith so blindered as an evolution denialist does, public policy is off the rails before it starts.

Edited at 2007-12-29 04:00 pm (UTC)
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-12-27 14:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
(Re Bhutto's death)

Oh--sh*t. Near Kashmir, no less. What a stinking mess. What a lousy end of the year.

Not good, not good at all.
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When life gives you lemmings...: AmeriCrisis
User: danjite
Date: 2007-12-27 15:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:AmeriCrisis
and don't forget this one on waterboarding.

Torture- the most effective use of our tax dollars.
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shaolingrrl
User: shaolingrrl
Date: 2007-12-27 16:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Re: Bhutto--

Crap. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.
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