4.08.2006

Lamentations of the Damned

Historians are a cynical lot — unless they filter history through a religious lens, and in that case "everything makes sense." Rational historians recognize the cyclical nature of human society, culture and politics: progressivism, reactionism, moderation, again, and again, and again.

Since the early 1980s, the radical Religious Right has gained a considerable foothold in American political life. This is as dangerous as the radical right gaining power in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of Eastern Europe in the 1930s — or the radical left in Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba and Eastern Europe in the wake of World War II.

The important word here is "radical." What makes them radical?

All radical movements display a fanatical belief in a set of doctrines: "Mein Kampf," for example, or Marx's "Communist Manifesto" — or the Bible. All of these movements believed that these documents contained within them an absolute truth, unchanging and unchallenged. Communists believed in Marx's interpretation of history, economics and society in exactly the same way that today's right-wing Christians believe in the Bible — which is a supreme irony, as Communists ridiculed religious-minded people for their rigid adherence to an historical document.

Like radical Muslims around the world, radical Christians believe that their holy text contains a set of rules and practices handed down by God. As they believe that these rules and practices represent the Word of God, they are both unchanging and unchallegeable. If this holds true, radical Christians must therefore be aware of these Biblical laws:

Anyone who dreams or prophesizes anything that is against God, or anyone who tries to turn you from God, is to be put to death. (Deuteronomy 13:5)

If anyone, even your own family suggests worshipping another God, kill them. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)

If you find out a city worships a different god, destroy the city and kill all of it's inhabitants... even the animals. (Deuteronomy 13:12-15)

Kill anyone with a different religion. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7)

Don't let cattle graze with other kinds of Cattle (Leviticus 19:19)

Don't have a variety of crops on the same field. (Leviticus 19:19)

Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19)

Don't cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)

Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed. (Leviticus 20:9)

If a man cheats on his wife, or vise versa, both the man and the woman must die. (Leviticus 20:10).

If a man sleeps with his father's wife... both him and his father's wife is to be put to death. (Leviticus 20:11)

If a man sleeps with his wife and her mother they are all to be burnt to death. (Leviticus 20:14)

If a man or woman has sex with an animal, both human and animal must be killed. (Leviticus 20:15-16).

If a man has sex with a woman on her period, they are both to be "cut off from their people" (Leviticus 20:18)

Psychics, wizards, and so on are to be stoned to death. (Leviticus 20:27)

If a priest's daughter is a whore, she is to be burnt at the stake. (Leviticus 21:9)

People who have flat noses, or is blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God (Leviticus 21:17-18)

Anyone who curses or blasphemes God, should be stoned to death by the community. (Leviticus 24:14-16)

Don't let cattle graze with other kinds of Cattle (Leviticus 19:19)

Leviticus 20:13 clearly states "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

(this list is provided courtesy of Bible Babble.)

These rules, however, are not really the problem. The problem is that radical Christians — as with radical Muslims — believe that they are acting in accordance with God's wishes, and therefore are always correct.

This mindset leads to the assasinations of abortion doctors, or politicians speaking out against same-sex marriage — or suicide bombings in Tel Aviv.

In other words, radical Christians are as potentially dangerous as radical Muslims. They are, in fact, no different from one another. They both insist that they are simply carrying out the "Word of God" by flying airplanes into buildings, or restricting the Constitutional rights of minority groups that offend them.

During his resignation speech, Representative Tom Delay announced that he would continue working to improve foster care, strengthening the Republican Party — and bringing more religion into government. He thus publicly admitted that his Party is working towards the creation of a neo-theocracy, the kind of system rejected by the framers of the Constitution.

I believe that we are living in dangerous times. The constant appeal by the religious right to the worst instincts of the American electorate (in various forms) could potentially lead to a dictatorship that seeks to crush all dissent, as all dictatorships do.

If the liberal and progressive forces in American society continue to fail as completely as they have in the past twelve years, the liberties we cherish will vanish beneath a tidal wave of hatred and intolerance.

Fight, fight, fight!

For some insight into the thinking of the radical right, please take a moment and read these quotations from the Rev. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club. I think you will be amazed at his mindset, and of the mindset of those who follow him.

21 comments:

Stogie said...

"Like radical Muslims around the world, radical Christians believe that their holy text contains a set of rules and practices handed down by God. As they believe that these rules and practices represent the Word of God, they are both unchanging and unchallegeable. If this holds true, radical Christians must therefore be aware of these Biblical laws:"

You are a major ignoramus. The books of the Bible that you quote, i.e. Leviticus and Deuteronomy are of the Old Testament and they are not binding on Christians who are of the New Testament.

Leviticus is the Third Book of the Jewish Torah. It was basically a list of rules for ancient Jewish priests at the time the Jews were wandering in the desert as nomads, following their escape from bondage in Egypt. Deuteronomy is the Fifth Book of the Torah and is applicable to the same time period.

Note that neither Jews nor Christians practice stoning anywhere in the world today, unlike Muslims who still do.

Christians have no similarity whatsoever to Muslims in either practice or beliefs, and your comments to the contrary are idiotic. Have you ever read any books at all about Islam? Try starting with "Defeating Jihad" by Serge Trifkovic or "Onward Muslim Soldiers" by Robert Spencer. I know actual FACTS aren't as much fun as airhead Leftist bumper slogans, but it give it a try anyway.

As for your quotes of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, I looked some of them up and they either don't say what you quote or mean what you imply. For example, Leviticus 19:27: "Don't cut your hair nor shave."

The actual verse reads this way: "You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard." Quite a different meaning than what you quote. Also, this was a rule for the ancient Jewish priesthood, so no, we don't have to run around looking like hirsuit Hippies today. I'm sure you're disappointed.

Shawn said...

I cannot begin to thank you for your response, in all sincerety. It is exactly the kind of response I expected! Permit me to expand upon your comments:

1. You completely missed the thrust of my argument. The individual practices of any religion are irrelevent. What I suggested was that radicals in all religions believe they are following the Word of God which gives them the ability to oppress or kill others. I used the old biblical passages simply to illustrate the kind of nonsense spouted by some.

2. If, as you say, the Old Testament is NOT binding on Christians, then why do many Christian leaders continually quote the passage in Leviticus that forbids homosexuality? If the Old Testament is no longer binding, then isn't that prohibition also non-binding? Many Christian leaders argued as you have, but then pick and choose elements of the Old Testament when they need them.

Either it is binding, or it is not. Make up your mind.

3. You wrote:
"Christians have no similarity whatsoever to Muslims in either practice or beliefs, and your comments to the contrary are idiotic."

You are incorrect. Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the SAME GOD. If you did not know that, you are gravely mistaken. Chrisitanity evolved out of Judaism; Islam developed with elements of both of those religions. They share many similiarites.

All of these religions have elements of charity, present guidelines for sexual morality, and have places of worship and a "priestly" class. There are differences in individual practices, to be sure, but they all share many commonalities.

Also, I did not -- and would never -- defended radical Islam. I am simply suggesting that "radical" Christians share some commonalities with radical Muslims.

4. When you suggested that "we don't have to run around looking like hirsuit Hippies today. I'm sure you're disappointed," you made an assumption that I am or like hippies. I do not. I beleive that that generation is one of the worst ever vomited up by a society, and their track record for change and reform is terrible, as they all sold out in the 80s. So beware of making false assumtpions without proof.

5. When you resort to childish name-calling in the place of argument ("Major Ignoramus," "idotic") you undermine your credibility. You sound like the greatest mind of the 7th Grade.

6. As to your charge that I am a "Major Igornamus": I have a Ph.D. in history. Do you?

7. Although my field is not ancient history, I have always had a great interest in the history of Christianity. I will guarentee you that I know far more about the history of Christianity than you do. Did you know, for instance:

(a) Jesus spent part of his youth in Egypt studying with Egyptian priests, who taught him magic?

(b) This "magic" consisted of tricks like the "miracle" of the loaves and fishes, or the "miracle" of the water into wine? These are ancient Egyptian practices used by priests in that land for many, many years. They were used in order to attract an audience for the preacher.

(c) The "crufixion and resurrection" was also an Egyptian practice used for many, many years as a sort of morality play. The only difference is that the ancient Egyptians were not ignorant enough to take it as fact. (I believe that it was among the worshippers of Isis, but I may be incorrect on the particular deity.)

(d) There is evidence that Jesus was not in fact crucified, and that someone else took his place.

(e) The Bible has been rewritten, edited, excised, and translated hundreds if not thousands of times. Therefore any suggestion that it represents the actual "Word of God" is simply anti-historical. It cannot after all of the changes made over the long years.

I would assume that you knew none of these things. That is not your fault. It is not in the interest of leading Christians that you know the history of your own religion. It would undermine their power and authority.

Please take some time to read the following:

"Holy Blood, Holy Grail."
"The Templar Revelations."
"Jesus the Magician."

These books will give you a good sense of the true history of your religion which you and your co-religionists have been denied for 2,000 years.

I very much appreciate that you took the time to read and respond to my post. I would very much like to continue the discussion, if we can avoid the childish name-calling. I assume that you are adult enough to do so.

Shawn said...

I forgot to add that you should also read "American Theocracy" by Kevin Phillips. It will change your view of contemporary American politics.

Phillips worked for President Nixon and helped to develop the "Southern Strategy" to expand the base of the Republican Party -- an effort he now regrets!

Shawn said...

To my friends who may be reading this, I'd like to note that I emailed "Stogie" and told him that I had responded to his comments, and that I looked forward to hearing more from him.

As of now -- 12:09 a.m., Sunday, April 23 -- I have not.

What do you make of that?! :)

Please feel free to comment as you wish.

Shawn said...

Oh, and you can reach him at:

stogiechomper@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. It turns out that I saw your post and copied it to Stogie's blog and got ripped for it, as did you.
I too predicted his reaction. He does not engage in dialog very easily. The name calling is unfortunate - and as you said lessens the credibility.

Fear and hatred must be overcome, for peace to take hold. IMO I fear ( a joke ) he may be falling for the smokescreen and is helping to promote dectructive emotions.

I have pretty much told him as much, and he seems not to want to dialog about that.

I actually like Stogie, and would like to see him make different use of his talent.

Gary

Anonymous said...

Shawn, the liberties you mentioned are being lost as we speak. The patriot act does not seem very patriotic to me.
Do you follow these issues?
Gary

Shawn said...

Hi Gary,

Thanks so much for the infomation, and for writing. I was surprised that "Stogie" didn't respond, I was looking forward to the debate! But oh well.

As to your second comment, I think of little else these days but the ways in which some force or other is systematically taking away our rights. In fact, I will be discussing my thoughts on just that subject in my podcast, "The ShawnCast," tomorrow (a terrible title, I know).

I am going to discuss events since 9/11, and explain why I think that the ruling class (military-industrial complex and the radical Christian right) don't want Osama bin Laden captured at all ... so that we can have War Without End (for the military-industrial complex) and troops on the ground in the Middle East (for the religious nuts who think Armageddon is coming).

You can find my podcast at:

My .Mac Homepage

or, if you have iTunes, simply search the podcast directory for The ShawnCast.

I'd love to hear more about your thoughts.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Shawn said...

Oh, and I forgot to ask: how do you know "Stogie"? Personally, or as a fellow blogger? Just curious....

Anonymous said...

I ran across Stogie when doing the next blog thing.
There are those who are falling for the smoke screen, and those that are part of it - and I do not put anyone into either box - but they may show their stripes eventually. ( all IMO )

You may have seen this movie - I would be interested in your thinking on it. :: http://www.totalrevolutionaryfront.com/educate/911_Road_to_Tyranny.wmv
It is on this site I discovered in my investigations.::

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/topic/911investigation/

I do not know how to tell how much is real (most I assume/it appears) and how much is hyped or missleading. The big picture to be taken from the film is SICKENING!!!!
Has this really been a country of sheeple for so long??? ( me ?? )

I look to find out more.....

Gary

Anonymous said...

some of the lin may have dropped off, again:

http://www.totalrevolutionaryfront.com/educate/911_Road_to_Tyranny.wmv


http://portland.indymedia.org/en/topic/911investigation/

Anonymous said...

They end:

911_Road_to_Tyranny.wmv


911investigation/

Shawn said...

I will definitely check them out when I have a chance!

People are easily scared, and why not? 9/11 was such a shock. As a historian, I recognize that people will almost always give up civil liberties for security -- they always have -- especially when they are told that it will be "temporary." People with jobs, and mortagages, and car payments, and tuititon payments don't want to be afraid to go to the grocery store or fly home to see relatives. Therefore if their elected government insists on measures in the interest of "national security" they will often comply, even if grudgingly.

People like "Stogie" assume, then, that support for such measures is "patriotic" and speaking out against such measures amounts to giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy, which is treason.

Forgetting, of course, that some people who object do so in order to protect civil liberties which Stogie and his ilk are claiming to protect even while they trample them! It's the old Vietnam War logic trap of "destroying a village in order to save it" (from the Communists)!

Anonymous said...

You may like the road to tyrrany, because it begins with historical perspective - an ugly one.
Again, I would be interested in how (if) you can refute the information in it.
Gary
PS, I hope you have dsl/cable - it is 2 hr+

Anonymous said...

In response to Gary and his comment about "Sheeple"...

I might argue that humans have always been "Sheeple". It seems to be part of human nature: the herding type need and need to identify with a larger group. Look at the way people follow professional sports...

Most humans are sheep. There are a few who lead, and the sheep are eager to follow the word of the leader. Humans seem to have the capacity to question and for critical thought, but it does not seem to come naturally to most. I feel that most just don't want to work that hard.

And today's consumerism has people so distracted from anything that is truly important, the sheep follow anyone who promises to ensure and expand their personal property. Why not? Money and image is what matters, right?

And if consumerism isn't quite effective enough, let's scare the rest and promise those we will protect them. (and as long as they remain uneducated, they won't realize that safety is an illusion...)

I imagine it is much more difficult to govern large groups of people who have widely varying ideas and to try to get them all to play nice with each other. But the stifling of independent thought still seems criminal.

The world is complicated and I don't have any answers. Searching hard, though...

-"Johnny G" in NC

Anonymous said...

I wonder, was the world complicated - or did we make it seem so? Anyway point taken.
It does seem that complacency has taken it's toll.
As for answers - the house of cards may need to fall.......?

Gary

Shawn said...

as to: 9/11 Road to Tyranny:

Alex Jones is certifiable. You can't take anything he says seriously. Honestly. He's crazy.

Gonçalo said...

Unfortunately, the conversation, which started from a very interesting standpoint, seems to have taken a distinct "more personal" path, every now and then, that I shall try to skim through it.

Well, back to the main topic.

While culturally Roman Catholic and European, I have diverged, so to speak, first to the "usual" atheist stance, then, progressively to a kind of agnostic understanding of divinity. Politically, you may say I am a mild European socialist, or a wild subversive communist, in American terms ;)
Yet - and I shall not enter political discussion for it is almost a question of faith, and my ideology has been built through an active, critic and - I hope - reasonable view.
Yet, and perhaps strange to some of you, I have come to respect Christianity and christianism as a major, if not the major, social guide for mankind, leading to the Western civilization state of grace that "we" are currently living (and have been experiencing for the last 2000 years, and even more so on roughly the last 1000).

This, of course, regardless of every problem that still soils our dreams of a perfect society - bigotry, disrespect for self, disrespect for mankind, greed and a whole lot more that we don't have the time to debate.

Now, as far as I can see the problem, you have hit the spot with the fundamentalist premise. The problem is, I think, that opinions on any issue will always cyclically tend to become extremed, being that the beginning of a new all set of theories and/or the end of the original one - and so is the rhythm of most, if not all, ideologies throughout our history. Ideas that crystallize will become stagnant and will eventually be replaced by a whole new perspective or by a radicalisation.

This is what I think we are assisting nowadays. "Fundamentalist" christianism is, basically, a response to a loss of identity and a desperate attempt to recover something that is dearly prized or assumed as being crucial. So is fundamentalist, radical communism or fascism. The lack of a majority reflects on a need to be more assertive, of establishing a doctrine, of making it legitimate.

Of course, these currents are both an action and a reaction to counter currents. The attempts to "extirpate" the divine from all forms of republican/democratic governments (pretty much the same, from an European point of view, although you Americans might disagree, of course) has generated a growing radicalisation of those to whom christianism is seen as a basis for everything else. Although finding it alien and hard to "digest", I do understand the need for that people to harden and make legitimate their positions, thus radicalising their doctrine.

On the other side of the barricade, we have the liberal left wing, friend of all peoples, individualist, internationalist, anti-clerical, authority-defying, dialectically materialistical. Theoretically, I would have inserted myself on this side. And I could even subscribe to the points of view shown on the original post. But I will not. Nor I ever will.

Not when it is directed against our civilization, the one that was formed through painstaking efforts, at the cost of millions of lives, creating the basis for the emergence of humanism, reason, science, individualism. The civilization that even allowed the brooding, multiplying and even nurturing of ideologies that are radically opposed to it.

This, my friends, is the Western Civilization, spawn – believe it or not – of a few men who believed on a current (allegedly started by one man) that actually meant that, lo and behold, we had the right to live our lives as we saw fit. And that the state and the individual are different things altogether. And that we should cherish life and love it, and make the best of it.

These are the true fundaments of Christ. And this is what the bible should say. All the rest is nothing but a social set of guidelines, written by priests and local "wise men", directed at a very specific society, on a very specific time and age. They had, of course, their rationale at the time they were written. It was sometimes the only way of mass-conveying a given social and even physical "rule".

It pains me to see the Christian fanatics assume as the only truth something that is not to be taken literally, but it is even more repulsive to see people continuously slandering and misusing it in order to take out the credibility of Christianity in particular (under political agendas) and the Western civilization as a whole.

Only someone intellectually obtuse or morally dishonest would use those sentences in order to define Christianity. Worse, it is impressive to see it compared with the Islam.
For both religions cannot even start to be compared on those terms. If it is true that they do derive from the same genesis, for all Muslims all Christians are apostates for they worship a God that has generated a Man, his son, and that is presented in the form of a trinity relation; for all Christians, Muslims are heathens that refuse to accept Christ as saviour and God’s son / own image.

So, they immediately become offensive to one another. The fact that we nominally share the same God is not even to be considered, because what it is at stake here are different structural faith systems. In a very blunt sense, it was not because we shared the same God that avoided both civilizations from killing each other throughout history, on the accounts of heresy.

But the great difference here seems to be often not alluded to. What separates Islam from Christianity is something very simple: interpretation.
Mohammed was not inspired into writing the Koran, but rather he received it directly from God. On the other hand, the Bible (New testament – Christian basis) was written by (or allegedly) apostles… people, men, based on what they have heard or experienced. Right from the start, we hit exactly on the great difference between religions – one is to be assumed literally, sic, ipsis verbis. The other allows and stimulates, personal interpretation, and has been consistently (in the case of Catholics) subjected to several interpretations and fine-tuning, in order to adapt it to lives of men. It has even seen an extensive editing of the texts to adopt – the ones we see there are those deemed most important or most representative of what they wanted to express.

This is why “radical” Christians (except the insane criminal ones, of course, mostly men who hide their own weaknesses and urges under the flag of something) do not go around – on this day and age – claiming for Holy Wars. It is because we have allowed other notions and ideas to permeate our moral behaviour. We do not kill men in the name of God. We (some of us) kill men for the sake of society, of mankind, of ourselves, as men. And we only do that in last resort (and I will not consider any references to wars, since I am speaking in broad moral terms). This is a human construction - of course, deeply rooted on the basis of Christianity, but still, a human construction - and it is radically opposed to what Islam defends. For them, there is no society without God, and all our lives are nothing but a set of instructions given by him.

These are the great defining differences between the two. And don’t get me started on the differences between Mein Kampf and Das Kapital ;)

Note that I tried to keep this text as short as possible. But this particular issue cannot be briefly debated or dismissed with just a few comments. Also, do bear in mind that I am not defending Christian fundamentalism, much on the contrary, I am trying to debate all sorts of fundamentalism – including anti-Christian fundamentalism that is gaining more and more momentum, and is very devious, trying to set the basis for a complete rupture of the Western society… a cultural overthrow that is brooding in Europe and that, in a matter of years, will engulf what we hold so dear. This rupture is visibly pushed by liberal politicians and some media, seeking self and promotion, perhaps unaware of the force with which Islam is pushing its own ideas onto our civilization. The subversion and degrading of a civilization that is set to accept all others – hence considered weak – is just the first step. Even unwillingly, all of us contribute to it. We DO act like lamb, but we do it by following that we envisage as the majority, hoping not to be shun, cast away.

Losing our moral and ethical foundations will be the first step for losing everything that we have now taken for granted, but that has cost so much to acquire. Regardless of what we politically stand for. Left or Right, believers or not. We should all pay homage to what set and generated our whole culture.

PS - Sorry for the long text and for possible syntactical, orthographical errors.

Anonymous said...

Gonçalo
A very good, though out comment. If I have wrapped my mind around it correctly I agree.

Gary

Anonymous said...

Shawn, Alex Jones may be crazy, and I am sure he twisted, but still he points out the need to be aware.
Sometimes it takes a wild, over the top representation to get people to pay attention.
One of the biggest prolems we face today, I think, is how to separate fabrication from fact.

Gary

Shawn said...

Gonçalo:
Thanks for writing! It's so great to have a European perspective! You make some interesting points, and they are welcome in this thread!

Gary:
Yes, certainly, we should all be "on our toes" so to speak. But Jones really is nuts -- a major religious right-winger.