Friday, August 13, 2004

I'm tired

I'm tired of being gracious. I'm tired of being polite. I'm tired of being understanding. Not in every area of my life, just a couple very specific ones: religion and politics. I'm tired of trying to politely explain my point of view and express my understanding of other viewpoints to people and have them not return the courtesy. I'm a pretty good debater. When I was in high school, my partner and I were in the top 10 teams in the state. I'm tired of not using those skills. So, for today anyway, no more Mr. Nice Guy.

What brought this on? I was having a polite discussion with Chris over at People, Books and Christ. He commented in a post that he thought liberal Christians (anyone who isn't opposed to homosexuality) is just assimilating to society and ignoring the core values of Christianity. I tried to explain that liberal Christians (not my term of choice) see the issue differently. After some back-and-forth, he made a comment that something I said, "made him wonder about the spiritual life of [my] congregation."

I'm astounded by the stunning arrogance he just displayed. Based on one comment, he's suggesting that my church community is not authentic, not adhering to Biblical principles, etc. Further, he's suggesting that he's qualified to evaluate the spiritual health of other communities of faith. The hell he is.

Why is it when discussing basic theological issues with some conservatives their first response is to question the quality of your faith? Why do they jump in using words like "false teacher" and questioning the integrity, honesty, and faithfulness of another group of people? I've had enough.
Comments like that make me wonder about the intellectual life of his congregation. Is it a place where people aren't allowed to think? As soon as you start expressing any sign of independent thought your faith is questioned? How is it that our society has created a whole church sub-culture that is only interested in reinforcing the sketchy theology that underlies it?

This attitude mirrors the conservative political ideology that labels anyone who questions Bush as a traitor. Unflinching deference to authority is the order of the day. You may not question your pastor or your president. I refuse to accept that. I refuse to be part of a church where I cannot ask basic questions. I refuse to be part of a political or religious tradition that does not allow independent thought.

I do not believe homosexuality is a sin. I believe the United Methodist Church (and others) should joyfully ordain and marry all human beings. I believe that religious opposition to homosexuality is based primarily on fear, discomfort, and a simplistic understanding of biology, history and scripture. I believe that Christian fundamentalism is a horrific distortion of Christ's message and a plague on the church. I am disgusted how political conservatism distorts and manipulates the message of the gospel in promoting a social policy that is anything but "compassionate" and Biblical.

I believe George Bush and his administration value political power over the truth. They will do or say almost anything to get what they want. We have killed over 11,000 Iraqis in a war we have no idea how to win. Bush has inflamed our enemies, driven off our allies, and disenfranchised millions of Americans. Four more years of Bush/Cheney would be disastrous for the world.

I believe that many around Bush (and himself, possibly) believe that he is appointed by God. They have no objection to twisting religious imagery and language in support of base political opportunity. God is but another tool for Bush and company to make the rich richer, and the powerful more so.

So, those of you religious and political conservatives, I fully support your right to your opinion and your right to express it. But I think you're wrong. Absolutely, no doubt about it, dead wrong. Feel free to argue with me. Feel free to tell me that I'm wrong. Debate is healthy. But if all you've got is to say I'm a false teacher or not a real Christian, then bug off. That's not debate. It's an anti-intellectual ploy designed to stifle debate and rational thought by invoking God.

I may regret this later, but I feel good now.



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