Archive for the ‘Christianity’ tag
Ross Douthat is peeved. You see, there’s a pantheistic trend in Hollywood films, and where there could be talk of Jesus and The One God, there is only Kevin Costner dancing with wolves and Lion King metaphysics. The most recent example of this is James Cameron’s Avatar.
Full disclosure: I have not seen this film yet, but I don’t think I need to have seen it to criticize the rest of this seriously weird column.
Douthat believes Hollywood keeps returning to pantheism because Americans respond favorably to this breed of spirituality. He even quotes a Pew Forum report on how Americans mix and match theology, which found that many self-professed Christians hold beliefs about the “spiritual energy” of trees and mountains.
Here’s where it gets weird. Douthat believes that Americans’ preference for pantheism isn’t a sign that they are evolving out of the dark ages of monotheism into a more connected understanding of the universe and its complexities, but that we actually “pine for what we’ve left behind, and divinizing the natural world is an obvious way to express unease about our hyper-technological society.”
A group of 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that “could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.”
Citing Martin Luther King, Jr. as their inspiration for “civil disobedience,” the church leaders state they want to speak to younger Christians who have become engaged in issues like climate change and global poverty, and who are more accepting of homosexuality than the elders of the churches. They say they want to remind young people that abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom are still paramount issues. By that, the church means they want to remind young people to hate.
The 4,700-word document entitled “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience” reads
We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.
So who are these 145 leaders claiming to speak for all morally superior Christians? There’s Charles Colson, a prominent evangelical who founded Prison Fellowship after serving time in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal, certainly a man who should be allowed to morally judge others, amiright?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been lobbying for three decades for the federal government to provide universal health insurance, especially for the poor. Now, as President Obama tries to rally Roman Catholics and other religious voters around his proposals to do just that, a growing number of bishops are speaking out against it.
As recently as July, the bishops’ conference had largely embraced the president’s goals, although with the caveat that any health care overhaul avoid new federal financing of abortions. But in the last two weeks some leaders of the conference, like Cardinal Justin Rigali, have concluded that Democrats’ efforts to carve out abortion coverage are so inadequate that lawmakers should block the entire effort.
Such “inadequate” cases where women could use beneficiary premiums include instances of rape and incest, or pregnancies where the mother’s life is in danger if she continues to carry the child. It’s good to see the US Conference of Catholic Bishops finally draw the “unacceptable line” at universal healthcare.
For many years, I was really worried about the low levels of morality disseminating from the highest echalons of the Catholic church beginning with those pandemic accusations of priest molestation that the USCCB helped to cover up. Before the scandals erupted in the 1980s and again in 2002, the bishops were first warned in the 1950s that pedophile priests could not change, and should not be returned to the ministry. The Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paraclete, a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children, was so convinced that the offending priests could not be cured that he tried to buy an island to isolate them.
Apparently, that warning was too subtle for the bishops. Since the coverage of the clergy abuse scandal began in the mid-1980s (in large part by the National Catholic Reporter) until 2002, when the bishops discussed the issue during a Dallas meeting, “church leaders routinely transferred abusive priests from parish to parish and diocese to diocese. The bishops said they thought the priests would amend their ways,” writes reporter Tom Roberts.
Those bishops aware of the Catholic church’s hypocritical record of advocating the protection of the pre-sentient whilst facilitating the molestation of alive children have stuck to the old “rationing” rationale to thwart healthcare reform. Just to clarify: the bishops mean the rationing that has not yet occurred under the fictional Soviet Union model of healthcare Obama isn’t proposing and will not exist, and not the real, current system of medical rationing where insurance companies play God and kill people by denying their claims. The bishops’ sabotage throws quite the wrench in President Obama’s plans, since he foolishly counted on the USCCB’s support in trying to provide healthcare coverage to the poor. Obama’s miscalculation started when he assumed bishops still cared about the sick and poor.
It’s an ugly little open secret that Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have constitutions that explicitly forbid atheists from holding state office. These laws are archaic and unenforceable in principle — they were all ruled unconstitutional in 1961 — but of course they’re still in effect across all 50 states in practice, since public opinion makes it almost impossible for an atheist to get elected to high office.
Now, though, a representative in Arkansas has submitted a bill to amend the Arkansas constitution and remove the prohibition of atheists. This could get very interesting, or it might not. If the Arkansas legislature does the sensible thing and simply and efficiently removes an old law that can’t be enforced anyway, I will be pleased, but there won’t be much drama.
Since when are legislatures sensible, however? I can imagine indignant Christians defending an unconstitutional law and insisting that it be kept on the books as a token of their contempt. It is an awkward situation for the Christianist yahoos, because their constituencies might get inflamed, but on other hand, do they really want to go on record defending the indefensible?
I’m looking forward to it, and kudos to Rep. Richard Carroll of North Little Rock for poking a stick into this nest of snakes and stirring it up.