Peace Be Upon Him

Sudanese Teacher Arrested Over Teddy-Bear Insult

She might face a fine, forty lashes or prison time, because she allowed some six and seven-year-olds to name a teddy bear in their classroom “Mohammed”.

I’m not singling Islam out here, because this is exactly the kind of situation that some of our own fundamentalists want to put in place if they get control of our country. But I thought it was a good follow-up to the post about The Golden Compass. This is a good example of what the Mysterium is like in the story, as far as I can tell, and follows up on the comments on the previous post about the need to kill our idols.

25 thoughts on “Peace Be Upon Him

  1. Doug-Seriously dude, you need to get out of San Francisco for a couple weeks and take a road trip through some red zip codes, repugnant as that might be for you. Actually meet some of your fellow citizens you label ‘fundamentalists,’ and see if anyone- anyone- fits your assertions. You’ve outdone yourself in the hyperbole dept. with this post, it borders on the paranoid, diminishes the reality of what this woman is facing under sharia, and slanders – well- I’m not sure who- anyone with classically christian convictions?dm

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  2. @ RegressiveI’ve only been living this area for the past two and a half years. I’ve lived in about twelve different zip codes in my life thus far, all of them in red states or red counties, and I’ll be moving on from here when I’m done with school. And I have definitely met people who are fundamentalist and who are Christian and who want theocracy in America. I see them on TV and I talk to them in person and I see them in the pulpit and so on. There are groups right now trying to pass legislation that would make it illegal to insult Christ or Christianity.Sharia, or something like it, is the natural progression of fundamentalist thinking. If there is only one truth, and you know that one truth, then of course that truth needs to be enacted as legislation. Of course our leaders need to agree with that one truth.I can’t believe you don’t see this rhetoric in this country all the time – to make America a Christian nation (“again”) through legislation and elections. You even have people like GHW Bush saying that he doesn’t think atheists are really citizens. It isn’t anything like Sharia – yet. And not everyone who wants a Christian nation means that they want a theocracy – I know that. But its absurd to pretend that no one in American wants a Christian version of Sharia. Pull your head out of the sand.And another thing. I hold classically Christian convictions. People like you pretend that my position is just made up as I go along. That just shows that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you definitely haven’t read very much Reformed theology, because I could find every theological conviction that I hold in the writings of greater minds in the Reformed tradition. Fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon that has no whatsoever place in “classical” Christianity. So no, I’m not slandering ‘anyone with classical Christian convictions’. I’m not slandering anyone, since I’m describing what fundamentalists actually seem to intend, what they describe themselves as intending.Here’s a deal, DM. I’ll go on a road trip – I love road trips, and go on them whenever I get a chance. And I’ll continue to meet people I disagree with and talk to them – I enjoy that too. Lucky me! They’re already there, among my close friends and family! But I’ll even continue to meet more of them. In return, you go read some actual books with actual history or theology in them. Read about what fundamentalism is, as a specific self-identified movement that began last century, and then read the rhetoric of people who fit into that category. Read about their continuing efforts to encode theocratic laws in the U.S. for the last hundred years. Then come back, and I’ll have had my road trip, and you’ll have had your trip to the library, and we can talk about this, and maybe summon up some respect for each other.

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  3. Unfortunately “books with actual history or theology in them” will confirm what regressivepresby has said. Propagandist books – written by people with an agenda of opposing the beliefs of the subjects they describe do not contain actual history. And insofar as they misrepresent the theology of their opponents, these do not contain actual theology.Yes, there are some nasty people with mental problems who happen to call themselves fundamentalists that may fit the propagandist caricatures you advance. But the beliefs you claim to be related to this are not. Interestingly, your belief in this regard appears to be the same in kind as that you oppose. Specifically you seem to be arguing the singular objective truth that anyone who believes in one truth is wrong, dangerous, and that this danger stems directly from that belief. I recognize that it pleases your confirmation bias to find gross stereotypes, but that does not mean you understand the people about whom you are speaking.

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  4. @ Anonymous“propagandist caricatures”? I’m just responding to what fundamentalists say about themselves, and have been saying about themselves for a hundred years now. I wish it were true that no one wanted theocracy in the United States. That would be a wonderful situation. I have no idea how one would make the claim that this is the case – I look forward to hearing how you plan on doing so.In the meantime, I have to take the many nationally-recognized religious figures who describe themselves as seeking theocracy at face value. When someone wants to use the law to make America a Christian nation, they are talking about theocracy. Sharia is intended to make a nation into an Islamic nation in a similar way. Sharia is also rooted in a literalist reading of scripture which is taken to be normative and enforceable on everyone regardless of other sources of evidence.These are not “some nasty people with mental problems who happen to call themselves fundamentalists” – these are influential national figures who want to legally encode their version of Christianity, who are unabashedly anti-secular, anti-pluralist, and so on. They may also be nasty people – I’ll not comment on that here.I have no idea what it is you’re reading that’s telling you that fundamentalism and theocracy have nothing to do with each other. A reading list would be great, because I’ve never encountered that claim in any (academic) peer-reviewed document.In short: what don’t I understand about the people I’m describing? If someone says they want to make their version of Chrisianity into law in the United States, over and over again, why shouldn’t I believe them?Better yet: who do you think I’m describing?@ RegressivepresbyI apologize for my tone in my response to your comment. I fell into tit-for-tat with you and that was a mistake. As is almost always the case, you and I appear to be on different planets trying to communicate, and I think that over a blog comment thread is a bad place to try to do this, if it is even possible. We can keep trying. In the meantime, I apologize again for my tone. It was disrespectful of you, and unbecoming of the kind of person I want to be.For the record, for both Regressive and Anon, I am not equating fundamentalist with theocrat. I’m just expressing my perception, which I think is VERY justified by evidence in our society, history and so on, that the two are intimately connected, and putting forth the observation that they also seem to be connected in societies where Islam is the majority religion.If you’re both taking this personally, which you seem to be doing, it wasn’t my intent…unless you are seeking to codify your version of Christianity as such into law in the US and enforce it on the rest of us, in which case I guess it *is* my point, though only tangentially so. But I have no reason to think that’s what you’re doing.

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  5. @ Regressive and AnonI re-read my post, and I added the words “some of” into the underlined statement about fundamentalists in order to be more clear. I thought it was clear, by the nature of the link provided, that I was talking about particular fundamentalists who seem to be seeking to impose theocracy in the US, but I though that the addition would make my point even more clear.Not that I think you’re likely to ever agree with it, but for the sake of clarity in general I suppose, since it seems that both of you took something personally that wasn’t intended as such.A brief note about law and activism:The problem I have with fundamentalists imposing their values is that they are by their nature impervious to other sources of information – secularism, physical and social science, and so on. This makes them dangerous because they are not willing to be moved by outside opinions.It is true that a lot of ultra-liberal activists are also trying to impose their values on the rest of our society through legislation. The difference, there, is that for those of them who aren’t fundamentalists themselves, they are open to other views and willing to be moved by persuasive arguments.The same is true of Christians who are not fundamentalist – they are also open to being moved, and to conversation, and to other sources of information apart from their particular reading of the Bible.

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  6. I would suggest a good read“Magnificent Catastrophe” it is about the 1800 election campaigne between Adams and Jefferson.The language you use Doug is every bit as destructive as what went on in that particular election. And the “tyrany of tolerance” is; in my humble opinion, far worse a threat to civil liberties than any serious right winger out there today. Sure there are wingnuts; all perspectives have their share of them, but honestly the assumption of progressives that all non- progressives are stupid at best and sinister at worst has become frightening. Your implication that any person that holds serious religious convictions and would actually dare to live them out is a threat to humanity is interesting.I would like you to show any example of mainstream evangelical conservativism that would seriously consider having a woman beaten for naming a Teddy Bear Jesus. I’m glad you have lived in a dozen zip codes, so have I but the reality is that progressives today run in far tighter circles than most conservatives I know. It’s easy to spot them they start conversations with statements like:“No right minded human being could support George Bush – what an idiot – Hi may name is Biff what do you think?”One of your compassionate progressives has spent the last 3 years driving by my house yelling “Bush is an Idiot”, one day he followed me, my wife and three kids 5 blocks while honking his horn and flipping me the bird, another day driving by my yard while I’m playing with my children yelling cuss words I won’t type. I finally had to follow him home and call the police to get some peace – 3 years. But do I run around saying all progressives are thought Nazi’s – well not all of them are just many of them but heck I actually have factual proof not broad allusions to “them”. I apparently am a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” and you my friend are part of a much Vaster left wing conspiracy. the problem is we live in a liberal democracy – beating women for naming Teddy bears isn’t going to happen here. In the words of the ever wise Poohthink, think, think

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  7. As someone who grew up in a church that started in the Jesus Movement which, after being formed by Christian Hippies, spent the next twenty seven years drifting towards fundamentalism (and gradually got more and more involved with that sort), I’m afraid I have to agree with Doug here. The movie ‘Jesus Camp?’ That may as well have been the church-run summer camp I attended <>every summer<> when I was a teenager. We were hardly the only Church to slide towards fundamentalism, either. And some never really had to slide very far to get there.I also note with horror that even at such worship conferences as are frequented by the likes of Passion, Matt Redman, and the good people who release the Worship Together songbooks, fundamentalism creeps in around the edges. Not in the music or in the lectures, but in the aisles and in the conversations between events. In the midst of an event that is nominally about celebrating the love of God and sharing new songs and ways of worshiping, hatred for the Other spills in from around the edges. It is a cancer within our community, and it is growing.

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  8. Paul, Could you be more specific with what you mean when you use the word, ‘fundamentalism’? Its a real question… I don’t know what you mean by it, and it would probably help this conversation specifics were used.thanks, dm

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  9. @ BayouWow, that was quite a diatribe.In contrast, Bayou, I don’t recall saying ANYTHING about you. At all. But now I will, because your claims are absurd.“the “tyrany of tolerance” is; in my humble opinion, far worse a threat to civil liberties than any serious right winger out there today”What are you talking about? The tyranny of tolerance? What are we tolerating that we shouldn’t? Ironically, I just had a conversation today about the necessary ethical limits of tolerance. I’ve even posted on this blog about it! Do you even read this blog? Or do you skim it and then begin the straw-man attacks right there?I’m sorry one particular jerk followed you around and made your life miserable. That sucks. Extrapolating from that to a vast left wing conspiracy, or even to my intentions and beliefs, is absurd.I clarified my language, and you clearly didn’t read what I wrote. that’s ok, though, its your call either way. Let me just be thorough, though, even though it seems to be an exercise in futility.“but honestly the assumption of progressives that all non- progressives are stupid at best and sinister at worst has become frightening.”I. Have. Never. Said. That. Get your facts straight, please. I don’t believe that to be the case. In fact, I hold some conservative positions! I’m friends with evangelicals and share mutual respect with them! Oh no! Your conspiracy theory is falling apart already!“any person that holds serious religious convictions and would actually dare to live them out is a threat to humanity”I. Have. Never. Said. That. I even went to some length to be very clear that I wasn’t saying that. As someone who holds very serious religious convictions and seeks to live them out, I can take specific issue with your claim here. What I’m talking about is theocracy, not how one conducts their own life. Again, how can I be more clear?“I would like you to show any example of mainstream evangelical conservativism that would seriously consider having a woman beaten for naming a Teddy Bear Jesus.”I. AM. NOT. TALKING. ABOUT. MAINSTREAM. EVANGELICAL. CONSERVATISM. I have no idea how I can be more clear, here. Why does everyone assume that fundamentalist equals mainstream conservative? I’VE NEVER SAID THAT. EVER. STOP IT. If you want examples, I can point to any number of friends and colleagues, who I am not talking about in this post. There’s enough in my mouth without you putting more in there.“the reality is that progressives today run in far tighter circles than most conservatives I know”This is not “the reality”, it is “your unsupported anecdote”. Please don’t attribute authority and general accuracy to something that is based entirely on your experience. In my experience, people who are frantic ideologues travel in ‘tighter circles’, are more insular and exclusive, and so on. Where does that leave us? Nowhere.“One of your compassionate progressives…”You can stop right there. I don’t know this person and have nothing to do with him. Nothing I’ve ever written on this blog would lead a reasonable person to think I would support his harassment of you. “the problem is we live in a liberal democracy – beating women for naming Teddy bears isn’t going to happen here”Yes, Bayou, EXACTLY. And we live in a liberal democracy – wait, did you say liberal? – solely because we do not allow a particular religious group to take control of our government. We have liberal democracy *because* of separation of church and state. We have it because theocratic elements in our society consistently fail. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist, only that they are unsuccessful.Again, I’m baffled. Why is everyone claiming that when I say “fundamentalist” I mean “mainstream evangelical?” For God’s sake, please try to limit your anger to things I’m actually *saying*. If I want to talk about mainstream evangelical conservatism, you’ll know because I’ll USE THOSE WORDS.It seems, to me, that the three of you are very angry with something that you think I represent. I recommend that you deal with the actual target of your anger, whatever/whoever it is, because the person you’re yelling at isn’t the person who writes this blog.

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  10. @ RegressiveHere’s my definition of Christian fundamentalism:Adherence to, in particular, a literalist reading of Scripture, characterized by a rejection of all competing interpretations, as well as external sources of knowledge which contradict what is perceived in the Bible. It is a combination of literalism and absolutism. I am also referring to the movement exemplified by the publication of The Fundamentals in the first decade of this century.In contrast to, for example, secularism, which adheres to reason and accepts nothing that isn’t persuasively argued on a logical basis apart from supernatural claims.In general, when I use the term fundamentalist, I am referring more to the absolutism – inability or unwillingness to accept external critique or to accept any sources of information or normative statements outside what you already accept as true. It is characterized by intense hubris, if nothing else.

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  11. Good post, Doug. Fundamentalism is bad, bad news. It doesn’t matter the brand. By pointing it out as you have done, you will get the wrath of well, fundamentalists. Bayou and Regressive, members of “the consistory” are good examples. Ask them about equal rights for gays, or for Presbyterian ministers to offer viewpoints with which they don’t agree. They talk a big game of respecting their views or of not offending people with “religious convictions.”It doesn’t matter if their convictions are religious or not, when they are used to infringe upon rights of others they need to be called out. You are right on about fundamentalism. Just because we haven’t reached the point of punishing people for naming their Teddy Bears after Mohammed, we are certainly on that path.

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  12. re: RegressivePresbyThe particular strain I encountered here in California had the following symptoms. Note that all of these symptoms were ten times stronger at the camp than they were at most of the regular churches, but were still present there. Some of the local churches that mine associated with were better, and some worse in this regard than others. What I encountered at the worship conferences was fairly similar, though much more homophobic. – Insistence on absolute Biblical literalism. If the Bible says “day,” then it means twenty four hours: no more, no less. – Strongly pentacostal. Gifts of the Spirit up the wazoo, which usually meant the gift of tongues. People babbling in tongues at least once every service (and rarely, if ever, any attempt at interpretation). Lots of attempts at prophecy, which were usually unintentionally hurtful. Lots of being “slain in the spirit,” with people jittering and convulsing on the sanctuary floor.– Little (if any) consideration for historicism or context when approaching the Bible. “It means what it says.” – Extreme judgmentalism towards anyone who showed themselves to be imperfect combined with lots of gossips and busybodies. If someone did something they shouldn’t have, everyone knew about it by next Sunday.– Far more concern with ‘How to be a more effective Christian’ than with the content of what Jesus actually said. We were all so busy trying to be ‘On Fire’ for the Lord that we rarely gave ourselves the chance to sit down and listen to what He had said. Yes, ‘we.’ I participated no less than any other.– Very strong ‘Us VS Them’ mentality. We are a church under siege by ‘the powers of the world.’ ‘We have to take back our country and make it a Christian Nation again.’ Plenty of references to the Founding Fathers as pillars of the Christian religion, who intended for us to be a God-fearing nation, etc, and how we need to get back to the fundamentals and prevent these atheists and Godless liberals from destroying our Christian society. I am not kidding.– Total identification of Christian values and goals with the ultra-conservative, ultra-right wing Republican party and its goals (“If you’re a Democrat and claim to be a Christian, I seriously have to question the validity of your faith,” was a commonly made statement). Pro-life, anti-gay, American imperialist, pro-military, pro-war, pro-capital punishment, absolutely certain that Global Warming is a myth, anti-Evolution, horrified of ‘communists and liberals,’ thought McCarthy was Our Guy, ALWAYS votes Republican no matter what and regardless of the issues or who is running. Again, I am not kidding.Now, against these disease symptoms, I also set the following signs of health: – We really did believe, loved and wanted to know God. Our fervor for the Lord was wholly genuine. – Truly joyful, truly felt and expressed worship and praise. As an added bonus, most of us had really talented musicians on our worship bands.

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  13. Note that some of what I talked about in the comment is going to be reflective of things that disturbed me in particular about my local churches as opposed to to things which are typical of the Fundamentalist movement as a whole.

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  14. Doug –I would like to clarify (or follow up on) my earlier comment. 1. People talk about fundamentalism from the outside in terms of ‘those people’. These can sometimes be unbiased, but usually are not. Some of the criticisms they offer are accurate; others are not. More precisely, some of what they attribute to fundamentalists is accurate for all or most. In other cases the Fred Phelps effect takes over – pick an absurd, loathsome example and generalize to the whole. One could just as easily saddle all professing Christians with the Fred Phelps label. This is, of course, also commonly done to “progressives” and “liberals”. If the problem is with the beliefs of either group as a whole – e.g. defining beliefs, then that is legitimate. I, for example, disagree in rather stark terms with some defining beliefs of progressive Christianity – as it defines itself. You, no doubt, disagree in rather stark terms with some defining beliefs of fundamentalism. 2. What caused my reaction – and what you may have attempted to qualify – was the seeming equation you made between fundamentalism and the belief in one truth. That seems to be what you are objecting to – and you seem to be saying that this is the phenomenon that creates sharia. Further, you seem to be arguing that one follows from the other – as if of necessity. I could not disagree more strongly with this – and I tend to see (rightly or wrongly) the equivalent ‘one truth’ position among most pluralists and progressives *I have encountered*. These just IMO embrace a different ‘one truth’.3. You seem to suggest that fundamentalism is a novel development. It is not. Yes, the movement using that name is a recent development. But the implication is that Christians historically have not believed the fundamentals. This is untrue. Most Protestant Christians did believe all of the fundamentals – at least as identified by Machen and the Presbyterians – prior to the emergence of Modernism. Yes, you had Deists who did not – but the proclamations of the churches did. (For example, the Virgin Birth, and the literal resurrection have been believed by the vast majority of Christians throughout history – and only relatively recently have those who disbelieved these chosen to adopt Christianity.) It seemed in your comments that you were identifying the beliefs of the vast majority of Christians historically with a fringe development in American Christianity in the last century or so. This is not, to my mind, accurate at all. 4. To argue that fundamentalism is theocratic by nature and then to define fundamentalists as theocrats strikes me as rather circular. If you are opposed to religious government, and that was the sole intent of your post – then I could not agree more. If, on the other hand, you are opposing what many traditional Christians have believed – and suggesting that this is somehow any more likely to be theocratic than, say, those specific progressives who claim to speak prophetically (implying “Thus sayeth the Lord” to their policy preferences – and not arguing based on reason – but by their religion), I find that unlikely. And I find the failure to see that – YES AMONG BOTH FUNDAMENTALISTS AND PROGRESSIVES to be remarkably surprising.

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  15. @ WillAh, whew, I’m happy to respond to this. I’ll try to be brief (and will fail)1. Good point, and yes I do.2. I do maintain that there is a very important difference between one truth meaning “I am right and you are all wrong (and also going to Hell)” and one truth meaning “I believe we all have something to contribute (and should talk about it)”. That is the difference I see, from my POV, between fundamentalism and progressivism. Its a point that these are both forms of ‘one truth’, but I’m not sure its a strong one, because they are very different kinds of ‘one truth’. Of course, here I’m probably comparing the worst of fundamentalism with the best of progressivism, but my experience is that a fundamentalist will often say “you are going to burn in Hell for your beliefs and are an enemy of God” where a progressive will say “I might think you’re stupid but there has to be room for all of us in here.”3. Fundamentalism is modernist in that it adopts the modernist obsession with ‘objective’ truth, expressed here as literalism. This is “fundamentally” different from the worldview, as far as I/we can tell (we being people who agree with me, obviously :), that existed before the enlightenment. IMO, and in the opinion of what you’d probably call liberal theologians in general, this in effect kills Christianity and erects an idolatry in its place. What was a living religion becomes a dead literalism. But you are correct, other “fundamentals” have been affirmed by the historic church, generally speaking. I do think that historical documents do represent a wider range of beliefs than fundamentalists generally tolerate, however, and I see their presentation of the history of Christian doctrine as a misrepresentation at times. This is just going off of the writings of the early Church and the ongoing development of doctrines – the ongoing debate within the tradition, which I don’t think has ever been monolithic.4. It does seem circular. My evidence for my argument are what appear to be a constant stream of theocratic statements from fundamentalists and their attempts to pass laws that enforce their particular Christian views on society. The debate and legal battles over what will be taught in public schools is a great example of this for most of last century which seems to have followed us into this one.So, we agree on my main point, and disagree on the nature of progressivism. I actually think that it is essentially impossible for progressivism to become theocractic, because things like debate and secularism and pluralism (in some form) are essentially built into progressivism – they are like antibodies against theocracy in my opinion. In contrast, fundamentalism, in its stifling of debate on “fundamentals”, and in its hatred of secularism and of pluralism both, lacks these antibodies. In essence, what is scary about it is that it admits no outside truth, or value in outside beliefs and opinions, whatsoever. If it did, then it would have to loosen its insistence on “fundamentals” like Biblical literalism, and in doing so, it would cease to be fundamentalism in my book. It would become, perhaps, mainstream conservative Christianity, with its willingness to tolerate other religions and to participate in secular society and to engage in discussion, while still holding to its strong theological stances and trying to represent same.

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  16. I don’t think that literalism is required for a believe in an absolute, objective truth, though. I assert that Biblical Literalists are dogmatic and wrong, while I am dogmatic and right. 😉

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  17. Doug – thanks for the response. A couple of comments: I’ll try to brief this time also …. (It might be the soul of wit, but it is not my strong suit.)On #2 – I’m not sure I see it that way. Part of this is accurate – in the sense that people *can* bring unique perspectives to discussion. But if it is used to suggest that all ideas are equally valid, useful, internal consistent, etc., then I disagree. On #3 – I’m disinclined to buy as strong a distinction as you are making. Most elements of a literalist view can be traced, IMO at least to the Renaissance – and its mode of scholarship. At least in the sense of giving preference to the intended way a text is meant – this was a rejection of symbolic and allegoric interpretations. (Obviously – and I trust you know this – I’m not talking about taking texts intended metaphorically as if they were meant literally – so examples of intentionally metaphoric passages aren’t really helpful.) Where a lot of disagreement exists is around the question of the ability to determine which is which. I tend to a Reformation view that favors the plain meaning. This does not mean that I would object to reconsidering specific passages if a strong argument to do so were presented. I tend to encounter these (strong arguments) more in the realm of adiaphora than major doctrines. In theory I grant your point on progressivism, but I would point out that – to an outsider – there appears to be a vast gulf fixed between theory and practice in many cases, and there appear to be orthodoxies accepted by many progressives – that to oppose would render a person stupid or evil (or worse right wing, or fundamentalist) – and thus safely discredited without ever actually examining them. This does not touch on the main issues of divergence between the progressive view generally and the fundamentalist and/or conservative Christian view generally. It is just a practice I have widely observed; and yes, it occurs frequently on both “sides”.

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  18. “…to an outsider – there appears to be a vast gulf fixed between theory and practice in many cases, and there appear to be orthodoxies accepted by many progressives – that to oppose would render a person stupid or evil (or worse right wing, or fundamentalist) – and thus safely discredited without ever actually examining them.”I’d say that’s true. I’m not even progressive across the board, so I’ve actually been on the receiving end, though admittedly not often. Its just a label that I’ve decided to generally accept because its a starting point, and because I think the theory is generally good. As for practice – because both ‘sides’ are engaged in an argument with each other in society and in person, there’s a lot of pressure to discount each other, speak polemically, preach to the choir and so on. That’s human nature when there’s conflict – something we should try to get beyond but that will keep coming up.Its some of the theories behind progressivism that I espouse – secular society, social equality, postmodern thought, acceptance of pluralism (as a neutral fact if not an affirmation), focus on praxis, critique of materialism, discomfort (to varying degrees) with violence and militarism…you get the idea.In some cases, I’m outside the pale of any major position – for example, in what i think of as a consistent life ethic, which combines environmentalism, nonviolence, social justice, a stance that is not pro-abortion (though I think both sides miss the point entirely – I’ll probably post on this some day), and discomfort with embryonic stem cell research and IVF both (another complicated position). (And don’t get me started on the hypocrisy of being Pro Life but accepting IVF, which is almost never criticized by the Pro Life movement)In holding these positions all together, which are all based on an consistent ethical and theological framework, I’m not a progressive or anything else – I’m just trying to be an ethical Christian.But as I said, the progressive label has stuck and I’m ok with that. I think I have room in that tent, where I don’t feel I have room in the conservative one, for example.

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  19. Interesting. Though I clearly do not self-identify as a progressive (and clearly starkly reject a number of elements of ‘progressive Christianity’ as it seems to define itself), I share a number of views on the list you give: I agree with the wisdom of a secular society – not anti-religious or hostile to religion, but clearly separated from it: I reject completely religious compulsion (which I regard as both contrary to Christianity, and pragmatically both impossible (one can’t compel actual belief) and undesirable (the harm done to a religion by people observing the outward forms of it without sincerity is very great).I agree with social equality.I disagree with postmodernism – far longer conversation on that topic than blog comments can support, though.I agree with the acceptance of pluralism as a neutral fact. (This is also presupposed in the adoption of a secular society and rejection of religious compulsion.) I disagree with an *exclusive* focus on praxis. Which may be different than what you said.I agree with a critique of materialism. I’d go farther here, though – because I believe Christianity is a critique on just about everything we esteem and value. And I agree with the “discomfort (to varying degrees) with violence and militarism”

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  20. @ WillI don’t intend to focus exclusively on praxis, that’s just there I put my theological weight personally, and where I think progressive theology places its weight generally.But, yeah, cool, we agree on some stuff. I’d also go beyond just a critique of materialism personally, but like a lot of this, that’s a bigger conversation.@ BayouActually, I ardently deny that I’m part of any kind of conspiracy. A conspiracy works in secret – and I am *very* clear about what I think, believe, value and intend. If there are conspiratorial meetings, I’m not invited.I also think that in my quotes I gave examples of things you said about me personally, but I don’t want to go over that ground again. I’ll assume (benefit of doubt) that I was wrong on all counts, and that you only intended to say about me that I was part of a conspiracy, and leave it at that.Lastly – what am I to make of the fact that *all* of the dogs are yelping? You say progressives are attacking you, conservatives attack me and other ‘progressives’ – what do I make of that? Everyone thinks they’re a victim, but isn’t it more likely that we’re all both victim and perpetrators? I’d say that’s where sin places us. That’s my belief. So as victims, how should we treat each other? As perpetrators, how should we treat each other? Those are a couple of my perpetual questions.If I made you yelp, I’m sorry. I don’t want to ever do that – unless maybe with surprise?

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  21. “I disagree with postmodernism – “That’s like saying you disagree with living in the 21st Century. What is this myth that American Fundamentalists believe in, that they have a choice about not being post modernists? All it does it make them all the more post modernist for not being able to recognize the postmodern features of their own ideology. “Tyranny of tolerance”? What bullshit! That is nothing but an echo of what the South said about the North when they liberated their slaves.“Left wing conspiracy”? Another echo. That is what every right wing totalitarian dictator has said right before abolishing habeas corpus, creating secret tribunals and prisons, developing private paramilitary forces and death squads, infiltrating and surveiling ordinary citizens, arbitrarily and indefinitely detaining individual citizens, restricting and controlling the press and calling dissidents “spies” and “traitors”. Right before taking over to “save” them from the corruption of politicians and left wing conspiracies. (oh, there are a couple who went left instead of right, but the pattern of behavior and the result is exactly the same – messianic autocratic totalitarianism) My problem with today’s fundamentalists is not how they worship in church; it’s their political mindset, in >and< out of church. Claiming God himself is on their side, they twist everything to justify, disguise and enforce their unholy marriage with totalitarianism. And then they wash their hands of their own bloodguilt claiming to be too preoccupied with worshiping God and bringing salvation to a “lost” world to be bothered, hypocritically accusing everyone who opposes them of tyranny, apostasy and treason.Fundamentalists are a threat to free societies everywhere in the world and today they are even a threat to democracy right here in America.

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