Tony comments fairly frequently here. Why? Well, I suspect the fact he is my brother has something to do with it. As it happens, Tony and I do not agree about either religion or politics. Therefore, Tony generally takes issue with my posts, and this one, DAVID BROOKS LIKES RICK SANTORUM’S 21ST-CENTURY PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT?, was no exception.
Because I think many of the issues Tony addressed relevant, I have posted Tony’s comment below. To make it easy to reference the paragraphs, I have number them.
tony salmon says:
- This use of the Bible to justify every little thing that you want to believe to begin with reminds me of the old story of the young boy who shoots his gun at a wall, and then he proceeds to draw concentric circles around each of the scattered bullet holes. The boy wants everyone to believe that he is winning this strange game that he is playing with himself because the boy appears to have nailed a perfect bullseye with every single shot.
- Far be it from me to preach, but it seems to this sinner’s recollection that Jesus wanted us to find the Kingdom of God within ourselves. Scripture therefore makes for an ironic weapon to coerce some sort of sanctified Christoutopian dream for American politics and public policy. Sacred writings would seem to be better aimed at our own hearts. It’s hard to miss, you know that you have hit your target when love and compassion bleed out so there is little need to draw rings around it just to show how holely you are.
- Because of this corrosive misuse of the sacred here to, not just sacrilize one side of what should be just civil differences of opinion, but to also demonize the other side, I had decided not to be a party to this indecent dance anymore. However, I have kept tabs on your website brother, if for no other reason than to get a good feel for how far the extreme right flank of the Republican Party would stray afield before your center completely collapses. To my continuing amusement, a visit here never disappoints (although I must admit that the near tin foil hat level of crankiness often exhibited here makes me worry about you brother – all joking aside, you know that I do care about you Tom).
- However, I found myself intrigued by the recent civil, articulate and patient (even sensitive) exchange between Tom and Heather, at least until the positions hardened at the end. i have come to the conclusion that discourse rarely resolves disputes if the parties are uncompromising, but I was so impressed by the level of civility that I broke my silence here to add links to a couple of articles that I thought might provide some prospective on why these problems seem so entrenched.
- I was sort of amazed at the knee jerk reaction to the David Brooks piece. Brooks was not questioning Lin’s religious conviction, just thoughtfully pointing out an age old dilemma that all people of faith have shared since St Augustus, and that Lin admits to struggling with. However, the default reaction here was not just a theological disagreement between reasonable people, but to personally attack and vilify Brooks and without even realizing that you were committing a form of fratricide. Brooks is a CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN commentator who is considered pretty mainstream (a dirty word for you extremist folks these days I suppose). I don’t agree with Brooks a lot of the time, but I do find him to be highly intelligent and reasonable – I read his last book and it is extremely good. He doesn’t brandish his religious beliefs as a battering ram for his politics, but my impression is that he is very concerned about religion and morality, that he is even kind of spiritual.
- We are all good and decent people here even though we disagree. We are all better than this. Even though the purpose of these sorts of sites is as a continuing reaffirmation of our beliefs rather that to challenge anything, when we catch ourselves blatantly mischaracterizing, and even demonizing those even on our own side who do not meet some moving target of ideological purity that is rapidly shifting to the extreme, then maybe it’s time to take a breath before screaming the next slander,
- Anyway, life is too short and beautiful for the quixotic task of defending against your litany of conspiracies Tom. Obama is not Stalin, he is not Lenin, and he is not Trotsky either. The biggest issues facing our democracy today are levels of wealth disparity and unequal opportunity that we have not seen in this country since the Gilded Age that lead into the Great Depression. Get out of the echo chamber and read some authoritative books by thoughtful intellectuals on both sides of the debate (you know those dreaded “elites” that actually know what they are talking about) cause this demonizing stuff is just a smoke screen for the real problems.
There was a time Tony and I held many of the same opinions. Thus, I can sympathize with his point of view, but I no longer share it. The Truth is what it is. Neither of us own it. We can only gain knowledge of it. I just think Tony has less knowledge of the truth about religion and politics than I.
Note that Tony’s comment followed my comment here. At the end of that comment, I listed a bunch of lies. Thus, I thought Tony’s silly, funny little story ironic. That tale is something I could have used to illustrate the underlying goal of all those lies.
Consider that both the Obama administration and his supporters in the news media have done everything possible to make Obama look good. In the end, however, they have not succeeded. If Obama does win a second term, we all know it will be because he successfully trashed his opponent. Obama’s record is so bad he will not run on it.
Similarly, instead of actively promoting what he believes, Tony trashes my beliefs. Do I use of the Bible to justify every little thing that I want to believe? No. What I do is deny the right of our leaders to abuse us. God created us. We belong to Him. God gave us the Rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The Bible provides God’s endorsement of freedom of conscience (that is, freedom of religious belief and practice). In addition, Jesus made it quite clear that charity is a personal, not government, responsibility. Therefore, I think we have the right to ask the following question. What right do our leaders have to take the property of their fellow citizens and give it to someone else? What belief justifies such larceny? From each according to his ability? To each according to his need? That’s Marxism.
As a Christian, I want to help spread the Gospel. Just as the spread of the Gospel required an orderly society when Caesar ruled, we still require an orderly society to spread the Gospel today. So I prize government for the order it creates, but I have no use for a busybody government that interferes in everyone’s life.
We cannot find God within ourselves. We can stare at our navel until we return to dust and ashes, and we will never find God within us. God makes His home in us and directs our lives only when we ask Him to do so. We must love God and obey His commands. We must ask to enter and become part of His Kingdom. Because God is holy, it cannot be the other way around.
Here Tony suggests I have used what is sacred to demonize the other side. How so? When we state what is true — when we do not withhold the whole truth — then we cannot demonize anyone. We can only reveal the demon that is. Nonetheless, without asserting anything more specific than his alleged amusement, Tony asserts I demonized the other side. Why so many words when “Not true” would have said as much.
If someone tapped a knee with a rubber hammer, why would they be surprised by the reflexive response. The answer is that someone does not understand what is going on.
Here Tony asserts David Brooks is a Conservative. That is absurdly silly. To assert such a thing renders the Conservative label meaningless. Of course, when Liberals have already turned the meaning of so many words upside down (Liberal, gay, entitlement, rights….), why should anyone be surprised when such people do not respect meaning of the word “Conservative”.
Ironically, Tony’s own description of David Brooks would make most Conservatives suspicious of Brooks’ alleged Conservatism.
We are not all good and decent people. Only God is good and decent. Only God is pure and holy. That was the whole point of creating a republic and writing a Constitution chalk full of checks and balances. None of us is good. That’s why the Founders never would have given Obama that power he has acquired. None of us can be trusted with that much power.
And that is the big difference between Tony and myself. I know I am a sinner, that none of us is good. Because I know I am a sinner, I don’t believe in Utopia. I believe that God created us and that only God can perfect us.