The Eclectic Quill

May 27, 2009

Would Jesus “Do” Waterboarding

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 4:03 pm

Two of the biggest things in the news at the moment offer an intriguing perspective on the Republican Party. First as Obama has nominated for his first Supreme Court pick, Sonia Sotomayor the debate heats up over whether she is going to "legislate from the bench" we all know the real debate is whether she is going to be judging based on a particular segments religious beliefs and that it has nothing to do with legislating or the constitution. Second there’ been a great deal of conversation about the subject of waterboarding lately and whether or not that constitutes "torture, a practice advocated by the same folks who oppose, or will oppose the nomination of Sotomayor based on their religious beliefs.." It surprises this blogger that no one points out the inherent conflict in these two positions. On the one hand they trumpet their opposition to things like abortion and gay marriage based on their biblical beliefs; on the other they ignore other biblical charges such as "love your enemies" as the advocate for torturing their enemies instead. One has to wonder, as they put on their WWJD bracelets if they’ve ever asked themselves the fundamental question, "Would Jesus "do" waterboarding? "

Normally on my blog I like to gather the facts and just present an argument, here though the discussion is not so much about facts, as it is an observation. The facts themselves are relatively self evident so I won’t spend a lot of time establishing them, I’ll just state them. The Christian right is set on seeing their values established on the entire nation, and perhaps even the entire world. Have you ever noticed something about the thing the things they are always pushing though tend to have more to do with regulating other people’s conduct more than their own? They want to make sure that other people follow their principles. Whether its abortion, abstinence only education, outlawing gay marriage or civil unions, or what kind of books we’re allowed to have in public libraries, they seem far more concerned with what other people do wrong than what they do or advocate doing that is wrong.

Now I want it to be understood, I agree with them morally on most of these issues, but I disagree that my private beliefs are somehow of enough more importance than anyone else’s that it means that they should be legislated. I am a Christian, and a very sincere one at that. I find it interesting when people have questioned the validity of my faith based on my disagreement with them on the political front, as it demonstrates to me that in doing so how much the conflation damages the perception of what the Christian faith actually is. It’s a faith which is established not on the premise that we need to impose our morals on others, but rather that we, having sin, are in need of salvation. I bring this up because it begs the question, why would people whose entire belief structure is based on the notion that they can’t keep a certain moral code want to legislate it on those who don’t even have the same belief structure. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order!

Then there’s a second hypocrisy, which is the hypocrisy of the non-biblical things they advocate for. First there’s the matter of taxes. Jesus was literally asked the question, "Should we pay our taxes." He wisely replied, "Do you have a coin?" When shown a coin, he asked again, "Whose picture is on the coin?" The answer was, "Caesar’s." Jesus then said, "Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s." In other words, if you’re going to use the money (and all the other things that the government provides) then pay the taxes that make that happen. The anti-tax position of the Republican Party is anti-biblical. How their tax money is spent is similarly umbilical. The Biblical charge to "remember the poor (Gal. 2:9) is unambiguous yet the Republican Party seems to do a better job of remembering to blame the poor for being poor. There are a host of biblical charges which suggest that at least 1/7 the of a property owner’s income was to go to the poor in fact. There was for instance, a Sabbath year every seven years . During that years the farmer was supposed to let that land and whatever grew from it was to be left for the poor, the stranger and the animals. On top of that when harvesting his crops anything that fell to the ground was to be left for the poor. Putting these two things together God intended that more than 1/7th of our wealth be set aside strictly for the care of the poor. The hypocrisy is seen again.

Their position on gun control and the corresponding argument is also umbilical. Jesus said, "If someone asks for you cloak, give him your tunic also." Then two sentences later he said, "It has been said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you , love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." One has to assume that Jesus’ reaction to having someone rob him would not be to pull out a gun and put a cap in the offender’s head, but rather it would be to ask, "Is there anything else I can get for you." One also has to inquire as to what His position might be on waterboarding with the above passage in mind. Would Jesus hold down a person suspected of terrorism and pour water down his throat making him fear for his life? Again the hypocrisy is evident. .

Nowhere does the New Testament ever advocate a Christian government but it does demonstrate that the life of a Christian is a result of Christ’s inward governing. If one accepts Biblical theology then one has to recognize that without Christ the Christian life is impossible, yet the Republican Party would like to legislate their version of Christian living. It begs the question, why then are the Christian right so set on imposing these laws. Right wing theology is not about being "Christian" it’s about being selfish, even to the point of making it illegal to offend them. One of my personal favorite passages in the Bible is from Philippians where Paul says, "Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ who…humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, and that the death of the cross." The mind of the Christian then is to be selfless, not selfish. It is humility, not pride. That’s not to say that the Christian way is to surrender his own moral character or beliefs; rather it is to say that there are things more important and more relevant to being a Christian than forcing moral beliefs down other people’s throats.

When one considers the Republican perspective on virtually anything a pattern starts to emerge. Whenever it concerns someone else being inconvenienced or imposed upon the Republican view is very pro government. Whenever it comes to themselves being inconvenienced or imposed upon then it suddenly comes anti government. At one point Jesus asked, "Hypocrites! Why do you point to the splinter in your brother’s eye when you have a plank in your own?" The Republican platform is full enough of unbiblical and unrighteous views, yet the Christian right is selective in failing to notice those things. They need to start working on their own set of flaws before they start worrying about everyone else’s if they’re really worried about "What Jesus would do."


May 18, 2009

Feel the Earth Move?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 4:34 pm

The morning after the election I watched, dumbfounded, as Joe Scarborough insisted that this election is not a mandate, that America is “still a center-right country.” The rhetoric followed and then for a while that’s all you heard from the right-wing media machine. The insisted, they spun, they spat, they sang, they did whatever they could think of with whatever emotions they had to get across this single message, that ideologically the nation still agreed with them, the “liberals” just won because of the economy, which really, wasn’t their fault after all. Six months later the Republicans may be feeling the earth has moved under their feet as the song goes, but in reality, the earth has stayed right where it was the whole time.

There’s been talk about how the Republican Party is on the edge of extinction. I don’t believe so. There are two things Republicans have in common with cockroaches, they both scurry when you shed light and you can’t get rid of either one of them. So Republicans will survive and, sorry to say, they’ll probably be sharing the earth with the cockroaches some day so no I don’t think they’re extinct. I do however think they are going to get even weaker before they get stronger. The evidence is there. Arlan Specter has already changed parties. There’s talks that the two Senators from Maine may be following suit. Al Franken looks to be seated from Minnesota. The Dems could be holding 62 seats before the next election even rolls around, and unless there’s a huge shock coming from the Minnesota Supreme Court, there will be a minimum of 60. Then, when you start looking at the ’10 elections it’s easy to see things getting worse for the Republicans. Hutchison is going to resign to run for Texas governor. Her vacated seat could be won by Houston mayor, Democrat Bill White. Richard Burr’s seat in North Carolina could be lost; his seat has flipped parties five consecutive elections. Vitter’s seat in Louisiana is not secure by any stretch. Murkowski in Alaska, Bunning in Kentucky and Thune in South Dakota are all in trouble. Finally there’s the open seat in Florida which the Dems have a real chance of picking up. So what are the Republicans doing to protect these seats? They’re digging into their most odious rhetoric and pushing away anyone who might trend closer to the center. In a sense Specter’s move really is indicative of this. The Party moved, not specter, and one day he looked up and found out he was a Democrat again. Consider the facts.

  • The Republicans didn’t cast a single vote for the stimulus bill. It was a pretty bold move by Obama. The Dems had won the house by a large enough majority that he could have stiff armed the Republican Party. Instead he sat down and talked to them about the stimulus bill. He even conceded to them their two biggest concerns. What did he get in return? Not a single vote and a lot of complaining about Pelosi and partisanship. Most Americans looked at that scene and got disgusted. To them it looked like Obama offered a gracious hand and the Republicans bit at it like yakking dogs. Republicans seem to forget that “bi” in “bipartisan” is for two. That means both parties have to give a little. It was clear from that little display that Obama and the Democrats were willing to go that far when they didn’t have to while the Republicans seemed petty and small minded. Even more incredulous was their defense about spending too much money, while most of them had cast votes time and time again for record setting Bush budgets. Once again, Obama looked the moderate and they looked extreme.
  • They’ve been hammering Obama on Guantanamo, torture and the trials. They’ve been suggesting, implying and at times outright stating that Obama’s plan is to set hardened terrorists running about freely in the US, even on the government dime because he’s decided that even accused terrorists have basic human rights, and should have, for instance the right to a trial to determine if they are terrorists before they are treated like one. He’s not closing Gitmo to free terrorists, he’s just determined that it isn’t necessary to have Gitmo in order to try them. They actually have the right to know what they are accused of and who is accusing them, little things like that. Here’s the thing about that though. He’s also annoying a lot of the liberals by not releasing more photos because they could be inflammatory, putting troops in danger. He’s geared things up in Afghanistan, he issued the kill order on the Somali pirates. He’s not backing down, he’s been strong and Presidential, but he hasn’t been extreme, to either one side or the other. What the Republicans aren’t getting here is that Obama is the moderate and when you call a moderate extreme, it makes you look extreme.
  • Literally, not hours after Obama gave a well received speech at Notre Dame calling for Americans to not demonize one another over the abortion/choice debate, Alan Keyes was on national TV (ok Fox News) calling Obama evil. Do you need to say anything else about who looks like the moderate and who looks like the extremist here? Evil? Really?
  • More than two thirds of Minnesotans think it’s time for Coleman to concede. Yet he won’t, and Pawlenty doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to encourage him to do that. He’s playing national politics over state politics, not a popular thing for a governor to do, especially when the national political game he’s playing is to prevent the agenda of the President that his state just overwhelmingly voted for to get through. The fact that two thirds of the voters are saying it’s time for Coleman to step down means that half of Coleman voters think he needs to stop dragging this thing out. Tim Pawlenty should have been a front runner for the ’12 ticket, and that’s probably why he’s playing the national game . Instead he might not even last as governor. The longer he allows this thing to drag out the more furious the Minnesota voters are going to get. For all their high minded rhetoric about bipartisanship the Republicans are a sniveling group of partisan hacks and moves like this show just how much that’s true. They don’t realize how much this is hurting them. Franken has been uncharacteristically silent about a lot of this. He’s shown restraint, and that shows moderation. Again, the Democrats look moderate while the right wing is being exposed as extreme.
  • Even the moderate Republican voices are being muted by the extreme Republican voices. First Michael Steele and now Colin Powell are getting silenced over the likes of Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh might be popular with 10 percent of the nation but the other 90 percent think he’s a right-wing-nut-job-blow-hard. And no, he’s not just an entertainer, you have to be entertaining to be an entertainer. He’s a hate-monger and there’s a willing appetite. The problem is that those who gobble it up are extremists, and deference to extremists makes you look…well, extreme.

The more you look at the post political landscape the more apparent it becomes, the Republican Party isn’t dying it’s moving even further to the right. Specter’s move to the right was necessitated to some degree by the near certain nomination of Patrick Toomey, extremist in the primary. Sarah Palin is being flaunted as the next Presidential candidate in spite of the disaster she presented as a VP candidate. In most of the tough elections they are facing the candidate furthest to the right is probably going to win the primary, and that’s going to make it very hard for them to win in the general election. So why do they keep insisting on pushing this agenda, even though that on virtually every matter—the war, taxes, health care, gun control, marriage or civil unions for gays and choice—Americans don’t agree with them? It’s simple. Because they don’t really get that most Americans don’t agree with them.

They live in a little protected bubble where dissent is not allowed, tolerated or heard. When it is heard you get ousted. Every item of belief is detailed and packaged and sold and if you think, if you don’t agree, you get ousted. Most critically it’s all shrouded in religiosity, and made to be God’s word. To have doubt is to doubt God Himself. To have thought is to rebel against God. It’s even been revealed lately that Rumsfeld was tacking bible verses onto pictures of the war and sending them to Bush! Fanatics prattle at political conventions about the sacredness of life while they also tout how God is behind the war. They quote Bible verses that have nothing to do with their cause and preach and prattle and after a while it all starts to seem, well frankly , cultish. And that brings us where we are now, the Republican Party has become a cult, and the problem with cults is that the people who are in them never it’s what they are in, all the way up to Phenobarbital pudding and cyanide Flavor-Aid. Eventually this brand of Republicans, the “neocons” are going to eat the metaphorical pudding and go the way of the dinosaur, but sadly the Republican elephant will continue to roam the earth and one day share it with cockroaches. The earth isn’t moving, it’s just moving on, and fortunately, not too far into the future, without the neoconservatives. That brand of Republican is a thing of the past.


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