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Bill Moyers on democracy excrutiate.
July 15, 2004 2:03 PM   Subscribe

"How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side? How do we protect the soul of democracy against bad theology in service of an imperial state? OVER THE PAST few years, as the poor got poorer, the health care crisis worsened, wealth and media became more and more concentrated, and our political system was bought out from under us, prophetic Christianity lost its voice. The Religious Right drowned everyone else out. And they hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth and proclaimed, 'The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.' The very Jesus who told 5,000 hungry people that all of you will be fed, not just some of you. The very Jesus who challenged the religious orthodoxy of the day by feeding the hungry on the Sabbath, who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the outcast, who raised the status of women and treated even the tax collector like a child of God. The very Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple. This Jesus has been hijacked and turned into a guardian of privilege instead of a champion of the dispossessed. Hijacked, he was made over into a militarist, hedonist, and lobbyist, sent prowling the halls of Congress in Guccis, seeking tax breaks and loopholes for the powerful, costly new weapon systems that don't work, and punitive public policies."
Bill Moyers on democracy excruciate.
posted by fold_and_mutilate (91 comments total)

 
Wait... Religion has a good and healing side?

That's news to me!
posted by shepd at 2:24 PM on July 15, 2004


You just can't make this stuff up. You have to hear it to believe it. This may be the first class war in history where the victims will die laughing.

This is truly the cruelest cut of all. I feel disjointed, out of synch, with many of those I work with because they support the very poisons we're being fed. Maybe Nascar dads like getting raped by their federally ordained betters, those who rise in the order of the holy buck, but I don't.

(I've a real urge to get all foul-languagy at this point, so I'll just say that that was a terrific read. Moyers nails it.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:26 PM on July 15, 2004


who raised the status of women

This is debatable: women under Jewish law generally had/have more rights, status, and power than women under Paul's interpretation of Christianity, or fundamentalist Christianity today. Look at the rules concerning marriage, divorce, abortion, participation in non-home-based activities, etc. And taking an explicitly gender-neutral entity/idea like God and turning it into God the (Gendered) Father wasn't real status-raising either.

But one clear edge early Christianity had over Judaism in women's rights is that some early churches had women leaders preaching the Gospel, 1,700-1,900 years before synagogues commonly had female rabbis and cantors.

</nitpick and tangent>
posted by Asparagirl at 2:30 PM on July 15, 2004


Paul's Christianity wasn't Jesus' Christianity... I mean, he never met the dude...

(uh... IMHO as a religious scholar...)
posted by jpburns at 2:36 PM on July 15, 2004


Asparagirl your nitpicky tangent doesn't apply. Moyers wasn't speaking of Paul, or Christianity as an institution ... he was speaking of Jesus the Christ. There can be no debate if you're not talking about the same thing/person as Moyers is. What is interesting about your complaint, is that it seems to support the idea that Jesus' teachings have been somewhat ignored and co-opted by other interests. This would be the very heart of Moyers' assertion, yes?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:38 PM on July 15, 2004


women under Jewish law generally had/have more rights, status, and power than women under Paul's interpretation of Christianity

Which of course has nothing to do with Moyers' piece. Did you just discover that you're jewish? You know plenty about your religion and we're all very impressed. Now stop injecting it into threads where it's irrelevant.

posted by Mayor Curley at 2:44 PM on July 15, 2004


How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side? How do we protect the soul of democracy against bad theology in service of an imperial state?

Me! Me! I think I know this one! By keeping your damn nose out of other people's business, stop telling them how to live their lives and what their morals should be. Provide help to your fellow man where it is needed, not where someone has made a choice you don't like and where you think you know better.

You could always try a spot of humanism if you feel so inclined but there's really no need.
posted by biffa at 2:53 PM on July 15, 2004


What is interesting about your complaint, is that it seems to support the idea that Jesus' teachings have been somewhat ignored and co-opted by other interests. This would be the very heart of Moyers' assertion, yes?

Yes. Jesus's message is not quite Paul's and certainly not Jerry Falwell's. Moyers has a valid point.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:54 PM on July 15, 2004


Gotta love the Jeebus. You can project whatever you want on him and then call it interpretation and hold your nose up high knowing you are one of the "chosen people" and a "good" religious person.

Religion would be funny if it wasn't for its destructive effect on society.

So, how many kids have we lied to today about how the world works? How many people have died today because of religion ? How much hate and bigotry is "justified" by religion?
posted by skallas at 3:11 PM on July 15, 2004


From Vonnegut's "Cold Turkey":
How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. …
And so on.
Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!
posted by josephtate at 3:34 PM on July 15, 2004


skallas: So, how many kids have we lied to today about how the world works?

It depends on whether you classify it as a lie simply because it isn't true. Kids still learn Newtonian mechanics.

skallas: How many people have died today because of religion? How much hate and bigotry is "justified" by religion?

At least a bag full.

My suggestion is to apply a genetic algorithm. After a few thousand generations the more optimal religions will have wiped out the less effective ones. Note that this may involve Gucci wearing militarist lobbyists. In the meantime... stay back... I have a knife and a ballistic missile*.

*Note: ‘a ballistic missile’ also known as ‘a rock’.
posted by snarfodox at 3:37 PM on July 15, 2004


skallas, your hobby horse will break if you keep thrusting it so. Are you agreeing with Moyers, or not? Ya see, its kinda hard to tell when you go off on your wildly thrashing tirade against belief, and thereby fail to deal with the topic at hand. "Religion suXors!!!1!" is hardly helpful or to the point. Lets see if we can focus a little bit, shall we?

Jesus (the Nazarene) was attributed a certain degree of authority in moral teaching. Moyers point, far from being that "religion suXors!!1!", was that that moral teaching has value, if not corrupted and twisted to the will of the rich and powerful, making them the priests of the modern world. Moyers goes on to posit that those of us who value the moral teachings of the Nazarene should reestablish our will in the national sphere.

So, do you have an on topic opinion that goes further than "religion suXors!!!!"? Is Moyers correct? Are the moral teachings of Jesus flawed, or simply corrupted by the self interested? Does belief offer any hope or moral center in the world today, or have the wealthy thoroughly co-opted the very right to believe, or is it adequate to run around in your underware while screaming "religion suXors!!!"? Please, elighten us.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:44 PM on July 15, 2004


And just so that I can beat homunculus in posting it: The Ballad of Supply Side Jesus.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:49 PM on July 15, 2004


How much hate and bigotry is "justified" by religion?

And how much is justified by Moyers in this article? His brand of liberalism is every bit as much of a religion as many others on earth ... the true believers cheer at his sermons (and post them to blogs so other believers can say "tell it brother!"), various Enemies of the Faith are defined and condemned, and a revolution to return us to "righteous" values is demanded.

This was a profoundly funny article ... his ability to spend a dozen paragraphs absolutely ripping "The Enemy" a new one with vicious rhetoric and carefully selected "statistics" is simply the norm these days ... but to follow that with the question "Where is the love?" is positively priceless.
posted by MidasMulligan at 3:52 PM on July 15, 2004


Maybe Nascar dads like getting raped by their federally ordained betters, those who rise in the order of the holy buck, but I don't.

I don't neccessarily disagree with you, Wulfgar, but there's two sides to that coin. A side question might be: Ho did liberalism lose touch with the people who were once their core constituency?

Most of the time the left answers with "Well, they're just stupid," or some variation thereof. But that's both insulting and counterproductive.
posted by jonmc at 3:56 PM on July 15, 2004


> "religion suXors!!!!"

Oh grow up Wulfgar, it pretty clear that once a religion hits critical mass its open to huge amounts of interpretation. The fact that it become popular usually means it already appeals to what people believe in already, thus its just another way of justifying the status quo. I doubt many people who hate homosexuals do it strictly because it says so in leviticus.

As far as Jesus' teachings, I don't see how they could ever apply outside of his own culture. They are not timeless, but old and tired words from an meglomanaic who believed he was some kind of god and made some noise about it until he was killed. It makes as much sense to me as "What can phrenology teach us today."
posted by skallas at 4:02 PM on July 15, 2004


jonmc, Moyers explained with great care exactly how the faithful are being led to slaughter. I don't think anyone here has assumed stupidity.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:02 PM on July 15, 2004


you been reading the same MeFi I have the past 5 years, wulfgar?
posted by jonmc at 4:04 PM on July 15, 2004


I'm not even buying the hijacked argument. Religion has always been part of culture and that includes business, the war machine, hate, racism, etc.

What moyers is failing to understand is that you can't have this spiritual side and expect it to be separate from society. The two will always join at the hip, thus the need for separating religion from politics, among other things.
posted by skallas at 4:05 PM on July 15, 2004


And just so that I can beat homunculus in posting it

*passes torch to Wulfgar!, sits back and sips margarita*
posted by homunculus at 4:15 PM on July 15, 2004


jonmc: Most of the time the left answers with "Well, they're just stupid," or some variation thereof. But that's both insulting and counterproductive.

Most governments are now very careful about wealth redistribution. Giving everyone an equal share doesn't seem to work because some people have no idea what to do with their share. That leaves you with different people having different amounts of wealth, which over time generally seems to settle into a large group of poor people and a smaller group of wealthy people.
The poor generally don't (by definition) have much power to actually do anything constructive, or even project much destructive force if they're managed properly. Like cattle, large numbers of them tend to produce more than they cost to maintain if you design your services correctly. Their interaction with the economic world is generally passive. They work. They pay taxes. Their ability to exercise power through voting has been carefully limited in most successful nations.
The poor can be bought for a few percentage points on their salary. None of them add up the services that they use in society and compare it to the taxes they pay. If government is paying close attention it doesn't actually dilute the money set aside for services anyway because funds can be moved away from something that nobody is using or paying attention to.
In the meantime the wealthy can collect the things that they want, they can build something new out of what they already have or otherwise be active economic participants. If something causes their interests great harm they have the capacity to project force.
That's the world. Any religion that wants to dominate must live in that world.
posted by snarfodox at 4:17 PM on July 15, 2004


Most of the time the left answers with "Well, they're just stupid," or some variation thereof. But that's both insulting and counterproductive.

And quite often true. *shrug*
posted by Ryvar at 4:18 PM on July 15, 2004


skallas, a view as narrow as yours could apply as easily (and arbitrarily) to Plato, Aristotle, Kant or Buber... in fact any moral teacher that doesn't live in our times. I get the strong sense that you wish all moral teachers to be silent. That would amount to a simple cry of: "religion suXors!!!", with you being the Solipsistic arbiter of what is religion and what isn't. Under those circumstances, I must personally disagree.

And if I were you, I'd be a little more careful with phrases like "grow up". I'm well older than you, and concerning philosophy and religion, I'll give you 20 to 1 that I'm better educated than you. Just because you (admittedly) don't find personal value in a subset of teachings, it doesn't mean that those who do find value are somehow more juvenile. To think so would be, in truth, rather juvenile on your part, wouldn't you agree?

On preview, jonmc, I think you need to focus a little. Old grudges haven't crept into this thread, so why invite them? I repeat: I don't think anyone here has assumed stupidity.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:19 PM on July 15, 2004


Wulfy, if you're going to type like a kiddie, simplify others views into childish comments, talk about how much smarter and wiser you are than others, etc well you might need to grow up a bit.

As far as moral teaching from outside your time, that's a larger debate than what Moyers is talking about (personally, when it comes to religious teachings they fail because the authority they rest on is fictional): being co-opted. I say Moyers is missing the point that religion has always been co-opted by the powers that be. Since Augustus at least with Xtianity. Not to mention Xtianity is a false or at least unprovable philosophy.
posted by skallas at 4:26 PM on July 15, 2004


Ok, fair enough, wulf, but I think the question in my initial comment bears investigation as well. For years, the working and middle class (ie "NASCAR Dads") were the bread and butter of the American Left. But not so much anymore.

Yes, some of this can be chalked up to gullibilty, some to clever framing and pandering by the right. But I'd also argue that the left has lost touch with this constituency. How did it happen and what can we do to get it back?

Religion and the disdain thereof, is part of the answer, I think, but by no means the whole enchilada.
posted by jonmc at 4:26 PM on July 15, 2004


Wulfgar!: I get the strong sense that you wish all moral teachers to be silent. That would amount to a simple cry of: "religion suXors!!!"

Thanks for this comment. Years ago I sat in on a lecture series by an eminent moral nihilist. I now understand that he could have saved himself countless publications, a multitude of books and an entire delusional career spanning several decades just by learning l33t.
posted by snarfodox at 4:29 PM on July 15, 2004


Religion has always been part of culture and that includes business, the war machine, hate, racism, etc.

And plenty of people who aren't religious at all engage in all those things, too.

You could eradicate religion from the earth and all those things would still exist.
posted by jonmc at 4:33 PM on July 15, 2004


jonmc, why is just disdain? How about the 10-12% of Americans who choose "none" as their religious affiliation? Seems to me, the more people that opt-out of something leaves the more hard-core types defending it, thus a shift to fundamentalism and intolerant attitudes regarding other faiths, non-faith, and an even more glaring examples of cozy relationship religion tends to have with the status-quo.

Now, if we have 10% of Americans who don't want to partake of religion, that suggests that there's a lot more who don't take it as seriously anymore. It wouldnt be fair to call them potential atheists or agnostics, but apathetic religious people. That still hurts the overall number of people in churches, temples, etc thus leaving the hard-core types holding the bag. You asked how do we get them back? I say you can't. They left and don't want to come back.

>You could eradicate religion from the earth and all those things would still exist.

Yes of course, please don't put me in that false position of cause and effect. But lets not ignore the real positive effects of removing religion from politics (as an american not living in a theocracy Im sure these are obvious to you). Not to mention the further we remove religion from cultural institutions the easier it is to question culture and progress.
posted by skallas at 4:35 PM on July 15, 2004


This article strikes me as seriously flawed. I simply don't see the connection between the Religious Right and the capitalist elite that Moyers does. While our current government seems to favor both, that doesn't mean they share the same ideals or goals. Whatever alliance there may be between Christians and capitalists is uneasy and fragile at best.

skallas, your hobby horse will break if you keep thrusting it so. Are you agreeing with Moyers, or not? Ya see, its kinda hard to tell when you go off on your wildly thrashing tirade against belief, and thereby fail to deal with the topic at hand. "Religion suXors!!!1!" is hardly helpful or to the point.

While I don't often find myself agreeing with skallas, it seems to me that if you believe that religion, by its very nature, is harmful to humanity because of its exclusionary or proselytizing nature, then talking about "nurturing the healing side of religion" is pointless. So, yes, in the eyes of many secular humanists like myself, religion suxors.

I get the strong sense that you wish all moral teachers to be silent.

To the extent that those moral teachers justify their teachings on the basis of the existence of a supreme being and on the belief that one can learn proper moral action from this supreme being, so do I. I directly blame much of the world's pain on these well-intentioned evildoers.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:44 PM on July 15, 2004


Sorry that should have been Constantine not Augustus.
posted by skallas at 4:45 PM on July 15, 2004


skallas: Not to mention Xtianity is a false or at least unprovable philosophy.

Falsifiability is a standard in the philosophy of science. It isn't very old and technically can't generate generality from specific instances; its power is in tearing down generalities from specific instances. Generalities (theories) are still entirely speculative initially. As with all reductive theories it seems to be vulnerable to missing higher level emergence through overapplication of reductionism and tends to be vulnerable to charges of naïve empiricism. Applying those standards to moral philosophy is quite an exercise and represents an entire field of study. Good luck with that...
posted by snarfodox at 4:47 PM on July 15, 2004


snarfodox, point taken. Perhaps I should have written its falsibility in regards to the cosmology (instead of philosophy) and supernatural events it teaches to be true.

1. Formation of earth, universe, life on earth.

2. Existance of miracles.

3. Existance of the divine and real life intervention.

4. Existence of divine in human form and his miracles.

5. That prayer can communicate with this supposed divine being(s).

etc.

In short creationism, the existance of god, and the reality of miracles are all lacking in proof, thus a huge chunk of the religious pie (not just Xtianity) is in question.

You can peel away these items and deal with purely moral positions, but that is not how the religious treat their religion.
posted by skallas at 4:52 PM on July 15, 2004


jonmc, why is just disdain? How about the 10-12% of Americans who choose "none" as their religious affiliation? Seems to me, the more people that opt-out of something leaves the more hard-core types defending it, thus a shift to fundamentalism and intolerant attitudes regarding other faiths, non-faith, and an even more glaring examples of cozy relationship religion tends to have with the status-quo.

I don't think it's just disdain. Most sane people of faith I know have no real problem with atheism (excpet of course for disagreeing with it). I'm just saying that the demographics Wulfgar pointed out tends to identify as at least somewhat religious and that militant anti-religionism of some elements of the American left has alienated them somewhat. But it's by no means the only factor. There's other cultural issues at work. I was just more spitballing the idea of how the left went from being seen as the "Party Of The People" to being seen as elitist.

Not to mention, that the co-opting of religion by the right is an insult to the left-wing activism of people like Dr. King, Mahatma Gandhi, the Maryknoll fathers, Woody Guthrie (who refused to join the American communist party on the grounds that it required him to renounce his religion).

But lets not ignore the real positive effects of removing religion from politics (as an american not living in a theocracy Im sure these are obvious to you).

I don't think religious institutuions should dictate political policy at all. Even the Bible says "Rendr under Caesar that which is Caesars." But religion iforms peoples consciences and I'd never deny people the right to vote their consciences.

To me the problem isn't religion per se. I have a feeling that the Fallwells and Robertsons (and Bin Ladens) of this world aren't really religious at all since they lack all humility and compassion. The problem is people cloaking political agendas under religion and manipulating their followers.

I know people who good-hearted decent compassionate people deep down, who shun homosexuals for instance, because their religious leader told them God said so (a lie, but that's beside the point). But if God told them tommorrow that homosexuality was OK, they'd embrace their gay neighbors with all their might. Stupid, I realize, but there you have it. But it gives you an opening.

The leaders of these religions on the otherhand are people who shape religion to their own priviliges. They hate homosexuals and went and found religion to back up their prejudices, which is something different.
posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on July 15, 2004


for "priviliges" substitute "prejudices." I'm on a Yuengling and Easy Cheese jag.
posted by jonmc at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2004


or to sum up: as god crumbles so does his morals. (by god I mean the fictional construct societies tend to build and by morals the status quo ideals that they project) Thankfully, that includes the anti-gay bigotry, lack of tolerance, misogyny, racism, etc.

>"Party Of The People" to being seen as elitist.

THe history of the left has almost always had accusations of elitism. Marx the "intellectal" in economics. Anarchists elitists. Atheism, as we've already mentioned, etc.

I think the history of the US is way too complex just to assume the party of the people has always been lefties and now something is seriously wrong because this is not true. This has never been true, the conservatives are seen by many as the party of the people through protectionist economics, protection from immigrant (job takers), protection from minorities (welfare taxes), wealthy industrialists who bring jobs to your town, etc.

If anything, the right's shift into abandoning constituents for lobbies sounds like a much bigger betrayal than liberals leaving church of their own free will.
posted by skallas at 5:02 PM on July 15, 2004


It is precicely the stuff in this article that inspired me to make a conscious decision not to be a Christian anymore. When reading the bible, some major aspects of Jesus' teaching stood out to me.
  • Don't judge people - leave that to God

  • Don't make a big deal of prayer

  • Be charitable, but don't boast about it

  • Beware the hypocricy of religious leaders

  • Spirituality and money don't mix

  • "...so that everyone that believes in him shall have eternal life" - no exclusions

  • Even enemies and people outside your religion - (ie. the samaritan) might be viewed better in the eyes of God than the "religious" ones who are selfish and unkind

  • Look after your own sins before worrying about the sins of others

  • I saw no complete representation of these key values in any church or Christian group I attended. They were much more concerned about condemning people because of what they choosed to do with their dicks, or "converting" people then selling them Christian music CDs.

    I made the conscious decision to reject Christianity because, quite frankly, I could count the Christians I knew who believed in these key values on one hand and still have several fingers left over. I decided to lose my faith and simply file Jesus alongside Siddhartha Gautama, Confucious, Mohammed and all those other chaps who had so much to say when people weren't really listening.
    posted by Jimbob at 5:03 PM on July 15, 2004


    Whoops, didnt finish that last bit up:

    Its no surprise that when the right went with the lobbies, the heavy hitters, etc they took Jesus with them. Thus this piece by Moyers.
    posted by skallas at 5:05 PM on July 15, 2004


    > I'm on a Yuengling and Easy Cheese jag.

    And I'm on too much caffiene to be on metafilter.
    posted by skallas at 5:06 PM on July 15, 2004


    er, where's konolia gone off to?
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:06 PM on July 15, 2004


    THe history of the left has almost always had accusations of elitism. Marx the "intellectal" in economics. Anarchists elitists. Atheism, as we've already mentioned, etc.

    True, but sometimes it stuck, and sometimes it didn't. In purely tactical terms, the left needs to work from within to dispel the "elitist" tag. Mainly, because while some leftists come across as elitist, the right is much more elitist in it's actual effects on society.
    posted by jonmc at 5:10 PM on July 15, 2004


    Wulfy, if you're going to type like a kiddie, simplify others views into childish comments, talk about how much smarter and wiser you are than others, etc well you might need to grow up a bit.

    Mike, you've been hauled to MetaTalk more than once because of your rather religious anti-religion crusade. I've been trying to be polite here, while you've been completely ignoring the point of Moyers essay: Christianity isn't what the rich tell you it is, it's what we have written that this guy (fictionally presented if you prefer) told us that it should be, a value statement. And all you seem to want to do is bash on some kinda nebulous idea that you think everybody else holds. Here it is, plain and simple: deal with the topic instead of your personal demons. Hows that for a "grow up" kinda statement? You think:

    I say Moyers is missing the point that religion has always been co-opted by the powers that be.

    And you've yet to show that he does that ... you simply claim it as truth. Moyers goes back to the the exact presentation we have of (the myth of) Jesus, and how it has value to our current condition when opposed by the Repugnican presentation of such. All you seem capable of doing is attacking a religiousness that NO ONE (not even Moyers, cupcake) seems to want to defend. Well done; I applaud your slayage of your own fantasy opposition.

    You consistently confuse Christianity with what Moyers talks of as the words of Jesus. How infantile can you be when you can't even hold steady to the text of the post? Where does Moyers speak of divine faith? Where does he speak of Salvation? Did you read the fucking link, or are you as lost in your delusions as you appear right now? You can't even rebut the man with a quote, can you? Moyers exact point was that religion gets co-opted, and it has taken a very frightening form for those who have read the teachings of Jesus. Your point: It's always been that way so (complete breakdown of logic following) Moyers is wrong. Seriously, Mikey, Grow up.

    (P.s. A lot of comments have been posted since I began writing this, and though I think it still has value (if for no reason other than that I think skallas is grossly misinterpreting the impact between individual belief and government involvement/manipulation of religion, I really don't hate the guy. I actually kind of like him ... I just think he's way too into his own belief in disbelief.)
    posted by Wulfgar! at 5:17 PM on July 15, 2004


    This was a profoundly funny article

    Funny in the sense of the hypocritical crusade against Christianity.

    Moyers has one salient point:

    "We are called to the fight of our lives."

    Agreed. Against those who would kill us all for our being "infidels". Against a malignant evil that unless defeated and relegated to the sewer of historical failures will spare not one of us, a fight not "of our lives" but for our lives.
    posted by hama7 at 5:18 PM on July 15, 2004


    er, where's konolia gone off to?

    She's the exact type of person I've descibed, fff (in my comment about homosexuality and good people being manipulated). I'm kinda hoping she shows up.
    posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on July 15, 2004


    But its not just a tag. How many Marxists come from good homes and were much more educated than the average person? Same with the Anarchists and the Atheists. MLK had a BA from Morehouse. How many blacks in the south could say the same?

    These people were/are elites, but there's a big difference between being an elite and what is commonly accepted by the term "elitist." The left's philosophy tends to be more inclusive than the right's, thus the whole left elite thing is really overplayed.

    Take that Hollywood Liberals!
    posted by skallas at 5:23 PM on July 15, 2004


    Without religion you would need to provide something else that induces a similarly pleasant flood of neurochemicals. Without that fix you get unhappy people which in turn leads to economic disruptions, which as has been discussed previously is not desirable.
    Techniques that induce mild respiratory alkalosis (with associated agitation, dizziness, tingling around the mouth and hands and involuntary muscle twitching) are popular, but religions have the delivery of that technique down to a fine art, and it's hard to compete against an established brand.
    Psychoactive drugs tend to be hard to apply at the right dosages, but that work is still in its infancy despite the vast profits already being made. Properly combining the music and pharmaceutical markets looks (to me) like the way of the future. Expect my IPO any day now...
    posted by snarfodox at 5:25 PM on July 15, 2004


    Against a malignant evil that unless defeated and relegated to the sewer of historical failures will spare not one of us, a fight not "of our lives" but for our lives.

    Quit trolling.
    posted by Wulfgar! at 5:29 PM on July 15, 2004


    Against those who would kill us all for our being "infidels".

    *Jimbob shakes in his boots*
    posted by Jimbob at 5:30 PM on July 15, 2004


    jimbob ... i just see that as tragic ... people so often don't live up to what they profess because they can't ... and understanding the tenets of christianity as well as you seem to ... it just seems that you should look after your own faith before worrying about the faith of others ... it's sad that so many people are turned off from god because of his "followers"

    midasmulligan ... do you really believe that the values expressed in the sermon of the mount are consistant with our government's policies or the prevalent culture? ... this is not the religion of liberalism being expressed ... it's the religion of christianity

    can you debate this article on that issue? or are you just going to call it liberalism and not think about the spiritual issues that are raised?
    posted by pyramid termite at 5:32 PM on July 15, 2004


    But its not just a tag. How many Marxists come from good homes and were much more educated than the average person? Same with the Anarchists and the Atheists. MLK had a BA from Morehouse. How many blacks in the south could say the same?

    True enough, but it was during the Depression, when the majority of the American people were in dire straits that the Marxist left had it's best chance of establishing a real beachead in the US. A lot of that had to do with culturally connecting with the people that they could benefit most; like Woody Guthrie writing country protest songs instead of choirs singing "The Internationale."

    And your also talking about the far left. I'm thinking more in terms of, say, the Democratic party. Up until the late 70's their bread and butter was the the white urban working class. Since then that constituency has sorta felt abandoned, rightfully or not.

    The factors for this are manifold, and for a more educated mind than mine, but here's an anectodatl story. My grandparents, East Harlem and Hell's Kitchen raised shanty Irish had been lifelong Democrats until the local ward heeler told my Grandad to fuck of when he asked for a favor. He registed Republican the next day. Other people have pointed to various events (like the busing mess in Boston, enviornmentalism, gay rights) or image problems (the Democrats seen as courting "rich hippies," "soft on criminals" etc). It's a breach that needs to be repaired not ignored.
    posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on July 15, 2004


    jonmc,

    Just like the Depression, the times are changing. First off, being seen as anything (soft on this, hard on that) comes through the media filter. Right now the US has more prisoners than any other country and something like 1/3rd are in there for purely drug offenses. How many Americans know this? If a politician were to say something like "stop the drug war" then he would been seen as soft on crime. But, only because so many people don't know how much of a mess our prison system is. Same with the "rich hippies" stereotype, its a GOP produced fiction. Environmentalism has been painted as a lefty-crazy cause, but do you really want to drink tainted water? etc

    There's a difference between whats real and what people think is going on, especially in politics. If this means some Democrats will leave and others will take their place, then so be it. This kind of thing has been going on forever.
    posted by skallas at 5:45 PM on July 15, 2004


    But, only because so many people don't know how much of a mess our prison system is. Same with the "rich hippies" stereotype, its a GOP produced fiction. Environmentalism has been painted as a lefty-crazy cause, but do you really want to drink tainted water? etc

    Agreed. But if we want people in office who can actually change things, we need to reach the constituency that's been buying these fictions.

    If a politician were to say something like "stop the drug war" then he would been seen as soft on crime.

    But what if he framed it by saying "We're letting out murderers and child molestors to make room for penny-ante pot dealers," he'd reach more people. Plus, when that dope dealer is on your corner, people still have legitamite frustrations that can't be blithely dismissed.

    Environmentalism has been painted as a lefty-crazy cause, but do you really want to drink tainted water? etc

    Then tell people "Bush is a rich bastard like your boss, who wants to dump poison in your back yard."

    See what I'm getting at?

    I agree that the media distorts a lot of stuff, but there's no reason we have to help 'em. Too often the "NASCAR dad" gets written off as "rednecks" and "reactionaries," by some members of the left and that alienates people. We don't diagree on the issues here, skallas, jsut strategy.
    posted by jonmc at 5:52 PM on July 15, 2004


    jonmc: agreed. I find her unquestioning faith unsettling, because it's obvious she's a compassionate person who has allowed herself to be shackled by the exclusive (as in "excluding others") teachings of her particular pastor. If she were to start asking herself the harder questions and really start challenging her faith, I think she'd easily find that she can be Christian and simultaneously be non-judgemental. IOW, I see a lot of potential good being wasted.
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:55 PM on July 15, 2004


    Great post, thanks Wulfgar, and Jimbob that's about the best ummary of Jesus' teachings I've come across in a while. And I should even bother saying this, but hama7's little contribution is about the most un-christian thing I've read in ages. Im' hoping it was deliberately so and he is just trolling, but I fear he doesn't see the contradiction in his own core beliefs.
    posted by Space Coyote at 6:15 PM on July 15, 2004


    (also thanks foldie for the original post :) )
    posted by Space Coyote at 6:16 PM on July 15, 2004


    The meek, merciful peacemakers tend to be easy prey for the aggressive, cruel, violent things in the world. This is mediated by the fact that organisational clusters tend to be able to distribute their resources in such a way as to access extremely violent capabilities through which they maintain their collection of resources and achieve relative internal stability (peace). There is also a trophic factor at work, where large predators tend to compete strongly with each other and thus limit each others growth potential.

    As the end product of a vast collection of ancestral survivors who no doubt figuratively bathed in blood we have the leisure to consider ourselves to be meek merciful peacemakers because we already have a relatively large portion of the world's wealth available to us, protected by some very violent people. Try to take some of those resources without giving the nominal owner something in exchange for it and you'd better have access to some violent capabilities or you'll find out how meek and merciful the world really is.

    Religion is currently extremely helpful in pacifying an economically valuable collection of people. The fact that so many of my fellow atheists feel the need to discount the value of religion in this role is somewhat disconcerting. I for one don't want a large collection of ecologically ignorant but personally self-realised apex predators being unleashed all at once suddenly bereft of moral prescription.
    posted by snarfodox at 6:28 PM on July 15, 2004


    er, where's konolia gone off to?

    I was at a prayer meeting. No fooling.

    I'm too tired to read the link (I tend to avoid Moyers as I don't see him as an authority on the topic) but I can agree that the Sermon on the Mount would be a good thing to pay more attention to. But y'all do need to remember he never told Roman Centurians to quit being men of war. He simply told them to be content with their pay.
    posted by konolia at 7:54 PM on July 15, 2004


    as I don't see him as an authority on the topic

    Wow sweetie, what's it take to convince you that someone has street cred with the Jeez-meister? According to the notes at the bottom of his article, Moyers holds a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article is adapted from Moyers' keynote address at Call to Renewal's Pentecost 2004 conference this May in Washington, D.C. So, apparently the organizers of *that* event thought he had some gravitas in the arena.

    You may disagree with Moyers, but I hardly think that you can impugn his knowledge base.
    posted by dejah420 at 8:14 PM on July 15, 2004


    Metafilter: street cred with the Jeez-meister.
    posted by quonsar at 10:19 PM on July 15, 2004


    jimbob: so let me get this straight. You had faith in Jesus as your saviour and decided to follow him, but because other people weren't following him too well you decided it was all bunk and you'd stop believing. [mom] and if they all jumped off a cliff? [/mom]
    posted by bonaldi at 10:28 PM on July 15, 2004


    I was at a prayer meeting.

    No wonder my ears were burning! ;-)
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 PM on July 15, 2004


    "How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side?"

    Pick up an axe and chop The New Testament off from The Old Testament.

    Jesus will staunch the bleeding, and the World will be better for it.

    snarfodox - a beautiful commentary : and I was briefly caught in a sort of soul shaking cognitive dissonance for the fact that I thought your comment was Konolia's
    posted by troutfishing at 11:21 PM on July 15, 2004


    According to the notes at the bottom of his article, Moyers holds a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

    Just because someone has been to seminary doesn't mean they know the Lord.
    posted by konolia at 3:18 AM on July 16, 2004


    Just because someone has been to seminary doesn't mean they know the Lord.

    - Stalin being an example that immediately comes to mind.
    posted by johnnyboy at 3:53 AM on July 16, 2004


    But y'all do need to remember he never told Roman Centurians to quit being men of war. He simply told them to be content with their pay.

    Well, that's just great. Something to justify everyone's worldview. Pay better attention the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes just so long as it doesn't conflict with the idea that tax cuts for those making $300,000 per year are good, social programs are immoral and selective military adventurism abroad is something Jesus Would Do (tm).

    I'm sorry to be snarky on this (full disclosure, I'm a New England "elitist" Presbyterian), but I really liked much of what Moyers was saying. But I find some of the views espoused on this thread, particularly Hama7's, absolutely blood-chilling. This is something I like to call salad bar Christianity -- where you just get to pick those things that you want, and leave behind those other things that make you feel uncomfortable: love, charity, acceptance, people that judge others while they themselves bristle against being judged, and generally to try to overcome hypocrisy in all things.

    Again apologies. Too much has been said on this subject already, but I couldn't contain myself. The chauvinism, nationalism and lack of "love thy neighbor"-ism that passes for Christianity is something that absolutely sickens me and leaves me with little hope for humanity.
    posted by psmealey at 5:39 AM on July 16, 2004


    lest I be accused of hyprocrisy myself, it's something I struggle with every day (we all do), I should qualify that my reactions to those ideas were visceral, not judgment.
    posted by psmealey at 5:48 AM on July 16, 2004


    I hear you psmeasley, I could not agree more.
    posted by johnnyboy at 6:28 AM on July 16, 2004


    In case debating the nuances of scripture becomes too much for you J.C broke it all down into an easily digestible passage, very thoughtful really.

    One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

    "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

    posted by johnnyboy at 6:34 AM on July 16, 2004


    What Jimbob said. Let's go have a glass of wine. :)

    The religious angle is a red herring. The Jesus Moyers wants is the same thing all religious leaders are: a means of organizing society to ensure a successful society. Most religions I am familiar with have the same refrains: love, tolerance, understanding and a belief in ultimate justice.

    Those goals aren't unique to religion. Enlightened self interest suggests that minding your own business, lending a needed hand, and avoiding concentrations of power provides a rational means of resolving and avoiding conflict. Of course, conflict is inevitable, whether it be financial, emotional, or spiritual.

    What Moyers is saying is that tremendous gaps in wealth concentration and influence and a government non-responsive to the needs of its society is bad. That he needs to conjure an interpretation of a religious leader to do so says much about the American character. This isn't an appeal to logic, but an appeal to emotions and beliefs.
    posted by infowar at 6:40 AM on July 16, 2004


    Just because someone has been to seminary doesn't mean they know the Lord.

    Oh for fuck's sake. I thought no one could "know" the lord, I thought the point was to pay attention to the words of the prophet?

    But what do I know, if Moyers isn't qualified enough to talk about this we might as well all go home.
    posted by Space Coyote at 6:59 AM on July 16, 2004


    Bill Moyers on democracy excruciate.

    Boycott Bill Moyers.

    PBS's Pontificator.

    Bill Moyers: Fat Cat for the Fifth Column.

    "The public and the media deserve to know who’s behind the garbage they’re being fed."
    posted by hama7 at 8:06 AM on July 16, 2004


    "The public and the media deserve to know who’s behind the garbage they’re being fed."

    - Indeed, to be poor in the 21st century no longer equates with being hungry, especially in the USA.
    posted by johnnyboy at 8:20 AM on July 16, 2004


    Those Moyers quotes on boycottliberalism.com are pretty good, Hama7, thanks!

    “It’s the richest Americans – the top one percent – who get the lion’s share of the tax cuts, people like Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, [and] Vice President Dick Cheney ....Eleven million children in families with incomes roughly between $10,000 and $26,000 a year will not be getting the check that was supposed to be in the mail this summer. Eleven million children punished for being poor, even as the rich are rewarded for being rich.”

    The fact that this quote appears on a page meant to impugn Bill Moyers says, I think, more about how sensitive the folks on the Right are about being exposed as hypocrites than it demonstrates any inconsistency in Moyers's views.

    Excellent find!
    posted by psmealey at 8:25 AM on July 16, 2004


    Excellent find!

    Aparently you missed the part where somebody explains elementary economics and the nature of American taxation and tax cuts to Bill Moyers, pointing out that a wealthy person who pays the most taxes gets more of his own money back than a person who pays little or nothing. It's not a raffle, it's a refund.

    Moyers, progressive taxation, and "class-warfare" is marxist.
    posted by hama7 at 10:07 AM on July 16, 2004


    I thought no one could "know" the lord

    On the contrary. That is supposed to be the whole point.
    posted by konolia at 11:05 AM on July 16, 2004


    "class-warfare" is marxist.

    Ok you owe me a new keyboard... just lost a mouthful of coffee. If this is true, then the right wing is every bit as guilty of it. The right wing airwaves are full of hatred and spite, from Ann Coulter to Rush Limbaugh, people that manipulate angry white male resentment, and transform that into hatred for liberal and "Hollywood" elites, to blame them for their own problems. Or, to put it another way:

    Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then thou shalt see clearly to cast the most out of thy brother's eye. Matthew 7:5
    posted by psmealey at 12:05 PM on July 16, 2004


    It's just that Konolia knows him better than Moyers.
    posted by five fresh fish at 12:07 PM on July 16, 2004


    most mote
    posted by psmealey at 12:09 PM on July 16, 2004


    Funny and hear I thought if there is a creator then we, the creation, simply couldn't "know" it. Perhaps I think more highly of God than some.
    posted by Space Coyote at 1:04 PM on July 16, 2004


    and transform that into hatred for liberal and "Hollywood" elites

    Most importantly and obviously, the left and liberals are not a class.

    Moyers and his ilk would have you believe that totalitarian marxist immoral forms of theft like redistribution of wealth and class warfare are perfectly acceptable, and fortunately, since the left is just standing around in sandals and licking lollipops, the admirable spokespeople on the Right point out the helmet-wearing wrongness of the repeatedly disastrous societal blunder of implementing marxist philosophy.
    posted by hama7 at 1:18 PM on July 16, 2004


    Right. Because we want to live in a society where it's dog-eat-dog, every man for himself. "I got mine, bub, you-all can fuck off and die!"

    Puh-lease. We have the capability to progress beyond our caveman thinking.

    This life on earth is all we got. We should make the most of it... for everyone.
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:44 PM on July 16, 2004


    I'm pretty tired of all this crap about how the liberals want to redistribute the wealth.

    I'd like a freakin' living wage. I'd like the smart and educated in society to be a little less greedy, and instead of making as much as they can, I'd like them to pay the janitors and data entry staff and security guards as much as they can. And teachers. And policemen.

    It's farcical that anyone would mention marxism at this late date, with the rich richer then they ever have been.

    Just because you can take something, or steal something, or convince people to give up something, or use the legal or political system to "earn" something, doesn't mean you should.

    People wanting a little economic fairness in a country where the distribution of wealth is completely whacked aren't marxists or communists, their just fair decent people.

    Give me a break. Give Jesus a break too. Fat eye of the needle squeezing #$@%!
    posted by ewkpates at 1:47 PM on July 16, 2004


    You know what: I'm glad most of us in Europe *are* post Christian. We don't make tax policy on religious grounds.

    We're working on being post-Islamic, but that may take a little longer.
    posted by dash_slot- at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2004


    hama7, you consistentantly (and ignorantly) ascribe a moralism to Marx. He wasn't a moral philosopher, and the growth of communism was not seen by him as a "good" thing or carrying any intrinsic value with it at all; it was seen in his view as an inevitability, an unavoidable movement of history. If you take a look, you'll see that to some large degree he was right. When oppression and wealth inequalities became too great, many countries turned to revolution and what we now know as dictatorial socialism. Dictatorial socialism doesn't work, we know that. Big deal.

    But what you continually attempt to do is show that because socialism is a failed system, that the conditions that Marx exposed as leading to socialism are actually good conditions, and only the morally bankrupt would point out that rampant industrial capitalism is wrong. Its not an either-or proposition, morally or historically.
    posted by Wulfgar! at 2:15 PM on July 16, 2004


    Just because someone has been to seminary doesn't mean they know the Lord.

    Oh Jew onna stick...that's not a rebuttal...I asked what it took for *YOU* to believe that someone has street cred when talking about the Christian martyr.

    How much time have you spent with Moyers? What conversation did the two of you have that makes you claim he doesn't know the God he professes to love?

    What spark of godhead has been granted to you that *you* can be an arbiter of who does and does not know god? How can you possibly claim to be a Christian and yet issue proclamations that someone else couldn't possibly be one, despite their years of devotion to the faith and the vast amount of education involved in becoming a minister?

    I mean, you know I love you princess...but you're coming across particularly close-minded on this issue.

    It's just that Konolia knows him better than Moyers.

    Apparently. But then, I suppose unless we worship in the approved (tm) method, none of us will meet her criteria for enlightened.
    posted by dejah420 at 2:24 PM on July 16, 2004


    I'm pretty tired of all this crap about how the liberals want to redistribute the wealth.

    Marxism:

    "We're Going to Take Things Away From You
    on Behalf of the Common Good."


    "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
    posted by hama7 at 2:34 PM on July 16, 2004


    What ewkpates said.

    I suppose I deserve as much blame as anyone for taking this ridiculous trollbait, and being suckered by Hama7's transparent attempts to re-frame* this debate.

    Look, none of communism, capitalism, socialism are either inherently moral or immoral systems. Moyers is referring to the fact that capitalism as it's called in this country (though, I think you could more accurately call it socialism for the wealthy and the corporate, but capitalism for everyone else) is only immoral when the already powerful exploit the system to further disenfranchise the powerless. And this was as true in the Soviet Union or North Korea as it is in today's American system.

    Hama7 bloviating, his stamping of feet (21st century democratic liberalism = 20th century eastern european marxism) is completely irrelevant to this particular discussion, not to mention utterly ridiculous, but I guess we've come to expect as much from him... and I'm sorry that I responded to any of it.
    posted by psmealey at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2004


    "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

    Now I'm terribly confused. This is bad ... why?

    (And your Hillary quote is taken completely out of context, you terrified little person, you. She was speaking directly to a group of wealthy supporters, most of the women, who agree that the Bush tax cuts unfairly favor the rich, and presented the case that the rich should bear more of the burden of propping up societal necessities. She was applauded for what she said, you quivering little fear monger. But don't let the truth get in the way of a good erotic paranoia, hamatroll.)
    posted by Wulfgar! at 3:45 PM on July 16, 2004


    One last thing I forgot to mention last night:

    Most importantly and obviously, the left and liberals are not a class.

    Perhaps not, but white middle class NASCAR dads clearly ARE a class, and they're the ones who are being exploited by this non stop parade of right wing hatred and fear mongering, so that they will support an economic agenda that runs counter to their own interests.
    posted by psmealey at 10:58 AM on July 17, 2004


    Jesus Plus Nothing

    Meet 'The Family'
    posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on July 17, 2004


    "The middle class and working poor are told that what's happening to them is the consequence of Adam Smith's 'Invisible Hand.' This is a lie. What's happening to them is the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that in its hunger for government subsidies has made an idol of power, and a string of political decisions favoring the powerful and the privileged who bought the political system right out from under us."
    -- Bill Moyers, Keynote speech (PDF link), June 3, 2004
    posted by psmealey at 5:39 PM on July 18, 2004


    Perhaps not, but white middle class NASCAR dads clearly ARE a class, and they're the ones who are being exploited by this non stop parade of right wing hatred and fear mongering, so that they will support an economic agenda that runs counter to their own interests.

    That's not true, much as you'd like to generalize and condescend to "NASCAR dads". Those "NASCAR dads" have just as much a stake in the economy as you or I do, and your lofty, sneering generalization is an exceptionally poor one, as much as it is an attempt to belittle and marginalize anything vaguely unsupportive of a socialist nanny state the same way Jennings, Rather and Brokaw do at every possible opportunity. Left-wing hatred and fear mongering idealizes marxism and runs counter to every founding principle of the United States.

    What "economic agenda" runs "counter to their own interests"? Why "their" and not "our"? I know, I know.

    Any economic policy which lowers taxes, strenghtens the economy, and allows people to retain what they earn is in the best interest of everybody in any society.

    Yours is precisely the attitude that the dishonest propaganda of marxists like Moyers attempt to propagate (and apparently succeed).
    posted by hama7 at 11:36 AM on July 22, 2004


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