Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The votes have been counted and the results are in.

42% of the people voting in this blog’s mini poll said that President Bush is right and the troops should stay in Iraq until Bush says their job is done. We now know that Bush thinks that it will be some future president who will bring the troops home, so it seems unlikely that Bush will say that that the job in Iraq is done and the troops can come home any time within the next 3 years.

The results:
What would you be willing to do to get our troops home from Iraq?

I would be willing to take to the streets in non-violent protest: 33%
I would be willing to change my lifestyle by joining boycotts to
bring pressure on the ruling elite: 13%
I won't join a protest or boycott but I will write letters and emails: 8%
I agree with President Bush. Our troops need to stay there until
Bush says their job is done: 42%
I don't know: 4%

I have started a new poll. It has been suggested that a lot of people in this country still have very traditional beliefs concerning how they will be judged in the after-life and that the feelings of fear, insecurity and impending doom many Americans feel result from their knowledge that the self-centered, consumer-oriented life they are leading is not going to look very good to God at the Pearly Gates. So I am taking a poll. On what basis do you believe you will be judged.


Infamous Scribbler said...

A thoughtful poll! You'll probably be ridiculed for it.

I agree: We're way too materialistic. Our consumer society is sick because it's lost its sense of values. I can't make the argument as well as C.S. Lewis or Chesterton, but the root of the problem is that we have put the Almighty Me at the center of the universe. That's the root of all unhappiness. The solution, which a lot of people can't even begin to see today, is to make God the focus. Everything follows from that.

You can't have a moral society without religion. If you read the founding fathers, you'll see that they only thought this country would work so long as the government they set up ruled a people grounded on Judeo-Christian morality.

Will we all be judged? Of course. And everybody knows it, including atheists -- which is why they react like cats sprayed with water whenever anybody tries to hint, much less assert, that there is an eternal, independent morality governing the universe.

Two great contemporary books to read about the above general trends: "Crunch Cons" and "Bobos in Paradise." Check them out on Amazon.

OK: Now let me have it.

Dave Barrett said...

Oh dear! I must not have expressed myself very well. The problem I am worried about is the fear and insecurity (presumably about terrorism) that Americans are fearing that makes them willing to give away their freedoms and liberties in an attempt to make those fears and insecurities go away.

I am open to the suggestion that the fear is not really caused by the threat of terrorism because the fear is a lot greater than the threat. As I explained in a previous blog entry I heard Norman Mailer on television theorize that the fear is really caused by the Christian belief in an ultimate judgement based on traditional Christion values (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc.) combined with the fact that today's Christians are leading lives of selfish materialism.

I created the poll to explore that possibility. If Norman Mailer is correct I can see two possible solutions. One would be your solution: Americans should start living Christian values and then they would not feel guilty and fearful about the consequences to come. Another solution would be for Americans to stop believing in an ultimate judgement based on different values than they are living. They could, for example, start believing that they will ultimately be judged on how much work they did to get Religious Right politicians elected or abortion outlawed rather than the feeding the hungry business.

You most certainly can have a moral society without religion. The question you should be asking is why is our soceity so immoral when such a high percentage of the population considers themselves religious.

paladin said...

It's so entertaining when non-believers choose to judge believers. Hilarious!

Dave Barrett said...

I am not judging you or anyone. I am speculating that some Christians in this country may be feeling insecurity and fear because they believe they will ultimately be judged by standards that they are not living up to. I have no idea how many people that designation may apply to (if any) and certainly have no idea if it applies to you. If you feel that you were being judged then that may indicate that you are self-identifying with that description. In other words you would be judging yourself and finding yourself lacking.

If that is the case (you are one of those people I described) then for your sake and the sake of the country I hope you find some way to resolve your conflict so that we can reduce the amount of unwarranted fear in this country.

When the unnatural amount of fear is reduced Americans can better access the dangers they face and determine what is a real danger and what really needs to be done to make us more safe and secure. Maybe then the public will tell Congress to not let the CIA, NSA and Army Intelligence do any more domestic spying.

paladin said...

Sorry to disappoint you Dave, but I'm not a believer. Furthermore, I find your connection to Christians and NSA hilarious. If you want examples of domestic spying, you need go no further than liberal icons JFK and RFK, who had the audacity to spy on the sainted MLK, jr. Did Christians or liberals, or conservatives, or blacks or whoever feel "insecure" and unnatural fear" because JFK was spying on MKL, Jr.(and who knows who else, since the JFK files won't be opened for several more decades)? I haven't a clue---and neither do you, which is why this thread is so bogus. From my understanding of Christianity, judgment won't come from Dave or liberals, but from God. I just don't get your point here. Why didn't the "public" call out JFK and Congress when J. Edgar Hoover was doing domestic spying in the '60s (and 70s and 80s and 90s---yes, even the sainted Bill Clinton approved wiretapping on housing projects that were thought to be drug havens). I guess domestic spying is OK for liberals as long as it is against uppity niggers and drug dealers, but not against al Quaeda terrorists who have sworn to destroy us and our way of life. Just as long as we have our priorities straight! Sheesh!

Infamous Scribbler said...


Well, maybe you're right. Since most people say they believe in God and a lot of folks consider themselves religious, obviously a lot of them (no doubt me included) are hypocrites a certain percentage of the time.

So do people who consider themselves to be moral – or specifically Christian -- need to do a better job of actually being good? No question.

However, don’t interpret this as agreeing when you imply A) the solution to the world’s ills is for religious people to actually act more often on their believes, and B) that you can have a moral society without religion.

The problem with society isn’t people who try to life faithful lives, or even the few outrageous con artists who prey on the faithful (who have their secular counterpart in the gurus and self-actualization flim-flam men preying on the unchurched). The problem with society is … well, turn on the TV, sit through a movie, listen to the radio, have a look around, and you’ll see all of it you need about our decline and fall.

Our culture is totally rotten. And, irony of ironies, we’ve done it to ourselves through what should be a social good – freedom – and making it the ultimate good instead of a subordinate virtue. Freedom is a precious thing, but it’s leads to trouble when it does go with disciplining and subordinating yourself to a just and moral code of life.

In America today, everybody has a right to do, say, think, have sex with, smoke, pierce, tattoo anything and everything they have a whim to. America is officially without a compass. Social chaos. Worse, moral chaos.

The morality sans religion issue is way too complicated to debate in a blog. You either get it or you don’t. But there is an intellectual basis to the argument, and you don’t have to be a practicing Christian or Jew (or Muslim) to understand it. It’s easily accessible by reading Lewis, Chesterton, Kierkegaard, etc. Unfortunately, thanks to the value-neutral dumbing down of American education, we aren’t familiar with these names (or, gasp, the Bible) any more for the most part, unless we stumble onto this kind of thinking through dumb luck or the grace of God. “Mere Christianity” and “Orthodoxy” are both quick, fairly easy reads that explain in ordinary terms how a couple of brilliant Oxford atheists began with simple questions, like how we know we’ve done wrong when we’ve stolen something, and tease out the arguments that logically follow, step by step, into beautiful arguments whose appeal is almost impossible for an educated, thinking person to deny.

Sorry. I’ve already gone on too long. I’m not trying to evangelize you, just make the argument which, as I’ve said, doesn’t not lend itself to short-form blogging. But these are just important issues – they are THE issues. If we don’t figure things out better than we have in the past 50 years, this country is toast.

I’m also sorry I misunderstood your question. I agree that we all (left and right) are far too ready to give away our rights, mostly because we’re afraid of terrorism. But also because we’ve been suckered in for all sorts of bogus arguments about safety and crime prevention. I don’t like the idea of TV cameras sending me automatic tickets for speeding or running red lights (I confess to the first; I never do the second.) The mess in the airports has been completely absurd.

You can always count on the government – left or right – to want one thing: More power for itself. We’re fools to give it away so easily. The day is coming when we’ll automatically be fined via satellite spy cameras for setting out our trash before 7 a.m. and subject to police interrogation if the words we use for Google searches are deemed suspicious. I exaggerate, but only a little.

At my job – I have a white collar job in a business that is generally, and correctly, regarded as a bastion of liberalism – I now must: submit to an annual physical exam, including a blood test, for my own good, and take a certain number of on-line health courses focusing on common sense information I already know (being kind of a health freak); I have to provide, now, annual copies of my car insurance card (I don’t drive as part of my job) and am subject to the company’s insurance company doing annual audits of my driving record (no problem there, either).

Where’s it going to end? Needless to say, I’m not exactly blaming Christianity for the above.

(Paladin: I enjoy your wise posts.)

paladin said...

I just now took a look at your poll. A case could be made that all who pay taxes could consider themselves "feeding the hungry", "clothing the naked", etc. Liberalism has taken over what was traditionally the roll of the church. Personally, I'd prefer the church "feed the hungry", etc., because at least they wouldn't be sucking off the taxpayers teat---it would be a matter of moral conscience and duty, not liberal elite demands that we all do what they say.

Dave Barrett said...

If you feel you are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, caring for the sick and comforting the afflicted by paying your taxes, that's great. Whatever gives you peace of mind is fine with me. I just want to reduce the unwarranted fear and anxiety so that America can make rational decisions about what measures we need to take to be safe and secure.

Anonymous said...

Like it or not, we are being judged every day. Perhaps every hour. Not only by God but by people who believe they are God. The fate and lives of others are in our hands. But we can live very contradictory lives. We allow our priorities to be set by the people we conscecrated when we put them in power with our votes or non-vote.
These handful of legislators decide what kind of lives we and our fellow citizens will live. Food pantries instead of access to three meals a day; soup kitchens and homeless shelters instead of decent affordable housing for those who we are not willing to give fair wages. Rejection of those who are willing to take dirty low paying jobs calling them "illegal immigrants" instead of refugees from a "free trade" NAFTA/CAFTA system that keep them in abject poverty. The ruthless rich ( is Gates included?) here and in Mexico are the "Almighty" who couldn't give a damn if the 'poor inherit the earth." It is filled with the bleached bones of the poor anyway.

Infamous Scribbler said...

A climate of fear and anxiety that keep us from thinking straight: You've hit the nail on the head, Dave.