Tag Archive for ‘Religion’
Not long ago, in a conversation I was having with someone on the subject of same-sex marriage, I found myself on the receiving end of one of those oft heard, emotionally saturated, hackneyed epithets intended to force the politically incorrect party sharing in the discussion into apologetic agreement.
Yes. I was labeled a bigot. And, this after having made clear that my opposition has nothing to do with personal preference or uninformed prejudices, but instead with the nagging contours of reality in which every human person necessarily participates, namely, that men and women are different yet complementary; that as persons they fit together in every way imaginable; all of this making procreation possible and desirable, giving rise to family units that ensure the stability of society and the promise of future generations. You know, the kind of stuff everybody used to believe.
All the principled reasoning in the world could not shield me from the charge of bigotry. Why? Because I oppose same-sex marriage—and I’m a Christian.
But what exactly is bigotry, and is it an exclusively religious phenomenon?
I’ll put that notion to rest: any judgment that doesn’t, for one reason or another, take into account all of the facts in assessing another’s position is bigoted. No wonder “narrow-minded” appears so frequently near the term.
A bigot doesn’t seek to understand the rationale of the views with which they disagree. They simply make judgments about others out of the resources of their own personal or group ignorance. Sadly, this tends only to reinforce and perpetuate the stunted conception of the world they’ve already adopted.
So, no, bigotry isn’t particularly the problem of religion, and, yes, it can flourish in the most professedly open-minded individuals. For instance, someone labeling all religiously based discrimination as de facto bigotry is itself an example of bigotry, for the very reason that it precludes taking into account all of the facts informing religious morality.
There was a time when one could be assured that it was only the fool who denied the existence of God. No more. The revised biblical aphorism can now read, “The episcopalian minister has said in his heart there is no God.” Yes, the Very Rev. Gary R. Hall, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, self-identifies as a non-theistic Christian, and he sees no contradiction. As a matter of fact, he revels in it.
Recently interviewed by the Washington Post, Mr. Hall related how he once told Richard Dawkins, “I don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in either.” He went on to add in the interview, “That kind of atheism, though, is bankrupt. It’s like picking a fight with a cultural image no theologian would buy into. I don’t want to be loosey-goosey about it…but I describe myself as a non-theistic Christian.”
A bit later, reflecting on the state of the church, he laments, “We’re in a period where people under 50 don’t see the church as a credible place to explore their questions about God.” Of course, he wants to change that, but as I write this blog post, I’m at a loss as to what kind of answers a younger generation should expect to get from a man like Hall? I suppose, in one sense, his non-theistic Christianity simplifies the solution to many historically nettlesome theological problems.
Let’s imagine, for a moment, a young adult inquiring about the “problem of evil”? Mr. Hall’s got a ready answer for that – God doesn’t exist, there is no problem of evil. What a load off.
What about the deeply ingrained human sense that there must be some purpose behind the universe, my life, the experiences I have? The answer’s easy – there is no meaning, God does not exist.
But in all seriousness, perhaps Mr. Hall is onto something. Maybe he is in fact the unwitting incarnation of the ultimate bankruptcy of liberal Christianity. Think about it–after years and decades of Christian liberalism trashing, mocking, and rejecting the supernatural, miraculous, and revealed nature of the Christian faith, what should we imagine you’d be left with?
Wouldn’t it be logical that you’d have a hollowed out shell of a Christianity devoid of God? A kind of perverse Christian atheism, with a non-theistic clergy tending its flocks? Yes, indeed, what’s God got to do with it?
Early on in the interview we’re told that Mr. Hall began his career as a comedy writer. Perhaps he’s attempting to stay true to his roots with his pastor as atheist schtick. The problem, however, is simply this: God’s not laughing. And I sincerely hope, neither are you.
The Holy Father—Pope Benedict XVI—offers to let Episcopalians and other Anglicans of Catholic disposition join the Roman Catholic Church, while retaining characteristics of their Anglican identity. And who in the booming pagan market cares a flying broomstick what the pope does about anything?
Americans are a people of deeply held religious conviction. If any has doubts, let him look on the most serious of our sacred holidays and believe.
Naturally, it is a federal holiday, but that fact alone does not convey the magnitude of this special day. For, unlike other federal holidays, this one carries with it a gravitas—a holiness—that says it is special. You can tell, because we don’t mark the day with fireworks and pop music, or the pardoning of a turkey, but by a singular devotion to the very words of our national religion’s founder.