As you will notice, I have only been writing sporadically for a number of months. I regret to say that have been experiencing a number of health problems of late, as well as a death in the family- all of which knocked the wind out of me. I miss writing about politics and society regularly, and I will try to keep this up, but I make no promises.
Manufacturing Dissent Leo Durocher's sagest advice to his Brooklyn nine was "Hit 'em where they ain't." Misdirection is a basic tactic in many adverserial settings- warfare, the courtroom, and politics, to name a few. So with pressure mounting against the administration (and its minions in Congress) over such trifles as the war and domestic spying, the Republicans have fired back with the War Against Christmas.
This is a manufactured controversy, nothing more than a blatant attempt to distract public attention from the real issues facing this nation, and from the Administration's dunderheaded efforts to confront them. It's appalling and offensive, really, to create a diversion like this. It also demonstrates how completely out of touch the GOP is with the new realities of life in America.
I grew up in a East Windsor, New Jersey- a town of about 25,000 people, about 40% of whom are not Christian- we had many, many Jews, as well as numerous Asian faiths represented. We didn't say "Merry Christmas" to one another because there was a better than average chance that the person you were saying it to didn't celebrate Christmas.
America is becoming more and more like my hometown. Religious diversity is an unqualified good. Currently being mired in what is basically a religious war, understanding and respect for others is the first step to peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.
Intelligent Design Intelligently Repudiated If you haven't heard by now, a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ruled (NOTE: link is a 139 page PDF) that teaching so-called "Intelligent Design" theory violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. To which I say, Amen.
What really irks me about the resurgence of creationism (of which I.D. is, no doubt, just a gussied up version of), is the way that a small minority of Christians have coopted the term "christian" itself. These Christians, in the proper noun sense, limit the definition only to people who witness to biblical inerrancy and have a "personal relationship" (whatever that means) with Jesus- thus excluding most christians, in the common noun, small-c sense, like Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, etc.
Christendom as a whole is hardly in universal agreement over anything. Within several major denominations- even within individual churches- there is constant discourse over gay rights, abortion, the death penalty, and creationism. Among big-C Christians, there is no discourse- nor can there be discourse- because the answers are already given to you, and who are you, mere mortal, to question the giver of those answers?
Fundamentalism is a childlike mythos. Its pretension of certitude is a comfort to people who are unwilling or unable to admit that this is a world of uncertainty. To these people, the answers are always simple, and it boggles their minds that anyone could even question them. Abortion? Murder. Gays? Abominations. Evolution? A lie. Hurricanes? God's vengeance against a sinful city.
But to the rest of us, we see a world in which nothing is certain. The answers are never easy, and the questions are enormous. Progress means that we try to answer those questions, even if the answer is as troublesome as the question itself.
And that is what terrifies big-C Christians (or the fundamentalists of any stripe, really)- they want their sentences to end with periods, not question marks.