religion

The Role of Religion in Picking a President

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080709mccainreligious.html  Religious Jews support U.S. Sen. John McCain for president in much higher numbers than non-religious Jews, a poll found. - JTA

Published: 07/09/2008

Religious Jews support U.S. Sen. John McCain for president in much higher numbers than non-religious Jews, a poll found.

The 39 percent of U.S. Jews who said religion is important in their daily lives evenly split their support for the presumptive candidates in November -- Arizona's McCain for the Republicans and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democrats -- at 45 percent, according to a http://www.gallup.com/poll/108688/Religious-Intensity-Predicts-Support-McCain.aspx   Gallup Poll released Tuesday.

For Jews who said religion is not important, however, McCain picked up only 26 percent to 68 percent for Obama.

For all Americans who say religion is important, McCain received the support of 50 percent to Obama's 40 percent. Those who said religion is not important backed Obama over McCain, 55 percent to 36 percent.

The percentage of Jews who said religion was important fell well below the overall national average. Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed said religion is important to them, according to the poll.

Nearly 95,000 registered voters were interviewed as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking between March and June.

John McCain and the "Agents of Intollerance"

It was eight years ago -- Februray 28, 2008, precisely -- when then Presidential candidate John McCain delivered a seering speech before a crowd of Virginia voters critical of some in the Republican establishment, and he named names. Then-candidate McCain faced a governor from Texas and son of a previous President, George W. Bush. The Republican nomination had not been decided and many in the religious right had decided their candidate was Bush.

When Reason Fails: Morbid Obama Intoxication

The collective swoon over B. Barak Hussein Muhammed Obama is getting corrosive. If Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) (see parts I and II) was a public health hazard, we ain't seen nothing yet. The Morbid Obama Intoxication (MOI) beats BDS on all fronts.

For a proper understanding we must turn beyond the field of psychology - to philosophy - which explains matters in broad abstracts. As is happens, a number of parameters alarmingly coincide - and here it gets sticky - with the German interbellum.

We all know how that ended. Nota bene, I'm not collating Obama with Adolf Hitler, or lumping him with Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels; although he is playing the campaign like a full-fledged demagogue, the problem rather lies with his fans and admirers.

The American Left is traditionally steeped in pragmatism. That may sound innocent and practical, but it comes with a few less known consequences which seldom come to the fore all at once.

The champion of pragmatism is the American pioneering psychologist William James (1842-1910), who gave the concept its name. The brother of novelist Henry James and of diarist Alice James wrote: 'The true,' to put it very briefly, is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as 'the right' is only the expedient in the way of our behaving." Dewey applied pragmatism to education.

Pragmatism is a Romanticist version of relativism. Extrovert action and passion are valued over introvert reflexion and reason. Pragmatism is essentially amoral. It has contributed to the nastiness of Postmodernism by positing a sort of secular, Western form of taqqiyah, which is governed by the same principle: our goal is so ethical that even the unethical is justified in reaching it - the aim justifies the means, truth is flexible and depends on the need of the moment, a utility expedient towards realization of the goal.

As a consequence pragmatism is rather dishonestly presented as the opposite of what it aims to achieve. It seemingly is the practical over theory, portends to position the individual in a central role, ostensibly respects reason and facts, while its very principle constitutes an assault on logic (everything is in flux), gives a central role to feelings and passions (subjectivism), denies reality (nothing is absolute), and reduces the individual to an atom of the collective. That collective - in pragmatism is usually 'our generation,' 'liberals,' or 'society'; it is not an aggregate, but an 'organic entity.'

It holds a number of Orwellian concepts, as Hegel's 'Ethical Whole' to which individual free will must be sacrificed for the good of the Collective Will, and Rousseau's notion which has come down to us in Marxism, of 'true freedom through the state'. A picture of mystical group-think is emerging from the Obama campaign which looks ominously familiar, but is by itself not enough to warrant great concern.

Is gets more hazardous when pragmatism is coupled to dogma and subjective passions spiral out of control. This is the winning ticket that made National Socialism such a lethal ideology: they strengthen one another. One can see how that works: our aim justifies the means because we say so. Dogmatism couples blind belief to an already brutal concept. It beckons: stop thinking, follow me and I'll give you what you want so passionately!

If we turn our attention to the Obama campaign we hear one mantra: Change, Action, Belief. The latter represents the dogmatic side: blind faith, not in the Obama ideas (he doesn't have any) but in his method, while Change through Action suggests Will to Power: the dogmatic approach to a subjective aim that justifies the pragmatist means.

There is the negative myth as summed up in part II by Front Page Magazine author Ben Johnson's "The Left's Fairy Tale," a shortlist of the main delusions that the Dems and the Leftist world at large have convinced themselves of. The demonization of George Bush is not a Sorelian myth, but it lends sufficient fire and motivation to reach the goal: getting Obama into 'our' White House.

Sit tight for Leonard Peikoff quoting Herman Goerring in "The Ominous Parallels" (Meridian, 1982, p. 55):

"Just as the Roman Catholic Church considers the Pope as infallible (...) so do we National Socialists believe with the same inner conviction that for us the Leader is (...) simply infallible. [Hitler's authority derives from] something mystical, inexpressible, almost incomprehensible which this unique man possesses, and he who cannot feel it instinctively will not be able to grasp it at all."

If you think that's tacky, compare that to this load of Postmodern 'spirituality,' according to which Obama is both the infallible Pope and the celestial Leader rolled into One:

"Barack Obama isn't really one of us. Not in the normal way, anyway. (...) The appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world, that keeps opening up and firing into new channels of the culture normally completely unaffected by politics? No, it's not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton, with all his effortless, winking charm, didn't have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity. Dismiss it all you like, but I've heard from far too many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people who've been intuitively blown away by Obama's presence - not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence - to say it's just a clever marketing ploy, a slick gambit carefully orchestrated by hotshot campaign organizers who, once Obama gets into office, will suddenly turn from perky optimists to vile soul-sucking lobbyist whores, with Obama as their suddenly evil, cackling overlord. Here's where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul. The unusual thing is, true Lightworkers almost never appear on such a brutal, spiritually demeaning stage as national politics. This is why Obama is so rare."

Mark Steyn noticed it too:

"Obama the humble savior:" "I face this challenge with profound humility (...) limitless faith (...) I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal … . This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation."

It's a good thing he's facing it with "profound humility," isn't it? ... Yeah, and divorced from reason ...

Faith and Politics

Breaking news from CNN that Barack Obama has officially resigned his membership at Trinity United. This is unsurprising, as the church has caused nothing but trouble for Obama for the last several months.

But the underlying story here is the extent to which faith shapes our political opinions. There was, for example, widespread speculation that Romney's faith would hurt him in his presidential campaign. And indeed, many polls indicated that it was costing him Republican support at least to some extent. Obama, on the Democratic side, first had to fend off rumors that he was a closet Muslim. Subsequently he's been taken to task for his long-term involvement with a Christian church whose rhetoric is at times questionable at best. And this has in turn led to counteraccusations regarding the religious leadership associated with the Clintons and the McCains.

Ostensibly, most Americans agree that there is and should be a separation of church and state...that there should be no official American religion, and that a candidate should not be disqualified from seeking office on the basis of his faith (or, in some cases, his lack thereof). Yet faith is at the very core of who we are as a people -- Harris reported in 2003 that 90% of Americans believe in God and 36% attend church at least monthly. For many Americans, our values stem from our churches and our faith. So we can't help but assume that our candidates identify with the values espoused by their own churches. And thus we judge a candidate's moral and character fitness for office in part by the church s/he attends and its teaching.

Is this fair? I don't know. And I don't know if it matters whether it's fair. It just is. It's ingrained in who we are as a people, in how we think about our nation, and in how we think about ourselves as individuals. If we look back at the campaigns of Lieberman and Kennedy, it's clear religion has been an aspect of presidential politics for a long time. And yet I can't help but feel that in this election religion has played a larger role than it has in decades and decades. The question is whether the increased focus this year is merely an aberration, or rather a new precedent and indicator for the future of American politics.

Abortion: A Discussion

The modern debate about abortion seems to revolve, at heart, around one central principle.  Is it moral? Sure, there are other reasons why we might want to prohibit abortion - that it has negative social externalities, that it encourages irresponsibility among youth, etc...  - but none of these really address the core of the issue.  Abortion being legal or illegal should really be about the philosophical ramifications of the action itself, not the social consequences.  For instance, modern fashion might encourage promiscuity and legalized condoms might encourage premarital sex, but neither of these things are banned despite their social consequences.  The focus of the debate must be on the morality of abortion, not its social implications.  Remember, liberals always argue on the social implication ground, saying that people will start to get back-alley abortions, etc.

Also, for this discussion I want to ignore Roe v Wade.  In my opinion, it was badly decided, but I want to talk about policy rather than constitutionality.  In other words, say that Roe v Wade was overturned.  What abortion policy would you support?

Does a fetus have rights?

To some extent, modern society has accepted that it has less rights than the mother.  When health conflicts, doctors always try to save the mother first.  A fetus has reduced autonomy.  A fetus is unable to express opinions.  If one believes, philosophically, that a human's rights come from a will, then it is impossibled to gauge the will of the fetus.

Does a fetus deserve dignity?

We have accepted that humans deserve dignity.  Good.  A baby, from the moment of its birth, deserves dignity.  Now, it would be a stretch to argue that a baby does not deserve dignity the moment before its birth.  It could be removed and live.  Unless one wants to argue that a baby gains a soul by taking its first breath, we have to accept that the unborn have souls.

When does the soul develop?

It's a hard position to take that a single-celled zygote has a soul.  It gets into religious theory and, quite frankly, despite my own religious beliefs, I think it's hard to make a strong philosophical case for when the soul first exists and thus when the baby is first worthy of protection.

When can the baby first survive on its own?

I believe the current limit is about 22 weeks for any chance of survival (viability).  I think its very hard to argue that a baby should be aborted past the second trimester, when its chances of survival are good outside the womb.  Killing a potentially autonomous life strikes me as indefensible.

What are our options?

In my opinion, there are only three logical positions to take on abortion.

1.  It should be outlawed from the moment of conception.

2.  It should be outlawed past a certain point (probably the point of viability at 22 weeks)

3.  It should be legal, both before and directly after birth.

Position #1 strikes me as one that's hard to philosophically defend.  Does a zygote really have a soul/rights?  Is it given rights based on the potential for rights?  What about a sperm?  what about an egg?  Do we have the right to use condoms and prohibit the creation of something that will soon have rights?

Position #2 is interesting.  Given that the point of viability is shifting closer and closer to birth, we might see that over time Position #2 becomes significantly closer to Position #1.  Fred Thompson, if I recall correctly, supports legalized abortion only during the first trimester.

Position #3 is extreme, but I don't see a compelling argument for why you can abort a baby at the moment before its birth but not the moment afterwards.

- bishop

[Crossblogged at Army of Principles]

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