January 16, 2007

Those damned media atheists.

Giles Fraser writes:
Many of the propositions that fundamentalists are keen to sell the public are oft-repeated corner-stones of the media atheist's philosophy of religion.

Both partners in this unholy alliance agree that fundamentalist religion is the real thing and that more reflective and socially progressive versions of faith are pale imitations, counterfeits even. This endorsement is of enormous help to fundamentalists. What they are really threatened by is not aggressive atheism - indeed that helps secure a sense of persecution that is essential to group solidarity - but the sort of robustly self-critical faith that knows the Bible and the church's traditions, and can challenge bad religion on its own terms. Fundamentalists hate what they see as the enemy within. And by refusing to acknowledge any variegation in Christian thought, media atheists play right into their hands.

45 comments:

Revenant said...

What they are really threatened by is [...] the sort of robustly self-critical faith that knows the Bible and the church's traditions, and can challenge bad religion on its own terms

In my experience, liberal Christianity isn't "self-critical faith". Its just a sort of mindless feel-goodism wrapped up in vague tradition.

That describes the Episcopalians, at least. :)

Brent said...

Nice theory - and that's all.
It's always nice to have a pet theory that allows you to lump (in this case fundamentalists, whatever the hell that means!)into a group that it's okay for you to hate.

Giles probably would spend more time trying to understand Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden than a neighbor who believes that the Bible is the Word of God.

C'mon, Ann - bigots like Giles make the problem worse - not better.
Don't have the time to waste explaining why Giles is such a douche-bigot, but if you take his theory on faith, then make room for mine: he's a small-minded piece of human waste.

vbspurs said...

Ahh, the silky-smooth ravings of the Grauniad writing staff...

It goes like this. Make a sensible assertion about a given topic.

Many Christians don't believe homosexuality is a sin.

True enough.

Then continue with this completely warped, progressive-cudgeled idea.

Far from it. We think it's a gift of God

Erm, no. Most Christians don't think homosexuality is a "Gift of God". Many are perfectly content to accept homosexuality just fine.

Hey, why not -- it's a normal human sexual expression.

But "Gift of God" is a windbag-allusion-with-an-agenda-trying-to-stretch -a-point, too far.


Fundamentalism was invented only in the 20th century.

Heaven help me.

This comes from the School of "Victorians invented Homosexuality" thought, and it was wrong then, and it is wrong today.

Fundamentalism either in Christianity or in any other religion is not a construct of the 19th century. It's as old as any religion trying to enforce its dicta since time immemorial. And about Christianity and "buggery", oh boy! Look up "14th century" and "Florence", one day.

Lytton Strachey and his colleagues, did a number on the Victorians, which we're still reeling from today.

Cheers,
Victoria

Anonymous said...

And by refusing to acknowledge any variegation in Christian thought, media atheists play right into their hands.

Is this person really serious? There are broadly two kinds of religion stories in popular media:

1) How weird, scary and stupid are those fundamentalists, huh? Close-minded, reactionary, intolerant knuckle-draggers, that lot.

2) But wait! Here are some intelligent, well-spoken, kind-hearted and understanding liberal believers. They go to cocktail parties and speak on NPR. Aren't they wonderful?

JohnK said...

People turn to religion for answers and guidance. They don't turn to religion for mush. You don't need God or the Church to tell you "if it feels good do it". If that is the message, people are just going to tune out and not bother. Why should they? They can do that anyway. The last thing people are is repressed. We all know go and do, it is stop and abstain that we have a hard time getting. Clowns like this guy is why the mainline Protestant Churches are dying and the evangelicals are exploding.

Homosexuality a gift from God? Maybe, but certainly not the Christian God. Fundamentalism invented in the 20th Century? I guess someone forgot to tell that to the Spanish Catholics who banished all of the Jews and Muslims from Spain back in the day. What a joke.

BTW. The moderation feature has certainly hurt the spirit of debate. It is so much more difficult to respond to someone because of the time lag. I understand the reasons for it, but whoever abused the forum and caused this is a real jerk.

Dave said...

Ever have the feeling you have no clue what the writer is talking about?

Well that's how I feel reading this guy's stuff, and I'm neither a fundamentalist, nor a Christian, nor gay.

The Drill SGT said...


Fundamentalism was invented only in the 20th century.


Note: I'm not religious, and don't have a dog in this fight, but I abhor the rewriting of history for political reasons.

LOL,

Martin Luther was a "fundamentalist", as was John Calvin, the Puritans, Quakers, Shakers, etc. I don't think any of their dogma described buggery as a "gift from God". One could go back farther, but these examples seem the best to repute the revisionism of some Anglican post-modern.

Daryl Herbert said...

such a douche-bigot

That's pronounced "dewsch-beegoh" for anyone who is unfamiliar with francais

Ah, how the sophisticated language of diplomacy makes any unreasoned screed seem clever.

Anonymous said...

Erm, no. Most Christians don't think homosexuality is a "Gift of God". Many are perfectly content to accept homosexuality just fine.

I think what your missing here is that the good vicar is referring to the seldom-quoted apocryphal text where, after the destruction of Soddom and Gomorrah, God returned and spaketh, saying, "Okay, guys, don't get pissed, but I've had time to think about this whole gay thing and now I'm totally cool with it. Sorry about the fire and brimstone, sometimes I just go off without thinking."

Revenant said...

Many Christians don't believe homosexuality is a sin

Christian denominations which hold that homosexuality is not sinful: Methodists, Moravians, the Metropolitan Community Church, and some Quaker and Anglican denominations.

Christian denominations which hold that homosexuality IS sinful: Baptists, Catholics, Orthodox, most Anglicans and Quakers, Adventists, Christian Reform, Mormons, Pentacostals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

In my opinion, the phrase "many Christians do not believe that homosexuality is sinful" is nothing more than weasel words. The overwhelming majority of currently-living Christians (and virtually all past Christians) view homosexuality as sinful. Probably because they actually read the Bible, which is a deeply homophobic document.

Harkonnendog said...

What a tool this guy is. He makes reasonable Christians look bad, and is thus the real enemy of reasonable Christians, much more so than the fundies, whether they be atheist or Christian.

Anonymous said...

I had to look up fundamentalist and evangelical to separate them. Fundamentalists see the Bible as a literal historical record. Evangelicals share much of the fundamentalist theology, but they are not necessarily literalists in terms of history. And evangelicals tend to focus more on the individual relationship with Christ than the denominational hierarchy that they distrust.

Well, that I distrust, since I meet the criteria for evangelical but not for fundamentalist. It is interesting to me that I had to look these terms up even though I am one! I think that perhaps we evangelicals feel comfortable enough with our self definition to not pay too much attention to how we are labled. Especially by outsiders whom we expect to count us as foolish.

And "damned media atheists" is a swell phrase! I got a real chuckle out of that.
Trey

John Kindley said...

"What they are really threatened by is [...] the sort of robustly self-critical faith that knows the Bible and the church's traditions, and can challenge bad religion on its own terms."

I would cite my own community, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as an example, but it sounds like what Giles has in mind and approves (with his talk of "challeng[ing] bad religion") is a form of liberal Christianity that can be just as dogmatic, judgmental and self-righteous as fundamentalism: Jesus doesn't hate homosexuals, therefore homosexuality is just dandy and the state should sanction gay marriage; Jesus is compassionate towards people who commit sexual sin, therefore don't restrict a woman's ability to abort a human life that results from her choice to have sex; Jesus forgives, therefore never execute cold-blooded murderers.

I am probably more theologically and politically "conservative" than most others in my local Friends meeting, but I feel right at home there, because we share the belief that the essence of authentic religion is obedience, not to the Bible or to an institution, but more fundamentally to the very Light which inspired the Bible and which "lighteth every man who cometh into the world," and which communicates directly with every person in his or her own soul.

michael a litscher said...

Ploorian: I think what your missing here is that the good vicar is referring to the seldom-quoted apocryphal text where, after the destruction of Soddom and Gomorrah, God returned and spaketh, saying, "Okay, guys, don't get pissed, but I've had time to think about this whole gay thing and now I'm totally cool with it. Sorry about the fire and brimstone, sometimes I just go off without thinking."

Not to mention, the story of HoMoses who ascended Mount Erectus to recieve the twelfth commandment, inscribed in stone by the finger of God, "Thou shalt ride thy neighbors ass, thy neighbor's son's ass, and all asses that are thy neighbor's. Verily, if it feels good, do it."

Whatever category of Christian I may fall into, my position is to love the sinner, but hate the sin. An important aspect to loving the sinner is not enabling sinful behavior by pretending that it isn't sinful.

Never forget that, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone," was followed by, "Go and sin no more."

Freder Frederson said...

The overwhelming majority of currently-living Christians (and virtually all past Christians) view homosexuality as sinful. Probably because they actually read the Bible, which is a deeply homophobic document.

This of course is nonsense. The biblical basis for condemning homosexuality is based on seven passages total in the entire bible. The most specific prohibitions are in the lists of Jewish laws along with such gems as not eating shellfish, prohibiting the wearing of clothes of more than one type of cloth, and banning menstrating women from the temple as unclean. The Sodom and Gomorrah story is about general immorality and gang rape more than specifically about condemning homosexuality per se. That's it for the old testament.

Of course Jesus doesn't even mention homosexuality at all. He, does however, spend a whole lot more time condemning adultery, divorce, rich people and rigid adherence to the rules for the sake of scoring points. Every single mention of homosexuality in the New Testament (and the only mention of lesbianism--all other references are strictly to male homosexuality) comes from the pen of Paul (who was a prude in all matters sexual) and can be interpreted as condemning the practice of pederasty, not homosexuality in general.

Describing the bible as "deeply homophobic" is simply wrong. It is more accurate to say that the Bible is as concerned about homosexuality as it is concerned whether you eat lobster or wear a cotton/polyester blend shirt.

Anonymous said...

The Sodom and Gomorrah story is about general immorality and gang rape more than specifically about condemning homosexuality per se.

Lighten up--it was just a joke.

Like so many things in the Bible, you can read the text to justify condemning homosexuality or, as you have done, you can argue that it doesn't have a whole lot to say about it. The point is that the vicar's "gift from God" statement would be very hard to substantiate. But then he seems more interested in starting a fire than engaging in a serious discussion about how religious fundamentalism and a sensationalist media feed off of each other.

vbspurs said...

That's pronounced "dewsch-beegoh"

LOL!

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

"Probably because they actually read the Bible, which is a deeply homophobic document."

This of course is nonsense. The biblical basis for condemning homosexuality is based on seven passages total in the entire bible.

First of all, those are seven viciously, violently, and hatefully homophobic passages. If I wrote a lengthy treatise on the proper way to run a society and included the sentence "All the niggers should be rounded up and executed by firing squad" only a moron would defend me against accusations of racism by saying "but that's only *one* passage in the book".

Secondly, fewer Biblical passages condemn rape than condemn homosexuality. Are we therefore to conclude that rape's not a sin?

And finally, there is not one single word or passage *anywhere* in the Bible that can be construed as revoking the ban on sodomy or endorsing homosexuality as a sexual preference.

In summary: you're either ignorant or delusional, Freder, but in either case unworthy of serious attention.

Freder Frederson said...

First of all, those are seven viciously, violently, and hatefully homophobic passages.

Only the Sodom and Gomorrah story could be described as such. And even that, the real tension comes from the general inhospitality of the people, the demand for some men to gang rape is just icing on the cake. The rest are just "don't do this, (and also don't eat shellfish, get divorced, wear clothes of more than one fabric, bicker so much and accusing the other people of not being a good enough Christian--that's Paul 90% of the time)"

And finally, there is not one single word or passage *anywhere* in the Bible that can be construed as revoking the ban on sodomy or endorsing homosexuality as a sexual preference.

And the Bible frequently endorses slavery and treats it as a natural state of mankind. Are we supposed to take from this that slavery is just hunkey dorey?

Finn Kristiansen said...

If we like, we can ignore the Old Testament. Or we can ignore Paul. Or we can ignore what Jesus didn't say.

But can we ignore what Jesus did actually say regarding the ideal type of relationship? That's the question. What type of union did Jesus actually talk about, and was that perhaps his ideal, if we are to union at all? Can we assume that the New Testament presents the essential points that Jesus felt important for believers? Can we assume that the things Jesus DID talk about were important?

That is the question as far as homosexuality is concerned, though it's comfortable to think that Paul is a prude, that God just hates the inhospitable (to the point of vaporization), and that Jesus is all mum but thumbs on whatever suits our loins or inclinations.

It's actually really hard to come away with a comfortable argument that the Bible supports homosexuality, or any sin.(The Bible is not soft on straight people either, and for every person criticized for homosexual activity, you probably have ten straight people who are fornicating up a storm).

Harry Eagar said...

Ah, yes, how well we remember how self-critical faith stood up to Hitlerism in Germany.

And today we all admire how the self-critical, non-fundamentalist version of Islam that we hear so much about is standing up to the Islamic version of Hitlerism.

One gets tired of Christians congratulating themselves for doing things they have never actually done.

Anonymous said...

Harry Eagar wrote: "Ah, yes, how well we remember how self-critical faith stood up to Hitlerism in Germany... One gets tired of Christians congratulating themselves for doing things they have never actually done."

Not familiar with "First they came for the Communists..." eh? Never heard of Martin Niemöller or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, hm? Hung with piano wire? Ring any bells?

One gets tired of the ignorant tossing the word "never" around while clearly not knowing what it means.

Revenant said...

"First of all, those are seven viciously, violently, and hatefully homophobic passages."

Only the Sodom and Gomorrah story could be described as such

I find it interesting that you see nothing particularly homophobic about referring to sex between two men as "a detestable act" and casting those who engage in it out of the community (Lev 18:22/29). I further find it interesting that you see nothing particularly homophobic about Leviticus 20's commandment that practicing homosexuals are to be killed. Indeed, not only do these passages call for the death or shunning of gays, but they lump homosexuality together with incest, bestiality, and child sacrifice -- Rick Santorum would be proud.

And the Bible frequently endorses slavery and treats it as a natural state of mankind. Are we supposed to take from this that slavery is just hunkey dorey?

It would be "hunkey dorey" with me if you ignored the Bible and considered homosexuality acceptable and slavery unacceptable. Sadly, for most of the last two millennia Christians did neither of those things. That Christians have in the last few centuries deluded themselves into thinking God and Christ were strongly anti-slavery is just fine with me, but it doesn't change the fact that that *is* a delusion -- as is the belief held by a small minority of Christians that homosexuality isn't sinful in the eyes of their God.

Revenant said...

Not familiar with "First they came for the Communists..." eh? Never heard of Martin Niemöller or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, hm? Hung with piano wire? Ring any bells?

I dunno, does Germany's most famous Christian ring any bells?

Were some of the people who resisted Hitler Christian? Sure. That much was inevitable, given that almost the entire non-Jewish population of Germany was Christian. But the notion that Christians are particularly inclined to stand up to evil doesn't pass a laugh test -- despite Christians' complete demographic superiority, Hitler somehow mysteriously came to power, held that power for over a decade, and murdered eleven million people.

So whoop de doo for the handful of Christians who actually tried to do something about it. The point remains that Christians were AWOL from the fight against Nazism when it really would have made a difference. Hell, there wouldn't have even *been* a Holocaust if Christians hadn't spent the previous 1900 years pushing Jew-hatred.

Oh, and one final note, regarding "First they came for the Communists" -- Martin Niemoller, the author, was a supporter of Hitler's until 1934. I.e., until it was too late to do much about him.

Freder Frederson said...

But the notion that Christians are particularly inclined to stand up to evil doesn't pass a laugh test -- despite Christians' complete demographic superiority, Hitler somehow mysteriously came to power, held that power for over a decade, and murdered eleven million people.

By making this point I think you are inadvertently strengthening support for the "a sort of mindless feel-goodism wrapped up in vague tradition" version of religion that you so harshly criticized in your first post. If you examine the countries where communist and fascist governments rose to power after World War I, it was in those countries that had the most rigid and traditional religious traditions (i.e., Russia, Spain, Italy and Germany). Nazism arose in the more conservative and Catholic south of the country, not the liberal north. In fact much of Hitler's early appeal were his promises to return Germany to traditional values and he made a big deal of criticizing so-called "decadent" art.

It was the liberal, self-critical faiths, that you sneer at that, fought Nazism and fascism, while the conservative churches (most notably the Catholic Church) went along or even collaborated.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

Revenant said:
"Christian denominations which hold that homosexuality is not sinful: Methodists, Moravians, the Metropolitan Community Church, and some Quaker and Anglican denominations."

Where did you get the idea that Methodists do not consider homosexuality to be sinful? We most certainly do, though we choose to use the phrase "incompatible with Christian teaching".

Homosexuals are welcome in our congregations, just as adulterers and alcoholics are. We also don't automatically run our homosexual clergy out of the church any more than we automatically run out our clergy who have drinking or other problems which don't affect their congregations directly. Having an affair with a member of your congregation who has come to you for counseling will get you kicked out of the clergy no matter what their sex, but admitting that you are struggling with homosexual tendencies won't. We don't view homosexuality as any worse a sin than adultery, fornication or drug abuse, but it's still a sin.

JohnK said...

"It's actually really hard to come away with a comfortable argument that the Bible supports homosexuality, or any sin.(The Bible is not soft on straight people either, and for every person criticized for homosexual activity, you probably have ten straight people who are fornicating up a storm)."

See e.g. Sullivan, Andrew and is always halarious contortions over being a practicing homosexual and a "devout Catholic".

Anonymous said...

My point, Revenant, was that when some Christians resisted the nazi regime, to such an extent that they sacrified their lives for it, to say Christians _never_ have done so is trivially false. Handwaving away someone's torture and death in the process of standing up against evil on the basis of their religious convictions merely because they weren't multiplied by N million strikes me as—well—illiberal, to put it mildly.

As for Niemöller, everyone who knows who he was knows that he initially supported Hitler, as did a great number of reasonable Germans who later came to regret it. One can hardly fault the man for hoping for the same kind of leadership that most Germans did in the face of post-WWI reparations and the Treaty of Versailles, only to find out once Hitler actually held the chancelry that he was a tyrant of the first stripe. We might instead say, thank God he realized his error in 1934, recognizing Hitler's intent, rather than in 1944-1945, when you might say that he simply stopped backing the losing horse.

yetanotherjohn said...

Like the people, denominations and churches are different. I suspect Giles is not even familiar with the Lutheran churches history and on going practice of debating theological issues internally and with other denominations. Worshiping an ever loving and eternal God doesn't lend itself to changing theological notions like a new seasons clothes.

Harry Eagar said...

Yeah, Paul, but I'm even more familiar with the 300 Lutheran bishops who signed on with the Hitlerite regime.

If Hitlerism 'rose' in the Catholic south, it was only because Hitler himself couldn't be in two places at once.

There was no appreciable difference.

The churches offered no institutional opposition to Hitlerism, except when it interfered in their internal management; and there was no discernible opposition to the regime among individual Christians.

The German soldiers who murdered 20 million or so people in Russia wore belt buckles imprinted 'Gott mit uns.'

Revenant said...

Where did you get the idea that Methodists do not consider homosexuality to be sinful? We most certainly do, though we choose to use the phrase "incompatible with Christian teaching".

My apologies -- I got the American and British Methodist churches confused. The latter ordains gay clergy.

vbspurs said...

Handwaving away someone's torture and death in the process of standing up against evil on the basis of their religious convictions merely because they weren't multiplied by N million strikes me as—well—illiberal, to put it mildly.

I don't usually say this (because it puts a positive spin for my family, when they plainly benefited from the negative), but two members of my German mother's family went to Dachau for the mere crime of being anti-Nazi.

One was a religious (a parish priest in the poorer areas of Munich). The other, a lady who died of injuries after an Allied bombing, was simply a lady who was very Catholic.

And encouraged people to go to church, and pay close attention to what the priests' said, not the "leader" and his party.

There are THOUSANDS of stories like this all over Germany.

But we don't hear of them, to be very honest -- because the victor's write the history, as we know.

This is why people think that religiously inclined people didn't do anything.

A, it could be true, but only after B, a lot of people were intimidated.

I often think that because ordinary Americans can protest (even back then) against their government without fear of reprisals, whether incarceration, denunciation or extermination, that they just don't "get" how difficult it is, to stand up to evil.

It takes YEARS.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

My point, Revenant, was that when some Christians resisted the nazi regime, to such an extent that they sacrified their lives for it, to say Christians _never_ have done so is trivially false

That seems like a fairly banal point to make, considering that you could simply insert the word "virtually" in front of never and render the statement true. Harry's statement was technically false, but it was certainly much closer to the truth than the statement he was criticizing -- that "robustly self-critical" Christianity stands up to bad religion.

Handwaving away someone's torture and death in the process of standing up against evil on the basis of their religious convictions merely because they weren't multiplied by N million strikes me as—well—illiberal, to put it mildly.

What's being handwaved away is the role the person's religion played in the process, not their willingness to stand up to evil. It is hard to be impressed by the role of Christianity in standing up to Nazism when the Christians standing up to Nazism were outnumbered by the Christians cheerfully shoving Jews into cattle cars by a few orders of magnitude. For Christianity to be good, it isn't enough for it to *occasionally* inspire good -- it must be good in a statistically significant manner.

Christian churches didn't really get involved in anti-Hitler activity until it became apparent that he was a threat to Christians, too. So long as he was just focused on Jews, gays, gypsies and Communists, they failed to oppose him. That was the whole point of Niemoller's little autobiographical poem -- that he'd done nothing until it was too late.

One can hardly fault the man for hoping for the same kind of leadership that most Germans did in the face of post-WWI reparations and the Treaty of Versailles, only to find out once Hitler actually held the chancelry that he was a tyrant of the first stripe.

Oh, please. If you want to argue that it is understandable that Germans would be willing to accept a pathological racist, who loudly called for the subjugation of the "lesser races", out of the hope that he'd improve things for the white Christian German majority, fine. You're right; that was totally understandable, given how racist and anti-semitic the Western world was in those days.

But Hitler published "Mein Kampf" in 1925, and his beliefs and teachings were universally known in Germany by the late 1920s. Any German who says "I supported Hitler, but I had no idea what he'd do to the Jews and no idea what a tyrant he'd be" is a liar, plain and simple. The only thing they "didn't realize" is that white German Christians would feel the sting of the tyrant's whip, too.

Niemoller supported a man he knew full well was a vicious racist and Jew-hater who wanted Jews driven from German society. You can't defend him by saying "oh, but he didn't realize just how bad things would get".

Anonymous said...

Revenant, blaming "Christianity" for Naziism is like blaming "Islam" for the Taliban (no, I'm not defending Islam). If you blame Nazi atrocities on something as abstract as "Christianity" then you take some of the guilt away from a crazy bastard like Hitler and his cronies. You ignore the fact that people did these things. You also ignore the fact that people have free will.

How many people follow all of the rules laid out in Leviticus anymore? Many? Few? This is where modern Christianity and Islam part ways. The Bible instructs people to do some pretty awful things, but how many Christians follow those instructions anymore? If many did, I think you'd see quite a bit more smiting going on in the West than you do.

Christianity had it's role in the rise of Naziism but only to the extent that people manipulated it for their own advantage.

Revenant said...

Revenant, blaming "Christianity" for Naziism is like blaming "Islam" for the Taliban (no, I'm not defending Islam).

I do blame Islam for the Taliban.

If you blame Nazi atrocities on something as abstract as "Christianity" then you take some of the guilt away from a crazy bastard like Hitler and his cronies.

That's not really a concern of mine. I'm more worried about the way that Hitler has been made a convenient excuse whereby the people who actually did the killing and enabled the killers can say "well gosh, it was just that crazy Hitler and the crazy times we lived in". No honest person can deny that it was only possible to carry out the Holocaust because the Church had been openly and enthusiastically promoting Jew-hatred for centuries. It is a lot easier to throw those pellets into the gas chamber when you know its just a lot of evil Christ-killers in there. Christianity did not carry out the Holocaust -- it just made it (a) possible and (b) inevitable (it was, after all, only the latest of countless mass-murders of Jews by Christians).

Heck, how many churches *still* teach that the Jews demanded the execution of Christ, despite the fact that the idea's ahistorical nonsense?

How many people follow all of the rules laid out in Leviticus anymore? Many? Few?

If people stopped obeying the commandment that we love our neighbor as ourselves, would that also cease to be the will of God?

Jesus made it clear that humans were not to punish sinners -- that that should be left to God. It is therefore reasonable to believe that Chrisitians shouldn't kill people for sodomy. It is entirely unreasonable to think that that means sodomy isn't a sin anymore.

Christianity had it's role in the rise of Naziism but only to the extent that people manipulated it for their own advantage.

I love how Christianity gets credit for the good things Christians do, but when Christians do bad things their faith mysteriously had nothing to do with it. What a great racket.

Harry Eagar said...

Sorry, Victoria. Won't wash.

Sure, it was dangerous for a German to resist Hitler. It was even more dangerous for a non-German to do it.

Somehow, though, tens of millions of non-Germans fought the regime.

A few Germans did: some atheists and some Jews. A grand total of one -- count 'em, 1 -- German Christian is known to have raised his hand against the Nazis.

To a first approximation, all Germans were Nazis and all Germans were Christians. Therefore, all Nazis were Christians.

We hear about the bold French or Italian partisans attacking the Germans, but we never, ever hear about the bold German partisans, because there weren't any.

Anonymous said...

I do blame Islam for the Taliban.

Then you aren't thinking critically. A piece of paper or abstract philosophy doesn't make oppressive regimes, people do. The philosophy or piece of paper is their justification.

That's not really a concern of mine. I'm more worried about the way that Hitler has been made a convenient excuse whereby the people who actually did the killing and enabled the killers can say "well gosh, it was just that crazy Hitler and the crazy times we lived in".

I'm not making that argument.

No honest person can deny that it was only possible to carry out the Holocaust because the Church had been openly and enthusiastically promoting Jew-hatred for centuries. It is a lot easier to throw those pellets into the gas chamber when you know its just a lot of evil Christ-killers in there. Christianity did not carry out the Holocaust -- it just made it (a) possible and (b) inevitable (it was, after all, only the latest of countless mass-murders of Jews by Christians).

I'll grant that Christianity was a major factor, but not the only one that made it "inevitable".

Heck, how many churches *still* teach that the Jews demanded the execution of Christ, despite the fact that the idea's ahistorical nonsense?

I don't know the answer to that, but are Christians who think that way rounding Jews up and actively persecuting them nowadays? There's a lot of ground to cover between prejudice and Holocaust.

If people stopped obeying the commandment that we love our neighbor as ourselves, would that also cease to be the will of God?

I'd actually like to meet anyone who truly loves their neighbor as they love themselves. That'd be some saint.

Jesus made it clear that humans were not to punish sinners -- that that should be left to God. It is therefore reasonable to believe that Chrisitians shouldn't kill people for sodomy. It is entirely unreasonable to think that that means sodomy isn't a sin anymore.

As I think I said before, Average Joe Christian likely has a vague idea that somewhere in the Bible somebody says something about how sodomy is sinful, but in our present reality you'd be hard-pressed to find many christians who, unlike you, will be able to quote chapter and verse on it. If condemnation of sodomy was one of the Big Ten Rules, I'd agree with you that the Bible clearly states that it is a mortal sin, but it isn't. It's in that fuzzy area where people tend to pick and choose the rules they want to follow according to the prevailing mores and customs.

I love how Christianity gets credit for the good things Christians do, but when Christians do bad things their faith mysteriously had nothing to do with it. What a great racket.

I don't give them credit for much of anything beyond working past some of the more awful dictates of the Bible.

If your point is that Christians shouldn't be smug because they have skeletons in the closet, I agree. But you seem to be going beyond that, holding up the Holocaust as a paradigm of real Christianity--the hypocritical, judgmental, bloodthirsty Christianity, as though Christians should perpetually hang their heads in shame because of past wrongs. Well they've hung their heads in shame for a quite a while, the US has paid out billions of dollars of no-strings-attached international aid in the spirit of that shame, and the West carved out a whole new country to boot. So I'd ask, what's the statue of limitations on guilt? How many billions of dollars will assuage that guilt? Or is it that there is no amount of time, no amount of money, and not enough acts of genuine contrition which will suffice, that only the purity of a world free of prejudice can rehabilitate Christianity?

Anonymous said...

Harry wrote: "A few Germans did: some atheists and some Jews. A grand total of one -- count 'em, 1 -- German Christian is known to have raised his hand against the Nazis."

Harry, I have seen one special on Bonhoffer on PBS. In that one show they documented several other Christians in on the plot to assisinate Hitler. So you are in error when you say that Bonhoffer was alone.

But I agree with you that my church did not fight against Hitler as they should have. It is a disgrace. The church in America, at least the conservative church, is doing better in supporting Israel and the Jewish people today. But the pictures I have seen of beautiful Christian children being confirmed in front of Nazi regalia make me want to vomit.

That part of our history as the God's church is embarassing and disgraceful.

Trey

Freder Frederson said...

I find it interesting that you see nothing particularly homophobic about referring to sex between two men as "a detestable act" and casting those who engage in it out of the community (Lev 18:22/29). I further find it interesting that you see nothing particularly homophobic about Leviticus 20's commandment that practicing homosexuals are to be killed.

Why single out homosexuality? The prohibitions also extend to bestiality, incest, adultery, women who are having their period, a woman and her daughter and even having sex with the sisters of your brother-in-law. Death is prescribed for some of those offenses too.

Harry Eagar said...

Not Bonhoeffer, TMink, Stauffenburg.

He actually did something in the plot. None of the others did. Including Bonhoeffer. Sitting around, drinking looted wine and grousing about the low-class Brownshirts was not the same as fighting against Hitler.

(The record of the American churches with the closest ties to Germany, the Lutherans and allied churches in the Upper Midwest, was not so hot, either. See 'And So It Was True,' a thoroughly documented history.)

Anonymous said...

Harry, I stand corrected. Thanks.

Trey

Revenant said...

In that one show they documented several other Christians in on the plot to assisinate Hitler. So you are in error when you say that Bonhoffer was alone.

Oskar Schindler was a Christian too, for that matter. Maybe Harry means that the assassins (and Schindler) weren't motivated by religion. That's certainly true of the assassins (who were mostly operating from patriotic motives).

In any case, the count is certainly higher than 1.

Harry Eagar said...

I can count to 2. The total is 1.

After it was over, Churchill wrote that there had been a time when Hitler could have been stopped "with the stroke of a pen."

When that was the case, the churches (and many other unchurched people as well, notably the Socialists), refused to pick up that pen.

By 1944, it was clear that the only thing that would stop Hitler and Hitlerism were force and violence.

Stauffenburg was the only German Christian who resorted to violence.

Moltke ended up on a meathook and he didn't do anything.

Revenant said...

Harry, you're being dishonest.

Here's your original statement:

A grand total of one -- count 'em, 1 -- German Christian is known to have raised his hand against the Nazis.

You're now moving the goalposts and saying that only one German Christian personally tried violence against Hitler himself. *That* statement isn't true either, of course (Henning von Tresckow and Rudolph von Gersdorff also made assassination attempts) -- but your original statement, that only one Christian resisted the *Nazis*, it patently false.

Harry Eagar said...

Not moving the goalposts at all. Plotting is not acting. When Stauffenburg gave the signal to act, they all sat on their thumbs.

But the Christians will never stop mythologizing that they were against Hitlerism. Manstein has the gall to claim that his army in Russia never committed any atrocities. After all, he was a conservative Christian gentleman; we have his word for it, so who could doubt it?

Hmmm, must have been somebody else.

The point, though, is that religion talks a good game, but when it comes time to perform, it doesn't. Same with the so-called Muslim moderates today.

It may be something to do with being a universalizing, salvationist monotheism. Less grandiose cults do better.