Friday, April 29, 2005

Why Jesus?

I'm responding to Makigirl's comment here about the importance of Christianity in American religious life. And I think she has a very good point.

I don't believe that it would be good to throw up Jesus' words all over the place. Having either Jesus' or Moses' words all over the wall creates an environment of intolerance to people from other faiths and to people, like me, of no faith. However, I still think it would be fun to stick Jesus into the fundementalist's faces, and I think that Democrats/Liberals need to learn how to fight on typically conservative turf.

For too long now, religion has been wrongly associated with conservativism. My bet (and I've read this elsewhere, I just forget where) is that it has alot to do with media laziness. It's easy to write a story about pious conservatives, but to draw the connections between progressivism, religion, and social justice takes alot more column inches than the typical coporate newspaper/tv station is willing to do. So, we repeatedly get told that conservatives are religious/moral, while all liberals are godless. In order to win more elections, Democrats do have to figure out how to present their ideas in the context of Christianity, because unfortunately, those beliefs aren't going away anytime soon.

About the second question, I'll be flip, because I don't feel like spending the time giving a long speach, or writing a dissertation on the impact of religion on American life. I think this Christianity business is so important here (as opposed to Europe and Europe-like countries) because all the wackos who used to live in Europe either moved to the US (notice all the towns in New England named Canaan, Bethlehem, *_Haven, Providence, Goshen, Lebanaon), or they died in various wars. Once they got here, there was always room to out wacko each other by continuously moving west.

Also, the (supposedly) egalitarian nature of the US, I think, plays into people's ability to become wacko and think they've got everything right. The more rigid class structures of Europe may prevent some of our cult tendencies (not that I would want rigid class structures).

In the end, we've never had a war here about religion. The middle of of the population who just wants to get along and have a normal life has never had to confront the bad stuff that hyper-religion can produce. Thus it seethes, and in times like now, when there is a whole lot of money pushing organized religion because of various other (corporatist) desires, things can look pretty bad to the non-Christian/non-believer. I have a feeling that the next few years are going to be very interesting.

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