Nov 29, 2010

Who cares if you disagree...

I have here an article, snipped from USA Today's Monday, November 15th edition. It is an article by David Campbell and Robert Putnam in promotion of their new book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. The book, which is a result of years of study, is  meant to be an exhaustive examination of data that supposedly reveals how religion affects our society. This article is a synopsis, meant to whet your appetite, of what they wrote in that book. 

Results of a study

They say that their "discoveries" provide fodder for both those who defend religion and those who attack it. In defense of religion, they say, is that religious Americans are "better neighbors" than the faithless. The bad news for religion? Religious Americans "are somewhat less tolerant of free speech and dissent." 

Five years of exhaustive study and they get this? 

The article goes on to explain that the religious make better neighbors because they are more involved: they are more likely to volunteer their time and donate their money, both to religious and secular causes. On the "other hand," they are less likely to respond that "someone should be allowed to give a speech defending Osama bin Laden or al-Queda," among other things. They are therefore concluded to be less tolerant.

As you might imagine, we are in no way supposed to believe that this is a good thing. To be less tolerant than the secular American? Goodness, no! We've heard this word thrown around for years, usually aimed at Conservative and religious Americans like a spear. To quote The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." That's because America has long misunderstood what "tolerance" means. 

What is tolerance?

The word "tolerance," which once meant that you could live in peace with people different from yourself and respectfully agree to disagree, has been co-opted by those whose agenda is to mislead those who don't know any better. The result is that many Americans, among them hoards of unsuspecting Christians, have been conditioned to believe that having tolerance means accepting every Tom, Dick, and Harry's version of morality as absolute truth (regardless of how contradictory it is to the next guy's) and keeping your mouth shut about it. It has become the spoiled ingredient in our otherwise healthy recipe, an absurdity that trivializes our society, cripples our effectiveness, and negates our faith. 

I look on it as a grand program to re-sculpt and control our national character by applying pressure to free speech here and attacking the notion of absolute truth there. Practice makes perfect, and the brain eventually loses the pathways it doesn't use - when Americans  are no longer used to intellectually defending the ideals of Truth and Morality in absolute terms, they eventually become incapable of doing so, and even unaware that they need to. In short, their minds become perfect sheep to the bludgeoning stick that controls them: the media, the radical leftists, the atheists, the rabidly anti-religious. If given free reign, this bludgeoning stick would thrash into unconsciousness every one of us who looks at another's way of life or statement of belief and says, "that's wrong."  

And isn't that a little oxymoronic? I mean, haven't you ever noticed that those who rant about tolerance and let off curse-ridden tirades about conservatives and religious Americans invariably call them names, taunt them, make fun of them, persecute them, and in all ways spew hate at them - in the name of tolerance? How do they pull that off? 

Who among us is a good example of tolerance?

From the cast of those who endlessly and hyperactively harp on tolerance and the Right's so-called lack of it, I have chosen a few examples of the tolerance we are all expected to put in practice - except not really, because if we did we would all be prosecuted for hate crimes.

Keith Olbermann 
        On Michelle Malkin
"...thanks to the total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic hatred, without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it."
        On Scott Brown:
"In short, in Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against woman and against politicians with whom he disagrees. In any other time in our history, this man would have been laughed off the stage as unqualified and a disaster in the making by the most conservative of conservatives. Instead, the commonwealth of Massachusetts is close to sending this bad joke to the Senate of the United States." 
         On the Tea Party:

I wonder if he said those things because these people disagree with him. If only we could learn such tolerance. 

Well, let's try another one.

Bill Maher

No, I don't think we're getting any warmer. 
*Side note - if you are familiar with Maher you know that he is a zealous anti-religion activist, who, among other things, explicitly demands the death of all religion in the name of human good. This is a very good article written in response to his documentary "Religulous," in which Maher ruthlessly ridiculed people of faith. It is an interesting article and has bearing on this discussion.

Whoopi and Joy from The View, or, The View in general

When the argument gets heated, it is Whoopi and Joy who have physical conniption fits and then storm out of the room because they don't like what O'Reilly has to say. The very topic of disagreement involves their demand for ever-greater tolerance.

A conclusion about tolerance

One of the sad notes in this grating song about tolerance is that it robs true tolerance of its rightful respect and beauty. We as Christians need to understand how tolerance works into our Christian faith and our lives as Christ's servants. To do that is to recognize that any Christian who says, in the name of tolerance, "I wouldn't live my life that way because I think it is sinful, but I'm not saying that my faith is right for you. You can do whatever you want," is missing the point and buying into the world's lies. 

Carrie Prejean, the famous Miss California said:
"Well I think its great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.”
She wasn't doing Christianity or religious America any real favors by trying to be nice and inoffensive. To go so far as to say that you think that you believe is bending over backwards to qualify the statement as nothing more than a very personal fancy, almost as inconsequential as a passing whim that shouldn't be taken seriously. And it didn't even save her the fire. They still said she was a bigot.

Had she stood up and strongly advocated Christ's truth, I would have pointed her out as a good example, but the truth is that she more aptly illustrates how Christians go wrong.

Christ set the standard for how we ought to treat people: with love, with humility, with self-sacrifice and generosity. He also set the standard for how to treat lies, deceit, and sin. Christ never persecuted or acted in a hateful manner toward a human being, but he also never tolerated any of these trespasses against his father. Remember, Christ did not come to unite us all under a wishy-washy, touchy-feely standard of tolerance, but to divide us under the righteous standard of his Father. Our duty on Earth is not to seek what he did not desire, but to defend righteousness and work toward its furtherance here. 

To do that will be to have the bludgeoning stick constantly on your back, to be spit on, persecuted and hated. Much like Christ was treated. He told us it was coming. 

In closing I will explain why I called this post what I did. While I was formulating this little essay, it occurred to me that this song, which is currently quite popular, sums up many an individual's attitude toward tolerance. 

On the one hand it stresses that disagreement may not be the big deal it is cracked up to be, and for that I give it kudos. Asserting an opinion strongly is almost always better than to be wishy-washy. My tae kwon do instructor told me that if I made a mistake, I should make it strong. Someone else told us to either be hot or cold, but not lukewarm.

On the other hand, this seems to renew the indictment of Christians or anyone else who would say that people should not live in sin. "How dare you tell me who to be? Who made you...

 ..."King of Anything" by Sara Bareilles

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside
So many things I’d say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ‘em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save
Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost with no direction
But you’ll never see
You’re so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps
You got the talking down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
While I just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Let me hold your crown, babe.

Food for thought. 


Cathy said...

Bill Maher - so smugly intolerant Keith Olbermann - so arrogantly malicious
Whoopi and Behar - so self- righteously indignant

"Asserting an opinion strongly is almost always better than to be wishy-washy. My tae kwon do instructor told me that if I made a mistake, I should make it strong." Hurrah!

It takes courage to assert an opinion that is not popular or politically correct. If you know how to state the issues biblically, that is to "stand alone on the Word of God". Jesus said, "Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake".

Thanks for the fine commentary on the issue of tolerance!

jason said...

Ah, tolerance! A word that in the modern English language means silence.

I have not read the actual article in USA Today but I am wondering who paid for this study and more importantly who were the test subjects for this study. Where the results known before the study starts? The reason I wonder is because this is the same conclusions that socialist and elitist have come to for the past 40 years or so.

I will have to read the book now because I am curious if they did any studying on how the liberals world view has drawn kids from the pews. If you have one group of people (liberals) telling a teen that he can do what he pleases without consequence here on earth, he can change the rules as needed, or they should not have a fear of hell because there is no such place while on the other side (Christians) telling that same teen that he must lead a good life that there are rules to follow here on earth, there are certain things expected of him as a follower of Christ,then which road is more tempting to a rebellious teen (all teens are rebellious)?....continued...

jason said...

One thing I would like to say about tolerance of Christmas, I will never apologize or make light off my believe in Gods word, I will speak only the truth. That being said I don't get offended at Happy Holidays, I only use that as a chance to Share Jesus' love with others. Eph 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Remember that todays meaning of tolerance is silence and silence is another form of stalling, stalling, inactivity when it may be needed most.

“In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Martin Niemoller on the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group