Having passed one federal government shutdown this fall -- and now heading toward the possibility of yet another one -- let's stop and see if we can figure out just what has gone wrong and how we've become so divided.
Indeed, Frank Schaeffer, the son of famous evangelical writer the late Francis Schaeffer, is willing to blame what he calls "stupid religion" on almost all of our problems. I think his strokes are a little too broad, neglecting such contributing factors as racism, but for sure he's worth a read on this topic.
As Schaeffer concludes: "So let's tell the truth: a fanatical religious element is dominating our political life these days. Until this hard truth is called what it is and squarely faced, we'll be stuck with these guys...and gridlock."
He points to the rigid, literalistic theology of some of these political leaders who base their religious beliefs on a silly inerrantist reading of the Bible, and he concludes that the "spirit of retributive extremism has jumped the tracks into our politics."
Why does biblical literalism matter? As Schaeffer writes, "The folks that believe in a literal Bible don't believe in evolution, in global warming, in gay rights or, we now know, even in increasing the debt limit. These are not theological issues per se but the spirit of sectarian warfare is at the heart of the bitter refusals to be swayed by mere facts."
Not all of our political problems are the fault of one segment of one side, for sure. But clearly the tail is wagging the GOP dog, and reasonable civil discourse and compromise are obvious casualties.
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AND SHE'S JEWISH, TOO
Score one for diversity: A big synagogue in New York City has named as its rabbi an Asian-American woman. Increasingly America is growing to look more like America. Cool.
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P.S.: A locally produced film, "A Necessary God," will have a premier showing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, at Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City. The event is free and no tickets are required. The film asks how people can have hope if they have no faith. One of the films narrators is Dr. Daniel F. Stramara Jr., chairman of the Rockhurst University Department of Theology and Religious Studies. The link I've given you on the film's name will take you to a trailer about it.