Sunday, March 04, 2012

"The opposite of [religious] questioning is not deep belief but arrested develoment" (Garry Wills)


In this Moment of Clarity, Lee Camp asks: "Should Hearing
from God Disqualify You From Running for President?"

I'm really tired of political goons claiming that "God" told them to run for office or go to war or go to the bathroom. First of all, if it were a God, he or she wouldn't want anything to do with this Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey clusterfuck that we have going here. Motto: "The Greatest Puppet Show on Earth." . . .

Rick Santorum says that God told him to run for president because Satan is trying to take down America. Apparently this God of his thoroughly hates gays, women, black people, Latinos, everybody earning under 100 grand a year, and considering evangelicals only act friendly to the Jews because they believe all the Jews need to be in Israel in order to bring about Judgment Day, in which the Jews will burn in a fiery Hell for eternity, I'm going to go ahead and add the Jews to that list. Santorum's God despises all of those people. What a douchebag Lord! If you had ten kids and treated nine of them like shit, people would call you a dickface to your face, and yet that guy somehow landed the job of God? They need to get some new people in the HR department, for Christ's sake.

Mitt Romney belongs to a religion that believes in magic underwear. How weird is this shit gonna get? I let it slide with the magic crackers, the magic wand, the magic facial hair, the magic shroud, the magic skulls, the magic hats. But there is nothing magic about a wedgie. . . .

The actor Jimmy Stewart starred in a well-known movie called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which he's elected to office. He starred in another famous movie in which an imaginary giant white rabbit talked to him and told him what to do. Let's stop combining the two when we're picking a president.

"I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and the pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood."
-- John F. Kennedy, recalled in Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's WaPo
"What Rick Santorum doesn't understand about JFK"

"Minds grow by questioning things, and adolescence is a great period of questions. . . . An unquestioned faith is not faith but rote recitation. The opposite of such questioning is not deep belief but arrested development."
-- Garry Wills, in a new New York Review of Books
"Santorum’s Arrested Development"

by Ken

It's hardly coincidental that the Vatican has finally dropped the inevitable cardinal's beanie on the frothing wacko plucked out of the diocese of Bridgeport by Pope John Paul II in 2000 to oversee the country's still-prime archdiocese, New York. It's just in time to lend the weight of that red beanie to the sustained campaign of slathering poison over the American body politic which will be Eddie Egan's contribution to this U.S. electoral cycle.

Religious craziness is hardly the only craziness now polluting our political discourse. About 98 percent of what has come out of the mouths of would-be Republican presidential candidates has been the sort of thing that would once have qualified them for intensive institutional care but now is accepted with hardly a blush as normal subject matter. But the religious bullying carries a special quality of intimidation, claiming as it does spiritual force, and never mind that the people professing these higherly-called imperatives have absolutely no claim to moral superiority. Indeed, when you take an even slightly closer look at most of these people, you often find it hard to discern that might be considered remotely moral.

(It was astonishing that, when it was finally revealed many years later that Ma and Pa Santorum brought their dead fetus home for the live Santorum kiddies to play with, this was accepted as a demonstration of perhaps slightly excessive religious faith rather than stark staring insanity, which should have occasioned some sort of intervention on behalf of the junior Santorums by the appropriate child protection services.)

But no, Santorum's insanity -- and I mean literal insanity, not just the driveling preposterousness of everything that comes out of his mouth -- gets cover for his supposedly deep faith. We Americans don't like to question people's faith. So I was inordinately cheered a a couple of weeks ago when as deep a thinker and as knowledgeable a Catholic as Garry Wills, in a NYRB blogpost called "Contraception's Con Men" which I've been meaning to write about, wrote, under the subhead "The Phony 'Church Teaches' Argument":
Catholics who do not accept the phony argument over contraception are said to be “going against the teachings of their church.” That is nonsense. They are their church. The Second Vatican Council defines the church as “the people of God.” Thinking that the pope is the church is a relic of the days when a monarch was said to be his realm. The king was “Denmark.” Catholics have long realized that their own grasp of certain things, especially sex, has a validity that is lost on the celibate male hierarchy. This is particularly true where celibacy is concerned. . . .

Before I could get around to writing about that post, in which Wills traces the tawdry behind-the-scenes politics of the Church's narrowly retained official position on contraception, it was overtaken by this new Wills blogpost, "Santorum's Arrested Development," responding to the imbecile blithering about college "elitism," focusing particularly on the nonsensical argument that colleges are engaged in a warn on children's religious faith. "Of course," he writes,
the idea that colleges are stealing people's children from their parents' God is an old belief on the right wing. William Buckley proclaimed it in his God and Man at Yale, published over half a century ago, in the 1950s surge of religiosity that some conservatives now look back on with nostalgia. Of course, as Catholics, Buckley and Santorum (and I) are heirs to a long tradition of trying to control what people think or read or see. When I was young, the list of movies we were forbidden to see was posted every Sunday in the vestibule of our church. The priests who taught me in high school sent me and my fellows out to drug stores to demand that "dirty" magazines like Esquire be removed from their stands. There was still an Index of Forbidden Books we are supposed not to read -- including works by Milton, Rousseau, Voltaire, Sartre, Gide -- without a priest’s permission.

Wills is lying in wait for the Santorum claim "that 62 percent of people who go to college lose their 'faith commitment' there." He takes note of "a 2007 report that found even greater decline among those who don’t attend college," then continues:
I do not know how one measures such things, but I think it inevitable that questioning of childhood beliefs should take place at various stages of adolescence. This does not happen in junior year or senior year on campus. It is part of a long process called growing up.

At some point, late or early, children disengage themselves from the stories crafted for them. Their loss of belief in the tooth fairy is only slightly behind their loss of teeth. There is a slow motion race to disappear between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The Stork undergoes, for some, a lengthier demise -- and "the birds and the bees" do not long outlast it. Others, I hope, soon disabuse themselves of belief in their parents' infallibility. Certain religious myths are discarded without necessarily losing faith. That I do not believe in Noah's Ark does not mean that I must stop believing in God -- though certain home schooling parents force that connection on their kids.

Minds grow by questioning things, and adolescence is a great period of questions. Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken learned to cross-examine the Bible all on their own, without any help at all from college. An unquestioned faith is not faith but rote recitation. The opposite of such questioning is not deep belief but arrested development.

So Santorum has mistaken his enemy. It is not colleges that steal his kids from him, but growth, especially the wrenching growths of adolescence. He should get at root causes. Abolish adolescence. I am sure modern science, with the help of hormonal retardants, could make this practicable in most cases. Of course, it would wipe out the human race. But perhaps a tested few, home schooled to insure arrested development in all other matters, could be permitted to grow up and breed. And we know they would breed prolifically, denied all contraceptives.

I suppose you could say that abolishing adolescence is in good part what the 21st-century Right is aiming to do, if by adolescence we understand a period when humans develop their sense of the world around them and their relationship to it.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home