Thursday, June 23, 2016

Misguided Search for Meaning, Part II

In Part I we looked at the kind of ideology that shows up when someone searches for meaning without civilization. To review, these are people who:

·         Seek something to give meaning to their lives.
·         Reinterpret what they see in the world to suit their version of reality.
·         Define an extreme version of belief as “good” and all else as “evil.”
·         Believe they are superior and dehumanize anyone not among them.
·         Tolerate no belief outside their orthodoxy.
·         Seek power over anyone not associated with them in full, or annihilation of any who cannot be coerced to submit.
·         Believe that whatever they do is justified.
·         Delight in hating all who believe differently.
These are descriptive of Islamist extremists, such as the Orlando attacker—and similar attacks in Paris, Brussels, Beirut, San Bernardino, Boston, and a growing list of places around the globe. 

But these apply almost exactly to another type of religion. Another religion that wishes to impose its ideology through coercion—although not through annihilation, yet.

I read a couple of articles on the same day last week, and I made some mental connections I hadn’t before.

This is the conclusion of “The First Church of Secularism and Its Sexual Sacraments” by Mary Eberstadt, in National Review

The so-called culture war, in other words, has not been conducted by people of religious faith on one side, and people of no faith on the other. It is instead a contest of competing faiths: one in the Good Book, and the other in the more newly written figurative book of secularist orthodoxy about the sexual revolution. In sum, secularist progressivism today is less a political movement than a church.
If that’s true, then we have a state religion, supported by the administration, the media—news and entertainment in large part—education at all levels, some businesses, organizations, and groups, and even some churches. Non-adherents are officially discriminated against, just as our founders wanted to prevent.

They have doctrine—beliefs that they define as moral. And they require adherence. Eberstadt talks about a particular aspect of the religion, which informs much of the rest:

Its fundamental faith is that the sexual revolution—that is, the gradual de-stigmatization of all forms of consenting non-marital sex—has been a boon to all humanity….
The first commandment of this new secularist writ is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong. Two corollary imperatives are that whatever contributes to consenting sexual acts is an absolute good, and that anything interfering, or threatening to interfere, with consenting sexual acts is ipso facto wrong.
I predict the “consenting adults” aspect is not permanent; among the discussion is ascribing “consent” to younger and younger children. And “consent” might be redefined in time. But for now, they use the “consenting adult” idea to persuade themselves of their morality.

Sex without consequences or obligations is a basic tenet of the religion—in contrast to Christianity and other civilizing religions—more than most other tenets:

After all, Christians and other social dissidents today aren’t threatened with job loss because of writing in self-published books about the biblical teaching against stealing, say. Military chaplains are not being removed from office and sidelined for quoting from the book of Ruth. No, every act committed against believers in the name of today’s intolerant “tolerance” has a single, common denominator, which is the secularist protection of the perceived prerogatives of the sexual revolution at all costs. The new intolerance is a wholly owned subsidiary of that revolution. No revolution, no new intolerance.
I don’t think this idea that secular progressivism is a church is merely a metaphor. It is too complete.
Another piece I read is “Why Liberals Support Muslims Who Hate Everything They Stand For” by John Hawkins. He uses the word indiscriminateness, which I think we will find useful, even though it’s an awkward, unlovely word.

His piece attempts to explain why refusing to condemn Islamist terror—for fear of incidentally condemning Islam in general—is more important than supporting homosexuals. Because there is a hierarchy, which indiscriminateness explains.

The word is first explained by Evan Sayat in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, whom Hawkins quotes:

They [liberals, or secular progressives] were raised to believe that indiscriminateness is a moral imperative. That the only way to be moral is to not discriminate between right and wrong, good and evil, better and worse, truth and lies because your act of discrimination—discriminating between these things might just be a reflection of your personal discrimination, your bigotries.
They were raised to believe that indiscriminateness is a moral imperative because its opposite is the evil of having discriminated. The second bullet point, and this is an essential corollary, is that indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminateness of policy. It leads the modern liberal to invariably side with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success. Why? Very simply if nothing is to be recognized as better or worse than anything else then success is de facto unjust.
There is no explanation for success if nothing is better than anything else and the greater the success the greater the injustice. Conversely and for the same reason, failure is de facto proof of victimization and the greater the failure, the greater the proof of the victim is, or the greater the victimization.
To a non-adherent to the doctrines of secular progressivism, this is obviously convoluted and wrong. For example:

Why do so many liberals seem to loathe America even though we’re the richest, most successful country in history? Because the very fact that we’re the richest, most successful country in history proves we must be doing something wrong and unfair.
Why do white Americans have to be benefitting from racism and “white privilege?” Because white Americans are a majority in the United States and they’re doing better than most other racial groups.
Just to complete Hawkins’ thought on how this relates to Islamist terror, another quote:

They are unable to admit that among religions, Islam has a unique problem with terrorism, violence and rape. They are not capable of admitting that there is a particular risk to bringing in Muslim immigrants. Even when a Muslim tells everyone he’s killing people because of his religion, liberals can’t acknowledge his motivation because to do so would mean that they’d have to admit Islam has issues.
I’m considering the possibility that “indiscriminateness” is a precursor to the “sex is always good” doctrine. The assumption that recognizing relative goodness is itself bad leads to rejection of good, leaving bad as preferred.

We know that family is the basic unit of civilization—a foundational good. So it isn’t surprising that an orthodoxy that insists on savagery over civilization would glorify the specifics that undermine family.

They believe that sex outside of marriage is always right, when it is always wrong. They believe that marriage is whatever any two (or more) people say it is between them, when it is actually a permanent commitment between a man and a woman, who are biologically capable of reproducing and responsible for raising offspring to adulthood. They claim that a woman doesn’t need a man, even for parenting, ignoring the scientifically proven negatives and growing catastrophic social consequences for a society with more children raised without fathers.

Then comes the coercion: a pizza shop that never services weddings is attacked and temporarily shut down for answering a hypothetical question about whether they supported “gay marriage,” which they answered “heretically.”
image from here

A florist who has always served two particular homosexual customers, and considered them friends, declines servicing their “wedding.” She is prosecuted, not for a crime, but for a refusal to submit to the orthodoxy. Her business is shut down. Her assets are seized. And she is deprived of a way to support herself in her imminent (and now forced) retirement. The punishment may be greater than for actual criminals—rapists, drug dealers, embezzlers. All this even though she committed no crime, never refused service to anyone based on sexual orientation, or even deprived the two from getting the wedding service they wanted, which was readily available at multiple other locations.

Adherents to the secular progressive religion intolerantly suggest she could have just ignored her religion and serviced the “gay marriage,” unaware of their intolerance toward her, while also seemingly unaware that the simple solution was for the homosexual couple to be tolerant and go to another florist.

Similar stories are mounting for bakers, photographers, and even a farming family that used to allow weddings in their barn—where they live with their children upstairs, but were not permitted to say no to a “same-sex marriage” in their own home—unless they shut down their business altogether. They had been willing to allow the celebration elsewhere on the property, just not their home. That wouldn’t satisfy the orthodox. They were therefore deprived of their livelihood, and possibly their home.

Beyond the state-imposed religious position on “same-sex marriage,” and this church’s sacramental ritual of child sacrifice which we call abortion, there are other doctrines that can only be explained in terms of a fanatical coercive religion.

Consider global warming—as it was called when it stopped being called global cooling, recently changed to climate change—defined as, “humans are detrimental to the earth and should be reduced in number and effect” [as long as the religious adherents are not deprived of their goods and conveniences, we might add]. Anyone questioning this doctrine is a “climate change denier,” and already there are calls for not only taking away their rights to work in various fields, but to imprison such heretics (here and here).

Economic policies from the secular progressive faithful always fall on the side of, “take from those who produce and give to those who do not produce,” with the self-congratulation that this is “fair,” which is their way of claiming it is moral to steal if it’s done in the name of their religion.

Gun control has come up loudly since the Orlando shooting—it comes up loudly after every shooting. And it is as perverse as their other doctrines: terrorists, madmen, and violent criminals should not be allowed to indiscriminately mass murder; therefore we should not allow law-abiding citizens to own or purchase guns.

If you’re a thinking person, you recognize the logic failure there; but those of the secular progressive religion do not. They go on faith that keeping law-abiding innocent people from defending their own lives is the way to prevent terrorists and criminals from harming us. Only wild-eyed faith could lead to such a line of thinking. And yet the Democrats in the US Congress are holding a sit-in demonstration on the House floor (literally sitting on the floor), throwing a tantrum to get that outcome, so certain are they that they are acting “morally.”

There are a couple of scriptures that are becoming vividly true applied to our day:

20 ¶Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!Isaiah 5:20

That seems to describe the secular progressive religion quite accurately. It also describes radical Islam.

This next one is slightly less familiar.

 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.
 10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.—1 Nephi 14:9-11

It’s from the Book of Mormon. I wondered at the meaning of the “great and abominable church” while growing up, because I had a limited understanding of the word “church.” For many years now I’ve understood it to be anything outside the gospel of Christ. But I think that isn’t refined enough. There are many good people who are not Christians (and many Christians who are not good Christians). I think that people will be judged on their willingness to do good and be good as best they can understand it. Many such people will recognize God’s truth when invited to see it in this life. Others may not have that chance in this life, but the true Judge will know their hearts and judge them, so we do not have to.

I think it is likely that among Muslims worldwide there are many seekers of good, who do not wish to coerce and bend others to their will—and do not wish to be coerced. But there are not such people among radical Islamists.

I keep hoping there are some seekers of good among adherents to the secular progressive religion, who are merely misguided in their search to be “moral,” and would change if they could see the truth presented clearly. Some have just been indoctrinated—radicalized—through the propaganda surrounding them. Like fish swimming in water, unware of the water because it is everywhere they go.

If there are those, I invite them to learn to love truth, and learn to love people, and tolerate people with differences—and by doing so learn to love the true God.

For those of us who love truthalong with freedom, prosperity, and civilizationwe should know we are dealing with radical religionists. We cannot compromise with them. We can try to avoid contention when possible. But we must stand for truth; the alternative is to suffer coercion to succumb to their great and abominable church.

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