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Sunday, December 16, 2007

I am now officially a crank

Two for two, baby! I have now had two letters to the editor published on two consecutive days.

Yesterday's was the truncated letter about Al Scaduto. The parts that were cut out were critical of the mainstream media for having ignored his passing, and referred to The Comics Curmudgeon website. (I actually wrote this letter in an "inverted pyramid" format, so I was not too surprised that they clipped the end.)

Today's letter was the one I posted here the other day ("Urban Legends should not be published as fact...OR opinion".) Quite surprisingly, this one appears to have been printed unedited, despite the fact that it took the newspaper to task for failing to fact-check a story it published - even if that story was being published in the Letters to the Editor page. It even includes the preposterously lengthy URL I gave when referring to a previous Urban Legend situation (http://anothermonkey.blogspot.com/2007/09/urban-legend-destroys-local-business.html). But it did get the snopes.com name out there, so with a little luck it will drive some readers to that website and we'll have fewer legends-presented-as-fact to deal with.

Now, I should get started on that response to the Letter to the Editor that stated that America was "founded by Christians." The fools! FOOLS! I gotta just dig up some references....

7 comments:

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Congratulations!

"Now, I should get started on that response to the Letter to the Editor that stated that America was 'founded by Christians.'"

I really can not wait to see your answer to this.

You'll have an award waiting for you at my place tomorrow.

Michelle D said...

Congrats! I found out about it over at Gort's blog. Maybe you can start up one of those professional letter writing businesses.

Michelle D said...

Btw, I tagged you for a meme:
http://www.mhryvnak.net/blog/?p=59

Anonymous said...

Well, the "America was founded by Christians" argument can be approached several ways.

When someone says that, what I assume they mean is that America was founded by people who were, for the most part, Christians. Back then, "We the People" were Christians, with a few exceptions.

On the other hand, the Founding Fathers held a variety of beliefs -- probably more diverse than the population. But the Founding Fathers weren't founding fathers until the Constitution was ratified, and the ratification consisted of people who were Christians.

On the third hand, you could turn around and say, well, the Constitution specifically declared a secular state, and everyone bought into that ... yadda yadda yadda. It's a good argument and I'm not making fun of it.

On the fourth hand, I think what the argument really boils down to is this question: We know the Constitution can be operated by a nation of people who were believing Christians: Will the Constitution be as equally effective in a post-Christian culture?

I believe the answer to the question is no, it can't, in the long-term. The Constitution needs to be buoyed by people with certain cultural beliefs and who accept common premises. The only thing holding the country together is not a piece of paper, but a civilizational cultural heritage that is heavily influenced by Christianity -- even the non-Christians and post-Christians are heavily influenced by Christianity.

But as people stop believing, they start to question the fundamental premises -- do I really have natural, inalienable rights -- or are they social constructs? Why should I help the poor and the weak? Why should I treat my neighbor as myself? Should I take the log out of my own eye first, or is it OK to point out the speck in my neighbor's eye?

What of the hermeneutics of the Constitution? Why should patriarchy be defended, or a matrilinear system preferable?

You know, all that stuff.

In some countries -- Canada, for example -- free speech as understood for generations is gone and judges review the tone and content of letters to the editor -- and fine people accordingly. That's a pretty post-Christian concept.

In other words, when we eliminated the idea of divine revelation -- specifically, the revelations to the Jews and Christians, you end up on a philosophical slippery slope that doesn't end up in a nice place.

Pretty soon, people are fining you for printing letters to the editor. And calling that "tolerance."

Cheers, Bill

anne said...

Congratulations on your published works!

Regarding the "founding" of America, boy do I have issues with that.

Based on the treatment of the people WHO WERE ALREADY HERE by the "founding fathers", I would have a hard time referring to them as Christian. At least not what I think of as a Christian.

D.B. Echo said...

I wasn't really serious about writing the letter refuting the "founded by Christans" statement. I think my arguments would fall on deaf ears, and would cause the sort of slow-motion flame war that sometimes happens in the Leters to the Editor columns.

When most people say "This nation was founded by Christians", I believe what they are saying is "George Washington was a Christian, Thomas Jefferson was a Christian, Ben Franklin was a Christian, and I'm a Christian. So, obviously, they all held the same beliefs that I do. Therefore, my opinions are the standard and reflect the founding principles of this nation." Of course, it ain't so - any part of it.

I read an argument yesterday (linked through snopes.com, natch) that the Deism of many of the Founding Fathers was "influenced by Christianity." Be that as it may, there is a fundamental requirement for something to be considered "Christian", which is a belief in Jesus Christ. (Or an acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal savior, OR being a member of the elect, or...but we'll leave that to the neo-Christians to fight it out anmongst themselves. We Catholics know who's right.) It would be no more accurate to conflate the faith of the Founding Fathers with Chritianity than it would be to do the same with Judaism or Islam (both of which technically worship the same deity as Christians, though some will argue - have argued - that Muslims are Moon-worshippers) - or indeed, with a totally different deity-based religion, like, say, Zoroastrianism. (Can Ahura Mazda be the deity recognized by Deists? I dunno.) How many times is the name of Jesus invoked in any of the documents of the foundation of this nation?

And to argue that our nation was founded by Christans and, ipso facto, as a Christian nation would be to make an equally strong case with the assertion that our nation was founded by slavers, murderers, thieves, religious radicals, the persecuted, the persecutors, drunks, whiskey distillers...all of these were components of the population that founded our nation, and all of them in some way helped to inform what our nation would become.

So anyway, my point is that these arguments can go on and on and get really nasty. The people who most seriously need convincing are the people who are almost completely immune to rational argument. And I don't have the energy to shout at walls right now.

Anonymous said...

Your last line about shouting at walls reminds me of an exchange from the lost Zen classic, Circle of Iron.

Cord: Talking to you is like talking to a wall.

Zen Master (David Carradine, of course): Buddha sat before a wall -- and when he arose he was enlightened.

Cord: So you compare yourself to the Buddha then?

Zen Master: No, only the wall.

I've been looking for an excuse to post that exchange.