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Soft Targets

It’s horrible what has happened in Orlando.

But no one should be surprised. We’re the stupidest country on the planet for passing the Patriot Act but allowing just about anyone to buy guns.

The right wing noise machine and The Donald are going to start whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment. But anyone who thought it was a good idea to invade Iraq (for the oil, let’s be honest. The WMDs were just a convenient excuse) and then destabilize the country by withdrawing before the country could defend itself against ISIS, should know that they exacerbated the possibility of terrorism.

No one, including overbearing right wing, belligerent gun nut Americans deserves to have their innocent children gunned down in a nightclub. But you have to wonder if they thought that soft targets are only located in Europe.

How about that 2nd amendment?

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More on religion

The Publican and the Pharisee

My post on religious narcissism is getting a lot of hits.  The hits come and go.  It’s clearly hit a nerve probably because it feels truthy.  But I’m not the only one who has made the connection between some religious people and narcissism.  And I’m not condemning all religious people, not by a long shot.  I have no problem with those people who know their boundaries and can coexist peacefully without insisting on sticking their beliefs into our heads.  I’ve long been a proponent of God 2.0, that is, a new kind of experience that is independent of bronze age mythology.  In other words, god needs a rewrite and a makeover but I can live with the metaphorically minded in the meantime.

We can not rule out the possibility that the right, seeing a potential push back against their ramming religion down our throats, is going to fight dirty.  I’m not Frank Luntz or Karl Rove and I am not employed by Fox News (or I would be a lot wealthier right now) so I can’t tell what form their coming attack is going to take but I’m pretty sure that there are agents out there combing the blogs looking for trigger words and memes. I’m not being paranoid or inflating my influence.  It’s just something they do and they wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t scour political and cultural blogs for potent memes.  It happened in 2008 and it’s going to happen more and more leading up to the 2014 and 2016 elections.  There’s a lot at stake.

This meme has legs so I expect them to start conjuring a response.  No one likes to be called a narcissist, even if they only think that it has something to do with vanity while they miss the bigger personality disorder.  It might put the religious off their kibble if they start looking undesirable or if they start to sense that the rest of us are on to them.  It could trigger narcissistic rage, which is Bill O’Reilly’s forte, or it could mean that the rest of us can gain a toehold to resist them.  They’re not going to like it in any case so I’d keep my eyes and ears open for a response.

I’m trying to put together a post that explains how to deal with people with narcissistic personality disorder but it’s not an easy one to write because there is no magic bullet that will make these people stop behaving the way they do.  It’s harder in America because the critical mass of “nones” hasn’t been reached here that would be a more powerful counterweight to the religious narcissists.  The “nones” category is growing rapidly (I suspect there are many god 2.0 people among them) but our culture still reveres the religious and because these people have a powerful microphone right now, they will get a greater amount of attention than they are entitled to.

So, I’m going to punt for awhile while I continue gathering my resources and instead recommend a podcast from Mormon Stories.  Mormon Stories is hosted my John Dehlin, a Mormon on the liberal end of the spectrum, who is studying for his PhD in psychology.  I highly recommend this podcast in general because Dehlin’s interview style ranks right up there with Terry Gross, IMHO.  Where has this guy been??  He should be way more famous.  Another great podcast host is Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist, whose warm, resonant radio voice reassures thousands of disaffected new atheists that they’re not alone.

Anyway, what I really love about Dehlin’s podcast is he is documenting the struggle that modern Mormons are having with their church in terms of gender equality, homosexuality and the history of their church.  These Mormons want to stay connected to the culture they grew up with for many good reasons but they need the church to recognize their concerns.  Dehlin takes a rigorous approach to religion in general and some of his podcasts have explored the types of religious believers that exist in this country as well as why religion is so compelling from  a social psychology perspective.  Here are a couple episodes from that latter category.

Episode 417: Dr. Ryan Cragun on his new book, “What You Don’t Know About Religion (But Should)”

Episodes 339-342: The Psychology of Religion with Dr. James Nagel

One of the things I took away from these podcasts, as well as Seth’s podcast, is the importance of knowing you are not alone.  Just because your entire family, neighborhood, culture appears to be spouting anti-birth control nonsense or is obsessed with the pedophile that is lurking behind every tree, doesn’t mean everyone is going nuts.  If you speak up, you may find you have a lot more people on your side than you thought.  They tend to keep quiet when they think they are outliers.

The other thing I learned, that Ryan Cragun confirmed, is that it is a LOT harder to organize people on the left side of the spectrum because they don’t consider themselves to be joiners.  This will always be an advantage to the right.  Now, we might want to try to figure out why the left and the skeptical community don’t join forces in the same way the right’s disparate communities do but I suspect that it might go back to our childhoods.  If you are forced to join a religion or social structure that you may not feel affinity for, you may resist any attempts to join a sympathetic one in the future.  That’s just one working hypothesis.

One final thing, Cragun says that religious fundamentalists are a lot more unpopular than they or we are lead to believe.  He says the problem with popularly reported surveys is that the participants are rarely asked to rank fundamentalists in the same way they are asked to rank atheists.  Consider those surveys in the same light as the ones commissioned by WaPo where people are asked to rank taxes, the budget deficit and every other thing except unemployment as the most important things that government should tackle.  So, yeah, fundies are living in denial when they think they are universally loved and admired.

Gotta go now.  Get your headsets on and enjoy.

 

Saturday: Right Wing Christianity is an oxymoron

Evil hides behind many beautiful faces

From the Globe and Mail we get this description of the murderer who confessed to shooting more than 87 people at a youth camp in Norway:

“He describes himself as a Christian, leaning toward right-wing Christianity, on his Facebook page,” Mr. Andresen said.
[…]
Mr. Breivik’s Facebook page was blocked, but a cached version describes a conservative Christian from Oslo who owned his own organic farming company, called Breivik Geofarm.

The profile veers between references to lofty political philosophers and gory popular films, television shows and video games. The Facebook account appears to have been set up on 17 July. The site lists no “friends” or social connections.

The profile lists interests including hunting, political and stock analysis, with tastes in music ranging from classical to trance, a hypnotic form of dance music.

Mr. Breivik had also set up a Twitter account recently, with a single post on July 17, a citation from 19th century thinker John Stuart Mill: “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests.”

If you are a conservative, “right-wing” Christian, please note that horrors like this will be permanently associated with your ideology. Don’t give me that crap about, “Well, you can’t blame all of us for the actions of a few.” Yes, I’m talking to YOU. You know who you are. I know you personally. I know how you go off on angry tirades against anyone who doesn’t toe your particularly militant form of Christianity. I see how you allow bad things to happen to good people because you put your faith in God and are going to close your eyes and pray that the Rapture is just around the corner. Who is telling you that it is OK to remain passive in the face of so much misery?

This massacre is the result of the eschatological furor to purge the earth of all that the right-wing “Christian” thinks is rotten. This is what you get when you demonize people who do not think that America is a Christian nation. This is what you get when you believe every mean-spirited, selfish, greedy, hard-hearted fecal emanation from the mouths of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson and the other false prophets.

The real Jesus said turn the other cheek, give away all of your goods, love your neighbor and that those who are good to the least among us would be with him in heaven.

He did not say, “kill the children of the people whose political views you do not like because this will teach them a lesson and bring on the Apocalypse.”

The rottenness of the world that you want to purge now includes you. The term “Christian” is fast becoming a dirty word, like Al Qaeda. Not Catholic or Lutheran or Presbyterian or Methodist.  *Christian*  It has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years.  When you walk into a party and announce your *Christianity* at the first opportunity (and I know you will), everyone will now know exactly what you mean.  It now means fundamentalist, narrow-minded, judgmental, self-righteous, anti-intellectual, selfish and now violent.  Is that what you want?

If that’s not what you want, turn away from the conservative TV and radio shows and religious programming with their false prophets.

You will have to answer to Jesus for what you have allowed to happen in his name.

Ezekiel 28:15-18

You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.

Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.

Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings

By your many sins and dishonest trade
you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you,
and it consumed you,
and I reduced you to ashes on the ground
in the sight of all who were watching.

Update: The backlash has begun.  This is the headline at the New York Times:

Norway Charges Right-Wing Christian

I feel sorry for all of the innocent Christians who we will now learn to fear.

Update II: This is from The Guardian, describing the murderer, Anders Behring Breivik:

It was revealed that the 32-year-old former member of the country’s conservative Progress Party – who had become ever more extreme in his hatred of Muslims, left wingers and the country’s political establishment – had ordered six tonnes of fertiliser in May to be used in the bombing. While police continued to interrogate Breivik, who was charged with the mass killings, evidence of his increasingly far right world view emerged from an article he had posted on several Scandinavian websites, including Nordisk – a site frequented by neo-Nazis, far right radicals and Islamophobes since 2009.

It is time to stop the madness in this country as well.  Recently, a moveon.org meeting was broken up by Tea Party activists (from Stephen Colbert’s site, of all places) who then proceeded to follow some of the meeting participants and harrass them.  Enough is enough.  Didn’t the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords teach these people anything?  Glenn Beck and the whole crazy anti-liberal, anti-islamic bigotry has to stop.  We need to shame these people because if we don’t, it won’t be long before some right wing christian decides to follow Anders Breivik’s example and we will all be sorry we didn’t put a stop to it.

Watch the video of the encounter.  Is Utoya far behind?