Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not much to report on, and my stomach is feeling kind of sick today. I had dinner at Macaroni Grill last night with Ryan and Jamie, and I'm tempted to blame it on that (although I've eaten there many times before without problems, so the blame is probably misplaced).

Auditors have apparently found that the Justice Department illegally screened applicants (for summer internships and prestigious honors) on the basis of their political beliefs and affiliations, making sure that the political beliefs of applicants mirrored those of White House personnel before recommending them. I'm almost out of energy in terms of complaining about the countless ways that this administration has broken the law, violated the Constitution, overreached in its power grabs, and divided the people of this country. Soon this administration will be gone, and hopefully things will get better. Hopefully.

And Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson is accusing Barack Obama of manipulating and reinterpreting the Bible. I don't really think that Obama is doing those things, but even if he were, it would seem only fair after watching Dobson put his right wing spin on the Bible for decades. Judging from what I've read about Obama's comments to the liberal Christian group Call to Renenewal, Obama did little more than make a plea for tolerance, stating that Christians need to keep in mind that different interpretations of the Bible are possible, that different people choose to focus their attention on different parts of the Bible, and that if Christians are going to be able to effectively promote their ideas in the political arena, they need to be able to defend their religious viewpoints with nonreligious logic that will appeal to nonbelievers or people of different faiths.
I gotta say that I have to agree with Obama on this stuff. Of course different people interpret the Bible differently and focus on different parts of it. That's why we have so many different forms of Christianity in this country, with both conservative and liberal factions within it. And yes, I agree that Christians need to be able to support their beliefs (at least insofar as they want to make them public policy) with logic. It's not fair or right to expect people of different faiths to have to adhere to Christian doctrine just because it's a matter of religious faith for some people. To expect people to adhere to rules that aren't founded on logic just because one particular segment of the population accepts those rules as a matter of nonrational faith (not necessarily irrational, but logic doesn't really need to play into the equation for the faithful) is to impose one group's will onto a group that may not share in their beliefs. I would imagine most people could see how that might go wrong (anyone remember the Inquisition? the Crusades? the endless battles between the Shiites and the Sunnis in the Middle East?). Logic is the only common ground that we have as a race if we're to have any hope of coexisting by consensus. So I find it a little warped when Dobson expresses the sentiment that evangelical Christians should consider themselves above the need for logical arguments so long as the Bible has an appropriate passage that might be referenced for guidance. After all, many Muslims believe just as strongly in the Koran as their Christian counterparts believe in the Bible, and some of them also probably feel themselves above the need for logic (and they are just as surely wrong).
Dobson, of course, tries to maintain that his right to fight for his religious beliefs is under attack. But that's not really what Obama seems to be saying. He just seems to expect Christians to be able to explain rules that incorporate tenets of religious faith by way of rational, nonreligious arguments if those rules are going to be used to govern the lives of non-Christians. Seems fair. I'm pretty sure that a group of evangelical Chrisitans wouldn't be too happy about being governed under laws that were justified by nothing more than Islamic or Jewish scripture.

Annnnnyway, I guess I just think it's good thing to see Obama reaching out to a religious base while still encouraging tolerance and understanding at the same time. Leave it to Dobson to come out of the woodwork and attack him for it.

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