Monday, September 19, 2005

Fish Ain't Bitin' . . .
. . . and so I'm parachuting back in for a quick post. Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. published an essay in the New York Times yesterday called "Forgetting Reinhold Niebuhr," which seems mighty appropriate to some of the discussions taking place on this blog lately. Thanks to Blackdogred at Best of the Blogs for catching it first.

We've been talking some here about the value of reason and evidence to produce conclusions. Niebuhr's discussion of original sin reads like a gold-star example. The idea that we're born with the capacity to do wrong certainly seems proven based on the evidence humanity has provided throughout recorded history. Once you accept your essential imperfection, it becomes a lot harder to unilaterally impose your will on other people. After all, you could be wrong. Indeed, what's so utterly maddening to me about America's religious right is their inability to accept their imperfections and their obliviousness to the possibility that they, too, might be wrong. For all their talk about being poor struggling sinners, they don't really believe that's what they are, or they'd display more of the humility that would have to come with such knowledge. And for all their talk about doing God's will, they're really doing their own. The belief that they can ask forgiveness for their sins and the assurance that they will receive it becomes a blank check to do anything they want.

The arrogant, politicized religiosity displayed by the religious right makes it easy to disbelieve in their god. It's harder to disbelieve in Niebuhr's. Quote of the Day, from Blackdogred: "[Niebuhr] is a welcome reminder of what theology can be, even if you disagree with most of it. It is theology worthy of not believing in."

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