Friday, May 25, 2007

Religion is Everywhere


Watching Al Gore on Jon Stewart last night I was reminded again how distinctly religious everyhing is. He was promoting his new book called The Assault on Reason and I felt like I was watching Francis Schaeffer. When I saw "An Inconvenient Truth" I couldn't believe how much it felt like TV evangelism. Couple weeks ago I saw Oprah recieving her honorary doctorate on CNN and she kept talking about people finding their identity and she referred to it as "getting saved". Gore talks about global warming the same way. You hear comedians and celebrities talk about tolerance and freedom and making grand assumptions about the primacy of these things and they talk about it like it is a religion to be advanced (even at the expense of tolerance and freedom, ironically). I could go on and on with example of where I've noticed this stuff.
And who are the authorities in all this? The unnamed "scientists" and the undebated "facts". Or, if none are mentioned, it is just taken as universal common knowledge. The media groundswell is such that you can't even question it without getting labelled as a nut job. I'm not saying I disagree with the things they are saying, I just can't believe the assumptions being made.
I read Clinton's autobiography a while back and I remember something he said about how the Democrats big failing point is that they can't motivate votes as well as Republicans because the Republicans are so good at tapping into religious convictions. And since evangelical leaders of the Religious Right became so politically involved in recent decades, it played into Republican hands. All they had to do was learn the buzzwords and they could get themselves elected.

Clinton didn't whine about this, he simply grieved the Democrats inability to tap into these things as well. It isn't a matter of one party having religious convictions and the other not. It is a matter of which ones are foremost on people's minds and who is goint to stir that up and capitalize on it. I think because I read that I have been really noticing the religious flavour of Left Wing USA in recent years. I sense a change of strategy.
I'm not saying I have a problem with this conviction. Hey, more power to them. I merely find it curious. I do have a problem with the hypocrisy of it in the media though. The same people who scoff at people of faith asserting their values on society go right ahead and assert theirs. They are allowed to, of course, because it isn't a "faith" they are advancing. It is science. It is a given.
Science is the authority. "Public opinion" is the authority. No one talks about the fact that all science is based on theories and that science has plenty of uncertainty to it. The authorities are nameless and unquestioned. Yet only a decade ago the authority of Scripture was ripped to shreds because we couldn't name the dude who wrote Hebrews and stuff like that. Its just funny how it all turns on its head.

Other turn arounds: Christians are (rightly) scoffed at for their witch hunts, but the tolerance police do the same thing today. The end times phenomenon seems to have finally died down and now we get it from Lloyd Mansbridge, except it isn't Jesus coming back, it is David Suzuki! TV evangelists are derided, but Michael Moore and Al Gore use their tactics and are heroes. I'm not defending TV evangelists. Nor do I care what Gore or Moore happen to be selling. I just laugh at the hypocrisy. The things Christians have been taught to be careful about are now common fare.

I was reading from a book called Reviewing Leadership today, and it said:

"The English management specialist and ethicist Stephen Pattison has argued provocatively that much so-called secular thinking and writing about management displays a sort of utopian religious faith.... ideas about leadership, though rarely linked specifically with faith, are often supported by assumptions and beliefs that spring from a particular worldview and that these are permeated by quasi-religious and at times religious factors."

"Many theorists and consultants are primarily selling 'faith, hope, and meaning'."

That's fine. But I just wish the media would stop pretending to be neutral, stop using the word truth only when it helps them (and deriding it the rest of the time), and start admitting that everyone is operating from a faith, admit that everyone who says anything is at least suggesting it is true, and admit no one is neutral.

Then maybe we could talk about and evaluate issues such as faith, hope, and meaning instead of mud slinging and all that. All of us need to learn to do this. In the church and out. Just don't tell me that Christians are the intolerant ones, and that the religious are the mindless ones, and so on and so on.

2 comments:

Tony Tanti said...

Agreed Jon. Religion has been replaced in Canada by things like environmentalism and health care.

Like you I don't disagree with those things but I resent the fact that we can't openly talk about them. You'll get "burned at the stake" for disagreeing with the accusation that human caused CO2 is the main cause of global warming. There are very few people having reasonable discussions about this and other issues because as you rightly point out, they have become religions in their own right and unfortunately the publics line of defense against misinformation is our media.

Jon, Angie, Elijah & Brady said...

"we can't openly talk about them".... You'll get "burned at the stake" for disagreeing with the accusation that human caused CO2 is the main cause of global warming. There are very few people having reasonable discussions about this and other issues because as you rightly point out, they have become religions in their own right and unfortunately the publics line of defense against misinformation is our media."

wow, well said. that's what i was trying to say.