"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Is the Tide Turning?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Is the Tide Turning?

This following is from a CBS news story:
At a church in Washington, hundreds of committed Christians met recently and tried to map out a strategy to get their values into the political debate. But these are not the conservative Christian values which have been so influential lately. This is the religious left.

"Jesus called us to love our neighbor, love our enemy, care for the poor, care for the outcast, and that's really the moral core of where we think the nation ought to go," Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell.

The National Council of Churches represents about 50 million Christians in America — the majority of them mainline Protestants.

"Jesus never said one word about homosexuality, never said one word about civil marriage or abortion," Edgar said.

He calls this movement the "center-left" — and it's seeking the same political muscle as the conservative Christians, a group with a strong power base in the huge Evangelical churches of the South.

But the left has its own Evangelical leaders, such as the Rev. Tony Campolo.

"We are furious that the religious right has made Jesus into a Republican. That's idolatry," Campolo said. "To recreate Jesus in your own image rather than allowing yourself to be created in Jesus' image is what's wrong with politics."

The Christian left is focusing on:
Fighting poverty
Protecting the environment
Ending the war in Iraq

"Right now the war in Iraq costs us $1 billion per week," said Rev. Jim Wallis, a Christian activist. "And we can't get $5 billion over ten years for child care in this country?"

To try to attract young voters and the attention of politicians who want their votes, leaders of the religious left are promoting issues like raising the minimum wage.

"Nine million families are working full time," Wallis said. "Working hard full time, responsibly, and not making it."

Three decades ago liberal religious leaders had a powerful influence on politics.

In the 1960s and 70s they led demonstrations against civil rights abuses and the war in Vietnam. But when those battles were over, the movement seemed to lose energy, while the Christian right had become well organized and committed to having its voice and concerns heard.

After years of sitting on the sidelines, it will take more than meetings and talking points to make the liberals into a political power again.

"The Christian right has a ground game," said Mark Silk of Trinity College's religious studies department. "Thus far the Christian left mainly has an air game: they want to throw positions, they want to talk to the media, but do they have the networks in place on the ground to get people out to vote?"

So, it remains to be seen whether there's any action behind the words. But there's no doubt they're on a mission.

"I've watched a generation die. And I watched them shift from idealism to a 'me' generation that was only orientated to consumerism and it hurt, and I wondered whether we ever would come back." Campolo said. "But the pendulum is swinging."

Well, what do you think? Here in Seattle, so-called mainstream churches are struggling to deal with homelessness (from prevention to tent cities), even as their congregations are dwindling. Meanwhile, suburban megachurches with that charming God-wants-you-to-be-wealthy gospel are adding hair salons and basketball courts and other amenities as their congregations swell..

I see no evidence that the pendulum is swinging.


  1. peace and love for everyone!

  2. Me too. As a member of an LLL church, I also embrace the values of the religious left, which may be surprising to others on the site. I consider Jimmy Carter a role model.

  3. Count me in as realizing the message of Christ is greater than gays, guns, and abortion. Anecdotally, it seems more people are becoming aware of the frightening radicalism of the religious right. To my surprise, there are still people, usually city-dwellers, who've never met a member of the religious right.

  4. This is a tough subject to assess without letting emotion have a disproportionate influence. I'm glad to see the left embracing religion in a more proactive way, but I'm wondering why it's necessary at all. Let me explain.

    We really have to be careful with this issue, as we identify buckets into which to throw folks though. I've never thought the left was anti-religion in any way, shape or form. What I do think is that fervent anti-religionists (I like to invent new words if I don't know a good one!) are more likely to identify with the left than the right -- which could lead to misinterpretation of the data. The misinterpetation of data can be explained by a study done in Europe long ago that noted a remarkable correlation between the increasing population of storks and the increasing human population. There actually was a direct causal relationship between the two, but it obviously had nothing to do with storks winging their way around with little bundles of joy.

    This issue is another one where common sense has been ignored. While we could argue that folks on the left might be more socially responsible -- and that would be a bitter argument with lots of emotion flying unfettered -- the fact is that it really doesn't have anything to do with religion. Christianity teaches us to be socially responsible and sympathetic, but is not exclusive in teaching that. I've mentioned before a good friend of mine who is as morally upright, responsible, honest, and kind as anyone I know -- and he is an avowed atheist. He believes and lives the way he does not because of an edict from any altar, but because it seems to him to be the right thing to do. He also happens to be slightly to the right of Attila the Hun with regard to politics. Hmmmm....a republican that doesn't belive in God and who is socially responsible...go figure.

    It's often been a favorite mantra of people, whether they be politicians, special interest groups, or whatever, to try to identify with a faith or an ideal, and I think that if we were to scratch deeper than skin depth, we would discover it's often nothing more than a ploy to attract a voting block or other sympathetic support. I don't like politicians -- be they right or left -- trying to say they represent the true ideals of faith and religion. If they really believed themselves, they should all say that they are members of a strong bipartisan coalition of honest and upright and socially responsible people.

    It's too bad that in our society today, we seem to need to identify with a radical position, be it right or left. We often are almost forced to do that in order to protect out own, much more modest needs. As an example, I'm a life member of the National Rifle Association, not because I believe that every idiot should be allowed to own a gun or that they should all be allowed to buy teflon coated bullets or that we should kill animals and birds with reckless abandon, but because if I don't belong to that group, the anti-gun movement would have long ago taken away things in which I believe.

    Where is the middle ground? Where is the common sense? Why can we not all be aware and caring and sympathetic and responsible and kind to all of God's creation, be it people, animal, or planet? I don't want the pendulum to swing wildly as it always does. I want it to stop in the right place.

  5. Free

    I recommend the book "Stealing Jesus" on the right-wingers sole claim to our Savior.

  6. For most of my adult life it was the left that used religion for political purposes. For those of you who may have missed this, simply look back at the level of political activity taking place in the black churches of this country. The Democratic party made Sunday speeches to the faithful and the church hierarchy was engaged in voter registration drives, candidate endorsements, fund raising, lobbying and the like. Much of this activity took place from behind the pulpit and the political parties and candidates were mentioned by name.

    It has only been recently that the issue of contemporary involvement of religion in politics has been an issue. That has come about as a result of the right becoming successful in mobilizing their base in the 80's and 90's in the precise same manner as the left in the 50's and 60's.

    So where is the threat? It dosesn't exist. The left should simply get on with their business and stop pointing their finger at the right as their reason for doing what they want to do anyway. I believe that they see religion and politics as intertwined as it has ever been and naturally so. It is a good notion to want a secular state but a ridiculous notion that citizens should throw their belief system (if it is religious) in the wastebasket before voting. The left would have you believe that beliefs count for political choice only if it is secular and preferably in line with their world view.

    So go the market place of ideas and stop whining.

  7. Hoo boy Stylux, let me get on my flak jacket 'cause I think the fur is gonna fly! As was said in some movie (Full Metal Jacket?)I love the smell of napalm in the morning...

  8. Many Trails Home7/13/2006 04:46:00 PM

    Hey cvow, I think I'll have to stand behind you in your flak jacket! It's a lot easier to dodge flak when you're anonymous tho, isn't it?
    RE: the movie you quoted, I think it was APOCALYPSE NOW (I did not see Full Metal Jacket and I did see the movie with the "napalm" comment.) MTH

  9. CVOW Asked?: Where is the middle ground? Where is the common sense?

    My impression is that the allowance of expression of all ideas - is the middle ground. Should we muzzle the far left or the far right - would that be middle ground or common sense? Should secular mean without faith, or conviction, or religion. We all are who we are, and coversation and action should follow ideas.

    To entertain yourself, read Stylux's post by interchanging left with right, Democratic with Republican.

    Maybe everyone is over-reacting, and way to sensitive!

    Good post Stylux!

  10. I think I am like a lot of people: sometime feeling great hope and at other times in great despair over the future of this country and our entire planet.
    My hope rises from an inner sense that there is a ground-swell of true spirituality, not necessarily connected with churches. Free, I agree with you about the megachurches. We have a lot of them here, too, and their focus on materialism (if you have a lot of money and "stuff", God must SURELY LOVE you!). But I think spirituality will show up in unlikely places and through unlikely people and soon a tipping point will be reached. Then more mainstream folks will become involved with helping others and saving the planet.
    My despair arises whenever I think about the current actions in Washington, and I pray that the tide will turn before "they" can do any more damage. I try to maintain a sense of optimism: there is enough pessimism already and it helps nothing and no one.

  11. Having been brought up in the OALC and paid at least some attention to the religious scene in this and other countries, I have some worries as well. However, these go in a different direction than I tend to hear from others, particularly in what may be described as the main stream media. I don't worry too much about the amount of spirituality around. Humans are spiritual beings and in that regard we will always have plenty. I concern myself with what people do with it. The large deficit in matters spiritual is in what we are willing to call evil. The trend is to “relativize” every and all behaviors and strip ourselves of the ability to make any judgments about any action unless it is accompanied by some empirical study of some sort. When we fail to call evil evil we will label those who call evil evil... evil. This is the failure in much of western civilization.

    Appeal to whatever code you wish be it natural law, Christianity or some other but at least be willing to call it as it is. The business of moral equivalence and the willingness to let profoundly evil people off the hook by some nebulous appeal to multiculturalism is dangerous. And this is not coming from Washington.

  12. What profoundly evil people are you referring to here?

  13. It would appear that he is talking about homosexuals. The bane of every Republican's existance.

  14. Where the heck do you see a reference to homosexuals, anon 9:30? And "the bane of every Republican's existence"? Shucks, I'm a Republican and I don't have a problem with the issue. I even have gay friends and openly admit it. There's also a few Democrats that I like, and a couple atheists, and even one or two Californians (but shhh, don't tell anyone about that).

    Generalities suck. Show me the data to support your position, not the emotion. Good grief.

  15. Many Trails Home7/15/2006 01:12:00 AM

    To Stylux: Can't say that I agree with you at all, but at least you have generated some heat here. I find your "fixation" on evil telling. And that you consider the refusal to acknowledge and objectify evil the "failure of much of western civilization." Boy, there's a saber-rattling stance if I ever heard one.

    I won't argue whether this attitude is "right" or "wrong" (except to say that I find it very "Old Testament," in which we find an obsession with one's "enemies"). It IS the attitude of war-mongers, not peace-makers, and certainly not the attitude Jesus took toward "enemies." But I would like to suggest it is impractical as well: war is necessary to stop aggression sometimes, yes. But when have you seen a "war on drugs," a "war on poverty," a "war on unmarried motherhood" actually a success? To paraphrase, fighting fire with fire may lead to a scorched-earth policy, and who wins?
    Frankly, those who search for evil will find plenty, forever, and often help create some. Evil will NEVER be stamped off the face of the earth. Go ahead and try. I can predict the result: overwhelming depression and despair. The only answer is to follow the advise of Jesus: love your neighbor, love your enemy, love those who hate you. So easy to say, and so hard to do, and so hard to even remember. But if we are to have hope, we should at least try. MTH

  16. Well said MTH. (I see you didn't stay behind the flak jacket long! heheheh.)

    The disappointing thing to me about this topic is I'm off this morning for a couple of weeks of vacation and won't get to participate...

    Peace y'all.

  17. Profound evil is easy to pick out and it doesn't take a fixation of the Old Testament type. I am a social libertarian and a fiscal conservative and spend no time worrying about homosexuality having grown up in quite a tolerant environment in that regard.

    People who slit others throat for the purpose of creating videos for the world are profoundly evil. Cultures who send their young into Israeli coffee shops to blow up students and mothers are profoundly evil. Upper middle class men who cut the throats of airline stewardesses while they direct the plane into the World Trade Center are profoundly evil. People who justify this behavior by referring to social conditions are profoundly evil.

    To say that war is hell is to speak the truth... to say that war is not the answer is to sloganeer. War was the answer to Hitler and war is the answer to other evils as well. All the Chamberlains of the world could not accomplish what the Churchills could.

    I am on no particular search for evil however can recognize it when I see it and find it useful to call it that way. I believe pacifism to be a fixation with rose colored glasses and a rather naive worldview. MTH... I do agree with your view on the uselessness of waging "war" on various social conditions. Throwing money at these problems has done very little other can create constituencies for future dollars.

  18. Well, this has been interesting! I'd love to get you all together over a bottle of wine or three, and no doubt we'd discover, among other things, that you can take the boy (toot) out of the country (OALC), but you can't take the country out of the boy. (Or girl, as the case may be, but it does seem a bit easier to take it out of the girl. That topic for another day!)

    I will agree with Stylux that liberals are sometimes guilty of taking relativism too far in the name of multiculturalism, although I assert that our motivation (harmony in diversity) is better than conservative religionists' (harmony in hegemony).

    I would add to the list of evils: fraudulently-elected leaders who mislead, distort, fearmonger and distract in order to illegally invade and occupy Iraq, resulting in thousands of dead, a civil war, loss of our country's allies and worldwide respect, and the abuse of our democracy, our Constitution, and the Geneva Accords, while allowing the criminals behind 9-11 to go free.

    And: A passive citizenry that tunes out. God help us all.

    (I'm reading an insightful article about the differences between American Christians by Marilynne Robinson -- author of "Gilead" -- in Harper's magazine. I'll share it with you in my next post.)

  19. One of the wonderful characteristics of the modern leftist is the myopic belief that if they lose an election one of the following must be the case: 1) Fraud was committed
    2) The voters were uneducated, ignorant and didn't know how to vote.
    It is never the case that the voters considered their options and decided that it was in the best interests of the country to not vote for them.

    Free... The only thing you left out was that we did it for oil.

  20. My esteemed colleague Stylux, it doesn't take a conspiracist (or myopic) to question some of the unprecedented statistics surrounding that election, such as the unprecedented pattern where EVERY location in which the votes contradicted the exit polls, those votes favored Bush. That is evidently a statistical possibility of . . . . 64,000 to one. You call it. Certainly it was "the will of the people" but just which people is increasingly clear.

    As for oil.I don't know what we went there for. It wasn't WMD. Who is going to tell us? When? Perhaps we are too "uneducated and ignorant" to know, and should just keep handing over our sons and daughters and checkbooks.

  21. Free... You are definitely my favorite from the other side of the aisle. Certainly, I must remind you of the fact that Clinton and his administration and all of the usual suspects commonly called the European union felt that WMD's were the issue. So Bush acted on reasonable data at the time. As for the election... what Websites are you reading??? A number of left leaning journals have confirmed that the election was called correctly after their own independent studies.

    Not to worry though as I will take you up on the vino.

    We do share some common ground... I am not particularly fond of the mega churches. Pulling into a church lot under the direction of an army of parking attendants along with thousands of others reminds me of a bad fourth of July celebration never mind the sermon.

    And I hereby publicly retract my use of myopic.

  22. Dear Free,
    Amen to your comments! You have stated it so well.

    And, Stylux, at the risk of sounding revengeful, YOU are seeming a bit myopic (sorry about using that word!) in your comments about the election vote. Why haven't you asked why the electronic voting machines are all made by one man and his brother-in-law, who, according to an acquaintance (I haven't read this myself yet), refuse to allow them to be made with a paper copy even though they also make all other electronic machines we use, all of which make paper copies? And why would these men, again according to the acquaintance, promise the "powers that be" that they will give them the results they desire in the election? So I'm being paranoid?

    I don't mean to pick on you, Stylux, and I enjoy reading your comments. It good to hear other people's perspectives.

    Free, my husband and I just saw "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore. If we believe his predictions, all this arguing will soon be moot.

  23. Bozeman, MT: Oh I just knew this would heat up, so I couldn't resist checking tonight. Before I forget, I saw a great bumper sticker on a car tonight -- "God is NOT a Republican...OR a Democrat." I loved it.

    It's kind of too bad that this discussion fell back into the oft argued ad nauseum topics of: WMD -- were they or weren't they; the election - GWB couldn't/wouldn't/shouldn't have won; etc. etc. etc.

    I think -- and my belief is just as valid as anyone else's because in spite of all the opinions you may have read supporting one side or the other, the public does not know the facts -- that GWB acted on intelligence about the WMDs that may or may not have been flawed. A fact is, Saddam had used weapons like that in the past, so why should I believe that now suddenly he was squeaky clean.

    Should we have used WMDs as the reason to invade? Probably not -- at least not as the whole reason. What we should have said is that we were invading to take a despot out of power. At the end of WWII, when the Nazi death camps were discovered, the world collectively gasped and vowed "never again". Well, Saddam was doing it again. Just because the French and few of our other allies change their mind more frequently than they change cheese recipes doesn't change the fact that innocents had and were dying. I doubt anybody is foolish enough to try to mount a vigorous defense of Saddam.

    Now we could get into a really good discussion about why as long as the genocide is in Africa, we don't seem to care as much. However, then we'd probably drag out the old tired saw about no oil there so of course we won't fight.

    While I do not believe all of the things GWB has to say, I believe even less of what the Clintonistas have to say -- and Gore is painted with that brush. I will say that at least Gore has gotten quite funny now that he has shed the robot mode. I don't like all of what GWB has done, but I don't disagree with all of it either. To a large degree I understand that he has a heck of a lot better intelligence about world situations than I or anybody else who is not security cleared at the highest levels could hope to have. I know, I know, emotions are salve to the soul, not to mention they really help seel newspapers.

    Now that I've stirred up all of my friends in the "L" camp, I'll say that I agree with much of what you say, and the reasons you have for saying them. I hate war. I agree that "wars" on social problems don't solve them any more than does the appointment of "drug czars" and the like.

    Free, tut, tut, tut. 64,000 to 1? You're talking to somone who lives and breathes stats for a living. I know, we do ask "what would you LIKE the answer to be?" but it kind of sounded like you were stating emotion in the guise of facts. Numbers do lend an air of validity...

    I really just want to know who stole my Republican party -- the one that was fiscally responsible and believed in small government.

  24. Oh and by the way Free, did I understand correctly that you think that girl "toots" break away from the OALC cleaner and easier than do boy "toots"? I wouldn't have thought that, but I do think that would be a great thread all by itself.

  25. Interesting discussion. I am curious as to the origins of the nickname toot(s) for OALC members. Maybe this has been covered before, if so I have missed it. I realize this is a bit off topic, but maybe someone could shed some light on this for me. Thanks.

  26. As for election problems... statistically if miscounts occur they occur in equal number for both parties and I haven't heard much from the left about problems in any other areas. Why not?

    Al Gore and his movie??? Isn't this the same guy who claimed that the family car is the biggest danger to mankind in the 20th century? Now the last time I checked Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, the Hutu's, Hussein and company were responsible for nearly 200 million deaths in that century. I can recall warnings about a new ice age, the population bomb, running out of fossile fuels, nuclear armageddon and others. I pinch myself and have enormous gratitude for surviving it all. Perhaps there won't be enough cinder blocks available to accommodate all cars which will have to placed on blocks. Earlier in the century only the religious fringies were standing on the corner predicting the end of time. It looks like the lefties took over that responsibility. No wonder surveys show (empirical scientific data, no less) that righties are happier.

  27. Stylux, you really ought to read some of those left-leaning journals, he he. Good for what ails ya. (And for Pete's sake, happiness is no indication of perspective. The happiest people I know have Down's.)

    Cvow, how kind of you to weigh in on vacation, and with such a thoughtful post . . . especially where you agree with me, of course. Yes, I was rounding with those numbers. The polling company actually puts it much higher, at 783,000 to one, or in lay terms: impossible. Since you love numbers, here is the source:

    "In addition to state specific exit sampling, Edison/Mitofsky and the National Election Pool also provided exit sample results for a large national sample of 13,047 voters . . . for male voters (46%):Kerry 47% and Bush 52%, for female voters (54%): Kerry 54% and Bush 45%. Thus the national exit sample predicted that Kerry would win the national popular vote by 50.8% to Bush’s 48.2%, a popular vote win of 2.6%. This in contrast to the Bush win of the popular vote by an even larger 51.2% to 48.4%, or 2.8% (Nader got 0.3%). This is more than a 100% swing in the other direction of the exit sample margin. This represents a pro-Bush national exit sampling overestimate of Kerry’s vote by 2.4% (50.8% minus 48.4%). This national exit sample has a very small variance because of its large size. Assuming a random sample the 2.4% pro-Bush error has a standard error of over five standard deviations (5.37). There is less than a one in 25 million (1/25,507,308) chance of this occurring. Even if we conservatively assume a non-random precinct sample (as explained above) without demographic corrections, there is only a one in 55 thousand (1/55,499) chance that this magnitude of exit sample error could occur. Indeed Edison/Mitofsky give only a 1% chance of error at the 95% level of confidence for this size sample for a “characteristic” shared by roughly 50% of the population. The 2.4% pro-Bush error is thus more than twice the firm’s own very liberal self declared margin of error. The odds of this occurring, based on the polling firm’s own probability of error estimate, is less than one to 780,000 (1/783,054). In short, assuming a free and fair election, this national exit sample error is, in lay terms, impossible. This indicates either that the national popular vote count was not honest or that there was an impossible to conceive of error in the Edison/Mitofsky exit sample sampling methodology. As with state polling, it is it hard to imagine that this could occur in aprofessional exit sampling firm especially for a national sample of this size."

  28. Free...

    Are you positing the idea that based on exit polling the election was thrown? Is it the exit polls that elect a candidate or the election that elects a candidate? This is an interesting concept and to get me on board some accommodation has to be made to address my anxieties. Based on fairly accurate polling most of the polls are done by organizations which have a large percentage of people who politically are on the left. I don't trust them and I don't answer exit polls. I suggest that we establish a new government agency and authorize them to conduct a preelection every week for six weeks before the election... sort of like a mini census. Employment in this agency will be prorated by political party. For example in your district there will be so many Dems, Reps, Greens, Libertarians etc. We will charge them producing totally unbiased sampling. In addition to finding out how everyone is going to vote they could also delve into the reasons they are going to do so. Once this is known, we can register them into the appropriate classes to make sure that their thinking is certifiably in line with current mental modalities. Sort of like civic conciousness raising. Excuse me sir... Is it Bush you are voting for? Yes? Well next Tuesday we have signed you up for the Kerry education class to make sure you know his record. We don't want you to make a hasty decision.

    This opens up a wide realm of possibilities. The government could sell the results to the parties and thereby raise some badly needed capital. Maybe a tax cut would result.

    Any ideas?

  29. In part because of discrepancies between post-exit polling and official resutls, the US denounced the Ukrainian election that gave Yanukovych victory. Did Bush steal elections? I don't know. I do know I'll be glad when he's left office.

  30. I see no evidence that the pendulum is swinging yet either. The left still seems to think that it can win by default, and until that changes I see nothing but more of the same.

  31. Dear Stylux,
    I apologize for sounding snippy in my last not to you. I realize we are coming from different perspectives: you see the world through your eyes, I se the world through mine.
    I used to be a Republican, way back when. I left the Party around the same time as I mentally severed my ties with the teachings of the OALC. Neither rang true for me any more -- I could no longer ignore the discrepancies. I know the Democrats are far from perfect, but their philosophy better suits me at this stage in my life. (Sometimes I get SO irritated with them for being such wimps about taking charge!) I have recently read Jimmy Carter's latest book. He is so eloquent in his arguments for Democratic leadership in this country. (For instance, yes the Clinton administration felt Iraq had WMDs, BUT THEY DIDN'T ACT ON IT IN TERMS OF WAR. That is a BIG difference, in my opinion.) Jimmy Carter is one of my heroes, even though I didn't vote for him.
    I now try to keep an open mind but frquently fail. I am sorry.

  32. LLLreader: I have always been a Democrat, and at this stage I certainly don't see any reason to change. I love this country, but I think it's greatness is in the everyday people. I think the goverment is so off track. Our local newspaper had an article about the local farms suffering because of not getting the migrant workers they need for the harvests. People are risking their lives to get here to do that work--and somehow we can't figure out how to put a guest worker program in place. I was watching a program the other night that interviewed a guy who owns a huge truck stop. He is a friend of Willie Nelsons. He and Willy developed an alternative fuel that they sell and the truck drivers like because their engines run smoother. I can't remember specifics of what they made it out of---but the point is--a country singer and a truck stop owner made a fuel, out of soybeans or something, that works well, and we, as the most powerful country in the world can't stop our dependency on foreign oil. I know what I'm saying may sound simplistic, but what the heck.

  33. Sisu... no apology needed and thank you for your heartfelt note. Even though many of us grew up in a different OALC due to family differences we all share some very common traits. I stayed in the church for decades even though it did not work for me on a meaningful level since very early childhood. It took me years to come to the enormously difficult, scarey and gut wrenching decision to leave. When I made this decision I realized that I would have to change the very core of my being as I knew it. This happened some years ago and it is not finished yet. Having said this it is also true that nothing has changed. I do not currently attend a church but I am religious and am intensely interested in religious history. I have studied for years now on the early church, Judaism, the church of antiquity, the proto orthodox, Roman Catholicism, the Reformation and on and on. In a sense I have replaced the mysticism with intellectualism and on many levels this is not satisfactory. But it does serve some purpose in keeping me grounded.

    I had a college experience that tells something about my feeling of the matter. I watched my friends (during the Vietman protests) turn rabidly and passionately into an uncontrollable mob. I can recall looking into their eyes and realizing that they had been brought up without faith and their actions were a desparate attempt to grab onto anything to believe in. This helped explain their actions. Even though I was not passionate about my faith at least I had something. This taught me a lesson about the need for such in humanity.

    Interestingly I did not change my politics as I have always separated the two. I am not a crusader at heart and have a "live and let live" philosophy. I tend to be guided in political matters by taxation policy and therefore am not happy with either party. But I do know this... The more you tax me the more I lose my freedom... and I love freedom. More than anything taxes limit my freedom and I opt for the significant lesser of two evils. But so it goes. With regard to our differences it is fine. My life does not change much regardless who is in office. I personally managed to maintain my sense of humour through eight years of Clinton and always regarded him as my president. I did not vote for him. It puzzles me that my political opposites have difficulty doing the same.

    I embrace neither the values of the far religious right or left. I am bothered equally by Falwell and the National Council of Churches. As for Clinton and the WMD... I agree that he did nothing and all that was pre 911 so in a sense I let him off the hook. We live in a different world and you and I will have to differ about our assessment.

    Some years ago I visited a cousin of mine who had left the church. I did not know this person at all never having talked to her but I looked her up in a distant city that I was visiting at the time. The only thing we shared was our common upbringing in dear OALC. We spent six hours together and felt as if we had known each other our entire lives. That was very comforting and it is the reason this blog fascinates me. I am sure that I am not alone in that regard.

  34. Dateline Rapid City. OK, I won't get into all of the things that are wrong with the referenced poll, but here's a couple of things. (Stylux makes solid points for his commentary about exit polls.) There is a supposition that this was an unbiased poll -- something Stylux questioned, and which I question as well.

    Any survey/data collection is built on the premise that the characteristics of the sample will reflect the population in entirety, within a confidence interval. The poll listed percentages as absolutes, with no variance. For illustration,iIn this type of poll it would be reasonable to assume -- even if it is a truly unbiased sample -- that each number could vary as much as plus or minus four percentage points. Therefore, the numbers you quote should be thought of as 50.8 +/- 4%, and 48.2 +/- 4%. Hence in your example, Kerry's real number could have been as low as 46.8% and Bush's could have been as high as 52.2%. Hmmmmm...

    Any pollster who takes a sample as small as this one in terms of total vote numbers and claims that they know the "absolute truth" is someone you should run away from, fast and far. They are full of hog slop and giving you the old "what would you like the answer to be?" answer.

    Jimmy Carter? I have read several of his books although not his last one. I find them entertaining. He's got enough good thoughts that I keep reading them. I've always thought that he was a reasonably honest and moral man that really wasn't a very competent president, partly because of his misplaced trust in his old cronies who were more crooked than Nixon's ever were. I suppose my left leaning friends here also wouldn't agree with my opinion that Nixon was an extremely competent president that did some stupid things. Oh well.

    Now if we want to talk about crooked elections, how about the Washington governor's race, where the Republican candidate won the election, won the required recount (required due to the closeness of the race), and then "lost" the second recount after King County managed to read enough tombstones and dig up enough felons to elect Gregorich. The Chicago machine of old would have been so proud. ...not that I have an opinion about that or anything.

    Yup MTH, it's that old napalm thing. God, I love it so. Peace, y'all. :-)

  35. Someone asked awhile back of the origin or meaning of "toots". I think I know the answer. The name's been around a long time, beginning back in the 60s would be my guess.

    The Finnish word for Christians is Kristityt. (There may need to be a doubled letter in there, but it's close. The Finnish vowel "y" is pronounced sort of as a soft "oo" sound. That's not exact, but I can't think of an English word that uses an equivalent sound. Perhaps as more and more of the baby boomer generation lost the ability to speak Finnish -- remember back in those days the church was still predominantly Finnish -- they sort of picked up the end of that Finnish word as a label.

  36. Free, you've got me puzzled! Seems you're too intelligent to align yourself with the Moore and Franken groupies, who form their political positions based on emotions rather than facts! On what basis was Iraq "illegally invaded"?! Hussein himself agreed to pull out of Kuwait and signed on the line. His first blatant disregard of the terms of the agreement, which prompted #1 of 17 useless U.N. resolutions, was legal basis for the world to step in. How many times does a parent tell a child to come out of the street before he/she takes the child by the hand?!

    Let's give Dubwa some credit for making a difficult decision that most of the modern world slinks away from. Have there been mistakes made? Yes --- no leader or decision is flawless. Let's not forget that the freedoms we so enjoy today came with a price.

    We currently face a worldwide problem --- to say that some of our leaders are "fearmongering" is simply not true. The facts speak for themselves.

    Great discussion.

  37. Anonymous,
    We liberals do not like it when others say our beliefs are based on emotion. That is SO not true and is so passe as to be ridiculous. It's used when they have nothing else to blast us for! Moore and Franken and Gore USE facts. They're just different ones than you use.
    Come on. Give us some credit. We are intelligent!

  38. I have to mention something about the tv evangelists along with the mega-churches. Paul & Jan Crouch on TBN have a huge following. It is unbelievable to me that people actually send them money, but the dough keeps rolling in. Just looking at Jan's hair should scare people off.

  39. Stylux,
    This is off the main topic here, but your comment about meeting the cousin and getting along so well was great, and was something you seemed to attribute to your OALC roots. That could be, if you talked about that and used it as common ground. However, I've experienced the same phenomenon with cousins who, if they knew about the OALC church at all, never darkened its doors. As a matter of fact, I met several different families of Finnish cousins, with whom I had nothing in common except blood -- no church, no nationality -- and we were so comfortable and trusting with each other that it really was remarkable. Being a bear of very small brain, I dunno why these things happen, but ain't it great when they do?

  40. Dear Anonymous,
    I almost proved your point, didn't I? HeHeHe!

  41. LLLreader: There is something so special about cousins. The last time I went to Finland I met several relatives, and we were just FAMILY right away. This goes back to something I posted several weeks ago. By leaving the OALC, my children and grandchildren would not be in Sunday School, church programs, Bible School, or be sitting in the same pew with aunts, uncles, second-cousins etc. Any way you cut it, it's a loss.