Friday, November 05, 2004

I'm SO sick of life right now!

Justin got suspended from school for a day because he apparently threatened to kill another student for not sharing their food. And, you know, you have to take an 8-year-olds death threats seriously. After all, one in every 500 million may actually mean it! I was talking to my councilor about how I’m at the end of my rope, and how this may be the most important time in Justin’s life right now. He could turn it all around, or drive himself into the ground based on how I handle him right now. No pressure there.

In addition to this; the election is done and my group of old buddies from my job in Michigan are venting their grief and frustration over Kerry’s loss on our Ex-Outrage employee web board. Of course the way they are doing it is by exclaiming what a country of morons we are. “How could anyone be so stupid as to vote for Bush?!?” “Are we truly a nation of idiots?” Their language is a lot more colorful than that though. Normally I don’t care about people who insult my beliefs. But these are some of my best friends, so it hurts. It got me thinking about the real split this country, and I guess the world in general has. People get caught up in details, but underneath it all is a very basic assumption. My friends are all aghast that someone would let their religious views inform their decisions on a political level. “Separation of church and state!!!” they screech. “That’s what our country was founded on!” They really believe that you can 1. separate your religious beliefs from your secular ones, and then 2. you can check your religious ones at the door when you make political decisions. I don’t think there is a way to delineate those. And I don’t think a person who doesn’t acknowledge God as the authority of all things would understand that. Here’s what I wrote to them:

The Fundamental Difference.

I just want to point out that there is no way for us to have a meaningful debate about most moral issues. The same thing that is dividing you guys from me, is what is dividing the nation. And I really don’t think there is a way around it. (I’m not saying we can’t be friends.) I’m going to try to articulate it. Wish me luck!

There is a fundamental difference in the way people view reality. There is all sorts of gray area in the middle, but for the sake of clarification I will lump people into two groups. The first is what I perceive most of you to be. Most democrats, and independents as well. Most ‘liberals’.

These fine people have a set of values that are derived from a variety of sources. Their morals are determined mainly by what they perceive as good. If something strikes them as wrong, it’s wrong; right, and it’s right. They don’t feel a need to validate their opinions with anything other than the logistics of rational thought. (In other words, human reason is the sole standard.) If they believe in a god, it is not one who interferes much, or demands much. It is generally a god that accepts everyone and just wants people to be good and get along. They don’t believe organized religion has anything of value to offer modern society, and thus dismiss any input it may have. They find it very easy to separate legal and ethical decisions from religious ones, because religion is a category for them.

Now here is the second group. This one is easy, because I’m talking about myself.

We believe in a God that has revealed Himself to us in a variety of ways. We have chosen to believe these revelations for a variety of reasons. None of them would be understood by someone who has not experienced them, therefore there is no reason to try to explain them. Suffice it to say, they are convinced that God is real, has standards, and expects certain things. (You know, because He’s God and all.) A primary source of His revelation is in a text we consider sacred. We don’t like all the things in those texts. We don’t like repressing certain aspects of our nature, but understand that He knows better than us. We are submitting our wills to Him. (Always imperfectly mind you, but it’s the thought that counts.) The sacred texts (In my case the Bible) are an unchanging, indisputable letter of intent. It overrides whatever opinions we may have to the contrary. We sacrifice our self-interest to this authority. It is an act of humility. We don’t see human standards as the end-all and be-all.

Now I’m telling you, within the context of the second group, there is no way to separate our religious thought from our secular. My faith determines everything about me. (When my arrogant mind is not trying to take control.) You could easily argue a bunch of the steps I outlined for this group. You could say our belief in revelation is outdated, or some kind of mental illness. You could say sticking to standards that were written down thousands of years ago is quaint and foolish. You can say the whole concept is irrational. What I don’t think you can say; is that we can cleanly compartmentalize our thought lives. I can’t set all my opinions on a shelf and say, “this one is religious, this one’s not. This one’s religious…” It just doesn’t work that way. In fact, if I do have a thought that I haven’t put through the filter of my faith, then I have a problem and try to reconcile the difference as best I can. I am always trying to fuse my natural thoughts with my religious beliefs, not separate them.

I believe that you all honestly think that makes ‘my kind’ unfit for office. And that’s fine. Don’t vote for religious people. But before you go on a tirade about how stupid we are, please consider that some of us aren’t. I’m no saint, but I think most of you would attest to the fact that I’m a reasonable guy. I’m full of hate or bitterness. I’m not uneducated. (Except in the ways of spelling.) But I disagree with you on most of the social issues. Not because I don’t have a similar personality, age, or intellect. But simply because I choose to believe in a revelation from God, and to humbly set aside my own desires and opinions for ones that I know are better. And I totally recognize how that makes no since whatsoever to someone who does not believe what I do.

So anyway. I love you guys a ton, and I hope I didn’t make things worse here. I just hope to bring a little more understanding to the table. Now you may understand that you like me a lot less, but at least it will be for honest reasons.

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