November 19, 2007
Agreed: God hates sex
I lost this damned post earlier because of an error in the time stamp, so now I'm recreating it. (Sorry if I sound whiny, but I hate reinventing thoughts which aren't new, and I find this topic extremely annoying.)
Anyway, "GOD HATES SEX" seems to be an apparent area of agreement between those waging war against sex, and those waging war against God.
I realize that it is natural for activists to create dichotomies which imply that the only choice is between their extreme or the other extreme, but I think that perhaps in this instance, neither "side" wants to dare admit even to the possibility of a sexually-tolerant God.
Thus, in a numbingly predictable form of collusion, the two sides "agree" that the "choice" is between a sexually intolerant God, or no god at all.
Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues of Concerned Women for America, has sent me yet another Culture War-promoting email, and his emails put me in a double bind, because if I ignore them I feel like a coward. (I know this is as irrational as refusing to be too "chicken" to take a dare, but these are feelings, OK?) And OTOH, if I spend time on them, I'm not only wasting time on someone who will never be convinced, but by paying attention to him, I'm doing what Ace suggested we not do with, uh, Gleen Grenwald. So I'm damned if I do pay attention, and damned if I don't.
I suppose you could say that I shouldn't give the man a link, but I think that's a little petty. Besides, I usually link Glenn Greenwald when I discuss him, and I think that when you discuss something, it's good form to give a link, whether it helps his traffic or not. I don't mean to single out Greenwald as the gold standard by which Matt Barber linkage is to be judged, but the way I see it, if I'm willing to link Greenwald, then I should be at least as willing to link Barber. (Besides, they probably each deserve to be spending time listening to each other.)
Of course, what link should I give him? Matt Barber's review of The Golden Compass came to me as an email, but it's all over the Internet. As TownHall seems to be his home base, I guess I'll link to that.
....both this movie and the man behind it have a very certain anti-Christian axe to grind.Perhaps this is true. But I've noticed that Barber seems to define "Christian" according to his own interpretation of it. To him, Christian churches which allow gay marriage are not merely heretical; they are guilty of apostasy. Meaning not Christian. Presumably, apostasy is anti-Christian, so by Barber's definition, Pullman might be no more anti-Christian than the Rainbow Baptist Church. Or for that matter, the Episcopal Church. (The Archbishop of Canterbury does not consider Pullman's work to be anti-Christian in nature. )
What if Barber actually does think the Episcopal Church is anti-Christian?
Geez, I'm thinking that in that case Barber might consider this an anti-Christian post, and I don't consider myself anti-Christian at all. I'm just a pantheistic Pagan Christian with kooky ideas that God might love the people he's said to hate, and that maybe certain things in the Bible either weren't said by God or are taken out of context. Is it "anti-Christian" to engage in such speculation?
See how complicated this gets? If right off the bat, I'm anti-Christian by disagreeing with Matt Barber, there's no way I can ever hope to persuade him or the people who think like him of anything, is there? Seen that way, this post is a waste of time. But it's really not personal to Matt Barber because I think there is a larger issue, and it's a pet peeve of mine: the tendency of atheists and fundamentalists to agree on terms which, while boosting the ranks of atheists and fundamentalists, tend to make ordinary people roll their eyes and turn off to spirituality in any form.
By focusing on Pullman's philosophy, Barber conflates atheism and secularism into a neat little package united by a common desire to do away with authority:
Pullman leaves little question as to his books' central theme. "I don't profess any religion," he is quoted as saying. "I don't think it's possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty understanding what is meant by the words 'spiritual' or 'spirituality.'"Atheists are not atheists because of any honest or deliberate thought on their part, but merely because they want to get away with being wicked:
....isn't that what atheism is all about, really? Our fallen desire to have, "no one to punish [us] for being wicked." If we can convince ourselves that there is no God, then we escape accountability for what we do, or so we believe. It's not so much a-theism as it is anti-theism. In fact, atheism is every bit a religion as any other. But in the church of the non-believer, the high priest is cloaked beneath the vestment of pseudo-"science" and parishioners worship at the altar of moral anarchy.Barber invokes David Limbaugh for the theological position that sex -- especially sexual perversion -- is what it's all about:
Author and attorney David Limbaugh sums up the anti-theist condition succinctly:But doesn't the claim that sex galvanizes the modern opponents of God presuppose the overarching importance of sexual issues to God? It's almost as if he is telling the "anti-theists" that God is about opposition to sex, and that they are right in hating God if they hate God for that reason. (Also, the use of the term "anti-theists" makes me think he conflates theism with God, which is wrong because theism encompasses one or many gods. One can be a theist and reject or embrace Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Krishna etc.)"It seems the most militant 'anti-theist' these days are either arrogant scientists or unrestrained licentious types whose main obstacles to faith are not intellectual, but moral -- and that moral obstacle seems invariably to be sex ... sexual perversion, while perhaps not the worst sin, especially when compared to pride, for example, seems to be the one galvanizing the modern opponents of God."Psalm 14:1 tells us, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good."
It's tough to read through someone's characterizations of the views of an author with whom I am not familiar, so I thought it would be fair to attempt to determine exactly how atheistic or anti-theistic the author himself is. In this interview, he seems to be a religious skeptic, although his main gripe seems to be with those who claim religion as an excuse to behave badly:
....I'm caught between the words 'atheistic' and 'agnostic'. I've got no evidence whatever for believing in a God. But I know that all the things I do know are very small compared with the things that I don't know. So maybe there is a God out there. All I know is that if there is, he hasn't shown himself on earth.I find it fascinating that Pullman's and Barber's views are almost flip sides of the same coin; Barber argues that atheists use atheism as an excuse for bad behavior, while Pullman accuses religious people of using religion as their excuse. (If this is true, I suppose if there were a war between atheists and religious people, all killing would have to be, um, "excused.")
Pullman says he doesn't care which religious variant is involved, and that his opposition to religious mischief is not limited to opposing the Christian variety:
when you look at organised religion of whatever sort - whether it's Christianity in all its variants, or whether it's Islam or some forms of extreme Hinduism - wherever you see organised religion and priesthoods and power, you see cruelty and tyranny and repression. It's almost a universal law.Obviously, I'm a lot more familiar with Christianity than I am fundamentalist Islam. And while I find radical Christian zealots annoying, experience tells me that they are nowhere near as dangerous as radical Muslim zealots. True, there are a few Army of God types who do occasionally murder abortionists and "sodomites" in the name of Christianity, but usually, the worst thing Christian fundamentalists do is spout nutty theories. Telling me that Hurricane Katrina was "God's punishment" for "sodomy" is a lot less threatening than executing sodomites -- to say nothing of thousands of Americans. There is simply no comparison.
However, I have not hesitated to criticize what I've repeatedly called "the Bigot God of 9/11," and I do think that there (and have always been) are plenty of religious people who insinuate their particular bigotry into their various forms of God or gods.
What shouldn't be forgotten is that these are competing views of the unknown, and what will likely remain unknowable (at least as far as I can see). That means that it is entirely possible that the atheists might be right. Matt Barber might be right. Phillip Pullman might be right. Fred Phelps might be right. The Archbishop of Canterbury might be right. And (nauseating thought though it is) even Osama bin Laden might for the sake of argument be right. (Which means that I and most of us could very well be going to hell.)
It is also possible that God (or a god or gods) might not be as anti-sexual as is commonly claimed. What Barber forgets with his "either my way or atheist hedonism!" pitch is that there is just as much right for a group of theists (in this case "Pan theists") to set up a Church of Nature's God and engage in phallic worship as there is for him to get all bent out of shape over it.
Don't expect me to start such a church though. Just because I've been photographed with Nature's God doesn't mean I have to start a cult.
(It's a slippery slope from there to the "Church of Viagra".... And for the record, I am not the hedonist I appear to be in the picture, OK?)
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.
(Comments appreciated, whether from atheists, fundamentalists, people in between, or none of the above.)
posted by Eric on 11.19.07 at 06:27 PM
Search the Site
Classics To Go
See more archives here
Old (Blogspot) archives
A knee sock jihad might be premature at this time
People Are Not Rational
No Biorobots For Japan
The Thorium Solution
Radiation Detector From A Digital Camera
This war of attrition is driving me bananas!
Attacking Christianity is one thing, but must they butcher geometry?
Are there trashy distinctions in freedom of expression?
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood