Friday, December 3, 2004

Pious Hogwash

James Wolcott has a few thoughts on the matter:
I'm really getting fed up with all the pious hogwash we're supposed to accept now about faith and belief and the need for God in our lives. "There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get," wrote H.L. Mencken in 1929, and oh were he with us in this hour. Most people use religion to justify what they were inclined to do anyway, picking and choosing the Biblical passages that best feather their proud modesty. We're cautioned now that snickering over Bush's choice of Jesus as his favorite philosopher only reveals how snobby and elitist we are. Well, too bad. For all his compassion for the poor and lame, Jesus also possessed a punitive mean streak, and as a philosopher he was a primitive compared to Eastern thinkers such as Buddha, Shankara, and Longchenpa, a point Sam Harris drives home in The End of Faith: "Even the contemporary literature on consciousness, which spans philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience, cannot match the kind of precise, phenomenological studies that can be found throughout the Buddhist canon."

But now David Brooks is enjoining us to pay heed to evangelical theologian John Stott. I'll leave the last word to Mencken: "The average theologian...disseminates his blather, not innocently, like a philosopher, but maliciously, like a politician. In a well-organized world he would be on the stone-pile. but in the world as it exists we are asked to listen to him, not only politely, but even reverently, with our mouths open."

I like this guy. I just wish he'd learn not to mince his words.

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