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A Kinder, Gentler X - Elf M. Sternberg
A Kinder, Gentler X
In keeping up with the discussion on Joss Whedon's recent blog entry and the commentary that has followed, the mostly negative point has been made that the there exist today cultures that have de jure subjugation of woman and there's just not much we can do about it: either we let them persist, or we engage in Might Makes Right to force them to change. Neither solution is palatable.

Jonathan Rowe has a fascinating view on this from his website, Positive Liberty, in which he writes that our own Christian tradition is not the one that came to America, but was deliberately shaped by the Founding Fathers:
Almost all of the most notable Christian thinkers from the pre-Founding era differed with our Founders on tolerance and the freedom to worship. John Calvin knew the Bible as well as anyone but thought it entirely proper to see see Servetus burned at the stake simply for publicly denying the Trinity. Likewise, Calvinist Samuel Rutherford, who purportedly influenced our revolution, too thought it just for Servetus to be executed in that manner.

To our Founders this was not authentic Christianity, or Christianity properly understood. Our Founders had a vested interest in convincing Christians that most notable past Christian thinkers from Augustine to Aquinas to Luther to Calvin to John Winthrop erred on tolerance and religious liberty. And though the government ultimately granted (and still grants) free exercise of religion to any religious thought, no matter how extreme, the Founders still endorsed, mainly through their supplications to God, a version of religion that was kinder and gentler than what came before.


These Founders were not simply "taking" the Christian religion as they found it; they were actively involved in a project to make such kinder, gentler, more sober and rational.
In some respects, Rowe, who's usually opposed to the David Barton "twist the truth to make this nation have a Christian heritage" revisionist line of "scholarship," here seems to be doing Barton's work for him. He seems to be saying that this would have been a "Christian nation" if not for those damn meddling kids and their dog free thinkers like Jefferson and Washington.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: Matsu Takako, Someday, Cherry Rain

5 comments or Leave a comment
dakiwiboid From: dakiwiboid Date: May 22nd, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Here's to the meddling kids!

What a bunch of subversive revolutionaries!
tonyawinter From: tonyawinter Date: May 22nd, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think about that sometimes as well. For example when I get an email from a company in a country that doesn't treat their women well enough for my tastes (asking me to do business with them) I decline and I let them know that its because of that. I'm sure it makes little to no difference. However I feel as though its all I can actually DO to make one at all. (That and not buying products from them, but lets face it sometimes I probably do if not directly then indirectly because the raw material to make my spandex comes from a backward country more than likely. Which is a bit frustrating because if I had a choice I would buy only from countries who treat women well.)

As for making a real difference, I agree that its either ignoring it or getting aggressive about it. (Not that being aggressive would necessarily work.) Sometimes I think it would be nice if the US simply stopped allowing travel to and from those countries or trade with them. However I am very aware that we lack the resources and stability to pull that off. (As well as it being a pie in the sky idea that would never happen.)
jenk From: jenk Date: May 22nd, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
It would be "a Christian nation" the way Iraq is Muslim or Europe was Christian during the Inquisition: the warring factions would be killing whoever doesn't belong to their particular sect. (See also Westboro Baptist, who "condemned" Falwell to hell because he wasn't sufficiently Calvinist and actually met with lesbigay Christians.)

Without the First Amendment, interstate commerce would have been like foreign commerce in Europe. Traveling to another state when you risk being killed for being the wrong religion is dangerous.

But of course Barton doesn't see it that way - he figures the "unrighteous" will naturally become "righteous" once they hear the True Word. Or something.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: May 23rd, 2007 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I happen to be an actual Mayflower descendant. You know how they teach kids in school that the Pilgrims came over from England because they wanted "freedom of religion"? Bullshit. They wanted the "freedom" to impose their religion on everyone they could get their hands on. They'd been more or less thrown out of both England and Holland for the extreme nature of their Puritanism. Once in North America, they put an astonishing amount of energy into trying to convert the local Indians, who weren't especially receptive (although I daresay a number of Indians saw the value of appearing to have become converts).

Quite a few of the other original colonies had been founded by assorted religious crazies who were equally as vehement in their own One True Way. The leaders who found themselves having to unite this mess into a nation realized that the only way they were ever going to achieve any kind of unity would be to make very sure that NO particular religious sect got preferential treatment over any other. And the only way to do that was to create laws that explicitly gave every religion equal legal standing with all others.

From: (Anonymous) Date: May 23rd, 2007 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
The fact is that word "propaganda" is kinda loaded. But a massive propaganda effort is one of the ways that could influence Islamist middle-eastern states to "mellow out".

Unfortunately, there also seems to exist a quite vocal strain of multiculturalism which believes that for us to influence their culture would be unjustified as "cultural imperialism". Especially if government was involved in such effort. Sometimes I feel absolute certainty that certain varieties of multiculturalists have pure excrement in their heads instead of brains.

ObIraqWar: Did you know that MNF Iraq has it's own website? (http://www.mnf-iraq.com/) Slanted? yes. Still, it contains interesting nuggets of information that somehow never seem to surface in MSM...
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