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SINGLETON DRONES ON ABOUT MATTERS CULTURAL and/or SOCIAL and/or POLITICAL
A Retired Old Duffer's Blog Spot
THERE IS NO SEPARATION OF RELIGION AND POLITICS
AND THE MIXTURE IS VOLATILE
This may seem to be more of a topic for the religious blog, but it is essentially about well Americans do and do not deal with the pluralism that is so basic to this experiment in launching and maintaining a democratic republic. Religion is simply the specific issue that U;ve chosen to illustrate the problem.
We hear a great deal about the "Separation of Church and State" in this country. There are some people who swear that those precise words are found in the Constitution. (If you ever run into one of those folks, see if you can convince them to put a lot of money where their mouth is--it could make you rich.) While Congress (and since the passage of the 14th ammendment, all other legislative bodies in the various sates, counties, and cities) are enjoined against establishing a religion and prohibiting the free exercise of religion, politics and religion have, since the start of the republic, been intertwined.
Religion ran through the political rhetoric of Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president.
In the Presidential election of 1928 religion was at the center, and the question was whether a Roman Catholic could be elected President. He wasn't. The question was asked again in 1960. He was. No one ever asked whether an Episcopalian, Unitarian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Disciple of Christ, Quaker, or Baptist could be elected, althout the jury is still out on the Mormons. At one time there was no need for a jusr on that question--a Mormon was simply out of the question.
Religion was present in a variety of ways during the 1950s when:
a) the de facto motto of nation, E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one), was replaced (through Congressional legislation signed into law by President Eisenhower) with "In God We Trust;"
b) the phrase "under God" was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance, also by a bill passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Eisenhower,
and c) President-elect Eisenhower a few days before his innauguragion told a reporter that "America is founded on a deep belief in religion, and I don't care which religion it is."
Those, including people of devout faith, who questioned the propriety of this sort of public piety were accused of being Communist sympathizers. During this decade, House Committe on Un-American Activities rarely failed to ask a witness whether he or she believed in God.
The moral majority brought religion to the political arena in the 1980s.
August 26, 2008. In their cosmology, the great enemy of this nation was Secular Humanism, in which they ironically included a fair number of Protestants with political leanings that did not list to the right.
Except for the rhetoric of Abraham Lincoln, which he used with particular eloquence to try and bring healing to a divided nation, these examples suggest that the mixing of politica and religion brings into sharp focus serious religio-cultural divisions in this nation.
We are seeing this unfortunate residue of the mixture in the 2008 Presidential election campaign. This week the Democrats became the first major political party to nominate a person of African ancestry for candidate for the higheest of in the land. While I have no doubt that in some of the murkier areas of my native Alabama questions have been raised about whether a man of such ancestry should be a candidate, but that has not been a part of the public discussion, and I thank God for that. What has been a question is his name and his religion. There were the early rumors that he was a Muslim because he has a "Muslim-sounding" name. On the one hand, the rumor is absurd. On the other hand, the rumor is empirically untrue--he was at the time a member of a congregation in the United Church of Christ. On the third hand (one has to imagine a strange three-handed being) so what if he were a Muslim?
Once those rumors were more quiet (no, they have not completely died--read the next paragraph), this candidate was blamed for some unfortunate comments by his then pastor and a Roman Catholic priest who visited his congregation.
This week I received an anti-Obama e-mail from someone I know well and whom I love. We see the world differently in both religious and political terms. The religious differences are troublesome because we are both Christians, and we both take our faith seriously. Neither of us is causal about the role of Christ in what we believe to be the cosmic transformation of all things, including our own broken lives. In the exchange of messages that follows, I know that I am as much a participant in the division of America as is my friend. What becomes clear in the following is:
a) the difficulty of communication between an absolutist and a relativist--a communication that a pluralist culture should be able to sustain;
b) that while I regret the 1956 legislation that reduced God to an American talisman, and my friend is undoubtedly grateful for it, we probably both agree on the older motto--E Pluribus Unum--but that one of us will say e PLURIBUS unum and the other will say e pluribus UNUM; and that menas that we agree on the words, but not the meaning.
From: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 2:51 PM
Subject: MOCKING THE BIBLE
Is this what you want for your President ?????
Can he now deny that he is a musilim!!!
Video of Obama ridiculing the Bible
Watch this & forward as soon as possible, it will probably be taken off youtube soon.
If this gives you the message 'This video no longer available'.....try it again. It is available.....at least for the present time.
Click on link:
From: Gregory Holmes Singleton
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 6:43 PM
Subject: Re: MOCKING THE BIBLE
Dear Brother in Christ,
We will have to agree to disagree on this. I thought Obama raised some interesting questions. As one who believes in God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who believes that Jesus in His earthly sojourn was God who took on flesh and suffered death to gain eternal life for us, I found the questions usefully provocative and not at all sarcastic or mocking. My understanding of what Obama said about the radical nature of the Sermon on the Mount is that he has a profound appreciation for a teaching of Jesus that challenges us to live as part of the new creation and to forsake the way of fallen humanity by resorting to division, hatred and violence. The narrator's undemonstrated assertion that Jesus would not have us turn the other cheek to terrorists seems to me a biased dismissal of the teachings of Jesus,
placing nationalism and patriotism above the higher authority of God.
Don't get me wrong. I by no means am a fan of terrorists. They clearly do not accept the vision of Jesus. At least they are honest and say that reject Him. What drives me nuts are those who claim the name of Jesus while not following His teachings. Jesus said in a number of ways that we can't simply claim the name and not walk the walk.
But in our disagreement over this less than eternal and ultimate matter, I can safely say that we stand shoulder to shoulder in our belief in the eternal and ultimate burden and promise of Romans 8: 35-39.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The politics of this world are transitory, my brother. The love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord is eternal. Let us agree to disagree on that which will fade away, and stand united on the solid ground of faith that is everlasting.
Peace and all Good,
The Rev. Gregory Holmes Singleton, Ph.D.
Community of St. Francis
To: Gregory Holmes Singleton
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 7:34 PM
Subject: Re: No Fancy Text Msg., MOCKING THE BIBLE
DEAR GREGORY, I am VERY SORRY you do not see how serious the statements he are! BUT, WE ARE NOT TO JUDGE, BUT TO DESERN I AM ALSO SADDEN BY YOUR " TITTLE" the rev . THERE IS ONLY ONE " reverence"TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER & HIS SON JESUS CHRIST
From: Gregory Holmes Singleton
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 8:31 AM
Subject: A Request for More Sustained Dialogue (was: No Fancy Text Msg., MOCKING THE BIBLE)
Dear Brother in Christ,
I ask you in all Christian love and candor to read the following carefully and to think about it prayerfully for a while before responding.
We do indeed see the world differently. So be it. We are both (like all human beings) flawed and fallible, thus often wrong in our perspectives. Only God has the correct perspective.
While I disagree with you, I love you. I am not sorry that you hold views that are different from mine, nor do I assume that my perspective is correct. I am comfortable living in a world with different perspectives and honor you as a child of God and a brother in Christ.
If you are not able to consider me in this way in spite of our differences, so be it.
As promised in Romans 8, in eternity nothing will separate us. We are already united in the love of God in Christ Jesus.
As for the title, since you find it offensive, I have removed it in the .sig below while writing to you. Again, we will have to agree to disagree. The very fact that "The" precedes "Reverend" denotes that it is a title, and neither an attribute not a quality I have claimed. God indeed is the only being that deserves reverence, and "reverence" is a word that is linguistically quite different in function and intent than "reverend."
I know we disagree on many things, but it would be helpful if we acknowledged that and then started looking for those things on which we agree. It is how mature adults have a conversation. I suspect that you are in absolute concert with me about the profound and ultimate implications of the conclusion of Romans 8, yet you said nothing about that in your reply. Are you looking for things to divide us? Have you no interest in common ground?
Let's try a different approach. Let's begin by assuming that we can find many things upon which we agree. Let us respond to each other in calm, reasoned, and substantive dialogue and not in brief undeveloped statements written primarily in all-caps, which is the cyber equivalent of shouting.
In hope for more effective communication as befits two brothers in Christ, I remain
United with you in God's love,
Gregory Holmes Singleton, Ph.D.
Community of St. Francis
I hope I get a reply. I hope we have a fruitful convresation.
My friend and I have a long way to go to get there.
So does this country.
Please send replies to Gregory Singleton. Please indicate whether your reply may be posted to this page. I can't promise to post them
all here, but I will attempt to post a representative sample.