Thursday, December 02, 2004

Is God as confused as I am?

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:39 AM |  

In response to yesterday's column in the Pioneer Press, I’ve received a number of positive responses with a religious theme, for which I am grateful. On the other hand, there have been a few “religious” responses that would not have me on the “A List” come Judgement [sic] Day.

Mr. Westover:

A couple of quick questions:

How are you fixed for health insurance &/or benefits? (40+ million Americans do without!!!)

Have you been to Canada &/or Europe? (Their infant mortality rates are much lower than the US--& life expectancies much higher!!!)

I strongly suggest the book of Revelations--especially the chapters dealing w/Judgement Day: "As you have done unto the least of us..."
Without getting into my personal finances or the statistical misreading in this particular letter, I think there’s a lesson to be learned from the responses I’m receiving. (By the way, in terms of sheer response and percentage of vitriolic negative response, this column is running way ahead of most.)

The lesson -- The so-called “religious” block is as non-existent as the demographic blocks chased by the Democrats in the last election. Simply being “religious” does not put one in the conservative camp. As I e-mailed one respondent yesterday --

One of my pet images is the "big tent" model of political parties. It's not the size of your tent that counts, but how you fill it.

Democrats fill the tent by chasing demographics -- they'll do “this” for Afro-Americans, “that” for gays, “this” for the youth and so forth. That strategy has a limit to its effectiveness in that sooner or later promises to one group conflict with promises to another or inclusion of one group necessarily means exclusion of another.

Republicans do much the same. However, as you note, if they can overcome their moral myopia and dig down to core values that apply across issues -- like stewardship, like brotherhood, like authentic compassion -- the size of the tent is limitless because one's demographic does not matter, only one's acceptance of universal values.

In essence, that is the basic definition of an "American." We are not a race, ethnic group or bloodline -- we are a people who believe that "All men are created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." America is open to all who accept that premise.
In other words, spirituality, like any number of human characteristics, begets values -- or more precisely, a way of understanding or seeking understanding of the world. It is those values that unite people regardless of their specific religious faith or irrelgious attitudes. Personally one may prefer the company of those who share a religious faith. Politically, it is the acceptance of the American ideal of the individual's unalienable rights, regardless of its source, regardless of its implications, that best unites us.

UPDATE: I think I won, but . . . I sent a civilized e-mail to the writer of the invitation to Hell e-mail above, questioning both the statistics and the theology. Did I convince him of the error of his ways? You decide. Here's his rebuttal in it's entirety --

Interesting & well-reasoned, though I (respectfully) beg to differ.