Posted by: librivore | April 8, 2009

Tolerance Should Be America’s Middle Name

The end is beginning. And not a moment too soon.

Thank you, God, for giving me even more hope. 🙂

Let’s face it: if someone asked me what the greatest threat to the world was, I’d probably automatically say “Christians”, or at least religion in general. Don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with organized, spiritual beliefs that a billion people. I don’t even think it’s wrong to follow those beliefs blindly–UNTIL you start trying to force someone into those beliefs, or start killing innocent people for them.

I came across this article some time yesterday, and mentally cheered. But I didn’t think anything of it until it was given a huge space on msn.com. That’s when it really hit me–these guys are serious. Woo hoo!

The guy they interview, R. Albert Mohler Jr., talks about it as if he’s losing ground in a war: “The Northwest was never as religious, never as congregationalized, as the Northeast, which was the foundation, the home base, of American religion. To lose New England struck me as momentous.” To lose New England? Give me a break. And what’s this about American religion? Just because Christians have taken over the world doesn’t mean anyone–especially this guy–has the right to declare Christianity as the sole religion in America.

I don’t want to knock anyone’s spiritual beliefs. What gets my goat is that the Christians do seem to think that we’re in the middle of a war, and they are apparently determined to win. How do you ignore a group of people who not only outnumber you but also insist that you’re going straight to hell if you don’t listen to them? How do you even begin to tell them that if you end up in their hell, it’d probably be like a vacation from listening to them?

I do try for tolerance. Really, I do. You want to tell me you worship Jesus and that he saved all of our souls, fine. Your point of view isn’t my concern, it’s yours. It’s only when you try to tell me I should worship Jesus too, that I get a little cranky. Hell, I voted for President Obama knowing he was a Christian–I helped put a Christian in power. But unlike many of his buddies, the President has never–not once–told me or the nation at large that if we vote for him, this nation will turn back into a traditional, Christian one.

But that’s not what the article is about. The writer mostly just starts off with Mr. Mohler’s despair over losing the apparent homebase of Christianity in America. He says: “The most basic contours of American culture have been radically altered. The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the very heart of our culture.”

“Post-Christian.” I love that term. Thank God I finally live in a world where coining it is not only not banned but also encouraged. Not that the writer thinks we’re in a post-Christian nation–he says: “Let’s be clear: while the percentage of Christians may be shrinking, rumors of the death of Christianity are greatly exaggerated. Being less Christian does not necessarily mean that America is post-Christian.” Yes, well, rumors alone have been known to kill many things like reputations and empires.

Anyway, I think Mr. Mohler is missing part of the point. Of course American culture has been “radically altered.” It is one of the most basic ideas in culture to begin with–that it changes, perhaps even evolves as humans continue to live and deal with each other. As we change, so does culture. Culture is, by definition, being changed as beliefs and behaviors are handed down from one generation to the next. One would think that as each way of living is handed down, it is changed (at least a little) by each generation. You want an example? Try music–every single generation has been absolutely baffled by its children following a trend that seems to echo throughout time, yet the parents think it’s only noise. Even contemporary literature has so-called experts confused. Politics, art, even business–all have been “radically altered” from even 10 years ago. Even science has changed–people don’t get away with experiments like what Milgram and Harlow got away with. Milgram “shocked” the world with his findings about authority, and Harlow played with monkeys so much it led to the creation of PETA, and probably a hell of a boost in vegetarianism to boot.

The last millenium has its place only in history now, where it belongs. It is not a cultural crisis, and it doesn’t threaten anything at all except the power of the Christian empire. Mr. Mohler has only just realized that the culture he thought he knew is now slipping away into something new, something that has never been seen before–his children are taking over because his generation is no longer the one holding the reins of power.

No writer–hell, no person–is ever truly be without bias. No one can say for sure that they live without prejudice in their lives. But I hope that I at least try to be aware of mine *cough*Christians*cough*, and ignore those tendencies in myself. I even hope that one day I can become a living cliche and walk hand-in-hand with everyone (yes, the Christians too) in peace. That doesn’t mean that one of us will have to roll over and play dead for the other. It means tolerance, if not acceptance, of the differences in each other, even if we don’t agree.

Just because Mr. Meacham wants to debate whether or not we’re in a post-Christian era doesn’t mean that the Christian empire isn’t starting to shake on its way down. Every empire–political or religious–must fall, because what goes up must come down. It’s not just the law of gravity, it is the law of change.

Change is in the air, baby. Can you feel it?

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