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[Full disclosure: I am Lutheran (ELCA)]
Everyone and their grandma knows that mainline liberal Protestant denominations are going the way of newspapers.  Right?  Demographic trends show mega-church versions of "Evangelical" (Trademark) congregations and RC and even unaffiliated agnosticism and atheism are on the rise and stealing our sheep left and right.  Right?  

Mainline liberal Protestant denominations and their constitutive congregations are little more than neo-gothic necropolises or are on life-support and all this points to the wimpering death throws of a failed experiment.  Mainline liberal Protestant Christianity is viewed with contempt by secular liberals as magical-thinking dupes who are irrelevant and ineffective and that explains our anemic numbers because smart people have finally caught on.  And we are viewed as the Whores of Babylon by the right-winger christianist Taliban and that explains how God has abandoned us to go extinct.  Even within my own denomination and congregation I hear rueful moaning about the numbers and so we make cartoonish outreach efforts to increase our appeal among an increasingly non-white demographic.  I mean we Scandinavian-Americans just ain't reproducing like we used to.  But what if the premise of the schadenfreude among the secularists and the christianists and the fear among ourselves is missing an important piece of reality?   The August 7 edition of The Christian Century has a blurb from the June/July edition of First Things making the outrageous but compelling claim that liberal Protestantism has and is winning the culture war.

It is fashionable and useful within the christianist community to claim the world is going to hell in a handbasket and to pine for the good olde days when everything was far better than it is now.  Crime is out of control, kids have no respect, death and disease is under every rock and behind every tree, the president is black, abortions, gays, women getting ideas and careers, that demon science and sex, sex, SEX!!!!!  Demagoguery requires you keep the people afraid and angry.

Without giving attribution I think it is fair to say that, in reality (in the Western world), crime is at it's lowest rate in a couple of generations (confounding social scientists), medical advances are improving the healing sciences and arts, abortion rates are plummeting, more and more women are achieving equal human rights to men, racists and homophobes more and more at least have the shame to veil their ignorance and hatred, slavery is nearing extinction, imperialism is nearing extinction, child labor and regular labor laws have transformed the hell the world used to be, scientific inquiry has continued to go gang-busters, etc.  Except for climate change things are getting better and better.

So, things are better in many, many ways. You disagree?  Ask yourself whether you'd rather be a child of poor parents in Newcastle, UK a hundred fifty years ago or today? Whether you'd rather be a black man in rural Georgia a hundred fifty years ago or today?  Yes, things are not perfect now.  But it has to be granted that things are better than they used to be.

The editors of First Things and of The Christian Century (I have actual paper copies so I am not linking to a website) submit that, by and large, the world has been drastically impacted for the better in all aspects as a result of mainline liberal Protestant Christianity.  And they submit that secular disinterest and dismissal of the mainliners is afforded them because of the very changes brought about by centuries of hard won cultural transformation of society into that which more fully reflects the vision and goals of the mainline liberal Protestant mission.  Robert Bellah writes that "liberal Protestantism has been eclipsed because it has been so successful."

Even the reforms of Vatican II were influenced by liberal Protestantism.

I take the scorn of the christianist right-wingers as a badge of honor.  But I confess that I take umbrage at the scorn of the secularist left-wingers because their world has been so positively shaped by the likes of us boring and irrelevant Lutherans and Episcopalians and Presbyterians who receive secularist derision.  So shaped, that our liberal Protestant vision of the Gospel has infiltrated all aspects of culture.  Hospitals and universities and public education and literacy and labor rights and due process and civil rights and abolitionism and peace-movement and immigration rights and sponsorships and famine and disaster and refugee relief, and social work and gender issues and on and on.  These things the world today takes for granted came from liberal Protestantism.  

Have the mainline liberal Protestants won?  If we do go extinct in the eyes of the world our legacy will live on.  We may not get the credit for it.  But we do it for the glory of God not of ourselves.  And we will join the other heroes of the faith whom the world forgets but the kingdom of heaven will not.  

1:20 PM PT: http://www.christiancentury.org/...

added a linky and fixed a couple typographical errors.

Originally posted to Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 10:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Anglican Kossacks, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Can I get an Amen! (20+ / 0-)

    The numbers unfortunately do seem to be headed in the wrong direction for us.  I am an active and proud member of the United Church of Christ and very much wish our voices were heard more in public discourse.

    •  UCC her, as well. (13+ / 0-)

      after forty plus years in a very conservative denomination, i finally feel like i can breathe...and it doesn't hurt that my jewish husband is welcomed at worship services.

    •  Amen, too, United Methodist n/t (4+ / 0-)
    •  UCC here also (9+ / 0-)

      I was raised in the Disciples of Christ church, pretty much like any Presbyterian or Lutheran church other than taking communion every Sunday. My wife was raised Swedish Baptist. When our kids were born we put our heads together and visited the Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian church, etc. We joined the Presbyterians although in my ignorance of current doctrine I told the minister I was troubled by this predestination stuff. He laughed, but did not explain and I eventually caught on that Calvinism had gone away a long time ago. We were not afraid of our kids growing up without religion, but we were afraid of them going with the Moonies, Evangelicals, etc. (We were not afraid of Buddhism, however). We wanted them to have a base intellectually to compare religions. We switched to the UCC after we moved and did not have a Presbyterian church locally. I am very proud of my present denomination with all the good work it has done. I know our numbers dwindle as time goes by, but I look around and I know the good works that we all do live on after us.

      •  Question (4+ / 0-)

        Why do kids need religion in the first place?

        I read so often times that we wanted our kid(s) to grow up and decide for themselves.  Well, if that is the case, then you either take them to all the houses of Worship and religions or none at all.

        That may have been my own mother's mistake.  She made sure we kids DID have an exposure to other religions, even though we considered ourselves to be United Methodists.

        Today, all of us kids are either agnostic or atheist.  We saw too many similarities in all the religions.  Too much mind control.  Too many fairy tales from a time they didn't even know in Egypt that the Americas even existed.

        -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

        by MarciaJ720 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:52:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My father is not a churchman, though he (8+ / 0-)

        has been president of his congregation. But he really has no use for church. Neither did his father. But he was raised going to church, and he and my mother (who enjoys going to church and especially enjoys communion) raised us boys going to church. Everyone in the family was of "mixed" religion: Russian Orthodox, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic were the three. So they settled on a Congregational church. But my grandparents and my parents raised their family attending and being active in that Congregational church. Why? Well, you said it:

        We were not afraid of our kids growing up without religion, but we were afraid of them going with the Moonies, Evangelicals, etc. (We were not afraid of Buddhism, however). We wanted them to have a base intellectually to compare religions.
        That was precisely why my parents made us go to church, and made sure we were baptized as infants. I understood when I went to college, and had evangelical crazies breathing down my neck and the neck of every piece of fresh Freshman meat. But I wasn't a "seeker". I had been exposed to liberal religion, and had made up my own mind.

        Today, I'm an Episcopalian. My brother? He's like my dad: he dutifully accompanies his wife to her UCC church with his kids when his wife makes him. Mostly, she doesn't. But my brother makes sure his kids go to a liberal church so they're exposed to the ideas and to liberal thinking about them. Just like our dad did with us.

        I resent that. I demand snark, and overly so -- Markos Moulitsas.

        by commonmass on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:48:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Atheist/agnostic here, and I agree. (7+ / 0-)

      Raised a Catholic (a driven-away Catholic as I term myself), I have considerable respect for actual Christians who walk the walk.  I would like to consider myself a 'small-c christian' who considers the teachings of Jesus, among others, a sensible moral guide.  

      I don't recall where, but I read a post somewhere about the strictures of orthodox purity being strongest for new religions, diminishing as the religion gets older and its teaching more nuanced and complex.  

      So it is no surprise that evangelicals, whose roots started in the early 19th century's Great Awakening, should cleave so closely to orthodox dogma, while older denominations are far more liberal and accommodating.

      The post might have been on http://www.patheos.com/...   a blog I read 'religiously': Fred Clark is my kind of evangelical.

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

      by triplepoint on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:42:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another Atheist (6+ / 0-)

        Denominations are created by and for different personalities and cultures. When I was more involved in the whole thing I was able to tell, with a high percentage of accuracy, which denomination a person was, simply by talking to them about non-religious things.

        Nice folks tended to be mainline Protestant or Unitarian.

        I'd prefer it if people didn't think of a god or religion anymore than they think about carpet fibers. I think it's accurate to say, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, "Religion poisons everything."

        But if the denominations whose design attracts nicer people are the ones growing, while the mean-spirited and more ignorant denominations are shrinking, then hooray!

        I have noticed that the normally reticent "Liberal" denominations are making more public statements, and also becoming more activist lately (good works.)

        And on the other side of the coin, the mean-spirited denominations are going through a bit of turmoil. Some are realizing they've been taken by politicians, some are becoming more political action groups than churches, some are realizing that the mix with mammon has led them astray, and so on.

        A Southerner in Yankeeland

        To save your life read "Pity The Billionaire" by Thomas Frank, and "Winner-Take-All-Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. Then read more books.

        by A Southerner in Yankeeland on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:58:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Numbers, well, but quantity is not quality. The (3+ / 0-)

      collective IQ and wealth of liberal Protestants probably comfortably exceeds that of the Evangelicals.

      They that have power to hurt, and will do none

      by richardvjohnson on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 04:31:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amen!! (10+ / 0-)

    From this Presbyterian in New York City.

    I've been practicing for so long, I sure hope I get it right one day.

    by ClaudiaCat on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 10:37:37 AM PDT

  •  Moral Mondays (19+ / 0-)

    The Moral Monday movement in North Carolina has been largely driven by people of faith as well, and not the hard right fundamentalist ones either!

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 10:47:05 AM PDT

  •  One of my favorite bible stories (9+ / 0-)

    is the stoning of Stephen .... not because he was stoned but because not only did he know what he believed and could state it even as he was being stoned for believing, but also because the message went out there and touched lives and hearts in ways he could not imagine. We never really know the impact of what we say and do.

    Sometimes I feel that is what happens on a personal level but also on a wider cultural level. This is a timely reminder not to give up believing in our principles and our faith.

    Another image I have in that of the pond (I think I first saw in one of Hugh Halverstad's books)   ... the pond has a deeper stolid middle and  a more fluid edge. The middle is needed for stability and continuity but the fluid edge brings in change and new life.  We need both but frequently the tension between the two leads to fighting and other violence.

    Amen to what you said. Peace and grace to you.

    "I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night." Greg Martin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

    by CorinaR on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 10:59:31 AM PDT

  •  I don't seem to know everybody and (13+ / 0-)

    their grandma. The evidence I have seen for many years is that mainstream churches kept quiet and did the work while those who "pray to be seen of men" and who were "thankful that they were not as other men" hogged the cameras. But now the mainstream denominations have started speaking out and organizing again, as many did in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

    I read Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, so I know that actual Christian churches are hanging in there while the racist, bigoted, misogynistic, and Mammonite pseudo-Christian churches of the Religious Right are in severe decline, as lamented in The Incredible Shrinking Church, by Frank Page, a past President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Several million mostly young people depart (or as they say "backslide") from these churches each year, about 1% of the entire US population.

    Detailed data on affiliations, geographic distribution, demographics, and more at

    U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

    Also, you might be interested in the research of the Barna Group, such as

    Christians: More Like Jesus or Pharisees?

    I have questions about their methodology, but I like their style. Their survey results indicate that about 14% of self-professed Christians mostly agree with Jesus on selected issues and actions, 51% are firmly opposed, and the rest agree in part and disagree in part, but not on the same parts.

    Actually, Pharisees get a bad rap from a lot of Christians. It was the Sadducees whom John the Baptist and Jesus couldn't stand. ("Generation of vipers", that is, "sons of snakes", and "Whited sepulchres") Many Pharisees were sympathetic to Jesus.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:00:46 AM PDT

  •  Huh. (16+ / 0-)

    I've watched my brother's church, a Congregational Church, part of the UCC, the one we grew up in, thrive since he was ordained there. It has grown many times its size and power since his first days.
    It is an active church, quietly taking part in helping the community grow and improve, no heavy handedness or preachiness.
    And the Unitarian churches in my area are also growing, filling up with people who've become disenchanted with or have outgrown the more dogmatic faiths. My sister's mother-in-law, a retired Methodist minister, has moved on to the Unitarian and she occasionally suggests to me that I should come and check it out.
    I'm not one for organized faith now, but at one time, I was considering the ministry and had been a lay preacher several times. So now I would not join in with secularists who feel compelled to mock all faiths. In most faiths, there are followers who embrace the whole enchilada, rites, rituals, hierarchy and all. But most faiths also have those who pick and choose what is meaningful or useful to them on their own personal spiritual evolution and they tolerate or ignore the rest. We should not mock people of faith or paint them with a broad brush in our commentary. Some people use faith for a crutch, others for entertainment and others for whatever the experience may offer that helps or edifies them. Rather than being ruled by their religion or used by it, they use their faith for their own purposes and are not submissive, do not suspend their disbelief.

    To each her/his own. I try to stay out of my neighbor's way as she pursues her spiritual needs. I only object if she becomes aggressive or oppressive to others in pursuit of or full-scale enslavement to her faith.

    Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Gentle Giant on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:13:56 PM PDT

  •  Another "amen" (from an Episcopalian). (11+ / 0-)

    Christian Century is one of my favorite magazines.  I also read the paper version, but here is a link to the piece you mention.  Here are a couple of paragraphs from it:

    According to Alasdair MacIntrye’s oft-cited definition, a tradition is “an argument extended through time” about how the goods and values of that tradition are best understood and defended. Over the past few decades, liberal Protestants have not abandoned key features of their tradition—such as a commitment to social justice, to the historical-critical study of the Bible, and to a self-critical dialogue with nonbelievers and believers of other faiths—but they have engaged in a lively argument over how such commitments can best be deepened, preserved and faithfully extended.

    Which is simply to say that liberal Protestantism is a tradition, not a static set of beliefs. Whatever the historians may conclude, it is a tradition that is full of life.

    And to that I give another "amen."
    If we do go extinct in the eyes of the world our legacy will live on.  We may not get the credit for it.  But we do it for the glory of God not of ourselves.
    Yup.  In the long run we're all dead, but we hope to leave the world a better place, preferably without banging our own drum or making a show of our piety in the market place "as the hypocrites do."

    Nice diary, fellow communion member!

    •  Hey, thanks - I was hoping to read the (8+ / 0-)

      full piece.

      I tend to side more with the editorial than the diary, though (with respect to the diarist).  The editors note two aspects of the discussion that I think are important for keeping in mind:

      1. "winners" and "losers" aren't exactly easily-defined in this kind of discussion, and
      2. It's even harder to trace this over time, because the same movements, ideas, and terms shift radically in nature over the course of decades.

      Which isn't to say the argument - that Liberal Protestantism had the most pervasive impact on the shape of the culture war - is wrong.  It's an interesting topic.

      By the way, here's the NYTimes article referenced in the editorial: "A Religious Legacy, With Its Leftward Tilt, is Reconsidered".  it's also very ambivalent, with pro and con arguments both from liberal Protestants and from other denominations.  A good excerpt on the "pro" side of the argument:

      The dizzying varieties of American religious experience, scholars say, has roots nearly as deep as old-time religion. At the University of Virginia Mr. Hedstrom teaches a popular class called “Spiritual but Not Religious,” which traces the evolution of American spirituality from the 19th-century Transcendentalists to Alcoholics Anonymous, yoga and “the gospel of Oprah.”

      Today’s “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon, Mr. Hedstrom argues, owes a strong debt to midcentury liberal Protestantism. In his book “The Rise of Liberal Religion” he traces the role of religious book clubs — which helped turn titles like the liberal pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick’s “On Being a Real Person” (1943) into best sellers — in creating a broad-based “middlebrow religious culture” that emphasized personal ethics and inner experience over theology.

      “The focus on personal religious experience being at the heart of religious life, which does come out of liberal Christianity, seems to me alive and well,” Mr. Hedstrom said.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:29:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know this comes from a print paper, but (5+ / 0-)

    for those of us who don't know the background of the argument, it'd help if there were a bit more information, if not an excerpt or two directly from the article.

    Also: what do you mean by "secularist"?

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:38:29 PM PDT

    •  Thanks to JBL55 for the excerpts and the link. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, Wee Mama, Lujane, FindingMyVoice

      By "secularist" I mean a person unaffiliated with a corporate faith tradition.  And by "corporate" I mean it in the strictly ecclesial sense.  A broad meaning.  More specifically I think I am implying agnostic and atheist.

      Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

      by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:11:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The reason I ask is, (6+ / 0-)

        I guess I fall under that category, but I don't care as much for the term "secularist" in that context: secularism tends to refer more to civil society than personal faith, and most religious people I know are also secularists (in the laïcité sense).

        Anyway, just something that caught my eye.  Since most secularists I know are also religious, the comments in the diary seemed strange to me.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:18:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Would you recommend a better word? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico, Wee Mama, Lujane, pvasileff

          I always run in to trouble when trying to name a group I don't belong to.

          I appreciate the claim of secularist for religious people since I am firmly and adamantly in favor of the separation of church and state.

          Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

          by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:47:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And I'm embarrassed to ask it... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico, Wee Mama

          ...but why can't I find this diary posted anywhere but on my personal diaries list?  Where are you all reading this diary from?  I am not a techie (ergo the lack of a link) and so I can not find this diary being posted.

          Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

          by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:52:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No worries... I'm seeing it in on the main page (5+ / 0-)

            in the "Recent Diaries" list on the right-hand column.  It's still there, toward the bottom of the list.  Most of us saw it there when it was higher up the column, but as more stuff gets published, it sinks down the list.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 03:13:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  From the Recent Diaries list, your diary was (2+ / 0-)

            "Rescued" and put on the Community Spotlight list, where I first saw it.  Since then it's collected enough recs to end up on the Recommended List -- good for you!  (YOu probably knew all this by now, but I just wanted to be sure.)

            --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

            by Fiona West on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:07:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's on the rec list? Really? That's a first. (0+ / 0-)

              Still, I only see it on the Community Spotlight.  But if it is on the rec list am I obligated to stick some kind of acknowledgement in the diary?  I've been around here for a long time and I still feel like a newbie.

              Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

              by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:26:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  YOu can tell it was on the Rec list (tho it's now (3+ / 0-)

                fallen off) because someone (probably the Rescue Rangers) edited the tags to include "Rescue to Recommended."  It's nice when a diary that may have been on the verge of being overlooked gets Rescued and gets enough attention to be on the Rec list.  Congrats!

                You're not obligated to put an acknowledgement in the diary when it gets on the Rec List.  Some people do, especially if it's their first time on the Rec list.  Others don't.  No rule, really.

                I've been here a fair while, and there are still an amazing number of things I don't know, including things many people seem to regard as elementary.  So don't feel bad.  There's lots of us.  I justify myself by noting that I don't really have much time to spend here... And I'm just so dedicated to reading diaries and absorbing knowledge that I can't be bothered with the details.  Or something. Whatever.  : )

                --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

                by Fiona West on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 12:44:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  You do need another word. (0+ / 0-)

        There are lots of people, especially in the US, who are unaffiliated but still consider themselves ”believers", or ”spiritual". Speaking as an atheist, I'd say that my world view has less in common with theirs than with members of liberal Protestant denominations, and I'd prefer not to be lumped together with them. Personally, I'm OK with "unbeliever".

        I'm old enough to have been involved in the civil rights and anti war struggles of the 60s and 70s, and I deeply appreciate the contributions of clergy to those movements. Just as an aside, liberal Jewish and RC clergy were often on the front lines, too. What has become of the RC social-justice movement over the past half-century is truly dismaying, but perhaps Pope Francis will encourage it once again. We need all the allies we can get.

        My only quibble with what is otherwise a really fine piece this that rather that suggest that the liberal churches have won the social-justice war, or the science war, or any of the other struggles you mention, you should remind yourself that what they/we won was only a battle, and it was "won" over 40 years ago.

        Since then, ground has been lost steadily on most of the fronts you detail. I don't blame you individually, or the mainline denominations, certainly not more than I blame myself. But I've come to believe that this war is endless, that we make our progress in fits and starts, and that there are always people whose narrow interests are opposed to our broad ones. And they have fabulous amounts of wealth and will fight to the death to preserve what they have.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 07:34:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  win? (3+ / 0-)

    We will win when we fulfill the prayer "on earth as it is in heaven".   Meanwhile, it's a nice piece of wishful thinking.  But meanwhile more to the point we must "keep our hands on the plow and hold on".  
             I dearly wish I could see a little rejuvenation around here.  Our Methodist congregation gets grayer and smaller.  One can hope.

    •  Take heart. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      Neither a congregation nor a denomination nor even a disciple (if being true to our faith) exists for the perpetuation of its/their/our self.  We are more than conquerors of death.  Relax.  The kingdom of heaven comes whether we live or weather we die.

      Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

      by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:26:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey I was a Lutheran too! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, milkbone

    All confirmed and everything. Then one day I read about Martin Luther writing Jews and their Lies (which inspired Hitler) and I had to bury my little "I am a Lutheran" medal in the back yard.

    You seriously are assigning the advancements in civil rights to Protestantism (only the liberal kind of course)? Seriously???!!!

    Here's my response in terms of one of my favorite cartoons....

    Friend one: "People say they follow the bible, but most agree that it's wrong to stone children, force women to marry their rapists, or own slaves."

    Friend two:"Really people just pick and choose which parts of scripture to take literally and which to write off as symbolic, allegory, or just outdated."

    Friend one:"So when people deicde to not follow certain scripture, what criterion are they using?"

    Friend two:"Modern secular reasoning."

    Good people with good hearts and a sense of morality pushed for advancements in the human condition, and they did it despite what their Protestant texts told them (aka the bible) and the fact that their "savior" never said a thing against slavery when it was all around him every day.

    Best of luck with that heaven thing!

    •  Somehow I knew what you were going to write. (5+ / 0-)



      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:32:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My Congregationalist forebears hanged witches too. (5+ / 0-)

      That's no more the standard we should be currently judged on than we should judge Lutherans or be ashamed to be Lutherans based on what Luther said about Jews.

      The Bible is relevant to many of us because overwhelmingly the message is about love and justice, which greatly overshadows the parts with which we might be uncomfortable.

      •  What is the definition of "Lutheran"? (0+ / 0-)

        In confirmation class, I was taught that it meant you agreed you were a follower and adherent of the religious tenets taught by Martin Luther. Did they change that?

        Do you think you would not have a sense of love and justice if you did not have that book to cherry pick?

        If you found out today that there is absolutely no "God" and that the whole bible, including the stories of Jesus were nothing more than tales spun out of thin air, would you change anything about your behavior or what you would teach your children about morals and ethics?

        In my view it is a real stretch for mainline Protestants to take credit for the advancements we have made in civil rights, but then if you are able to ignore much of the bible, that could be applied to history too, I guess.

        •  Mainline Protestants, Catholics and Jews (2+ / 0-)

          all threw themselves behind the civil rights movement. It's history. Evangelicals were usually indifferent or on the other side, except for AA evangelicals. Dr. King would probably qualify as an evangelical.

          Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here: http://bettysrants.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/my-next-big-thing/

          by Kimball Cross on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 06:46:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This diary's title and content does not (0+ / 0-)

            mention the contributions of Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans, or any other religious sect. It claims that "libera Protestantism is responsible for everything related to all the improvements in civil rights and even the changes made in the Vatican II!  Read this again.   If you don't see the rampant arrogance and the playing with history, then I don't know what else to say.

          •  Dr. King would probably qualify as a liberal. (0+ / 0-)

            His doctoral dissertation was on Henry Nelson Wieman (empirical theology) and Brightman (personalism) and he was fully aware and accepting of higher criticism of the Bible. (Higher criticism understands that our present Bible was edited from earlier writings.  The editing was "for a faction" and we should look at the faith traditions that were edited out, as well as the faith traditions that were edited in.

            King considered Unitarian affliliation and decided that being his own kind of Baptist was necessary if he was to contribute to build a broad social gospel movement among African Americans.  Most of the SCLC were liberal.

            The word evangelical simply means to witness the gospel of inclusive and redeeming love.  Evangelical (brand name) is a tradition that emphasizes individual salvation by personal convestion. King was evangelical in the witness way, but emphasized corporate salvation.

        •  Depends... (5+ / 0-)
          In my view it is a real stretch for mainline Protestants to take credit for the advancements we have made in civil rights, but then if you are able to ignore much of the bible, that could be applied to history too, I guess.
          "Ignoring the Bible," rather than looking upon the Bible as a living document, makes a big difference in how one views the Bible.

          Based on your previous comments, you seem to read the Bible much like a fundamentalist: as if others, those you scorn, must all believe it literally. As if, in the case of the teachings of Christ, he wasn't a rabbi of his times, utilizing all the Jewish sense of irony and sarcasm that Jewish culture embeds in a person - including Rabbi Jesus Christ.

          I believe that the diarist is absolutely correct, as I understand how secular culture creep works when it comes to the infusion of good ideas from religious teachings.

          People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

          by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:40:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes! So many critics accuse liberal Christians of (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            liberaldemdave, vadem165

            ...either literal interpretation of the bible (and so we are idiots) or of "cherry picking" (and so we are hypocrites).  Mainline Protestantism uses copious amounts of what we call Biblical criticism to gain a nuanced and comprehensive understanding of scripture.  It's not all or nothing.

            Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

            by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:12:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I used Biblical criticism techniques too. (0+ / 0-)

              It's called reading what's written there.  If you need to have a masters in bible analysis to comprehend the texts, then they are worthless to most people.  Or did the great deity really want to keep the "true meanings" the property of certain groups of scholars?

              •  Next Slam! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Simul Iustus et Peccator
                If you need to have a masters in bible analysis to comprehend the texts...
                I don't need such to comprehend the texts. Neither does my wife,   or anyone else in our parish, including our Pastor. Seems pretty clear to us.

                I've seen no evidence that the people in the circles I run with who practice biblical exegesis make any claim to knowing any true meaning, just what is said to them by the texts, using literary, historical and source criticism. And that information is readily available.

                Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek, many centuries ago, some of these disciplines are useful to the sincere and thoughtful reader.

                People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

                by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:17:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Doesn't that tell you something about (0+ / 0-)

                  the alleged author of the wriitngs? If "God" or "Yahweh" wanted the most bang for his buck on communicating with his creation, he wouldn't make it so hard.  How many people can translate Hebrew and Greek?  Did he expect to convince people in Asia of his existence?  

                  What you are saying is that these texts were written only for the consumption of a very small group of people on the planet, despite the claim that this god is the god of all the earth.   Or are you saying that Yahweh IS a different entity than the god of Jesus?

          •  It's only a "living document" (0+ / 0-)

            when people are torturing its texts to glean things out to fit their goals.  It never was intended by its writers to be anything more than absolute fixed in time explanations for a god and a way of explaining how the cosmos works.

            The fact that no one agrees on which parts are literal and which are not is proof positive that the book is basically worthless when it comes to providing moral guidance on human experiences 2000 years later.

            Let me know when the definitive guide on which parts are "living" and which are "dead" comes out.  In the meantime, I read the book as it is presented by its many authors.

            •  Said Nothing About Dead... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Simul Iustus et Peccator
              Let me know when the definitive guide on which parts are "living" and which are "dead" comes out.
              Such is available right now; it's called a persons heart and soul.

              This is literal: Love your neighbor as yourself (which does mean that it's helpful to have some self-esteem and self-discipline in order to be able to love one's neighbor effectively, but you have to start somewhere).

              This is literal: God will judge you with the same standards by which you judge others.

              This is literal: God looked at his creation, and saw that it was very good.

              YM Seems To V...I don't love you any the less because of that.

              People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

              by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:27:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In my view there is no "God" (0+ / 0-)

                and never have been any gods.  These ideas about caring for others and loving others were espoused by various cultures way way before there were semitic tribes wandering around in that area of the world, and before the alleged time of Jesus.  

                There is nothing new under the sun. It is mankind that thought of those philosophies and would have thought of them gods or not.  The wisdom that worked the best was preserved by different cultures down through the ages and occasionally pop up as the "original" sayings of whichever religion is the most powerful of that time.

            •  The words of Jesus first and foremost. (0+ / 0-)

              When asked point blank what the greatest commandment is He said it was to love God, and secondly to love neighbor.  Upon these two commandments are based all of the law and the prophets.  Rabbi Hillel is quoted as saying that which is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor.  That is the whole of the Torah - the rest is commentary.

              •  These ideas are not original to Judaism or (0+ / 0-)

                Christianity (see my post above).  And if neither gods nor saviors ever were thought of, these ideas would be standing in various cultures none the less because our species has learned over millions of years that they make our communities more successful.

        •  Lutherans are... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fiona West, liberaldemdave, vadem165

          ...Christians who subscribe to the Augsburg Confessions and the Smalcald Articles which can be found in the Book of Concord.

          These documents were collated by a large group of Catholic clerics and lay men (yes, all men) who were excommunicated by the Pope.  Their chief leaders were Martin Luther and Philip Melancthon.

          Indeed, one would hope that we would have a sense of love and justice even if we did not "cherry pick" that way of living from the Bible.  But the fact is that mainline Protestant liberals have found that a faithful reading of the bible (an anthology of books written by scores of different people over the centuries) leads to a call to love, kindness, justice and humility.

          BTW, the two tracts written by Luther at the end of his life which are so often cited in order to discredit Lutherans because of the anti-Semitic content are not canonical (not in the Book of Concord) and the ELCA has officially disowned and apologized for them.  They are not now, nor have ever been, authoritative to our denomination.

          Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

          by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:46:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Did they also ignore his siding with the (0+ / 0-)

            land owners over the starving peasants too?  I'm sorry, but this is such an exercise in apologetics, it's sad.

            •  A Test (3+ / 0-)
              Did they also ignore his siding with the land owners over the starving peasants too?  I'm sorry, but this is such an exercise in apologetics, it's sad.
              Can you ever make a comment in a diary thread about people's faith that isn't dripping with sarcasm and condescension? Can you bring the love, and acceptance of others, and what gets them through the night?

              Something that's living accepts growth, and expansion, something that's dead locks down all thought to a narrow definition, and uses scorn like a weapon.

              People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

              by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:35:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I can't help but notice... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Frederick Clarkson

                ...this commenter's handle is FishTROLLer01.  Maybe we should take that name under advisement.

                •  As I have explained several times (0+ / 0-)

                  before, my name is in honor of my uncle's fishing boat. He was my godparent and a really great guy.  So grow up on this stuff, please.

                  If you read all the comments on this diary, which was about the very questionable claim that liberal Protestants were the main people responsible for human and civil rights advancement, you will lots of witnessing about personal religious beliefs. Apparently, even when those are off topic, they are not considered "trolling".  

                  As fara as I'm concerrned, whenever one lapses into this nonsensical name calling, I view as an inability to address ideas. It's a cop-out.

                  You have two choices when presented with ideas you don't agree with... ignore them or engage them with your own views and evidence.  Having a little corner whisper and giggle about usernames and "trolls" is just childish.  I hope you think about that.  

              •  No, he can't - check his username. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Frederick Clarkson

                The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                by wesmorgan1 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:27:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  My comments aren't on your personal faith. (0+ / 0-)

                They are questioning the decision to be loyal to someone like Martin Luther.

                If you joined a club that did all good works (and we can't even say that about Protestantism and its actions in the world) and you found out that the founder of the club, whose name is on everything that the club represents, had committed foul crimes... would you remain an member of the club and still wear his name to represent you?

                "Something that's living accepts growth, and expansion, something that's dead locks down all thought to a narrow definition, and uses scorn like a weapon."

                You may want to tell that to your friends below who have just lapsed into the second part of this quote. Growth means change, and expansion means widening of thought and perspective. In order to do that, one must be willing to question the old and embrace the new, if the old is found lacking in evidence or morality. That is freethought.  It may not be the thing that gives you comfort to get through the night or face death, but it's at least honest and real.  At least, that's the way I see it.

        •  On the other hand, it would be equally (3+ / 0-)

          a stretch to credit atheists or agnostics for the progress we've made. The Civil Rights movement was led by Christians, as was the abolitionist movement before it. Even the gay rights movement has had a strong religious  contingent, demanding respect from churches as well as civil authorities. Atheists have supported these movements but not had much role in leading them.

          On the other hand, the diarist does exaggerate the influence of religion in changes over the last century...some things have changed simply because of extraneous forces, technology, changing living patterns, increased production leading to more resources to go around....and there is also the nagging issue of backsliding on social and economic justice. The piling up of obscene fortunes while a larger share of people slide into poverty, the freedom felt by racists to express themselves in a way that we thought was in the past....this is an ongoing project, and liberal churches are too weak to carry much of the load any more. It would be great if humanists could step in to fill their former role, but there doesn't seem to be much of an organized movement for that in this country.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:45:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think a closer look would be appropriate here.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Simul Iustus et Peccator

            First of all I would suggest that you read Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers.  Then I will remind you of the fact that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an atheist. Robert Ingersoll was a civil rights activist with a huge following and he was an atheist. Abolitionist Ralph Waldo Emerson was an atheist after leaving the Unitarian church as a minister.

            And then there's this on black civil rights leaders who were atheists:

            http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/...

            and this...http://www.boston.com/...

            Maybe you could take the time to look up the atheist gay activists too.

            All you need to do is look beneath the headlines. It was and still is very hard for atheists/agnostics to come out of the closet so to speak when the public spotlight is on them.  Thus we usually hear nothing about their incredible contributions to civil rights and a whole host of other issues.

            But I'm glad you agree that this diary is an exaggeration to say the least.

            •  helpful links. thank you. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pvasileff

              Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

              by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:12:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And thank you for engaging in my (0+ / 0-)

                suggestions in an open minded way.  The more I study history, the more I realize that you usually can't make broad claims about things.  I wish we were better as a country in teaching history to our children so they can see it as a woven tapestry of movements rather than a rigid timeline.  It leaves too much room for mythologies to slip into people's minds, particularly about the founding of our country.

        •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

          ...I believe I did read a few years back that the Lutheran Church officially expunged Luther's anti-semitism from the body of their teachings.  Luther was a mere mortal.  You don't have to agree with him on everything to be a part of his church just like you don't have to agree with our Founding Fathers on everything to be an American.  Luther's main thrusts were justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers which I believe are still valid tenets of Lutheranism, and for that matter much of protestantism in general.

  •  The article from "The Christian Century" (6+ / 0-)

    referenced in the diary deals with the question in the title:

    Did liberal (or “mainline”) Protestants of the mid 20th-century win the culture war of their era against conservatives and fundamentalists even as their own membership numbers began to decline? Did liberal religious ideas of tolerance, social justice, racial equality, interfaith dialogue and interdenominational cooperation triumph at the cost of eroding liberal Christian institutions? It’s a fascinating question, and one that raises at once the complicated question of how winning and losing is to be defined.

    What often gets lost in discussions of winners and losers, however, is just how much both liberal and conservative Protestants have changed internally over the past 60 years in response to each other and in response to larger cultural and intellectual shifts. The same labels get used, but the products beneath the labels have shifted....Link

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 02:59:23 PM PDT

  •  I was raised in a ULCA (later LCA, later ELCA) (5+ / 0-)

    congregation. The initials indicate a series of denominational mergers.

    Subsequently, I passed through atheism and Unitarianism before finding a spiritual home in Reform Judaism, but my respect for the liberal protestant tradition was very high. It's especially high because I grew up in the South, where the evangelicals were on the side of segregation for a very long time.

    Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here: http://bettysrants.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/my-next-big-thing/

    by Kimball Cross on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 03:40:25 PM PDT

  •  Well, of course! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Fiona West, FindingMyVoice

    It's like the political parties. I probably don't have the analogy exact, but it's been said that if the Democrats and the Republicans of the 1960s were on a football field facing each other from their respective 30 yard lines the Democrats have moved to the 20 yard line and the Republicans are now behind their own goalposts.

    Same with liberal and evangelical Protestantism, as the evangelicals have become MUCH more conservative over the last 50 years. In fact, isn't the terminology "mainstream" and "evangelical"? If so, doesn't "mainstream" tell you everything you need to know here?

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 04:13:21 PM PDT

    •  To be precise, "mainline" != "mainstream"... (4+ / 0-)

      Traditionally, the seven traditional "mainline Protestant" groups are:

      * United Methodist Church
      * Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
      * Presbyterian Church (USA)
      * Episcopal Church
      * American Baptist Churches
      * United Church of Christ (Congregationalist)
      * Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

      Until the early 1900s, these seven denominations (or their predecessors) claimed a majority of American Protestants.

      If you talk to a theologian or religious historian, "mainstream Christianity" is usually used to denote Trinitarian beliefs.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:17:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Technically it's mainline rather than mainstream. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, Alice in Florida

      Evangelical with a capital E might work for the other side, but in a generic sense the UCC considers itself evangelical and of course the full name of the aforementioned main Lutheran body is evangelical.  Historically, "evangelical" was used for all that broke from Rome before the term "protestant" caught on as a positive term.

      Also, quick side question - how does one negatively vote on a comment?  I only see a check box to recommend.

      •  You don't "negatively vote" (0+ / 0-)

        Long, long ago we had a rating system where a comment could be rated on a scale of 0-4, with "0" (also known as the "donut") denoting a troll comment and 1-4 denoting the range from poor to excellent....which worked for a while when the  population here was relatively small, but eventually came to be abused and Kos decided to yank it in favor of a system of "recommend" (4) or "hide" (0). If you don't see the "hide" button it means you're not a "Trusted User"--which doesn't necessarily mean you're untrustworthy, just that you haven't been around long enough or participated enough for the site to gage whether you can be trusted with the "hide rate"...which is, as implied, reserved only for comments so odious that they should be hidden from all but the Trusted Users.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:56:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You can express your negative view by commenting. (2+ / 0-)

        You can express positive views both by commenting and by reccing the comment, which builds the "mojo" or positive score of the commenter -- something some people care a lot about, others not so much.

        Even if you have the power to "hide rate" something, you're not supposed to do that because you don't like the comment (argue with it or ignore it, but people get to express all kinds of views here).  You only hide-rate a comment if is obnoxious in ways that break site rules.  Any threat of violence (serious or not), racism, sexism or homophobia, personal attacks (as opposed to attacks on positions), etc are reasons for hide-rating.  If a comment is hide-rated twice, it disappears from the view of most readers, unless people are also reccing it, in which case it's a race.

        Not a perfect system, but it keeps the site relatively sane, while still allowing wide latitude for expressing a variety of opinions, some of which can still be pretty obnoxious. : )  

        --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

        by Fiona West on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:43:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  exactly right. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vadem165

        in fact, it was the union of the Evangelical and Congregational Churches that came together to form the UCC in 1957.

        The United Church of Christ was formed when two Protestant churches, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches united in 1957.[8][9][10] This union adopted an earlier general statement of unity between the two denominations, the 1943 "Basis of Union".[11] At this time, the UCC claimed about two million members.[9] In 1959, in its General Synod, the UCC adopted a broad "Statement of Faith".[12] The UCC adopted its constitution and by-laws in 1961.[9]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...
  •  hopefully not...because (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prinny Squad, pvasileff, ChadmanFL

    mainline liberal Protestantism is as ludicrous and destructive to the human psyche as any other form of religion (the opiate of the masses). Only in different ways.

    As a former mainline liberal protestant myself, increasingly over the years it's becoming increasingly apparent that the delusions, illusions and falsehoods that religions provide are, in fact, harmful, getting in the way of humans' ability toward the ultimate form of freedom: psychological freedom. Religions are impediments to that with their beliefs and belief systems what prevent people from seeing life as it is and seeing the great beauty of life itself, without all of the bogus dogmas.

    •  The chief impediment of Liberal Xtianity (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pvasileff, memiller, wdrath, JosephK74

      is the same you find in the New Age: the one and only rule is that you're not allowed to tell other people they're wrong. You can believe any crazy thing you want, as long as you don't harsh on someone else's buzz. This war on empiricism and truth is potentially even more dangerous than the fundie's theocracy.

      As Steven Weinberg said:

      Religious liberals are in one sense even farther in spirit from scientists than are fundamentalists and other religious conservatives. At least the conservatives like the scientists tell you that they believe in what they believe because it is true, rather than because it makes them good or happy. Many religious liberals today seem to think that different people can believe in different mutually exclusive things without any of them being wrong, as long as their beliefs "work for them."

      Wolfgang Pauli was once asked whether he thought that a particularly ill-conceived physics paper was wrong. He replied that such a description would be too kind---the paper was not even wrong. I happen to think that the religious conservatives are wrong in what they believe, but at least they have not forgotten what it means really to believe something. The religious liberals seem to me to be not even wrong.[Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, pp. 257-258]

      •  Interesting perspective regarding the aposition of (8+ / 0-)

        religious liberalism and science.  But I think what you are describing (Weinberg too) is what Lutherans are calling the heresy of moralistic therapeutic deism:  "What works for me is what I believe".

        Interesting that the previous commenter was criticizing the liberal Protestants for the exact opposite thing you are criticizing us for.  We are too dogmatic for wdrath and too spineless for Yahzi.

        Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

        by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:27:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's all that cherry picking liberals do... (0+ / 0-)

          The cherries build up and then you have to do something with them, so you make pies to throw at the fundamentalists, who, in the meantime, are busy perfectly reflecting the harsh god(s) of the bible.

          It's a never ending circular firing squad!

      •  Well as a member of a United Church of Christ (8+ / 0-)

        Congregation, I couldn't agree with your statement more.  The notion that religious liberals don't really believe in something is simply absurd.  Most of us believe fervently in the notion of social justice, love and compassion.  We fervently oppose and call out those who espouse hate and we also oppose injustice on a wide range of issues.  We most certainly have not "forgotten what it means really to believe something" as you claim.  

        In fact, it was religious liberals including the Reverend Martin Luther King, who led the Civil Rights Movement in this nation.  Surely you wouldn't accuse those in the Civil Rights Movement, many of whom were jailed, injured, or lost their lives fighting for civil rights, of having "forgotten what it means really to believe in something."

        We have nothing to fear but fear itself

        by bhouston79 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:38:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I meant to say I couldn't disagree more with your (4+ / 0-)

        statement.

        We have nothing to fear but fear itself

        by bhouston79 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:39:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Weinberg's dislike of religion is well known... (3+ / 0-)

        ...but I found his reference to the 'anthropic principle' rather interesting:

        In response to these arguments, Weinberg points to the  “anthropic principle,” which he calls “a nice non-theistic explanation of why things are as nice as they are.”
        Well, the anthropic principle basically states, as Wikipedia puts it:
        observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it.
        Why is that particularly interesting?  Well, consider that Descartes took that question one logical step further--how can I know that my senses and the observations they provide are accurate?--and wound up offering a proof for the existence of God.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:36:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed, all forms of religion are a threat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pvasileff

      Believing in biblical falsehoods does nobody any good.  The "Left-wing Jesus" may be less dangerous than "Right-wing Jesus" version, but it's dangerous nonetheless.  Thankfully the fastest growing religion in the U.S. is "none."

      Intelligence agencies keep things secret because they often violate the rule of law or of good behavior. -Julian Assange-

      by ChadmanFL on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:50:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey Fred Clarkson and gang... (0+ / 0-)

      How come you didn't jump on wdrath's comments here? Surely he/she deserves to have troll pies thrown- yes?  

  •  Unlikely (5+ / 0-)

    Stephen Pinker has a somewhat different conclusion: The Better Angles of our Nature.

    As Fishtroller said above, it is far more likely that secularism produced Liberal Christianity than the reverse. We had the Bible, kings, and slavery for a long time, but all of that started changing just around the time of the Enlightenment.

    •  It can not be disregarded that the Enlightenment (9+ / 0-)

      owes a great debt of gratitude to the Protestant Reformation.  The sudden importance of asking questions, the push for literacy among the masses, the breaking of the Papal stranglehold, Biblical criticism, the rise of the laity...  The Reformation profoundly changed the world and we can only guess whether the Enlightenment could have happened without those changes.

      Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

      by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:33:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It absolutely can be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ChadmanFL

        denied.  All of the Enlightenment heavy hitters were actively in combat with both Catholicism and Protestantism due to their endless wars following the reformation.  Check out Peter Gay and Jonathan Israel on this.  The influence was negative.  Later on the various branches of Christoanity came around.  Let's not forget that both Catholicism and Protestantism were on the side of monarchy, not democracy.

        •  What Other Choices Were There? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Simul Iustus et Peccator
          Let's not forget that both Catholicism and Protestantism were on the side of monarchy, not democracy.
          Can you provide any evidence that the 'idea' of democracy was at all extant during the time of the reformation in Europe? Monarchy was all that people had to use for a reference in how to govern or be governed, as anarchy only promised murder and chaos, and the Papacy was concerned with raising money to physically build the Vatican.

          People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

          by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:45:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm talking the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fishtroller01

            Post-Reformation Enlightenment period.  Again and again you had both Catholicism and the Protestantism fighting AGAINST the Enlightenment figures pushing for democracy. Note idea that democracy arose out of Christianity is pure poppycock.  The democratic revolutions emerged out of a return to Greco-roman thought and both Protestantism and Catholicism fought it every step of the way.  Let's not forget that monarchy was based on divine right and that democracy is based on the idea that we all have reason and therefore the capacity to govern ourselves, ie, it cuts divinity out of the picture.  There's some serious revisionism going on in this diary.  All of the values the diarist references arose in RESPONSE to religious violence and brutality, not out of Christianity.

          •  Your comment also (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fishtroller01

            completely ignores post-Reformation Protestant abuses.  Do you know anything about the 30 years war, the 100 years war, the English civil war, etc?  It's deeply important to understand what religion was during this time period.  It wasn't a "belief" as we think of it today (indeed, the concept of faith as we understand it today is a thoroughly modern invention as a sort of rhetorical toy to evade the critical spirit that arose during the enlightenment, cf. The Secular Age by Charles Taylor.  The existence of God and the truth of Christianity was experienced as entirely obvious prior to this period, much like its obvious to us that germs cause sickness even though we can't see them).  The church was a STATE institution functioning as the foundation of government and the justification of monarchs.  These wars were all political wars.  At any rate, with very SMALL exceptions, both Protestantism and Catholicism were overwhelmingly on the side of monarchy as democratic thought began to spread (no doubt due to the rise of capitalism and the emergence of new wealthy traders that demanded the aristocrats share the power).  

            What alternative was there, you ask?  Well, you see, there were these little things called the Greece and Rome of antiquity that had invented ideas like democracy and republics (ideas, I add, completely foreign to Christianity with it's model of big daddy ruling over creation) that the schoolmarm and monks were well aware of as they did, after all read the works of antiquity.  Yet STILL they sided with monarchy because they believed this is what god decreed and sought to protect their own power.  This diary is completely upside down and is the sort of things that give Christians a reputation for being dishonest, endlessly distorting evidence and history to suit their own agenda.

            •  Lenin, Stalin, Mao...humanists (0+ / 0-)

              Shall I attribute their atrocities to their humanism and then to all humanists?  Of course not.  Bad apples don't spoil the whole bunch.  

              Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

              by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 04:21:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Clearly it irks people that a whole lot of good (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Frederick Clarkson

              has come out of a tradition that they are committed to scorning.  I do not expect anyone to convert because of a diary like this.  I am merely pointing out that which is the object of widespread derision on the left is not the monstrosity the script says it is.  

              Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

              by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 04:24:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And I was pointing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Fishtroller01

                out that your claims were grossly inaccurate historically.  It was not the idea of something good coming out of Protestant that irks me (if you read my first comment in this diary I praise MODERN mainline Protestantism).  It is your historical inaccuracy and dishonesty that irks me.  What you're doing is the same as fundies presenting the founding fathers as fundies.  Nice persecution complex you got going there, though.

  •  Many of us in the agnostic/atheist category (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou, Stwriley, ChadmanFL

    went through a religious period also.  We understand from whence thou comest.  Religion can be uplifting and comforting, to be sure.  However where I personally part company from all religions is the: As Evidenced By ... department.  

    Follow the mythologies of religions backwards in time and see the commonalities one to another, and where they diverge. It is difficult to follow when most were oral traditions written down years after they were told.  Then read up on the origins of the Mormon religion and see what it has become based on the writings of a con man looking into his hat at a seer stone, not yet 200 years distant.  Look at the more recent translations of scripture and it is easy to understand how the Abrahamic religions evolved over 2000 years, during which time most of the population was illiterate.

    Religion has its good points and its bad points, but for me, the idea of Divinity is not supported by the evidence.

    "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it." Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by pvasileff on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:23:18 PM PDT

    •  The idea of divinity... (3+ / 0-)

      ...is not supposed to be supported by evidence.  That's why it's called faith.  Science and faith should not try to intrude on each other's territory.  Science should not try to prove or disprove the existence of God, and faith should not substitute for science where evidence exists in things like evolution for example.

      •  Thank you for your reply. (5+ / 0-)

        I understand that you base your belief on faith and render unto science those things that science does best.  However, the things that science explains best have changed gradually over the years, removing from God's realm such things as earth as the center of the universe, earth as a flat plane, and torturing people until they admit to practicing witchcraft.  (Well, except for torturing people to get them to give up terrorist information, true or not. But many of us do not condone that and most of us do not consider that God approves of that either).  

        Many of the experiences that individuals interpret as religious can be duplicated by stimulation of parts of the brain.  For me, the combination of the evidence of science with the credibility issues of scripture is enough for me to disbelieve in the Christian religion as well as any other religion.

        I understand that you view the same things and come to a different conclusion, yet I suspect that in a given situation of daily living our responses would be similar.  I would propose that the Enlightenment was due to an interaction of the Protestant Reformation and the rise of science.

        "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it." Neil deGrasse Tyson

        by pvasileff on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 08:30:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd like to add something... (4+ / 0-)

          to your take on the interaction between the atheist/agnostic viewpoint and that of liberal Christianity. It goes back to something the diarist said at the very top of the diary.

          Mainline liberal Protestant Christianity is viewed with contempt by secular liberals as magical-thinking dupes who are irrelevant and ineffective and that explains our anemic numbers because smart people have finally caught on.
          As a life-long atheist who did not have a religious phase (my parents did that before me and saved me the trouble) but was exposed to a liberal denomination (United Methodist; again, my parents did this because they wanted me to understand the culture in which I would need to live) I have never held liberal Christians in contempt. That is an emotional category most atheists (even the New Atheists, of whom I am certainly one) save for fundamentalist Christians and their denial of demonstrable reality. We tend to view liberal Christians in much the way you do a beloved uncle who has a few odd ideas; you don't think badly of him, even though you'd like to talk him out of believing in his hobbyhorse.

          We know that liberal Christianity is not generally the cause of the harm that religion often does in the world. Indeed, it is often a force against that kind of harm because they do not share the ideas that move fundamentalists of all religions to act in harmful ways. When it comes to social action and positive change, we often join with liberal Christians to push forward those changes. While we do argue against any religion as promoting magical thinking, we also recognize that liberal sects have at least tried to confined this to the realm of religious thought rather than apply it to the world in general. It's still not a good thing, but it's only mildly dangerous as a mental habit when so confined.

          But we should also be careful in giving liberal Christianity too much credit. The modern secular world we now have is a product of many forces, only some of which can be attributed to Protestantism. Many other roots, from radical Catholic thinkers of the late Renaissance, through the rationalists of the Enlightenment and on to the revolutions of modern science and philosophy, have made as much or more of an impact on the formation of this secular world.

          What we really hope for, as atheists, is the success of one of the core attitudes of liberal Christianity: recognition of the personal nature of religion. This is usually expressed by the term 'tolerance' but that is a pale word for the concept. It is the idea that the secular world is the common ground of all and not a place for any religious concept to be imposed. Religion belongs to the person of faith as an internal matter, to be pursued for themselves as they see fit, in conjunction with those of like mind if they wish. If this were the nature of all religions, we wouldn't need activist atheism. For this reason alone, we all certainly hope that the liberal sects win out over their fundamentalist brethren.

          Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

          by Stwriley on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 06:38:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thoughtful and helpful. Thank you. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stwriley, pvasileff, Alice in Florida

            However, I would submit that one of the greatest differences between mainline liberal Protestants and "Evangelical" (Trademark) denominations is the view of individualism vs. communal/corporate-ism.  The importance of the individual is highly valued by both.  But the right-wingers are solely invested in the individual at the expense of the corporate.  Just listen to their music and you will here almost exclusive use of first person pronouns and mainline music uses almost exclusively third person pronouns.
            Also, mainliners tend to temper the individualist pursuit of promoting the self above all else.  That really irks most people because they do not want their opinions and comfort levels challenged but rather reinforced.  The Gospel stands opposed to rampant individualism.  Contrary to what some in this discussion have claimed, mainline liberal Protestants do not, in fact, claim that whatever is good is whatever you like (aka. relativism).  We also have the tendency to point the finger at ourselves when talking about sin rather than pointing it at others in dramatic counterpoint to right-wingers.

            Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

            by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:59:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "hear" not "here" Pardon the error. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Stwriley

              Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

              by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:00:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Of course there's a difference between (0+ / 0-)

              liberal Protestants and fundamentalists Protestants. The question is who reflects the texts more truly, and I say it's the fundies.   And as long as the liberals carry around the same set of texts as the fundamentals of their faith, they are tied at the hip  to the fundies.

              Another reason that liberal Protestants are different from fundies is that they buy into modern secular reasoning and fundies don't.   In my view the sooner liberal Protestants can drop the bible as something to be revered or respected in any way, the sooner I will view them less as hypocritical.

          •  this is a key component of mainline protestantism (3+ / 0-)
            What we really hope for, as atheists, is the success of one of the core attitudes of liberal Christianity: recognition of the personal nature of religion.
            i can only speak for the UCC, however. i believe that it is all about a personal relationship with Christ. my relationship may be different than the person sitting in the pew next to me on sunday but that isn't called out as a bad or negative thing. instead it is encouraged and applauded. we're all at different  places on a path.
          •  You have expressed my viewpoint better than I did. (2+ / 0-)

            I don't view believers with contempt, barring a few who merely seek to enrich themselves at the expense of others.  A trait not limited to the religious by any means.  My first concern is that governance in this country be secular.  Secondly, I would hope that non-theism be accorded the same respect as the various favors of theism.  

            Yes, it is the fundamentalist religions that do the most damage in the public sphere. Coexistence with liberal religions is not difficult by and large, and I certainly hope there is a resurgence of the focus on religion as an internal motivation rather than one to be imposed on others. Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

            "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it." Neil deGrasse Tyson

            by pvasileff on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:25:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I think you're right about the Enlightenment. (2+ / 0-)

          Many Enlightenment thinkers, of course, retained a religious element to their thinking, either Deist or a relatively open-minded version of Christianity.

          You say of liberal protestants:

          I suspect that in a given situation of daily living our responses would be similar.
          To me, that's a crucial thing when looking at political and social change and seeing where my allies are.  THough I stopped being Christian roughly 40 years ago, I have respect and affection for many liberal protestant groups and individuals, because they have been persistent in supporting progressive values.  I get really annoyed by attacks on them by "new atheists."  

          (That's not aimed at you; you've been very civil."

          --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

          by Fiona West on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:25:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks, Fiona. (0+ / 0-)

            I am in agreement with you.  There are all flavors of atheists, some of whom are most unpleasant individuals.  I am basically a non-confrontational individual.  I feel that the best way to change people's minds is to lead by example.  Too many equate atheist with amoral, which is not at all the case. It is only since I have retired and have time to read both blogs and books on theology that I have become more activist about promoting atheism.  My own mind was made up fifty years ago just based on personal observation. Particularly with the resurgence of evangelism and the current abysmal state of political affairs I feel that it is important to speak up.  We do not need to descend once again into the  mentality of the Spanish Inquisition.

            "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it." Neil deGrasse Tyson

            by pvasileff on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 12:00:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your diary. (5+ / 0-)

    It's an interesting take on things; however, the United Church of Christ congregation that I belong to is actually growing.

    We have nothing to fear but fear itself

    by bhouston79 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:42:03 PM PDT

    •  God bless the UCC. May you open a mega church (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gffish, liberaldemdave, bhouston79

      in every third ring suburb with lattes in cup holders in the theater style seating to accommodate the teeming masses.  That sure would be better than the current crop of mega churches.

      Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

      by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:05:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You want to be an atheist? (7+ / 0-)

    Fine--up to you. Many of us don't "believe."

    Please recognize, though, that many progressives' activism, is directly informed by their religious faith.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:02:17 PM PDT

  •  United Methodist here (2+ / 0-)

    check out the Methodist Federation for Social Action website  http://mfsaweb.org/

    On the home page today---

    50th Anniversary of March on Washington
    Fracking
    Closing Guantanamo

    MFSA: where Progressive United Methodists connect with one another and turn their faith into action

    MISSION: to mobilize, lead and sustain a progressive United Methodist movement, energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace and reconciliation.

  •  No, it'll dissapear like all the other religions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, Prinny Squad, ChadmanFL

    In the end people will wisen up and stop believing in silly superstitions. It's pretty much happened in Europe already among young people.

  •  Good diary. Earlier today I commented C.S. Lewis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Simul Iustus et Peccator

    should be thrown at all RW'ers.  His thoughts and writings seem firmly based in a common sense faith that most of us here can identify with.  The choice presented would be for RW'ers to shun the revered C.S. Lewis, or come up with a defensible refutation of his thinking.  A tall order, I believe, even for those packing the most fervent certainty within themselves.

    •  A classic, thoughtful Christian apologist. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kansas Born

      And buds with Tolkien which is pretty cool.

      Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

      by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:09:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was Tolkien who converted Lewis (0+ / 0-)

        from materialistic agnosticism to Christianity. But ironically his nose was then put out of joint because Lewis chose Anglicanism rather than Tolkien's own Catholicism to follow.

        So it goes. :-)

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:10:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Doctor of the Faith (0+ / 0-)
          It was Tolkien who converted Lewis from materialistic agnosticism to Christianity. But ironically his nose was then put out of joint because Lewis chose Anglicanism rather than Tolkien's own Catholicism to follow.
          Yes, most Anglican/Episcopal leaders I've spoken with on the subject consider C.S. Lewis to be a doctor of the faith, in the same way that Roman Catholics view Thomas Aquinas...

          People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

          by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:53:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  As a non-believer (4+ / 0-)

      I can't really go along on the basic question with either liberal or conservative Christians. But on political questions, I am much closer to the liberal denominations, and realize they have contributed to the progressive cause, though I still can't agree with their theology. I have been quite amused over the last few years to watch the liberal denominations try to catch up with others on such matters as gay rights. It took a while to get there. To the question of whether they are winning or not: yes, in the sense that the general public is heading in a more liberal degree on many social issues and undecided as to whether they will keep on losing members. I suppose time will tell on the second part.

      •  The full inclusion of gay people in our fellowship (5+ / 0-)

        is a matter of discussion right now.  Specifically, whether we will perform same sex marriages in our church now that it is legal in our state.  During a discussion with a person who has quit our congregation over this issue she accused our denomination of embrace a "worldly ethic" rather than a scriptural and faith based ethic.  I countered that a worldly ethic is one of right equals might, of the first will be first and the last will be last, of cycles of violence and exclusion, of cut throat individualism.  Whereas a Gospel ethic is one of peace and hospitality and a breaking down of barriers that separate people and an ethic of first will be last and last will be first and an ethic of turn the other cheek graciousness.  The fact is, gay rights have come to the fore as the latest manifestation of the inexorable progress of the liberal Protestant vision for a world of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly before the Lord.  Her exclusion of gays is the worldly ethic.  The inclusion of gays is the Gospel ethic.

        Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

        by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 08:26:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Oh my no god! (0+ / 0-)

      C.S.Lewis... really?  Boy, if I were you, I would look up some good critiques of good old C.S.

      Just one juicy quote: "Evolution was devised not to get facts, but to keep out God."  

      •  I would ask consideration of the following. (0+ / 0-)

        From "Reflections on the Psalms:

        "Now when (an elected official) attempts to cheat against men of the world who know how to look after themselves, no great harm is done. Some time has been wasted, and we must in some measure share the disgrace of belonging to a community where such practices are tolerated, but that is all. When, however, that kind of publican sends a similarly dishonest demand to a poor widow, already half starving on a highly taxable 'unearned' income (actually earned by years of self-denial on her husband's part) a different result probably follows......The publican who has tried it on with her is precisely "the ungodly" who "for his own lust doth persecute the poor".

        or, "At the outset I felt sure that we must not either try to explain them (hatreds and cursings in the Bible) away or to yield for one moment to the idea that because it comes in the Bible all this vindictive hatred must somehow be good and pious....The hatred is there -- festering, gloating, and undisguised -- and also we must be wicked if we in any way condoned or approved it, or worse still, used it to justify similar passions in ourselves.

        or, "If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us very much worse. Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst."

  •  Historian Gary Dorrien (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simul Iustus et Peccator

    has a discussion at Religion Dispatches of the transformational  role of the mainline Protestant denominations in the 20th century. It will be of interest to anyone interested in the themes of this spot on diary.  

  •  I grew up as an ALC Lutheran (2+ / 0-)

    (ALC was Norwegians, LCA was Swedes, and the (conservative) Germans were mostly Missouri Synod or Wisconsin Synod.) The Germans were very conservative.

    The ALC and LCA combined into ELCA ten or twenty years ago.

    I graduated from St. Olaf College, as did both of my parents and two of my grandparents. I have cousins and second cousins who are Lutheran preachers. Also, my grandfather and great grandfather.

    ELCA Lutherans are fairly liberal nowadays. They say it's OK to be gay, it's OK to masturbate, and so on.

    Which is a good thing.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:21:08 PM PDT

    •  Um Ya Ya. 1988. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

      by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 05:30:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Um ya ya to you too (0+ / 0-)

        Class of '78, so I was ten years before you. My father taught at Concordia (Moorhead), so we got a professor's kid discount at Lutheran (ALC) colleges. A couple of us went to St. Olaf, one to Augsburg, one to Pacific Lutheran (plus a couple ended up at state universities).

        I was in Paracollege and lived in Ytterboe the first three years, then downtown my senior year (there was a free van that went between Carleton and St. Olaf). Both Ytterboe and Paracollege are now gone. To students, Paracollege was sort of the hippie college where you could design your own major. To parents and older relatives I always said it was based on the Oxford/Cambridge tutorial model. It sounds more respectable than "the hippie college."

        My major was linguistics (mostly semantics and grammar, but also psychology of language and philosophy of language) -- and it helped later on when I was an magazine editor and tech writer. My languages were Latin, French, and Old English.

        "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

        by Dbug on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:14:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Slavery is no where near extinction (5+ / 0-)

    Sorry to say, but those who work in human trafficking will tell you that there are more people in slavery now than at any time in history. While it may not be supported directly by governments nowadays, it is still alive and well including in the US in the form of prostitution, immigrant farm and textile workers, maids, etc. It is just more underground and ignored.

    •  Good point. It is a continuing scourge. (0+ / 0-)

      We need to do better by these people.

      Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

      by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 05:37:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the ucc is painfully aware of the problem of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simul Iustus et Peccator

      human trafficking:

      http://www.ucc.org/...

      there are a number of articles on our website (as evidenced above), but this link provides a number of links to things we can do: http://www.ucc.org/...

      Act

      As people of faith, we are called to work to end this moral scourge by calling on our political leaders to strengthen U.S. efforts to eradicating trafficking in persons.  There is much that Congress can do, beginning with reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA).  Sadly, over the past year, Congress lacked the political will to reauthorize this vital piece of legislation. With the swearing in of a new congress we have a fresh opportunity to introduce and advocate for this vital legislation.

      The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is an essential and comprehensive federal law addressing human trafficking and modern-day slavery. It includes provisions that address both the domestic and international dimensions of trafficking, such as funding services for survivors, strengthening law enforcement, and preventing U.S. aid to countries that use child soldiers.  Reauthorization of the TVPA ensures that the U.S. remains a global leader in addressing the many facets of trafficking here and abroad.

      Act now: Ask Congress to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

  •  Non-churchgoers count, imo. (2+ / 0-)

    While I think our country is on a precipice, I think it's for a plunge against Republicans. The mega-churches are vastly outnumbered by those who do not attend church on a regular basis. I've seen surveys that show that 90% of Americans are theists while churchgoers are reckoned at some 40%. That means half of the theists are churchgoers and half are not.

    I think there's broad disenchantment with organized religion in this country. They're usually judgmental and worst case (Catholic) regard themselves as incapable of making mistakes. That's a terribly un-Christian perspective to allow onesself, especially for an ostensibly Christian organization. Kudos to the new pope for his (relative) modesty and his many worthwhile efforts, but the whole concept of inerrancy has been as much a mistake as indulgences were.

    The existence of the Lutheran Church is testament to the fact that the Catholic Church can make mistakes.

    The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

    by Pacifist on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:30:33 AM PDT

    •  My own beliefs. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simul Iustus et Peccator

      I personally regard mankind collectively as having infinite fallibility. It's our defining characteristic. Any time our weak faith requires a projection of perfection onto anything other than God, we're making a mistake.

      The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

      by Pacifist on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:33:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do not fear Christians being a minority. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pacifist, liberaldemdave, pvasileff

        In Truth and practice, we always have been.  Someone once said Christians are like manure; pile us up too thick and we stink to high heaven, but spread us out sparingly and we do a lot of good.

        Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. As good as I am, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway. –jbou (2013)

        by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:05:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  ECUSA Here (3+ / 0-)

    Episcopal Church in the USA, that is.

    We belong to a medium-sized Episcopal parish in SW Washington state, serving a metro area of about 50,000 population, 30 miles north of Vancouver, WA.

    About two years ago our parish looked into and then adopted the Green Faith program, which you can see is about greening both the operations of the parish itself, and then enhancing a growing awareness of how our individual actions each impact our community and world environmentally.

    The parish is both gray and growing, our parish, and our diocese and bishops are supportive of LGBT rights, and are adamant about the need to address environmental issues (the big one now regionally is coal exports through the Pacific Northwest).

    Not seeking external validation here, not debating the validity of our faith (an oxymoron, BTW), just pointing out for those of faith in this thread that there are Christian supporters of traditional social justice scattered everywhere, just not into making noise "to be seen by other men" as quoted above, about it.

    A summary, in an Episcopal prayer:

    O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection...

    People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

    by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:45:32 AM PDT

  •  But according to the Daily Show (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff

    racial issues have improved less than 50%, maybe as little as 7%.  Only a completely clueless white person would suggest things have improved 50 or 75% since Americans began bringing over African slaves.

    Whether you'd rather be a black man in rural Georgia a hundred fifty years ago or today?
    Sorry that this is a little off topic, but that it struck me as cognitive dissonance how the Dkos community can recognize that things were much, much worse racially and that white people who think things have improved 50% are idiots.

    If you haven't seen the Daily Show bit on this then you may not have the context.

    Can't we just drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub?

    by Rezkalla on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:09:21 AM PDT

  •  Whoa! I (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, ChadmanFL

    really have to object to your characterization of secularist attitudes towards mainline Protestants here.  Nothing you say reflects my attitudes towards them at all.  My SOLE gripe with MP's is that they speak of conservative Christianity as if we're some sort of fringe minority when, in fact they're the majority AND MPs are a VANISHINGLY SMALL minority.  We're talking the 4% range if Pew is to be believed.  If we have to have religion I wish we had MORE MPs.

    I do think your history of the Enlightenment through which the values you discuss we're founded is bizarre and deeply inaccurate historically.  Europe was hell on earth as a result of religious warfare that came out of the Reformation.  In many ways, the Enlightenment was a reaction to the brutality and rivers of blood that ran from that religious warfare and persecution perpetrated by both Protestants and Catholics.  It's not that Christianity originated these values-- Enlightenment thinkers were most heavily influenced by per-Christoan Greco-roman thought --but that Christianity later came to adopt these values after coming to it's senses in the face of the horror it had wrought.  Spinoza, Diderot, Hume, Voiltaire, D'alambert, Hume, Rousseau, etc were not Protestant culture warriors by any stretch of their imagination and their arguments were in no way based on appeals to the revelation of scripture.

  •  The years of the (0+ / 0-)

    New Deal, Social Security, Medicare, care for the poor, while yes, it has cost the taxpayers some up-front money, it has also helped keep the crime rates lower.

    Some claim it is the mass incarceration rates.  I disagree as I saw something somewhere showing there was less of a correlation than one would think.

    And now, you have 1/3 of this population, too ignorant that they benefit from these very benefits themselves, want to destroy that fabric, let the children starve (oh, because they are fat anyway - yeah, fat on non-nutritional fast & cheap food).  

    I pointed out to some Facebook folks how un-Christian they were and they told me to F' Off.  I thought, "Wow, how Christian of them - proving my point about hypocrisy and today's Christians."

    However, if you bring me the likes of Jimmy Carter - he has my total respect for what he believes because he lives a Christian life - not an Authoritarian Christian lie.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:16:10 AM PDT

  •  Or, you could say that Socialism won. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChadmanFL

    From another (former) mainline protestant (Presb.)

  •  All I can say is that our little Episcopal country (3+ / 0-)

    parish is growing and it's not because we're gimmicky. We're relaxed but intentional about liturgy, and hyper-traditional and extremely Anglican in our music (having a stellar choir helps to make this appealing) and have a great Sunday School with a degreed theologian in charge of it.

    I think we're growing because of those things. We're fun, and we're casual, but we're serious. People can tell. What I think mainline Protestantism and Anglicanism needs is a lot more professionalism. Not slick production, like the megachurches, but real professionalism and doing things with intent. People are seeking that out.

    I resent that. I demand snark, and overly so -- Markos Moulitsas.

    by commonmass on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:40:39 AM PDT

    •  My Mileage Does Not Vary (0+ / 0-)

      As I noted above, I'm also a member of a parish that is intentional about our faith, and our internal and external ministry efforts.

      It does seem to help to have a Diocesan bishop who is committed to the promotion of diversity in our parishes...

      People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. - George Orwell

      by paz3 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 03:02:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Right on all counts. As an off-and-on secularist (0+ / 0-)

    left-winger but also off-and-on Protestant (not too Evangelical, United Methodist) Catholic, and Jew, yes liberal Protestants are our moral compass.  Without what remains of Christian morality (which the Evangelicals certainly don't share, they're about making sure no one else has more fun than they do) the secularist left-wingers have no moral or philosophical justification for anything but Libertarian selfishness.  Marx isn't really a good moral compass after Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.  Take away the supernatural stuff and liberal Christian values are the same as the real values of the secular left: do not treat human beings (or even animals) as objects, do not seek to dictate how others should think, and above all, do no harm.  

    They that have power to hurt, and will do none

    by richardvjohnson on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 04:29:53 PM PDT

  •  I was raised Lutheran (0+ / 0-)

    I'm no longer one, because I found that being atheist-by-default was so much cooler (sleep in on Sundays?  Give me a "yay yay!").  But I've always figured that, if I were to get religion, I would go back to Lutheranism.  Where else can you get a visiting pastor from Norway give a sermon in his native tongue?

    But seriously, may I suggest that there is a possibility of a resurgence of mainline Protestantism, coming from younger people (those storied Millennials, like my early-30-something kid brother) dissatisfied with the stale debate between self-professed Athiests ("Sam Harris: all you need to read") and old-time Bible-thumpers.  Methodism the new hot hipster trend?  Give me a "yay yay!"

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