I read a lot…I've said that before and I'll say it again. I try to flood my mind with a wide variety of books and articles. I want to purposely stretch my thinking by purposely reading things that I perceive initially with which I will vemiently disagree. That's OK and good by my book…I acknowledge the paradigms that we all get stuck in…and sometimes new truth is revealed in the midst of challenge. That's important…good debate is healthy especially if you attempting to grow.
Even so, there are times when you run into things that are so outrageous you have to "call them out." The article listed here is one of those examples – I read an article on my Iphone today called the "Rise of the New Atheists." Now, this blog post is NOT intended to be a book or an extended academic article…so I cannot be as thorough as I would like to be otherwise I know that most of you will jetison. So you can read the article (from Salon.com) on your own and draw your own conclusions. Nevertheless, let me say this:
Over the past few years, MANY MANY MANY in and out of circles of followers of Jesus have been pointing out the secularization of culture. We understand that…we can mourn it…we can argue with it…we can deny it…but it is true. Culture has turned over the past decades. Post-modernity and Post-Christendom are alive and well. They have made HUGE impacts on our world and on the viability of traditional institutional (as well as personal) religious experiences. No one can deny that. In addition, all of us would agree that skepticism and aethism are growing at exponential rates. I can't even begin to tell you how many books and articles have been released over the last few years (Gabe Lyons and Bill Kinneman have written and taught extensively on that issue) on the growing impact of secularization and an intentional move away from institutional religion and Christian faith/worldview by scores of young people. Every denomination understands that reality.
Even so, it is amazing to me about how those aetheists, secularists, political progressives and activists who so passionately speak of and cry publically for TOLERANCE are often the most intollerant voices in our culture. These are those individuals/groups that have the "Co-Exist" bumper stickers on their cars…who cry "intollerance" every time some person of faith talks about their beliefs and how they might inform their ethics and values in a manner that might go contrary to the new status quo. I would encourage you to read the article I referenced above for a starting point. If you don't have the time, here are a couple of the "money" quotes…you can see what I mean for yourselves:
"…religious belief is widely viewed in American as a good thing, a reliable sign of moral character and trustworthiness. This leads to the corollary that bigotry perpetuated in the name of religion is somehow more justifiable or more deserviing of respect than any other kind of bigotry, which has excused countless outrages against human dignity and equality. The new atheists seek to defeat this harmful belief at its source."
Ok, let me just say a couple of things about this first quote – notice the assumptions – "religion and bigotry" are purposely lumped together propositionally. I think this is astounding…the concept is this – if you are religious, you are a bigot. Some aspect of what you believe is going to set you up in culture to be labeled something that is repulsive to a majority of people in our society. Again, outrageous. And notice one more thing…"see to defeat this harmful belief at its source." In other words, there IS an agenda to defeat religious beliefs…to tear down any semblence of God, church, religion, personal faith and spiritual adherence. I've been telling many of my friends over the years that there is an agenda…not from some sort of conspiratorial, wacko perspective…but still, nonetheless and agenda by many in our culture to attack intollerantly people/institutions of faith. They have been justifiably skeptical of my assertions. Yet, see friends how blatant this is…those who promote tollerance are often the most intollerant. It is not as if this author simply said, "we don't buy what they teach and do"…but he goes on to say that they "seek to defeat" belief at "its source." Now, that can mean one of two things in my mind: either individual faith or corporate, public faith. That means an further attackes on institutions or humiliation and attempts at public ridicule of people of faith. Just sayin…
One more "money" quote:
"To accomplish this, we believe it's necessary to shock people out of their complacency by pointing out the evils that religion can cause and is continuing to cause."
I don't even know where to begin with this…let me say this, I'm don't sit in my office or at home on a daily basis attempting to come up with strategies daily to "shock" people out of their skepticism, atheism or anti-religious thinking…all I've been challenged to do by Jesus is love people and live truth as I see it revealed in scripture from a Kingdom perspective. I let God do the rest…I attempt to listen to those I disagree with, critically, faithfully and openly read the sacred texts and then apply what Jesus is saying to me about how He wants me to live (since theologically, we as followers of Jesus are the contemporary incarnation of God's presence in the world). But I digress…
One more quote from the Salon.com article (I lied above):
"…the New Atheists believe that everyone is better off when personal morality is based upon reason and conscience (ed. note – where does that come from?), NOT obedience to ancient texts and unelecte authority figures. We believe that the Bible and other religious texts are outdated and archaice at best and deeply morally flawed at worst and that as long as we treat these texts with a reverence they don't merit, they'll be perpetual engines of extremism to people who take the time to read them….our claim is that be weakening the power of religion, both religious liberals and secular humanists stand to gain."
I'm going to leave you to draw your own conclusions. I've been seeing more and more culturally the hostility and aggressive attitudes of those who proclaim tolerance. Militantly "they" are going after people of faith intollerantly…maybe they feel justified in doing so given the weight of human history…I don't know. But it is unmistakable that there is some sort of agenda behind the scenes although I don't want to give any credence or any abundance of time to attempting to figure that out. I'll let that go and be handled by a power much bigger and much more just than me. What I do know is that for those of us who are cultural observers, this is the new reality. People who most plead for tollerance or often those who are most intollerant. Those who would like to find acceptance are often those who are the most unaccepting. Those who say they are standing for freedom are often those who are unaware of the fact that there views are injected with authoritarianism and hints of totalitarianism. Make no mistake…there would be those who would outlaw religious beliefs…there are those who carry the contemporary torch of those philosphers and political thinkers who wrote, thought and acted on an intollerance toward religion. Now, for those of us who love Jesus and love the truth and live the Kingdom of God, our call and challenge is not to stand in hypocricy or come against this intollerance with a combative spirit. Our call is as it has always been – to be salt and light and to let God deal with the world as He sees fit.
As I said above…"just sayin."