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He Wasn't Just a Christian

As Glenn Beck speaks in D.C. today on the anniversary of the *I Have a Dream *speech, its important to remember that MLK was not simply a Christian advocating against racism.

He was also an advocate for social and economic justice....

An advocate against war...

And most importantly an advocate for a the powerless against the powerful, regardless of race...



you know, i think i've established my credentials here as a non-christian well enough to just speak the truth, and give credit where it is due. i do not have any particular love for christians and view them in general with perhaps even more suspicion than many of you. furthermore, mlk, like most christians, was certainly "not just a christian", he was a human being and therefore un-boxable. also, i haven't viewed these clips yet (gotta run out to a gig) but i didn't like what i saw as the implications of red7's blurbs- that mlk's social concience had nothing to do with his christian beliefs. his advocacy of social and economic justice, his anti-war stance, and his support of "the powerless against the powerful, regardless of race" could all be seen as extensions of his christian beliefs, and i think he himself would have (and did) make this point many times.

the relationship of black americans to christianity is indeed a complicated one, and as i love to point out here, the origins of many of the high-minded staples of christian thought may indeed be jewish in origin, and none of this should be threatening to atheists- it doesn't mean that morality can only come from religion, in other words.

so i think it's not only fair and permissable, but the honorable thing to do to admit these things, and not try to co-opt great ideas which, nebbuch (look it up), atheists didn't happen to come up with first. there's no shame here to be avoided. we can all agree on these things, religious and non-religious, yes?

and glen beck is a flaming asshole, a member of a nominally christian sect considered heretics by mainstream christians and hyper-conservative white supremacists by everyone else. i'm actually glad he's raising these issues in this forum, this discussion has been a long time coming.

when i get back and get to view the clips, i hope i don't suddenly realize that i just wrote a bunch of foolishness here, but it was from the heart fwiw. peace.

the origins of many of the high-minded staples of christian thought may indeed be jewish in origin...

So might the darker parts of Christianity.

but i didn't like what i saw as the implications of red7's blurbs- that mlk's social concience had nothing to do with his christian beliefs

Not my intention. Glenn back has been drawing parrallels between his movement and that of MLK because they are both Christians concerned with "personal liberty".

I was simply pointing out that you cannot say you are like MLK just because you are a christian, his political and social stances were much broader than many Christians.

So might the darker parts of Christianity.

i don't think so, we can discuss it if you like.if you think the "darker parts" are belief in a deity and the existence of the supernatural, fair enough. but those aren't what i consider the darker parts of christianity, which in my my mind involve cultural and military imperialism and the vicarious forgiveness of sins.

you cannot say you are like MLK just because you are a christian,

it is pretty crazy that beck is claiming somehow to be "like mlk", ay? but he's a mormon, how does that work? the mormons back then wouldn't have accepted mlk based purely on his race, if i'm not mistaken.

i'm always saying here that the thing to do is meet the religious on their own ground, which is usually pretty shakey (for them). i think beck has put his foot in it here, and someone who understands "divide and conquer" should make an issue of his mormonism, and how mormonism is a christian heresy. since the vast majority of his followers think of themselves as mainstream christians (albiet totally ignorant of their own religion, most of them), someone should hammer home the point that they are all following a heretic. this is much worse than if he were an atheist or a jew or a hindu. separate beck from his followers based on their own religious dogma. tm.

this is from a "religious tolerance" site so i thought it would be more balanced and less abusive than the many, many christian anti-mormon sites. but it still makes the "break" pretty clear. what would beck's evangelical followers say to this?

Beck is practically begging to be compared to MLK but he seems more like Jimmy Swaggart to me. I wonder what the under-over is in Las Vegas before they find Glenn with a dead tranny hooker in his hotel room. It’s frightening to see the collective stupidity of the right wing leadership these days with Beck and Palin leading at the bottom of the barrel.

i don't think so, we can discuss it if you like

What about this?

In her first interview since the incident, Shear says that on the bus three weeks ago, she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women. The bus driver, in response to a media inquiry, denied that violence was used against her, but Shear's account has been substantiated by an unrelated eyewitness on the bus who confirmed that she sustained an unprovoked "severe beating."

Shear, an American-Israeli woman who currently lives in Canada, says that on a recent five-week vacation to Israel, she rode the bus daily to the Old City to pray at sunrise. Though not defined by Egged as a sex-segregated "mehadrin" bus, women usually sit in the back, while men sit in the front, as a matter of custom.

hi joann. never let it be said that i shied away from some off topic action. :)

do you think the separation of men and women on buses is some kind of basic principle of judaism? if you wanted to bring examples of stupid behavior by ostensibly "religious" jews, you certainly have a long list to choose from. (no true scotsman, you know.:))

fwiw my take is like this: modern judaism has been infiltrated by many foreign influences, not the least of which is the bizarre christian attitude toward sexuality.this attitude may be fundamental to christianity but it certainly isn't to judaism, and in any case the jews can't be blamed for inventing it. like everyone else, though, we have our share of lunatics who use percieved religious principles to make everyone else miserable.

btw, the muslims are even crazier about the "separation of the sexes" thing, and they too got it from the christians who, ironically, are pretty mellow about it these days. go figure.

So the Jewish faith in its pure form is all good and wonderful and it's only the infiltration from lesser religions which causes problems? Did I get that right? And it's mostly the teachings from the New Testament which is most vile. Is that it?

not so simple. the "infiltrations" can be good or bad depending on your point of view. some of them make life easier, for instance by making it possible at all to have a positive outlook on life after reading the bible. the thing about sexuality definitely comes from christianity, who probably got it from breakaway pseudo-jewish ascetic sects that were around at the time of jesus and probably influenced him, like the essenes. there were lots of them at the time, the roman empire was seething with religious ferment. (ahem). whether strictly applied laws of interaction between the sexes is a good thing or not depends on your point of view. i try not to judge, but i have to draw the line at a woman being beaten on a bus for sitting in the wrong seat and getting a little lippy.

for instance by making it possible at all to have a positive outlook on life after reading the bible

Maybe you have a more postive outlook on life after reading the bible. All I read is a bunch of shit written by men which disgusts me.

All of these New Testament/Old Testament concepts are based on what some peoples believed long ago. I'm more interested in modern society in which women are more respected and have more rights. Sure, there are people who interpret the so-called scriptures to better suit their views in the modern world, but why bother parsing these old withered ancient beliefs? It's tiresome

Well apparently some ultra orthodox kinda Jews interpret their scriptures to mean that men and women should be separated lest they get all horny around one another or something along those lines. That's the thing about religion. It gives wackos preferential treatment. While else would the Israeli society put up with this crap of allowing these types of buses and situations on trains. It's primitive and ridiculous, but based on religioun so people tolerate this kind of behavior. sad

While else would the Israeli society put up with this crap of allowing these types of buses and situations on trains

sigh. purely economic reasons, the ultra orthodox are just a target demographic like anyone else. it's not like all the bus lines in israel are segregated, the loonies have their own lines. their right to do so is currently being challenged in the courts.

Sure, economic reasons. And it's pathetic that these religious idiots have such economic pull. Disgusting

i suppose you feel the same way about the obese, the mentally handicapped, the non-college-educated, and believers in flying saucers, conspiracy theories and "personal empowerment". now that we've effectively emptied america of it's consumers, it's safe to say you are no p.t. barnum, and will never break a gov't monopoly. poof! america is empty now, the indians can come back out to play. ohhhhhhhh, i see your nefarious plot now. you commie savage. :)

I'll ask again: how is Judaism any less stupid than all of the other religions we mock around here?

Well jonathan feels that all religions except Judaism are ridiculous and he can argue this point until the cows come home.

far be it from me to attempt the removal of any potential target of mockery. just because i don't happen to think judaism is to blame for the "dark side" of christianity doesn't make it any less stupid. by all means, mock away. of course to mock properly you actually have to know something about what you're thing i like about judaism is that jews love to mock it, and do so much better than you, for instance, could ever hope to. but please, be my guest.

I don't have the desire to get to know another religion enough to mock it. Religions bore me.

i for one welcome our new willfully ignorant, bored overlords.

just because i don't happen to think judaism is to blame for the "dark side" of christianity doesn't make it any less stupid.

I can't say "blame" is the right word. People like traditions. You know, like from Leviticus. There's some dark shit in that there book, and fundies pick and choose as they see fit from Leviticus all the time.

Again, I'll point out that religions are designed to define what it is to be human. The fact that Christians co-opted certain human values and morals, and that when MLK and other African Americans needing to assert those values were drawn into using Christianity does not mean that Christianity gave them those values or that they 'came from' Christianity. They came from being human, it's a natural condition. The religion gave them a structural social tool that provided leverage in their situation.

Religions collect human traits, both good and bad ones. Religion has never invented, or 'gave rise to' or done anything other than offer a way to remember the range of human emotional, ethic and moral ability.

channeling jonathan... Moses gave these values to the Jews and they then spread these values to the rest of society. It's the chosen ones who are responsible for all of the good in the world.

moses gave a lot of values to the jews and as i'm sure you realize not all of them are so pretty or acceptable to modern polite society. if you won't credit them with the pretty ones, then don't blame them for the ugly ones. i didn't say religion invented morality, i said it was fair enough to credit mlk's moral vision to his understanding of his religion. to say otherwise would be an affront to mlk himself, if not his memory. you don't have to be a christian, or a lover or even respector of religion to admit this.

bob marley, saying the same thing in 6min that mlk takes 22 min to say above. also based on completely ridiculous religious convictions.

in fact, marley is singing here an (almost) literal quotation from a speech by a man, haile sallasie, who he believed literally to be the incarnation of god on earth, the messiah, the 2nd coming of christ. this man was a petty dictator, something much less than an intellectual, and did not lead a life of exemplary morality by anyone's standards. he was certainly no liberal by modern american standards. in fact the whole thing is completely ridiculous, sallasie's pretensions and marley's worship and beliefs. does any of this make this clip, or the "bob marley songbook" less compelling? does mlk's constant professing to be a "true and faithful servant of god" or his claims that "god told him" such and such (both documented in r7's clip above) make his words any less true or his message any less important?

i'm sure that p.z. myers and richard dawkins etc. are just as much passionately committed to "peace on earth" as mlk or b. marley. furthermore i appreciate their polemical efforts to advance the cause of reason. but really, compared to these giants, what have they really accomplished? bob marley makes them look like petulant children with a shake of his head, and mlk with a choice phrase in the echoed ryhthms of his african forebears. sometimes i feel the need to ask, as should you: who the heck do you think you (we) are, anyway? what have you (we) done lately?

sorry, i got carried away. i'm practicing a new form of polemics that studiously avoids making any real point but makes everyone feel vaguely guilty and confused.

another thought for you to reject: of all the self-proclaimed or publicly anointed representetives of atheism, hitchens is by far the most vocal anti-war advocate and crusader for social justice, as opposed to (almost?) all the others who focus almost exclusively on the minutae of believer/non-believer arguments (and or minutae of non-ethically relevant scientific interests).

and yet: hitchens is the most-maybe only- member of the hordes of "horsemen" who is regularly vilified by the "atheism fan club", and this is only because of his views on war. specifically, he doesn't believe there's no such thing as a just war, and supported america's war in iraq, justifying it's moral "rightness" many times over years.

this is the same guy who's probably spent more time and effort speaking against various wars and excuses for violence than his compatriots have talking about the inconsistencies in the book of genesis.

i have no idea where i'm going with this. guess i'd just much rather have seen hitchens speaking to that crowd in washington than glen beck.

Real Americans love british aristocrats.

funny :). but aren't you ashamed to admit you actually read my ridiculous screeds? no one else seems to.

At first glance i read "but aren't you ashamed to admit you actually read my ridiculous screeds?".. I'm at the point where I'm bored with both atheist and religious screeds. A shame, because I don't have much to get all in a huff in anymore.

oops.. I meant to say that At first glance i read "but aren't you ashamed to admit you actually read my religious screeds?"

And real Americans find their accents quite charming.

I'm Dr. Stanley L. Becker, Jonathan's father. After reading your comments I have a suggestion and a comment.

SUGGESTION. Develop an operational definition for RELIGION to which all of you subscribe before making comments.

COMMENT. The ardent feminist amongst you is disgusted by the bible and the men who wrote it. Remember that s--- is an excellent fertilizer for the plant world. S--- in the bible, is a metaphorical fertilizer of the mind.

An excellent suggestion, the lack of agreed upon definitions, not just for religion, but for many of the terms used in discussions on this blog has long been a source of confusion leading to endless misunderstandings.

Oh and thank you for Jonathan. He's provided thoughtful commentary on a variety of topics and no small measure of amusement for the onegoodmove community.

I think you have miscounted the number of ardent feminists.


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